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    Chapter 6

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    Chapter 6
    Previous Chapter
    All night the dreadless Angel, unpursued,
    Through Heaven's wide champain held his way; till Morn,
    Waked by the circling Hours, with rosy hand
    Unbarred the gates of light. There is a cave
    Within the mount of God, fast by his throne,
    Where light and darkness in perpetual round
    Lodge and dislodge by turns, which makes through Heaven
    Grateful vicissitude, like day and night;
    Light issues forth, and at the other door
    Obsequious darkness enters, till her hour
    To veil the Heaven, though darkness there might well
    Seem twilight here: And now went forth the Morn
    Such as in highest Heaven arrayed in gold
    Empyreal; from before her vanished Night,
    Shot through with orient beams; when all the plain
    Covered with thick embattled squadrons bright,
    Chariots, and flaming arms, and fiery steeds,
    Reflecting blaze on blaze, first met his view:
    War he perceived, war in procinct; and found
    Already known what he for news had thought
    To have reported: Gladly then he mixed
    Among those friendly Powers, who him received
    With joy and acclamations loud, that one,
    That of so many myriads fallen, yet one
    Returned not lost. On to the sacred hill
    They led him high applauded, and present
    Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice,
    From midst a golden cloud, thus mild was heard.
    Servant of God. Well done; well hast thou fought
    The better fight, who single hast maintained
    Against revolted multitudes the cause
    Of truth, in word mightier than they in arms;
    And for the testimony of truth hast borne
    Universal reproach, far worse to bear
    Than violence; for this was all thy care
    To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds
    Judged thee perverse: The easier conquest now
    Remains thee, aided by this host of friends,
    Back on thy foes more glorious to return,
    Than scorned thou didst depart; and to subdue
    By force, who reason for their law refuse,
    Right reason for their law, and for their King
    Messiah, who by right of merit reigns.
    Go, Michael, of celestial armies prince,
    And thou, in military prowess next,
    Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my sons
    Invincible; lead forth my armed Saints,
    By thousands and by millions, ranged for fight,
    Equal in number to that Godless crew
    Rebellious: Them with fire and hostile arms
    Fearless assault; and, to the brow of Heaven
    Pursuing, drive them out from God and bliss,
    Into their place of punishment, the gulf
    Of Tartarus, which ready opens wide
    His fiery Chaos to receive their fall.
    So spake the Sovran Voice, and clouds began
    To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll
    In dusky wreaths, reluctant flames, the sign
    Of wrath awaked; nor with less dread the loud
    Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow:
    At which command the Powers militant,
    That stood for Heaven, in mighty quadrate joined
    Of union irresistible, moved on
    In silence their bright legions, to the sound
    Of instrumental harmony, that breathed
    Heroick ardour to adventurous deeds
    Under their God-like leaders, in the cause
    Of God and his Messiah. On they move
    Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill,
    Nor straitening vale, nor wood, nor stream, divides
    Their perfect ranks; for high above the ground
    Their march was, and the passive air upbore
    Their nimble tread; as when the total kind
    Of birds, in orderly array on wing,
    Came summoned over Eden to receive
    Their names of thee; so over many a tract
    Of Heaven they marched, and many a province wide,
    Tenfold the length of this terrene: At last,
    Far in the horizon to the north appeared
    From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretched
    In battailous aspect, and nearer view
    Bristled with upright beams innumerable
    Of rigid spears, and helmets thronged, and shields
    Various, with boastful argument portrayed,
    The banded Powers of Satan hasting on
    With furious expedition; for they weened
    That self-same day, by fight or by surprise,
    To win the mount of God, and on his throne
    To set the Envier of his state, the proud
    Aspirer; but their thoughts proved fond and vain
    In the mid way: Though strange to us it seemed
    At first, that Angel should with Angel war,
    And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet
    So oft in festivals of joy and love
    Unanimous, as sons of one great Sire,
    Hymning the Eternal Father: But the shout
    Of battle now began, and rushing sound
    Of onset ended soon each milder thought.
    High in the midst, exalted as a God,
    The Apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat,
    Idol of majesty divine, enclosed
    With flaming Cherubim, and golden shields;
    Then lighted from his gorgeous throne, for now
    "twixt host and host but narrow space was left,
    A dreadful interval, and front to front
    Presented stood in terrible array
    Of hideous length: Before the cloudy van,
    On the rough edge of battle ere it joined,
    Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,
    Came towering, armed in adamant and gold;
    Abdiel that sight endured not, where he stood
    Among the mightiest, bent on highest deeds,
    And thus his own undaunted heart explores.
