Gideon is unlike anyone Naomi has ever encountered before. His passionate kisses and intoxicating caresses leave her restless and wanting. Still, she senses the bleak loneliness he tries so hard to deny. Responding to his seduction with tenderness, she is determined to help him rediscover the beauty in life. The battle lines are drawn. Gideon must seek redemption or Fall. Naomi must lead her Rebel Angel back into the light before the forces of darkness destroy them both. I am looking forward to seeing what Cyndi Friberg comes up with for her next story; she is definitely an author to watch.
Alyssa is a Rebel Angel, semi-Fallen, like Gideon before her. Cursed by her own words, she is unable to distinguish truth from lies—even her own. She has sworn to protect her ward Rosalind from the forces of evil. But without discernment, how will Alyssa identify friend from foe? Prince Sariel of the Angelic Order of Grigori, the oldest and most powerful of all angelic beings, has endured thousands of years of celibacy for the sins of his race.
As he our darkness, cannot we his light Imitate when we please? This desert soil Wants not her hidden luster, gems and gold; Nor want we skill or art from whence to raise Magnificence; and what can Heaven show more? Our torments also may, in length of time, Become our elements, these piercing fires As soft as now severe, our temper changed Into their temper; which must needs remove The sensible of pain.
All things invite To peaceful counsels, and the settled state Of order, how in safety best we may Compose our present evils, with regard Of what we are and where, dismissing quite All thoughts of war. Ye have what I advise. He scarce had finished, when such murmur filled The assembly as when hollow rocks retain The sound of blustering winds, which all night long Had roused the sea, now with hoarse cadence lull Seafaring men o'erwatched, whose bark by chance Or pinnace, anchors in a craggy bay After the tempest. Such applause was heard As Mammon ended, and his sentence pleased, Advising peace: for such another field They dreaded worse than Hell; so much the fear Of thunder and the sword of Michael Wrought still within them; and no less desire To found this nether empire, which might rise, By policy and long process of time, In emulation opposite to Heaven.
Which when Beelzebub perceived, than whom, Satan except, none higher sat, with grave Aspect he rose, and in his rising seemed A pillar of state. Deep on his front engraven Deliberation sat, and public care; And princely counsel in his face yet shone, Majestic, though in ruin.
Sage he stood With Atlantean shoulders, fit to bear The weight of mightiest monarchies; his look Drew audience and attention still as night Or summer's noontide air, while thus he spake: Thrones and Imperial Powers, offspring of Heaven, Ethereal Virtues! For he, to be sure, In height or depth, still first and last will reign Sole king, and of his kingdom lose no part By our revolt, but over Hell extend His empire, and with iron scepter rule Us here, as with his golden those in Heaven.
What sit we then projecting peace and war? War hath determined us and foiled with loss Irreparable; terms of peace yet none Vouchsafed or sought; for what peace will be given To us enslaved, but custody severe, And stripes and arbitrary punishment Inflicted? Nor will occasion want, nor shall we need With dangerous expedition to invade Heaven, whose high walls fear no assault or siege, Or ambush from the Deep. What if we find Some easier enterprise?
There is a place If ancient and prophetic fame in Heaven Err not , another world, the happy seat Of some new race, called Man, about this time To be created like to us, though less In power and excellence, but favored more Of him who rules above; so was his will Pronounced among the gods, and by an oath That shook Heaven's whole circumference confirmed.
Thither let us bend all our thoughts, to learn What creatures there inhabit, of what mould Or substance, how endued, and what their power And where their weakness: how attempted best, By force of subtlety. Though Heaven be shut, And Heaven's high Arbitrator sit secure In his own strength, this place may lie exposed, The utmost border of his kingdom, left To their defense who hold it: here, perhaps, Some advantageous act may be achieved By sudden onset, either with Hell-fire To waste his whole creation, or possess All as our own, and drive, as we were driven, The puny habitants; or, if not drive, Seduce them to our party, that their God May prove their foe, and with repenting hand Abolish his own works.
This would surpass Common revenge, and interrupt his joy In our confusion, and our joy upraise In his disturbance; when his darling sons, Hurled headlong to partake with us, shall curse Their frail original, and faded bliss, Faded so soon! Advise if this be worth Attempting, or to sit in darkness here Hatching vain empires. Thus Beelzebub Pleaded his devilish counsel, first devised By Satan, and in part proposed: for whence, But from the author of all ill, could spring So deep a malice, to confound the race Of mankind in one root, and Earth with Hell To mingle and involve, done all to spite The great Creator?
But their spite still serves His glory to augment.
The bold design Pleased highly those infernal states, and joy Sparkled in all their eyes: with full assent They vote: whereat his speech he thus renews: Well have ye judged, well ended long debate, Synod of gods, and, like to what ye are, Great things resolved, which from the lowest deep Will once more lift us up, in spite of fate, Nearer our ancient seat, perhaps in view Of those bright confines, whence, with neighboring arms, And opportune excursion, we may chance Re-enter Heaven; or else in some mild zone Dwell, not unvisited of Heaven's fair light, Secure, and at the brightening orient beam Purge off this gloom: the soft delicious air, To heal the scar of these corrosive fires, Shall breathe her balm.
