Page images
PDF
EPUB

Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons
Came like a deluge on the South, and spread
Beneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands.
Forthwith from every squadron, and each band,
The heads and leaders thither haste where stood
Their great Commander; Godlike shapes, and forms
Excelling human; princely Dignities;
And Powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones;
Though of their names in heavenly records now
Be no memorial; blotted out and rased
By their rebellion from the book of life.
Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve
Got them new names; till, wandering o'er the earth,
Through God's high sufferance for the trial of man,
By falsities and lies the greatest part
of mankind they corrupted to forsake
God their creator, and the invisible
Glory of him that made them to transform
Oft to the image of a brute, adorn’d
With gay religions full of pomp and gold,
And Devils to adore for Deities :
Then were they known to men by various names
And various idols through the Heathen world.
Say, Muse, their names then known; who first, who last,
Roused from the slumber, on that fiery couch,
At their great Emperor's call, as next in worth
Came singly where be stood on the bare strand,
While the promiscuous crowd stood yet aloof.
The chief were those, who froin the pit of Hell
Roaming to seek their prey on earth, durst fix
Their seats long after next the seat of God,
Their altars by his altar; Gods adored
Among the nations round : and durst abide
Jehovah thundering out of Sion, throned
Between the Cherubim; yea, often placed
Within his sanctuary itself their shrines,
Abominations; and with corsed things
His holy rites and solemn feasts profaned,

And with their darkness durst affront his light.
First Moloch, horrid king, besmear'd with blood
Of human sacrifice, and parents' tears ;
Though, for the noise of drums and timbrels loud,
Their children's cries unheard, that pass'd through fire,
To his grim idol. Him the Ammonite
Worship'd in Rabba and her watery plain,
In Argob and in Basan, to the stream
Of utmost Arnon; Nor content with sach
Audacious neighbourhood, the wisest heart
Of Solomon he led by fraud to build
His temple right against the temple of God
On that opprobrious hill : and made his grove
The pleasant valley of Hinnom, Tophet thence
And black Gehenna call’d, the type of Hell.
Next, Chemos, the obscene dread of Moab's sons,
From Aroer to Nebo, and the wild
Of southmost Abarim ; in Hesebon
And Horonaim, Seon's realm, beyond
The flowery dale of Sibma clad with vines ;
And Eleäle to the Asphaltic pool.
Peor his other name, when he enticed
Israel in Sittim, on their march from Nile,
To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe.
Yet thence bis lustful orgies he enlarged
Even to that hill of scandal, by the grove
Of Moloch homicide; last hard by hate ;
Till good Josiah drove them thence to Hell.
With these came they, who, from the bordering flood
Of old Euphrates to the brook that parts
Egypt from Syrian ground, had general names
Of Baälim and Ashtaroth; those male,
These feminine; for Spirits, when they please,
Can either sex assume, or both; so soft
And uncompounded is their essence pure;
Not tied or manacled with joint or limb,
Nor founde on the brittle strength of
Like cumbrous flesh; but, in what shape they choose,
Dilated or condensed, bright or obscure,
Can execute their aery purposes,
And works of love or enmity fulfil.
For those the race of Israel oft forsook
Their Living Strength, and unfrequented left
His righteous altar, bowing lowly down
To bestial Gods: for wbich their heads as low
Bow'd down in battle, sunk before the spear
Of despicable foes. With these in troop
Came Astoreth, whom the Phoenicians callid
Astarté, queen of Heaven, with crescent horns;
To whose bright image nightly by the moon
Sidonian virgins paid their vows and songs;
In Sion also not unsung, where stood
Her temple on the offensive mountain, built
By that uxorious king, whose heart, though large,
Beguiled by fair idolatresses, fell
To idols foul. Thammuz came next behind,
Whose annual wound in Lebanon allured
The Syrian damsels to lament his fate
In amorous ditties all a summer's day;
While smootb Adonis from his native rock
Ran purple to the sea, supposed with blood
Of Thammuz yearly wounded : the love tale
Infected Sion's daughters with like beat;
Whose wanton passions in the sacred porch
Ezekiel saw, when, by the vision led,
His eye survey'd the dark idolatries
Of alienated Judah. Next came one
Who mourn’d in earnest, when the captive ark
Maim'd his brute image, head and hands lopp'd off
In bis own temple, on the grunsel edge,
Where he fell flat, and shamed his worshippers :
Dagon his name, sea monster, upward man
And downward fish: yet had his temple high
Reard in Azotus, dreaded through the coast
Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon,
And Accaron and Gaza's frontier bounds.

Him follow'd Rimmon, whose delightful seat
Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks
Of Abbana and Pharpbar, lucid streams.
He also against the house of God was bold :
A leper once le lost, and gain'd a king ;
Abaz, his sottish conqueror, whom he drew
God's altar to disparage, and displace,
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious offerings, and adore the Gods
Whom he had vanquish'd. After these appear'd
A crew, wbo, under names of old renown,
Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train,
With monstrous shapes and sorceries abused
Fanatic Egypt and her priests, to seek
Their wandering Gods disguised in brutish forms
Rather than human. Nor did Israel scape
The infection, when their borrow'd gold composed
The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king
Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan,
Likening his Maker to the grazed ox;
Jehovah, who in one night, when he pass'd
From Egypt marching, equal'd with one stroke
Both her first-born and all her bleating Gods.
Belial came last, than whom a Spirit more lewd
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for itself: to him no temple stood
Or altar smoked: yet who more oft than he
In temples and at altars, when the priest
Turns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who fill'd
With lust and violence the house of God ?
In courts and palaces he also reigos,
And in luxurious cities, where the noise
Of riot ascends above their loftiest towers,
And injury and outrage: And when night
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night
In Gibeah, when the hospitable door

Exposed a matron, to avoid worse rape.
These were the prime in order, and in might;
The rest were long to tell, though far renown'd,
The Ionian Gods, of Javan's issue; held
Gods, yet confess'd later than Heaven and Earth,
Their boasted parents : Titan, Heaven's first-born,
With bis enormous brood, and birthright seized
By younger Saturn; he from mightier Jove,
His own and Rhea's son, like measure found;
So Jove usurping reign'd: these first in Crete
And Ida known, thence on the snowy top
Of cold Olympus ruled the middle air,
Their bighest Heaven; or on the Delphian cliff,
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to the Hesperian fields,
And o'er the Celtic roam'd the utmost isles.

All these and more came flocking; but with looks
Downcast and damp; yet such wherein appear'd
Obscure some glimpse of joy, to have found their Chief
Not in despair, to have found themselves not lost
In loss itself: which on his countenance cast
Like doubtful hue: but be, his wonted pride
Soon.recollecting, with high words, that bore
Semblance of worth, not substance, gently raised
Their fainting courage, and dispell’d their fears.
Then straight commands, that at the warlike sound
Of trumpets loud and clarions be uprear'd
His mighty standard : that proud honour claim'd
Azazel as his right, a Cherub tall;
Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurl'd
The imperial ensign; which, full high advanced,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,
With gems and golden lustre rich emblazed,
Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while
Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds:
At which the universal host up sent
A shout, that tore Hell's concave,

and beyond

« PreviousContinue »