    O Heaven! that such resemblance of the Highest
    Should yet remain, where faith and realty
    Remain not: Wherefore should not strength and might
    There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove
    Where boldest, though to fight unconquerable?
    His puissance, trusting in the Almighty's aid,
    I mean to try, whose reason I have tried
    Unsound and false; nor is it aught but just,
    That he, who in debate of truth hath won,
    Should win in arms, in both disputes alike
    Victor; though brutish that contest and foul,
    When reason hath to deal with force, yet so
    Most reason is that reason overcome.
    So pondering, and from his armed peers
    Forth stepping opposite, half-way he met
    His daring foe, at this prevention more
    Incensed, and thus securely him defied.
    Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have reached
    The highth of thy aspiring unopposed,
    The throne of God unguarded, and his side
    Abandoned, at the terrour of thy power
    Or potent tongue: Fool!not to think how vain
    Against the Omnipotent to rise in arms;
    Who out of smallest things could, without end,
    Have raised incessant armies to defeat
    Thy folly; or with solitary hand
    Reaching beyond all limit, at one blow,
    Unaided, could have finished thee, and whelmed
    Thy legions under darkness: But thou seest
    All are not of thy train; there be, who faith
    Prefer, and piety to God, though then
    To thee not visible, when I alone
    Seemed in thy world erroneous to dissent
    From all: My sect thou seest;now learn too late
    How few sometimes may know, when thousands err.
    Whom the grand foe, with scornful eye askance,
    Thus answered. Ill for thee, but in wished hour
    Of my revenge, first sought for, thou returnest
    From flight, seditious Angel! to receive
    Thy merited reward, the first assay
    Of this right hand provoked, since first that tongue,
    Inspired with contradiction, durst oppose
    A third part of the Gods, in synod met
    Their deities to assert; who, while they feel
    Vigour divine within them, can allow
    Omnipotence to none. But well thou comest
    Before thy fellows, ambitious to win
    From me some plume, that thy success may show
    Destruction to the rest: This pause between,
    (Unanswered lest thou boast) to let thee know,
    At first I thought that Liberty and Heaven
    To heavenly souls had been all one; but now
    I see that most through sloth had rather serve,
    Ministring Spirits, trained up in feast and song!
    Such hast thou armed, the minstrelsy of Heaven,
    Servility with freedom to contend,
    As both their deeds compared this day shall prove.
    To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern replied.
    Apostate! still thou errest, nor end wilt find
    Of erring, from the path of truth remote:
    Unjustly thou depravest it with the name
    Of servitude, to serve whom God ordains,
    Or Nature: God and Nature bid the same,
    When he who rules is worthiest, and excels
    Them whom he governs. This is servitude,
    To serve the unwise, or him who hath rebelled
    Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee,
    Thyself not free, but to thyself enthralled;
    Yet lewdly darest our ministring upbraid.
    Reign thou in Hell, thy kingdom; let me serve
    In Heaven God ever blest, and his divine
    Behests obey, worthiest to be obeyed;
    Yet chains in Hell, not realms, expect: Mean while
    From me returned, as erst thou saidst, from flight,
    This greeting on thy impious crest receive.
    So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,
    Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell
    On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
    Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield,
    Such ruin intercept: Ten paces huge
    He back recoiled; the tenth on bended knee
    His massy spear upstaid; as if on earth
    Winds under ground, or waters forcing way,
    Sidelong had pushed a mountain from his seat,
    Half sunk with all his pines. Amazement seised
    The rebel Thrones, but greater rage, to see
    Thus foiled their mightiest; ours joy filled, and shout,
    Presage of victory, and fierce desire
    Of battle: Whereat Michael bid sound
    The Arch-Angel trumpet; through the vast of Heaven
    It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
    Hosanna to the Highest: Nor stood at gaze
    The adverse legions, nor less hideous joined
    The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
    And clamour such as heard in Heaven till now
    Was never; arms on armour clashing brayed
    Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
    Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise
    Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss
    Of fiery darts in flaming vollies flew,
    And flying vaulted either host with fire.