But, first, whom shall we send In search of this new World? What strength, what art, can then Suffice, or what evasion bear him safe, Through the strict sentries and stations thick Of angels watching round? Here he had need All circumspection: and we now no less Choice in our suffrage; for on whom we send The weight of all, and our last hope, relies.
This said, he sat; and expectation held His look suspense, awaiting who appeared To second, or oppose, or undertake The perilous attempt.
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But all sat mute, Pondering the danger with deep thoughts; and each In other's countenance read his own dismay, Astonished. None among the choice and prime Of those Heaven-warring champions could be found So hardy as to proffer or accept, Alone, the dreadful voyage; till, at last, Satan, whom now transcendent glory raised Above his fellows, with monarchal pride Conscious of highest worth, unmoved thus spake: Oh Progeny of Heaven!
Empyreal Thrones! With reason hath deep silence and demur Seized us, though undismayed. Long is the way And hard, that out of Hell leads up to light. Our prison strong, this huge convex of fire, Outrageous to devour, immures us round Ninefold; and gates of burning adamant, Barred over us, prohibit all egress. These passed, if any pass, the void profound Of unessential night receives him next, Wide-gaping, and with utter loss of being Threatens him, plunged in that abortive gulf. If thence he scape, into whatever world, Or unknown region, what remains him less Than unknown dangers, and as hard escape?
But I should ill become this throne, Oh Peers, And this imperial sovereignty, adorned With splendor, armed with power, if aught proposed And judged of public moment in the shape Of difficulty or danger, could deter Me from attempting. Wherefore do I assume These royalties, and not refuse to reign, Refusing to accept as great a share Of hazard as of honor, due alike To him who reigns, and so much to him due Of hazard more as he above the rest High honored sits?
Go, therefore, mighty powers, Terror of Heaven, though fallen; intend at home, While here shall be our home, what best may ease The present misery, and render Hell More tolerable; if there be cure or charm To respite, or deceive, or slack the pain Of this ill mansion: intermit no watch Against a wakeful foe, while I abroad Through all the coasts of dark destruction seek Deliverance for us all.
This enterprise None shall partake with me. Thus saying, rose The monarch, and prevented all reply; Prudent lest, from his resolution raised, Others among the chief might offer now, Certain to be refused, what erst they feared, And, so refused, might in opinion stand His rivals, winning cheap the high repute Which he through hazard huge must earn. But they Dreaded not more the adventure than his voice Forbidding; and at once with him they rose. Their rising all at once was as the sound Of thunder heard remote. Towards him they bend With awful reverence prone, and as a god Extol him equal to the Highest in Heaven.
Nor failed they to express how much they praised That for the general safety he despised His own: for neither do the spirits damned Lose all their virtue; lest bad men should boast Their specious deeds on earth, which glory excites, Or close ambition varnished o'er with zeal. Thus they their doubtful consultations dark Ended, rejoicing in their matchless chief: As, when from mountain-tops the dusky clouds Ascending, while the north wind sleeps, o'erspread Heaven's cheerful face, the louring element Scowls o'er the darkened landscape snow or shower, If chance the radiant sun, with farewell sweet, Extend his evening beam, the fields revive, The birds their notes renew, and bleating herds Attest their joy, that hill and valley rings.
Oh shame to men! Devil with devil damned Firm concord holds; men only disagree Of creatures rational, though under hope Of heavenly grace, and, God proclaiming peace, Yet live in hatred, enmity, and strife Among themselves, and levy cruel wars Wasting the earth, each other to destroy: As if which might induce us to accord Man had not hellish foes enough besides, That day and night for his destruction wait!
The Stygian council thus dissolved; and forth In order came the grand infernal peers: Midst came their mighty paramount, and seemed Alone the antagonist of Heaven, nor less Than Hell's dread emperor, with pomp supreme, And god-like imitated state: him round A globe of fiery seraphim enclosed With bright emblazonry, and horrent arms. Then of their session ended they bid cry With trumpet's regal sound the great result: Toward the four winds four speedy cherubim Put to their mouths the sounding alchemy, By herald's voice explained; the hollow abyss Heard far and wide, and all the host of Hell With deafening shout returned them loud acclaim.
Thence more at ease their minds, and somewhat raised By false presumptuous hope, the ranged Powers Disband; and, wandering, each his several way Pursues, as inclination or sad choice Leads him perplexed, where he may likeliest find Truce to his restless thoughts, and entertain The irksome hours, till his great chief return. Part on the plain, or in the air sublime, Upon the wing or in swift race contend, As at the Olympian games or Pythian fields; Part curb their fiery steeds, or shun the goal With rapid wheels, or fronted brigades form: As when, to warn proud cities, war appears Waged in the troubled sky, and armies rush To battle in the clouds; before each van Prick forth the airy knights, and couch their spears, Till thickest legions close; with feats of arms From either end of heaven the welkin burns.
