« ElőzőTovább »
Accomplishing great things, by things deemed weak
Subverting worldly strong, and worldly wise
By simply meek : that suffering for truth's sake
Is fortitude to highest victory,
And to the faithful, death the gate of life-
Taught this by his example whom I now
Acknowledge my Redeemer ever blest.
To whom thus also the angel last replied,
This having learned, thou hast attained the sum
Of wisdom ; hope no higher though all the stars
Thou knew'st by name, and all the ethereal pow'rs,
All secrets of the deep, all Nature's works,
Or works of God in heaven, air, earth, or sea,
And all the riches of this world enjoy'dst,
And all the rule, one empire ; only add
Deeds to thy knowledge answerable, add faith,
Add virtue, patience, temperance, add love,
By name to come, called Charity, the soul
Of all the rest : then wilt thou not be loath
To leave this Paradise, but shalt possess
A Paradise within thee, happier far.
Let us descend now therefore from this top
Of speculation ; for the hour precise
Exacts our parting hence ; and see, the guards,
By me encamped on yonder hill, -expect
Their motion, at whose front a flaming sword
In signal of remove, waves fiercely round;
We may no longer stay : go, waken Eve ;
Her also I with gentle dreams have calmed
Portending good, and all her spirits composed
To meek submission : thou at season fit
Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard,
Chiefly what may concern her faith to know :
That ye may live, which will be many days,
Both in one faith unanimous though sad,
With cause, for evils past, yet much more cheered
With meditation on the happy end.
He ended, and they both descended the hill;
Descended, Adam to the bow'r where Eve
Lay sleeping ran before, but found her waked;
And thus with words not sad she him received.
Whence thou return'st, and whither went'st, I know,
For God is also in sleep, and dreams advise,
Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress
Wearied I fell asleep: but now lead on ;
In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Is to go hence unwilling ; thou to me
Art all things under heaven, all places thou,
Who for my wilful crime art banished hence.
This further consolation yet secure
I carry hence; though all by me is. lost,
Such favor I unworthy am vouchsafed,
By me the promised seed shall all restore.
So spake our mother Eve, and Adam heard
Well pleased, but answered not ; for now too nigh
The archangel stood, and from the other hill
To their fix'd station, all in bright array
The cherubim descended ; on the ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening mist
Risen from a river o'er the marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the lab'rer's heel
Homeward returning. High in front advanced,
The brandished sword of God before them blazed
Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,
And vapour as the Lybian air adust,
Began to parch that temp'rate clime; whereat
In either hand the hastning Angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain ; then disappeared.
They looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,
Waved over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces thronged and fiery arms :
Some natural tears they dropt, but wiped them soon :
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide :
They hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
The subject of Paradise Regained may be found in the fourth chapter of the gospel of St. Matthew—it is what is commonly called the Temptation of Christ. When this event occurred, our Saviour had attained the age of thirty years, and was about to begin that moral revolution in the world which his teaching and example afterwards accomplished. From the gospel history it appears that at this time an evil spirit counselled him to assume the state of a temporal prince; but to have done this he must have accommodated himself to prevailing vices and institutions wholly incompatible with his high office, and as he came into the world in the name of the Lord his God, he resolved to serve him only, and not the Prince of this world.
The tempter" showed him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them." The most remarkable nations then existing were the Parthians, the Greeks, and Romans. Parthia, on the ancient maps, was the country immediately east of Syria, and south of the Caspian sea, and contained at that time a populous and powerful state. Among the kingdoms which, according to Milton, passed under the survey of Jesus, was Parthia, and he has described its warfare ---military prowess, or mere "physical force, being the chief distinction of that barbarous nation.
Artaxata, Teredon, Ctesiphon,
Turning with easy eye thou may'st behold.
All these the Parthian, now some ages past,
By great Arsaces led, who founded first
That empire, under his dominion holds,
From the luxurious kings of Antioch won.
And just in time thou com'st to have a view
Of his great power; for now the Parthian king
In Ctesiphon hath gathered all his host
Against the Scythian, whose incursions wild
Have wasted Sogdiana; to her aid
He marches now in haste. See, though from far,
His thousands, in what martial equipage
They issue forth, steel bows, and shafts, their arms,
Of equal dread and flight, or in pursuit ;
All horsemen, in which fight they most excel;
See how in warlike muster they appear,
In rhombs and wedges, and half-moons, and wings.
He looked, and saw what numbers numberless
The city-gates out-poured, light armed troops
In coats of mail and military pride ;
In mail their horses clad, yet fleet and strong,
Prancing their riders bore, the flower and choice
Of many provinces from bound to bound;
He saw them in their forms of battle ranged,
How quick they wheeled, and flying behind them shot
Sharp sleet of arrowy showers against the face
Of their pursuers, and overcame by flight;
The field all iron cast a gleaming brown :
Nor wanted clouds of foot, nor on each horn
Cuirassiers all in steel for standing fight.
Chariots or elephants endorsed with towers
Of archers, nor of lab'ring pioneers
A multitude with spades and axes armed
To lay hills plain, fell woods, or valleys fill,
Or where plain was, raise hill, or overlay
With bridges rivers proud, as with a yoke ;
Mules after these, camels and dromedaries,
And wagons fraught with utensils of war.
Such forces met not, nor so wide a camp,
When Agrican with all his northern powers
Besieged Albracca, as romances tell,
The city of Gallaphorne, from whence to win
The fairest of her sex Angelica
His daughter, sought by many prowest kni
Both Paynim, and the peers of Charlemagne :
Such and so numerous was their chivalry."
Agrican with all his northern powers, &c.—This and the five following lines furnish a comparison between some fictitious army and that of Parthia. Charlemagne was Emperor of the Franks, since called the French, and a great promoter of the civilization of Europe. He lived A. D. 800. The French romance writers composed many fictions concerning his achievements, and to one of these Milton refers in this place.
Prowest knights.—Courageous and strong knights.
Milton had been at Rome. Her ruins still testify her former magnificence, and he doubtless felt all that the contemplation of her departed glory inspires. The time he describes was in the reign of Tiberius, the successor of Augustus. 'The city of Rome had been increasing in riches and splendour for almost eight centuries, and for three of these centuries the Roman arms had been carried beyond the limits of Italy. The commerce of Rome extended from Britain to India ; and the inhabitants of this vast metropolis, computed to be several millions, consisted, like Jerusalem, of every nation under heaven ; that is, of people from all countries then civilized. This is sufficiently plain from the animated description given of Rome by Milton :
“ He brought our Saviour to the western side
Of that high mountain, whence he might behold
Another plain, thence in the midst
Divided by a river, of whose banks
On each side an imperial city stood,
With tow'rs and temples proudly elevate
On sev'n small hills, with palaces adorned,
Porches and theatres, baths, aqueducts,
Statues and trophies, and triumphal arcs,
Gardens and groves presented to his eyes,
Above the height of mountains interposed.
The city which thou seest no other deem
Than great and glorious Rome, queen of the earth
So far renowned, and with the spoils enriched
Of nations ; there the capitol thou seest
Above the rest lifting his stately head
On the Tarpeian rock, her citadel
Impregnable; and there mount Palatine,
Th' imperial palace, compass huge and high
The structure, skill of noblest architects,
With gilded battlements, conspicuous far,
Turrets and terraces, and glittering spires;
Many a fair edifice besides, more like
Houses of God, thou may'st behold
Outside and inside both, pillars and roofs,
Carved work, the hand of famed artificers
In cedar, marble, ivory, or gold.