    So under fiery cope together rushed
    Both battles main, with ruinous assault
    And inextinguishable rage. All Heaven
    Resounded; and had Earth been then, all Earth
    Had to her center shook. What wonder? when
    Millions of fierce encountering Angels fought
    On either side, the least of whom could wield
    These elements, and arm him with the force
    Of all their regions: How much more of power
    Army against army numberless to raise
    Dreadful combustion warring, and disturb,
    Though not destroy, their happy native seat;
    Had not the Eternal King Omnipotent,
    From his strong hold of Heaven, high over-ruled
    And limited their might; though numbered such
    As each divided legion might have seemed
    A numerous host; in strength each armed hand
    A legion; led in fight, yet leader seemed
    Each warriour single as in chief, expert
    When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway
    Of battle, open when, and when to close
    The ridges of grim war: No thought of flight,
    None of retreat, no unbecoming deed
    That argued fear; each on himself relied,
    As only in his arm the moment lay
    Of victory: Deeds of eternal fame
    Were done, but infinite; for wide was spread
    That war and various; sometimes on firm ground
    A standing fight, then, soaring on main wing,
    Tormented all the air; all air seemed then
    Conflicting fire. Long time in even scale
    The battle hung; till Satan, who that day
    Prodigious power had shown, and met in arms
    No equal, ranging through the dire attack
    Of fighting Seraphim confused, at length
    Saw where the sword of Michael smote, and felled
    Squadrons at once; with huge two-handed sway
    Brandished aloft, the horrid edge came down
    Wide-wasting; such destruction to withstand
    He hasted, and opposed the rocky orb
    Of tenfold adamant, his ample shield,
    A vast circumference. At his approach
    The great Arch-Angel from his warlike toil
    Surceased, and glad, as hoping here to end
    Intestine war in Heaven, the arch-foe subdued
    Or captive dragged in chains, with hostile frown
    And visage all inflamed first thus began.
    Author of evil, unknown till thy revolt,
    Unnamed in Heaven, now plenteous as thou seest
    These acts of hateful strife, hateful to all,
    Though heaviest by just measure on thyself,
    And thy adherents: How hast thou disturbed
    Heaven's blessed peace, and into nature brought
    Misery, uncreated till the crime
    Of thy rebellion! how hast thou instilled
    Thy malice into thousands, once upright
    And faithful, now proved false! But think not here
    To trouble holy rest; Heaven casts thee out
    From all her confines. Heaven, the seat of bliss,
    Brooks not the works of violence and war.
    Hence then, and evil go with thee along,
    Thy offspring, to the place of evil, Hell;
    Thou and thy wicked crew! there mingle broils,
    Ere this avenging sword begin thy doom,
    Or some more sudden vengeance, winged from God,
    Precipitate thee with augmented pain.
    So spake the Prince of Angels; to whom thus
    The Adversary. Nor think thou with wind
    Of aery threats to awe whom yet with deeds
    Thou canst not. Hast thou turned the least of these
    To flight, or if to fall, but that they rise
    Unvanquished, easier to transact with me
    That thou shouldst hope, imperious, and with threats
    To chase me hence? err not, that so shall end
    The strife which thou callest evil, but we style
    The strife of glory; which we mean to win,
    Or turn this Heaven itself into the Hell
    Thou fablest; here however to dwell free,
    If not to reign: Mean while thy utmost force,
    And join him named Almighty to thy aid,
    I fly not, but have sought thee far and nigh.
    They ended parle, and both addressed for fight
    Unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue
    Of Angels, can relate, or to what things
    Liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift
    Human imagination to such highth
    Of Godlike power? for likest Gods they seemed,
    Stood they or moved, in stature, motion, arms,
    Fit to decide the empire of great Heaven.
    Now waved their fiery swords, and in the air
    Made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields
    Blazed opposite, while Expectation stood
    In horrour: From each hand with speed retired,
    Where erst was thickest fight, the angelick throng,
    And left large field, unsafe within the wind
    Of such commotion; such as, to set forth
    Great things by small, if, nature's concord broke,
    Among the constellations war were sprung,
    Two planets, rushing from aspect malign
    Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky
    Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound.
    Together both with next to almighty arm
    Up-lifted imminent, one stroke they aimed
    That might determine, and not need repeat,
    As not of power at once; nor odds appeared
    In might or swift prevention: But the sword
    Of Michael from the armoury of God
    Was given him tempered so, that neither keen
    Nor solid might resist that edge: it met
    The sword of Satan, with steep force to smite
    Descending, and in half cut sheer; nor staid,
    But with swift wheel reverse, deep entering, shared
    All his right side: Then Satan first knew pain,
    And writhed him to and fro convolved; so sore
    The griding sword with discontinuous wound
    Passed through him: But the ethereal substance closed,
    Not long divisible; and from the gash
    A stream of necturous humour issuing flowed
    Sanguine, such as celestial Spirits may bleed,
    And all his armour stained, ere while so bright.
    Forthwith on all sides to his aid was run
    By Angels many and strong, who interposed
    Defence, while others bore him on their shields
    Back to his chariot, where it stood retired
    From off the files of war: There they him laid
    Gnashing for anguish, and despite, and shame,
    To find himself not matchless, and his pride
    Humbled by such rebuke, so far beneath
    His confidence to equal God in power.