Others, with vast Typhoean rage, more fell, Rend up both rocks and hills, and ride the air In whirlwind; Hell scarce holds the wild uproar: As when Alcides, from Oechalia crowned With conquest, felt the envenomed robe, and tore Through pain up by the roots Thessalian pines, And Lichas from the top of Oeta threw Into the Euboic sea. Others, more mild, Retreated in a silent valley, sing With notes angelical to many a harp Their own heroic deeds, and hapless fall By doom of battle, and complain that Fate Free Virtue should enthrall to Force or Chance.
Their song was partial; but the harmony What could it less when spirits immortal sing? Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet For Eloquence the soul, song charms the sense Others apart sat on a hill retired, In thoughts more elevate, and reasoned high Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate, Fixed fate, free will, foreknowledge absolute, And found no end, in wandering mazes lost.
Of good and evil much they argued then, Of happiness and final misery, Passion and apathy, and glory and shame: Vain wisdom all, and false philosophy. Yet, with a pleasing sorcery, could charm Pain for a while or anguish, and excite Fallacious hope, or arm the obdured breast With stubborn patience as with triple steel. Another part, in squadrons and gross bands, On bold adventure to discover wide That dismal world, if any clime perhaps Might yield them easier habitation, bend Four ways their flying march, along the banks Of four infernal rivers, that disgorge Into the burning lake their baleful streams, Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate; Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, named of lamentation loud Heard on the rueful stream; fierce Phlegeton, Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage.
Far off from these, a slow and silent stream, Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls Her watery labyrinth, whereof who drinks Forthwith his former state and being forgets, Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain. Beyond this flood a frozen continent Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice, A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog Betwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old, Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air Burns frore, and cold performs the effect of fire.
Thither, by harpy-footed Furies haled, At certain revolutions all the damned Are brought; and feel by turns the bitter change Of fierce extremes, extremes by change more fierce, From beds of raging fire to starve in ice Their soft ethereal warmth, and there to pine Immovable, infixed, and frozen round Periods of time,, thence hurried back to fire. They ferry over this Lethean sound Both to and fro, their sorrow to augment, And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe, All in one moment, and so near the brink; But fate withstands, and, to oppose the attempt, Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards The ford, and of itself the water flies All taste of living wight, as once it fled The lip of Tantalus.
Thus roving on In confused march forlorn, the adventurous bands, With shuddering horror pale, and eyes aghast, Viewed first their lamentable lot, and found No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale They passed, and many a region dolorous, O'er many a frozen, many a fiery alp, Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of death, A universe of death, which God by curse Created evil, for evil only good; Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds, Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things, Abominable, inutterable, and worse Than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived, Gorgons, and Hydras, and Chimeras dire.
Meanwhile the adversary of God and man, Satan, with thoughts inflamed of highest design, Puts on swift wings, and toward the gates of Hell Explores his solitary flight: sometimes He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left; Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars Up to the fiery concave towering high. As when far off at sea a fleet descried Hangs in the clouds, by equinoctial winds Close sailing from Bengala, or the isles Of Ternate and Tidore, whence merchants bring Their spicy drugs; they on the trading flood, Through the wide Ethiopian to the Cape, Ply stemming nightly toward the pole: so seemed Far off the flying Fiend.
At last appear Hell-bounds, high reaching to the horrid roof, And thrice threefold the gates; three folds were brass, Three iron, three of adamantine rock, Impenetrable, impaled with circling fire, Yet unconsumed. Before the gates there sat On either side a formidable shape. The one seemed woman to the waist, and fair, But ended foul in many a scaly fold, Voluminous and vast, a serpent armed With mortal sting.
About her middle round A cry of Hell-hounds never-ceasing barked With wide Cerberean mouths full loud, and rung A hideous peal; yet, when they list, would creep, If aught disturbed their noise, into her womb, And kennel there; yet there still barked and howled Within unseen. Far less abhorred than these Vexed Scylla, bathing in the sea that parts Calabria from the hoarse Trinacrian shore; Nor uglier follow the night-hag, when, called In secret, riding through the air she comes, Lured with the smell of infant blood, to dance With Lapland witches, while the laboring moon Eclipses at their charms.
The other shape, If shape it might be called that shape had none Distinguishable in member, joint, or limb; Or substance might be called that shadow seemed, For each seemed either, black it stood as night, Fierce as ten furies, terrible as Hell, And shook a dreadful dart: what seemed his head The likeness of a kingly crown had on. Satan was now at hand, and from his seat The monster moving onward came as fast With horrid strides; Hell trembled as he strode. The undaunted fiend what this might be admired, Admired, not feared God and his Son except, Created thing naught valued he nor shunned , And with disdainful look thus first began: Whence and what art thou, execrable shape, That dar'st, though grim and terrible, advance Thy miscreated front athwart my way To yonder gates?
Through them I mean to pass, That be assured, without leave asked of thee. Retire; or taste thy folly, and learn by proof, Hell-born, not to contend with spirits of Heaven. To whom the goblin, full of wrath, replied: Art thou that traitor Angel? And reckon'st thou thyself with spirits of Heaven Hell-doomed, and breath'st defiance here and scorn, Where I reign king, and, to enrage thee more, Thy king and lord?