    Yet soon he healed; for Spirits that live throughout
    Vital in every part, not as frail man
    In entrails, heart of head, liver or reins,
    Cannot but by annihilating die;
    Nor in their liquid texture mortal wound
    Receive, no more than can the fluid air:
    All heart they live, all head, all eye, all ear,
    All intellect, all sense; and, as they please,
    They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size
    Assume, as?kikes them best, condense or rare.
    Mean while in other parts like deeds deserved
    Memorial, where the might of Gabriel fought,
    And with fierce ensigns pierced the deep array
    Of Moloch, furious king; who him defied,
    And at his chariot-wheels to drag him bound
    Threatened, nor from the Holy One of Heaven
    Refrained his tongue blasphemous; but anon
    Down cloven to the waist, with shattered arms
    And uncouth pain fled bellowing. On each wing
    Uriel, and Raphael, his vaunting foe,
    Though huge, and in a rock of diamond armed,
    Vanquished Adramelech, and Asmadai,
    Two potent Thrones, that to be less than Gods
    Disdained, but meaner thoughts learned in their flight,
    Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail.
    Nor stood unmindful Abdiel to annoy
    The atheist crew, but with redoubled blow
    Ariel, and Arioch, and the violence
    Of Ramiel scorched and blasted, overthrew.
    I might relate of thousands, and their names
    Eternize here on earth; but those elect
    Angels, contented with their fame in Heaven,
    Seek not the praise of men: The other sort,
    In might though wonderous and in acts of war,
    Nor of renown less eager, yet by doom
    Cancelled from Heaven and sacred memory,
    Nameless in dark oblivion let them dwell.
    For strength from truth divided, and from just,
    Illaudable, nought merits but dispraise
    And ignominy; yet to glory aspires
    Vain-glorious, and through infamy seeks fame:
    Therefore eternal silence be their doom.
    And now, their mightiest quelled, the battle swerved,
    With many an inroad gored; deformed rout
    Entered, and foul disorder; all the ground
    With shivered armour strown, and on a heap
    Chariot and charioteer lay overturned,
    And fiery-foaming steeds; what stood, recoiled
    O'er-wearied, through the faint Satanick host
    Defensive scarce, or with pale fear surprised,
    Then first with fear surprised, and sense of pain,
    Fled ignominious, to such evil brought
    By sin of disobedience; till that hour
    Not liable to fear, or flight, or pain.
    Far otherwise the inviolable Saints,
    In cubick phalanx firm, advanced entire,
    Invulnerable, impenetrably armed;
    Such high advantages their innocence
    Gave them above their foes; not to have sinned,
    Not to have disobeyed; in fight they stood
    Unwearied, unobnoxious to be pained
    By wound, though from their place by violence moved,
    Now Night her course began, and, over Heaven
    Inducing darkness, grateful truce imposed,
    And silence on the odious din of war:
    Under her cloudy covert both retired,
    Victor and vanquished: On the foughten field
    Michael and his Angels prevalent
    Encamping, placed in guard their watches round,
    Cherubick waving fires: On the other part,
    Satan with his rebellious disappeared,
    Far in the dark dislodged; and, void of rest,
    His potentates to council called by night;
    And in the midst thus undismayed began.
    O now in danger tried, now known in arms
    Not to be overpowered, Companions dear,
    Found worthy not of liberty alone,
    Too mean pretence! but what we more affect,
    Honour, dominion, glory, and renown;
    Who have sustained one day in doubtful fight,
    (And if one day, why not eternal days?)
    What Heaven's Lord had powerfullest to send
    Against us from about his throne, and judged
    Sufficient to subdue us to his will,
    But proves not so: Then fallible, it seems,
    Of future we may deem him, though till now
    Omniscient thought. True is, less firmly armed,
    Some disadvantage we endured and pain,
    Till now not known, but, known, as soon contemned;
    Since now we find this our empyreal form
    Incapable of mortal injury,
    Imperishable, and, though pierced with wound,
    Soon closing, and by native vigour healed.
    Of evil then so small as easy think
    The remedy; perhaps more valid arms,
    Weapons more violent, when next we meet,
    May serve to better us, and worse our foes,
    Or equal what between us made the odds,
    In nature none: If other hidden cause
    Left them superiour, while we can preserve
    Unhurt our minds, and understanding sound,
    Due search and consultation will disclose.
    He sat; and in the assembly next upstood
    Nisroch, of Principalities the prime;
    As one he stood escaped from cruel fight,
    Sore toiled, his riven arms to havock hewn,
    And cloudy in aspect thus answering spake.
    Deliverer from new Lords, leader to free
    Enjoyment of our right as Gods; yet hard
    For Gods, and too unequal work we find,
    Against unequal arms to fight in pain,
    Against unpained, impassive; from which evil
    Ruin must needs ensue; for what avails
    Valour or strength, though matchless, quelled with pain
    Which all subdues, and makes remiss the hands
    Of mightiest? Sense of pleasure we may well
    Spare out of life perhaps, and not repine,
    But live content, which is the calmest life:
    But pain is perfect misery, the worst
    Of evils, and, excessive, overturns
    All patience. He, who therefore can invent
    With what more forcible we may offend
    Our yet unwounded enemies, or arm
    Ourselves with like defence, to me deserves
    No less than for deliverance what we owe.
    Whereto with look composed Satan replied.
    Not uninvented that, which thou aright
    Believest so main to our success, I bring.
    Which of us who beholds the bright surface
    Of this ethereous mould whereon we stand,
    This continent of spacious Heaven, adorned
    With plant, fruit, flower ambrosial, gems, and gold;
    Whose eye so superficially surveys
    These things, as not to mind from whence they grow
    Deep under ground, materials dark and crude,
    Of spiritous and fiery spume, till touched
    With Heaven's ray, and tempered, they shoot forth
    So beauteous, opening to the ambient light?
    These in their dark nativity the deep
    Shall yield us, pregnant with infernal flame;
    Which, into hollow engines, long and round,
    Thick rammed, at the other bore with touch of fire
    Dilated and infuriate, shall send forth
    From far, with thundering noise, among our foes
    Such implements of mischief, as shall dash
    To pieces, and o'erwhelm whatever stands
    Adverse, that they shall fear we have disarmed
    The Thunderer of his only dreaded bolt.
    Nor long shall be our labour; yet ere dawn,
    Effect shall end our wish. Mean while revive;
    Abandon fear; to strength and counsel joined
    Think nothing hard, much less to be despaired.
    He ended, and his words their drooping cheer
    Enlightened, and their languished hope revived.
    The invention all admired, and each, how he
    To be the inventer missed; so easy it seemed
    Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought
    Impossible: Yet, haply, of thy race
    In future days, if malice should abound,
    Some one intent on mischief, or inspired
    With devilish machination, might devise
    Like instrument to plague the sons of men
    For sin, on war and mutual slaughter bent.
    Forthwith from council to the work they flew;
    None arguing stood; innumerable hands
    Were ready; in a moment up they turned
    Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath
    The originals of nature in their crude
    Conception; sulphurous and nitrous foam
    They found, they mingled, and, with subtle art,
    Concocted and adusted they reduced
    To blackest grain, and into store conveyed:
    Part hidden veins digged up (nor hath this earth
    Entrails unlike) of mineral and stone,
    Whereof to found their engines and their balls
    Of missive ruin; part incentive reed
    Provide, pernicious with one touch to fire.
    So all ere day-spring, under conscious night,
    Secret they finished, and in order set,
    With silent circumspection, unespied.
    Now when fair morn orient in Heaven appeared,
    Up rose the victor-Angels, and to arms
    The matin trumpet sung: In arms they stood
    Of golden panoply, refulgent host,
    Soon banded; others from the dawning hills
    Look round, and scouts each coast light-armed scour,
    Each quarter to descry the distant foe,
    Where lodged, or whither fled, or if for fight,
    In motion or in halt: Him soon they met
    Under spread ensigns moving nigh, in slow
    But firm battalion; back with speediest sail
    Zophiel, of Cherubim the swiftest wing,
    Came flying, and in mid air aloud thus cried.
    Arm, Warriours, arm for fight; the foe at hand,
    Whom fled we thought, will save us long pursuit
    This day; fear not his flight;so thick a cloud
    He comes, and settled in his face I see
    Sad resolution, and secure: Let each
    His adamantine coat gird well, and each
    Fit well his helm, gripe fast his orbed shield,
    Borne even or high; for this day will pour down,
    If I conjecture aught, no drizzling shower,
    But rattling storm of arrows barbed with fire.
    So warned he them, aware themselves, and soon
    In order, quit of all impediment;
    Instant without disturb they took alarm,
    And onward moved embattled: When behold!
    Not distant far with heavy pace the foe
    Approaching gross and huge, in hollow cube
    Training his devilish enginery, impaled
    On every side with shadowing squadrons deep,
    To hide the fraud. At interview both stood
    A while; but suddenly at head appeared
    Satan, and thus was heard commanding loud.
    Vanguard, to right and left the front unfold;
    That all may see who hate us, how we seek
    Peace and composure, and with open breast
    Stand ready to receive them, if they like
    Our overture; and turn not back perverse:
    But that I doubt; however witness, Heaven!