Back to thy punishment, False fugitive; and to thy speed add wings, Lest with a whip of scorpions I pursue Thy lingering, or with one stroke of this dart Strange horror seize thee, and pangs unfelt before. So spake the grisly terror, and in shape, So speaking and so threatening, grew tenfold, More dreadful and deform. On the other side, Incensed with indignation, Satan stood Unterrified, and like a comet burned, That fires the length of Ophiuchus huge In the arctic sky, and from his horrid hair Shakes pestilence and war. Each at the head Leveled his deadly aim; their fatal hands No second stroke intend; and such a frown Each cast at the other as when two black clouds, With heaven's artillery fraught, came rattling on Over the Caspian,, then stand front to front Hovering a space, till winds the signal blow To join their dark encounter in mid-air.
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So frowned the mighty combatants that Hell Grew darker at their frown; so matched they stood; For never but once more was wither like To meet so great a foe. And now great deeds Had been achieved, whereof all Hell had rung, Had not the snaky Sorceress, that sat Fast by Hell-gate and kept the fatal key, Risen, and with hideous outcry rushed between. Oh father, what intends thy hand, she cried, Against thy only son? What fury, Oh son, Possesses thee to bend that mortal dart Against thy father's head?
And know'st for whom? For him who sits above, and laughs the while At thee, ordained his drudge to execute Whate'er his wrath, which he calls justice, bids, His wrath, which one day will destroy ye both! She spake, and at her words the hellish pest Forbore: then these to her Satan returned: So strange thy outcry, and thy words so strange Thou interposest, that my sudden hand, Prevented, spares to tell thee yet by deeds What it intends, till first I know of thee What thing thou art, thus double-formed, and why, In this infernal vale first met, thou call'st Me father, and that phantasm call'st my son.
I know thee not, nor ever saw till now Sight more detestable than him and thee. T' whom thus the portress of Hell-gate replied: Hast thou forgot me, then; and do I seem Now in thine eye so foul? Amazement seized All the host of Heaven; back they recoiled afraid At first, and called me Sin, and for a sign Portentous held me; but, familiar grown, I pleased, and with attractive graces won The most averse, thee chiefly, who, full oft Thyself in me thy perfect image viewing, Becam'st enamored; and such joy thou took'st With me in secret that my womb conceived A growing burden.
Meanwhile war arose, And fields were fought in Heaven: wherein remained For what could else? Down they fell, Driven headlong from the pitch of Heaven, down Into this deep; and in the general fall I also: at which time this powerful key Into my hands was given, with charge to keep These gates for ever shut, which none can pass Without my opening.
Pensive here I sat Alone; but long I sat not, till my womb, Pregnant by thee, and now excessive grown, Prodigious motion felt and rueful throes. At last this odious offspring whom thou seest, Thine own begotten, breaking violent way, Tore through my entrails, that, with fear and pain Distorted, all my nether shape thus grew Transformed: but he my inbred enemy Forth issued, brandishing his fatal dart, Made to destroy.
I fled, and cried out Death! Hell trembled at the hideous name, and sighed From all her caves, and back resounded Death! I fled; but he pursued though more, it seems, Inflamed with lust than rage , and, swifter far, Me overtook, his mother, all dismayed, And, in embraces forcible and foul Engendering with me, of that rape begot These yelling monsters, that with ceaseless cry Surround me, as thou saw'st, hourly conceived And hourly born, with sorrow infinite To me; for, when they list, into the womb That bred them they return, and howl, and gnaw My bowels, their repast; then, bursting forth Afresh, with conscious terrors vex me round, That rest or intermission none I find.
Before mine eyes in opposition sits Grim Death, my son and foe, who set them on, And me, his parent, would full soon devour For want of other prey, but that he knows His end with mine involved, and knows that I Should prove a bitter morsel, and his bane, Whenever that shall be: so Fate pronounced. But thou, Oh father, I forewarn thee, shun His deadly arrow; neither vainly hope To be invulnerable in those bright arms, Through tempered heavenly; for that mortal dint, Save he who reigns above, none can resist.
She finished, and the subtle fiend his lore Soon learned, now milder, and thus answered smooth: Dear daughter, since thou claim'st me for thy sire, And my fair son here show'st me, the dear pledge Of dalliance had with thee in Heaven, and joys Then sweet, now sad to mention, through dire change Befallen us unforeseen, unthought-of, know, I come no enemy, but to set free From out this dark and dismal house of pain Both him and thee, and all the heavenly host Of Spirits that, in our just pretences armed, Fell with us from on high.
From them I go This uncouth errand sole, and one for all Myself expose, with lonely steps to tread The unfounded Deep, and through the void immense To search, with wandering quest, a place foretold Should be, and, by concurring signs, ere now Created vast and round, a place of bliss In the purlieus of Heaven; and therein placed A race of upstart creatures, to supply Perhaps our vacant room, though more removed, Lest Heaven, surcharged with potent multitude, Might hap to move new broils.
Be this, or aught Than this more secret, now designed, I haste To know; and, this once known, shall soon return, And bring ye to the place where thou and Death Shall dwell at ease, and up and down unseen Wing silently the buxom air, embalmed With odors. There ye shall be fed and filled Immeasurably, all things shall be your prey.