    Heaven, witness thou anon! while we discharge
    Freely our part: ye, who appointed stand
    Do as you have in charge, and briefly touch
    What we propound, and loud that all may hear!
    So scoffing in ambiguous words, he scarce
    Had ended; when to right and left the front
    Divided, and to either flank retired:
    Which to our eyes discovered, new and strange,
    A triple mounted row of pillars laid
    On wheels (for like to pillars most they seemed,
    Or hollowed bodies made of oak or fir,
    With branches lopt, in wood or mountain felled,)
    Brass, iron, stony mould, had not their mouths
    With hideous orifice gaped on us wide,
    Portending hollow truce: At each behind
    A Seraph stood, and in his hand a reed
    Stood waving tipt with fire; while we, suspense,
    Collected stood within our thoughts amused,
    Not long; for sudden all at once their reeds
    Put forth, and to a narrow vent applied
    With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame,
    But soon obscured with smoke, all Heaven appeared,
    From those deep-throated engines belched, whose roar
    Embowelled with outrageous noise the air,
    And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul
    Their devilish glut, chained thunderbolts and hail
    Of iron globes; which, on the victor host
    Levelled, with such impetuous fury smote,
    That, whom they hit, none on their feet might stand,
    Though standing else as rocks, but down they fell
    By thousands, Angel on Arch-Angel rolled;
    The sooner for their arms; unarmed, they might
    Have easily, as Spirits, evaded swift
    By quick contraction or remove; but now
    Foul dissipation followed, and forced rout;
    Nor served it to relax their serried files.
    What should they do? if on they rushed, repulse
    Repeated, and indecent overthrow
    Doubled, would render them yet more despised,
    And to their foes a laughter; for in view
    Stood ranked of Seraphim another row,
    In posture to displode their second tire
    Of thunder: Back defeated to return
    They worse abhorred. Satan beheld their plight,
    And to his mates thus in derision called.
    O Friends! why come not on these victors proud
    Ere while they fierce were coming; and when we,
    To entertain them fair with open front
    And breast, (what could we more?) propounded terms
    Of composition, straight they changed their minds,
    Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell,
    As they would dance; yet for a dance they seemed
    Somewhat extravagant and wild; perhaps
    For joy of offered peace: But I suppose,
    If our proposals once again were heard,
    We should compel them to a quick result.
    To whom thus Belial, in like gamesome mood.
    Leader! the terms we sent were terms of weight,
    Of hard contents, and full of force urged home;
    Such as we might perceive amused them all,
    And stumbled many: Who receives them right,
    Had need from head to foot well understand;
    Not understood, this gift they have besides,
    They show us when our foes walk not upright.
    So they among themselves in pleasant vein
    Stood scoffing, hightened in their thoughts beyond
    All doubt of victory: Eternal Might
    To match with their inventions they presumed
    So easy, and of his thunder made a scorn,
    And all his host derided, while they stood
    A while in trouble: But they stood not long;
    Rage prompted them at length, and found them arms
    Against such hellish mischief fit to oppose.
    Forthwith (behold the excellence, the power,
    Which God hath in his mighty Angels placed!)
    Their arms away they threw, and to the hills
    (For Earth hath this variety from Heaven
    Of pleasure situate in hill and dale,)
    Light as the lightning glimpse they ran, they flew;
    From their foundations loosening to and fro,
    They plucked the seated hills, with all their load,
    Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops
    Up-lifting bore them in their hands: Amaze,
    Be sure, and terrour, seized the rebel host,
    When coming towards them so dread they saw
    The bottom of the mountains upward turned;
    Till on those cursed engines' triple-row
    They saw them whelmed, and all their confidence
    Under the weight of mountains buried deep;
    Themselves invaded next, and on their heads
    Main promontories flung, which in the air
    Came shadowing, and oppressed whole legions armed;
    Their armour helped their harm, crushed in and bruised
    Into their substance pent, which wrought them pain
    Implacable, and many a dolorous groan;
    Long struggling underneath, ere they could wind
    Out of such prison, though Spirits of purest light,
    Purest at first, now gross by sinning grown.
    The rest, in imitation, to like arms
    Betook them, and the neighbouring hills uptore:
    So hills amid the air encountered hills,
    Hurled to and fro with jaculation dire;
    That under ground they fought in dismal shade;
    Infernal noise! war seemed a civil game
    To this uproar; horrid confusion heaped
    Upon confusion rose: And now all Heaven
    Had gone to wrack, with ruin overspread;
    Had not the Almighty Father, where he sits
    Shrined in his sanctuary of Heaven secure,
    Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen
    This tumult, and permitted all, advised:
    That his great purpose he might so fulfil,
    To honour his anointed Son avenged
    Upon his enemies, and to declare
    All power on him transferred: Whence to his Son,
    The Assessour of his throne, he thus began.
    Effulgence of my glory, Son beloved,
    Son, in whose face invisible is beheld
    Visibly, what by Deity I am;
    And in whose hand what by decree I do,
    Second Omnipotence! two days are past,
    Two days, as we compute the days of Heaven,
    Since Michael and his Powers went forth to tame
    These disobedient: Sore hath been their fight,
    As likeliest was, when two such foes met armed;
    For to themselves I left them; and thou knowest,
    Equal in their creation they were formed,
    Save what sin hath impaired; which yet hath wrought
    Insensibly, for I suspend their doom;
    Whence in perpetual fight they needs must last
    Endless, and no solution will be found:
    War wearied hath performed what war can do,
    And to disordered rage let loose the reins
    With mountains, as with weapons, armed; which makes
    Wild work in Heaven, and dangerous to the main.
    Two days are therefore past, the third is thine;
    For thee I have ordained it; and thus far
    Have suffered, that the glory may be thine
    Of ending this great war, since none but Thou
    Can end it. Into thee such virtue and grace
    Immense I have transfused, that all may know
    In Heaven and Hell thy power above compare;
    And, this perverse commotion governed thus,
    To manifest thee worthiest to be Heir
    Of all things; to be Heir, and to be King
    By sacred unction, thy deserved right.
    Go then, Thou Mightiest, in thy Father's might;
    Ascend my chariot, guide the rapid wheels
    That shake Heaven's basis, bring forth all my war,
    My bow and thunder, my almighty arms
    Gird on, and sword upon thy puissant thigh;
    Pursue these sons of darkness, drive them out
    From all Heaven's bounds into the utter deep:
    There let them learn, as likes them, to despise
    God, and Messiah his anointed King.
    He said, and on his Son with rays direct
    Shone full; he all his Father full expressed
    Ineffably into his face received;
    And thus the Filial Godhead answering spake.
    O Father, O Supreme of heavenly Thrones,
    First, Highest, Holiest, Best; thou always seek'st
    To glorify thy Son, I always thee,
    As is most just: This I my glory account,
    My exaltation, and my whole delight,
    That thou, in me well pleased, declarest thy will
    Fulfilled, which to fulfil is all my bliss.
    Scepter and power, thy giving, I assume,
    And gladlier shall resign, when in the end
    Thou shalt be all in all, and I in thee
    For ever; and in me all whom thou lovest:
    But whom thou hatest, I hate, and can put on
    Thy terrours, as I put thy mildness on,
    Image of thee in all things; and shall soon,
    Armed with thy might, rid Heaven of these rebelled;
    To their prepared ill mansion driven down,
    To chains of darkness, and the undying worm;
    That from thy just obedience could revolt,
    Whom to obey is happiness entire.
    Then shall thy Saints unmixed, and from the impure
    Far separate, circling thy holy mount,
    Unfeigned Halleluiahs to thee sing,
    Hymns of high praise, and I among them Chief.
    So said, he, o'er his scepter bowing, rose
    From the right hand of Glory where he sat;
    And the third sacred morn began to shine,
    Dawning through Heaven. Forth rushed with whirlwind sound
    The chariot of Paternal Deity,
    Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn,
    Itself instinct with Spirit, but convoyed
    By four Cherubick shapes; four faces each
    Had wonderous; as with stars, their bodies all
    And wings were set with eyes; with eyes the wheels
    Of beryl, and careering fires between;
    Over their heads a crystal firmament,
    Whereon a sapphire throne, inlaid with pure
    Amber, and colours of the showery arch.
    He, in celestial panoply all armed
    Of radiant Urim, work divinely wrought,
    Ascended; at his right hand Victory
    Sat eagle-winged; beside him hung his bow
    And quiver with three-bolted thunder stored;
    And from about him fierce effusion rolled
    Of smoke, and bickering flame, and sparkles dire:
    Attended with ten thousand thousand Saints,
    He onward came; far off his coming shone;
    And twenty thousand (I their number heard)
    Chariots of God, half on each hand, were seen;
    He on the wings of Cherub rode sublime
    On the crystalline sky, in sapphire throned,
    Illustrious far and wide; but by his own
    First seen: Them unexpected joy surprised,
    When the great ensign of Messiah blazed
    Aloft by Angels borne, his sign in Heaven;
    Under whose conduct Michael soon reduced
    His army, circumfused on either wing,
    Under their Head imbodied all in one.