He ceased, for both seemed highly pleased, and Death Grinned horrible a ghastly smile, to hear His famine should be filled, and blessed his maw Destined to that good hour. No less rejoiced His mother bad, and thus bespake her sire: The key of this infernal pit, by due And by command of Heaven's all-powerful King, I keep, by him forbidden to unlock These adamantine gates; against all force Death ready stands to interpose his dart, Fearless to be o'ermatched by living might. But what owe I to his commands above, Who hates me, and hath hither thrust me down Into this gloom of Tartarus profound, To sit in hateful office here confined, Inhabitant of Heaven and heavenly born, Here in perpetual agony and pain, With terrors and with clamors compassed round Of mine own brood, that on my bowels feed?
Thou art my father, thou my author, thou My being gav'st me; whom should I obey But thee? Thou wilt bring me soon To that new world of light and bliss, among The gods who live at ease, where I shall reign At thy right hand voluptuous, as beseems Thy daughter and thy darling, without end. Thus saying, from her side the fatal key, Sad instrument of all our woe, she took; And, towards the gate rolling her bestial train, Forthwith the huge portcullis high up-drew, Which, but herself, not all the stygian powers Could once have moved; then in the key-hole turns The intricate wards, and every bolt and bar Of massy iron or solid rock with ease Unfastens.
On a sudden open fly, With impetuous recoil and jarring sound, The infernal doors, and on their hinges grate Harsh thunder, that the lowest bottom shook Of Erebus. She opened; but to shut Excelled her power: the gates wide open stood, That with extended wings a bannered host, Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through With horse and chariots ranked in loose array; So wide they stood, and like a furnace-mouth Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.
Before their eyes in sudden view appear The secrets of the hoary deep, a dark Illimitable ocean, without bound, Without dimension; where length, breadth, and height, And time, and place, are lost; where eldest night And chaos, ancestors of nature, hold Eternal anarchy, amidst the noise Of endless wars, and by confusion stand. For hot, cold, moist, and dry, four champions fierce, Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring Their embryon atoms: they around the flag Of each his faction, in their several clans, Light-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow, Swarm populous, unnumbered as the sands Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil, Levied to side with warring winds, and poise Their lighter wings.
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To whom these most adhere He rules a moment: Chaos umpire sits, And by decision more embroils the fray By which he reigns: next him, high arbiter, Chance governs all. Into this wild abyss, The womb of nature, and perhaps her grave, Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire, But all these in their pregnant causes mixed Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight, Unless the Almighty Maker them ordain His dark materials to create more worlds, Into this wild Abyss the wary Fiend Stood on the brink of Hell and looked a while, Pondering his voyage; for no narrow frith He had to cross.
Nor was his ear less pealed With noises loud and ruinous to compare Great things with small than when Bellona storms With all her battering engines, bent to rase Some capital city; or less than if this frame Of Heaven were falling, and these elements In mutiny had from her axle torn The steadfast Earth. At last his sail-broad vans He spread for flight, and, in the surging smoke Uplifted, spurns the ground; thence many a league, As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets A vast vacuity.
All unawares, Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb-down he drops Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour Down had been falling, had not, by ill chance, The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud, Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him As many miles aloft. That fury stayed, Quenched in a boggy Syrtis, neither sea, Nor good dry land, nigh foundered, on he fares, Treading the crude consistence, half on foot, Half flying; behooves him now both oar and sail.
As when a gryphon through the wilderness With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale, Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth Had from his wakeful custody purloined The guarded gold; so eagerly the fiend O'er bog or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare, With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way, And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies. At length a universal hubbub wild Of stunning sounds, and voices all confused, Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear With loudest vehemence.
Thither he plies Undaunted, to meet there whatever power Or spirit of the nethermost Abyss Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies Bordering on light; when straight behold the throne Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread Wide on the wasteful deep! With him enthroned Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things, The consort of his reign; and by them stood Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name Of Demogorgon; Rumour next, and Chance, And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroiled, And Discord with a thousand various mouths.
To whom Satan, turning boldly, thus:, Ye powers And spirtis of this nethermost Abyss, Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy With purpose to explore or to disturb The secrets of your realm; but, by constraint Wandering this darksome desert, as my way Lies through your spacious empire up to light, Alone and without guide, half lost, I seek, What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds Confine with Heaven; or, if some other place, From your dominion won, the Ethereal King Possesses lately, thither to arrive I travel this profound.
Direct my course: Directed, no mean recompense it brings To your behoove, if I that region lost, All usurpation thence expelled, reduce To her original darkness and your sway Which is my present journey , and once more Erect the standard there of ancient night. Yours be the advantage all, mine the revenge! Thus Satan; and him thus the anarch old, With faltering speech and visage incomposed, Answered: I know thee, stranger, who thou art, That mighty leading angel, who of late Made head against Heaven's King, though overthrown. I saw and heard; for such a numerous host Fled not in silence through the frighted deep, With ruin upon ruin, rout on rout, Confusion worse confounded; and Heaven-gates Poured out by millions her victorious bands, Pursuing.
I upon my frontiers here Keep residence; if all I can will serve That little which is left so to defend, Encroached on still through our intestine broils Weakening the scepter of old Night: first, Hell, Your dungeon, stretching far and wide beneath; Now lately Heaven and Earth, another world Hung o'er my realm, linked in a golden chain To that side Heaven from whence your legions fell! If that way be your walk, you have not far; So much the nearer danger. Go, and speed; Havoc, and spoil, and ruin, are my gain. He ceased; and Satan stayed not to reply, But, glad that now his sea should find a shore, With fresh alacrity and force renewed Springs upward, like a pyramid of fire, Into the wild expanse, and through the shock Of fighting elements, on all sides round Environed, wins his way; harder beset And more endangered than when Argo passed Through Bosporus betwixt the jostling rocks, Or when Ulysses on the larboard shunned Charybdis, and by the other whirlpool steered.
So he with difficulty and labor hard Moved on, with difficulty and labor he; But, he once passed, soon after, when man fell, Strange alteration! Sin and Death amain, Following his track such was the will of Heaven Paved after him a broad and beaten way Over the dark abyss, whose boiling gulf Tamely endured a bridge of wondrous length, From Hell continued, reaching the utmost orb Of this frail world; by which the spirits perverse With easy intercourse pass to and fro To tempt or punish mortals, except whom God and good angels guard by special grace.
But now at last the sacred influence Of light appears, and from the walls of Heaven Shoots far into the bosom of dim night A glimmering dawn. Here nature first begins Her farthest verge, and chaos to retire, As from her outmost works, a broken foe, With tumult less and with less hostile din; That Satan with less toil, and now with ease, Wafts on the calmer wave by dubious light, And, like a weather-beaten vessel, holds Gladly the port, though shrouds and tackle torn; Or in the emptier waste, resembling air, Weighs his spread wings, at leisure to behold Far off the empyreal Heaven, extended wide In circuit, undetermined square or round, With opal towers and battlements adorned Of living sapphire, once his native seat; And, fast by, hanging in a golden chain, This pendent world, in bigness as a star Of smallest magnitude close by the moon.
Thither, full fraught with mischievous revenge, Accursed, and in a cursed hour, he hies. Thee I re-visit now with bolder wing, Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detained In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight Through utter and through middle darkness borne, With other notes than to the Orphean lyre I sung of Chaos and eternal Night; Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down The dark descent, and up to re-ascend, Though hard and rare: Thee I revisit safe, And feel thy sovereign vital lamp; but thou Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn; So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs, Or dim suffusion veiled.
Yet not the more Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt, Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill, Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath, That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow, Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget So were I equaled with them in renown, Thy sovereign command, that man should find grace; Blind Thamyris, and blind Maeonides, And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old: Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid Tunes her nocturnal note.
Thus with the year Seasons return; but not to me returns Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn, Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose, Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine; But cloud instead, and ever-during dark Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair Presented with a universal blank Of nature's works to me expunged and rased, And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light, Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell Of things invisible to mortal sight. Now had the Almighty Father from above, From the pure empyrean where he sits High throned above all heighth, bent down his eye His own works and their works at once to view: About him all the Sanctities of Heaven Stood thick as stars, and from his sight received Beatitude past utterance; on his right The radiant image of his glory sat, His only son; on earth he first beheld Our two first parents, yet the only two Of mankind in the happy garden placed Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love, Uninterrupted joy, unrivalled love, In blissful solitude; he then surveyed Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there Coasting the wall of Heaven on this side Night In the dun air sublime, and ready now To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet, On the bare outside of this world, that seemed Firm land imbosomed, without firmament, Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high, Wherein past, present, future, he beholds, Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake. Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage Transports our Adversary? And now, Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light, Directly towards the new created world, And man there placed, with purpose to assay If him by force he can destroy, or, worse, By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert; For man will hearken to his glozing lies, And easily transgress the sole command, Sole pledge of his obedience: So will fall He and his faithless progeny: Whose fault?
Whose but his own? Such I created all the ethereal Powers And Spirits, both them who stood, and them who failed; Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell. Not free, what proof could they have given sincere Of true allegiance, constant faith or love, Where only what they needs must do appeared, Not what they would? What pleasure I from such obedience paid, When will and reason reason also is choice Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled, Made passive both, had served necessity, Not me?
So without least impulse or shadow of fate, Or aught by me immutably foreseen, They trespass, authors to themselves in all Both what they judge, and what they choose; for so I formed them free: and free they must remain, Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change Their nature, and revoke the high decree Unchangeable, eternal, which ordained Their freedom: they themselves ordained their fall.
The first sort by their own suggestion fell, Self-tempted, self-depraved: man falls, deceived By the other first: man therefore shall find grace, The other none: In mercy and justice both, Through Heaven and Earth, so shall my glory excel; But Mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine. Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance filled All Heaven, and in the blessed Spirits elect Sense of new joy ineffable diffused. Beyond compare the Son of God was seen Most glorious; in him all his Father shone Substantially expressed; and in his face Divine compassion visibly appeared, Love without end, and without measure grace, Which uttering, thus he to his Father spake.
Oh Father, gracious was that word which closed Thy sovereign command, that man should find grace; For which both Heaven and earth shall high extol Thy praises, with the innumerable sound Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne Encompassed shall resound thee ever blest. For should man finally be lost, should man, Thy creature late so loved, thy youngest son, Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though joined With his own folly? Or shall the Adversary thus obtain His end, and frustrate thine?
So should thy goodness and thy greatness both Be questioned and blasphemed without defense. To whom the great Creator thus replied. Oh son, in whom my soul hath chief delight, Son of my bosom, Son who art alone. My word, my wisdom, and effectual might, All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all As my eternal purpose hath decreed; man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will; Yet not of will in him, but grace in me Freely vouchsafed; once more I will renew His lapsed powers, though forfeit; and enthralled By sin to foul exorbitant desires; Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand On even ground against his mortal foe; By me upheld, that he may know how frail His fallen condition is, and to me owe All his deliverance, and to none but me.
Some I have chosen of peculiar grace, Elect above the rest; so is my will: The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warned Their sinful state, and to appease betimes The incensed Deity, while offered grace Invites; for I will clear their senses dark, What may suffice, and soften stony hearts To pray, repent, and bring obedience due. To prayer, repentance, and obedience due, Though but endeavored with sincere intent, Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.
And I will place within them as a guide, My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear, Light after light, well used, they shall attain, And to the end, persisting, safe arrive. This my long sufferance, and my day of grace, They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste; But hard be hardened, blind be blinded more, That they may stumble on, and deeper fall; And none but such from mercy I exclude.
But yet all is not done; man disobeying, Disloyal, breaks his fealty, and sins Against the high supremacy of Heaven, Affecting God-head, and, so losing all, To expiate his treason hath naught left, But to destruction sacred and devote, He, with his whole posterity, must die, Die he or justice must; unless for him Some other able, and as willing, pay The rigid satisfaction, death for death.
Say, heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love? Which of you will be mortal, to redeem Man's mortal crime, and just the unjust to save? Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear? And silence was in Heaven: on man's behalf He asked, but all the heavenly quire stood mute, Patron or intercessor none appeared, Much less that durst upon his own head draw The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set. And now without redemption all mankind Must have been lost, adjudged to Death and Hell By doom severe, had not the Son of God, In whom the fullness dwells of love divine, His dearest mediation thus renewed.
Father, thy word is past, man shall find grace; And shall grace not find means, that finds her way, The speediest of thy winged messengers, To visit all thy creatures, and to all Comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought? Happy for man, so coming; he her aid Can never seek, once dead in sins, and lost; Atonement for himself, or offering meet, Indebted and undone, hath none to bring; Behold me then: me for him, life for life I offer: on me let thine anger fall; Account me Man; I for his sake will leave Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee Freely put off, and for him lastly die Well pleased; on me let Death wreak all his rage.
Under his gloomy power I shall not long Lie vanquished. Thou hast given me to possess Life in myself for ever; by thee I live; Though now to Death I yield, and am his due, All that of me can die, yet, that debt paid, Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul For ever with corruption there to dwell; But I shall rise victorious, and subdue My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil. Death his death's wound shall then receive, and stoop Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed; I through the ample air in triumph high Shall lead Hell captive maugre Hell, and show The powers of darkness bound.
Thou, at the sight Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile, While, by thee raised, I ruin all my foes; Death last, and with his carcass glut the grave; Then, with the multitude of my redeemed, Shall enter Heaven, long absent, and return, Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud Of anger shall remain, but peace assured And reconcilement: wrath shall be no more Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire. His words here ended; but his meek aspect Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love To mortal men, above which only shone Filial obedience: as a sacrifice Glad to be offered, he attends the will Of his great Father.
Admiration seized All Heaven, what this might mean, and whither tend, Wondering; but soon the Almighty thus replied. Oh thou in Heaven and Earth the only peace Found out for mankind under wrath, Oh thou My sole complacence. Well thou know'st how dear To me are all my works; nor man the least, Though last created, that for him I spare Thee from my bosom and right hand, to save, By losing thee a while, the whole race lost. Thou, therefore, whom thou only canst redeem, Their nature also to thy nature join; And be thyself man among men on Earth, Made flesh, when time shall be, of virgin seed, By wondrous birth; be thou in Adam's room The head of all mankind, though Adam's son.
As in him perish all men, so in thee, As from a second root, shall be restored As many as are restored, without thee none. His crime makes guilty all his sons; thy merit, Imputed, shall absolve them who renounce Their own both righteous and unrighteous deeds, And live in thee transplanted, and from thee Receive new life. So Man, as is most just, Shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die, And dying rise, and rising with him raise His brethren, ransomed with his own dear life. So heavenly love shall outdo hellish hate, Giving to death, and dying to redeem, So dearly to redeem what hellish hate So easily destroyed, and still destroys In those who, when they may, accept not grace.
Nor shalt thou, by descending to assume Man's nature, lessen or degrade thine own. Because thou hast, though throned in highest bliss Equal to God, and equally enjoying God-like fruition, quitted all, to save A world from utter loss, and hast been found By merit more than birthright Son of God, Found worthiest to be so by being good, Far more than great or high; because in thee Love hath abounded more than glory abounds; Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt With thee thy manhood also to this throne: Here shalt thou sit incarnate, here shalt reign Both God and Man, Son both of God and Man, Anointed universal King; all power I give thee; reign for ever, and assume Thy merits; under thee, as head supreme, Thrones, Princedoms, Powers, Dominions, I reduce: All knees to thee shall bow, of them that bide In Heaven, or Earth, or under Earth in Hell.
When thou, attended gloriously from Heaven, Shalt in the sky appear, and from thee send The summoning archangels to proclaim Thy dread tribunal; forthwith from all winds, The living, and forthwith the cited dead Of all past ages, to the general doom Shall hasten; such a peal shall rouse their sleep. Then, all thy saints assembled, thou shalt judge Bad men and angels; they, arraigned, shall sink Beneath thy sentence; Hell, her numbers full, Thenceforth shall be for ever shut. Mean while The world shall burn, and from her ashes spring New Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell, And, after all their tribulations long, See golden days, fruitful of golden deeds, With joy and peace triumphing, and fair truth.
Then thou thy regal scepter shalt lay by, For regal scepter then no more shall need, God shall be all in all. But, all ye Gods, Adore him, who to compass all this dies; Adore the Son, and honor him as me. No sooner had the Almighty ceased, but all The multitude of angels, with a shout Loud as from numbers without number, sweet As from blest voices, uttering joy, Heaven rung With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled The eternal regions: Lowly reverent Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground With solemn adoration down they cast Their crowns inwove with amaranth and gold; Immortal amaranth, a flower which once In Paradise, fast by the tree of life, Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence To Heaven removed, where first it grew, there grows, And flowers aloft shading the fount of life, And where the river of bliss through midst of Heaven Rolls o'er Elysian flowers her amber stream; With these that never fade the Spirits elect Bind their resplendent locks inwreathed with beams; Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone, Impurpled with celestial roses smiled.
Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took, Harps ever tuned, that glittering by their side Like quivers hung, and with preamble sweet Of charming symphony they introduce Their sacred song, and waken raptures high; No voice exempt, no voice but well could join Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven. Thee, Father, first they sung Omnipotent, Immutable, Immortal, Infinite, Eternal King; the Author of all being, Fountain of light, thyself invisible Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sit'st Throned inaccessible, but when thou shadest The full blaze of thy beams, and, through a cloud Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine, Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear, Yet dazzle Heaven, that brightest Seraphim Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.
Thee next they sang of all creation first, Begotten Son, Divine Similitude, In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud Made visible, the Almighty Father shines, Whom else no creature can behold; on thee Impressed the effulgence of his glory abides, Transfused on thee his ample Spirit rests. He Heaven of Heavens and all the Powers therein By thee created; and by thee threw down The aspiring Dominations: Thou that day Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare, Nor stop thy flaming chariot-wheels, that shook Heaven's everlasting frame, while o'er the necks Thou drovest of warring angels disarrayed.
Back from pursuit thy Powers with loud acclaim Thee only extolled, Son of thy Father's might, To execute fierce vengeance on his foes, Not so on Man: Him through their malice fallen, Father of mercy and grace, thou didst not doom So strictly, but much more to pity incline: No sooner did thy dear and only Son Perceive thee purposed not to doom frail man So strictly, but much more to pity inclined, He to appease thy wrath, and end the strife Of mercy and justice in thy face discerned, Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat Second to thee, offered himself to die For Man's offence.
Oh unexampled love, Love no where to be found less than Divine! Hail, Son of God, Savior of Men! Thy name Shall be the copious matter of my song Henceforth, and never shall my heart thy praise Forget, nor from thy Father's praise disjoin. Thus they in Heaven, above the starry sphere, Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent. Mean while upon the firm opacous globe Of this round world, whose first convex divides The luminous inferior orbs, enclosed From Chaos, and the inroad of Darkness old, Satan alighted walks: A globe far off It seemed, now seems a boundless continent Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night Starless exposed, and ever-threatening storms Of Chaos blustering round, inclement sky; Save on that side which from the wall of Heaven, Though distant far, some small reflection gains Of glimmering air less vexed with tempest loud: Here walked the Fiend at large in spacious field.
Hither of ill-joined sons and daughters born First from the ancient world those giants came With many a vain exploit, though then renowned: The builders next of Babel on the plain Of Sennaar, and still with vain design, New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build: Others came single; he, who, to be deemed A God, leaped fondly into Aetna flames, Empedocles; and he, who, to enjoy Plato's Elysium, leaped into the sea, Cleombrotus; and many more too long, Embryos, and idiots, eremites, and friars White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery. Here pilgrims roam, that strayed so far to seek In Golgotha him dead, who lives in Heaven; And they, who to be sure of Paradise, Dying, put on the weeds of Dominick, Or in Franciscan think to pass disguised; They pass the planets seven, and pass the fixed, And that crystalline sphere whose balance weighs The trepidation talked, and that first moved; And now Saint Peter at Heaven's wicket seems To wait them with his keys, and now at foot Of Heaven's ascent they lift their feet, when lo A violent cross wind from either coast Blows them transverse, ten thousand leagues awry Into the devious air: Then might ye see Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tossed And fluttered into rags; then relics, beads, Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls, The sport of winds: All these, upwhirled aloft, Fly o'er the backside of the world far off Into a Limbo large and broad, since called The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown Long after; now unpeopled, and untrod.