    Before him Power Divine his way prepared;
    At his command the uprooted hills retired
    Each to his place; they heard his voice, and went
    Obsequious; Heaven his wonted face renewed,
    And with fresh flowerets hill and valley smiled.
    This saw his hapless foes, but stood obdured,
    And to rebellious fight rallied their Powers,
    Insensate, hope conceiving from despair.
    In heavenly Spirits could such perverseness dwell?
    But to convince the proud what signs avail,
    Or wonders move the obdurate to relent?
    They, hardened more by what might most reclaim,
    Grieving to see his glory, at the sight
    Took envy; and, aspiring to his highth,
    Stood re-embattled fierce, by force or fraud
    Weening to prosper, and at length prevail
    Against God and Messiah, or to fall
    In universal ruin last; and now
    To final battle drew, disdaining flight,
    Or faint retreat; when the great Son of God
    To all his host on either hand thus spake.
    Stand still in bright array, ye Saints; here stand,
    Ye Angels armed; this day from battle rest:
    Faithful hath been your warfare, and of God
    Accepted, fearless in his righteous cause;
    And as ye have received, so have ye done,
    Invincibly: But of this cursed crew
    The punishment to other hand belongs;
    Vengeance is his, or whose he sole appoints:
    Number to this day's work is not ordained,
    Nor multitude; stand only, and behold
    God's indignation on these godless poured
    By me; not you, but me, they have despised,
    Yet envied; against me is all their rage,
    Because the Father, to whom in Heaven s'preme
    Kingdom, and power, and glory appertains,
    Hath honoured me, according to his will.
    Therefore to me their doom he hath assigned;
    That they may have their wish, to try with me
    In battle which the stronger proves; they all,
    Or I alone against them; since by strength
    They measure all, of other excellence
    Not emulous, nor care who them excels;
    Nor other strife with them do I vouchsafe.
    So spake the Son, and into terrour changed
    His countenance too severe to be beheld,
    And full of wrath bent on his enemies.
    At once the Four spread out their starry wings
    With dreadful shade contiguous, and the orbs
    Of his fierce chariot rolled, as with the sound
    Of torrent floods, or of a numerous host.
    He on his impious foes right onward drove,
    Gloomy as night; under his burning wheels
    The stedfast empyrean shook throughout,
    All but the throne itself of God. Full soon
    Among them he arrived; in his right hand
    Grasping ten thousand thunders, which he sent
    Before him, such as in their souls infixed
    Plagues: They, astonished, all resistance lost,
    All courage; down their idle weapons dropt:
    O'er shields, and helms, and helmed heads he rode
    Of Thrones and mighty Seraphim prostrate,
    That wished the mountains now might be again
    Thrown on them, as a shelter from his ire.
    Nor less on either side tempestuous fell
    His arrows, from the fourfold-visaged Four
    Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels
    Distinct alike with multitude of eyes;
    One Spirit in them ruled; and every eye
    Glared lightning, and shot forth pernicious fire
    Among the accursed, that withered all their strength,
    And of their wonted vigour left them drained,
    Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fallen.
    Yet half his strength he put not forth, but checked
    His thunder in mid volley; for he meant
    Not to destroy, but root them out of Heaven:
    The overthrown he raised, and as a herd
    Of goats or timorous flock together thronged
    Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursued
    With terrours, and with furies, to the bounds
    And crystal wall of Heaven; which, opening wide,
    Rolled inward, and a spacious gap disclosed
    Into the wasteful deep: The monstrous sight
    Struck them with horrour backward, but far worse
    Urged them behind: Headlong themselves they threw
    Down from the verge of Heaven; eternal wrath
    Burnt after them to the bottomless pit.
    Hell heard the unsufferable noise, Hell saw
    Heaven ruining from Heaven, and would have fled
    Affrighted; but strict Fate had cast too deep
    Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound.
    Nine days they fell: Confounded Chaos roared,
    And felt tenfold confusion in their fall
    Through his wild anarchy, so huge a rout
    Incumbered him with ruin: Hell at last
    Yawning received them whole, and on them closed;
    Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire
    Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.
    Disburdened Heaven rejoiced, and soon repaired
    Her mural breach, returning whence it rolled.
    Sole victor, from the expulsion of his foes,
    Messiah his triumphal chariot turned:
    To meet him all his Saints, who silent stood
    Eye-witnesses of his almighty acts,
    With jubilee advanced; and, as they went,
    Shaded with branching palm, each Order bright,
    Sung triumph, and him sung victorious King,
    Son, Heir, and Lord, to him dominion given,
    Worthiest to reign: He, celebrated, rode
    Triumphant through mid Heaven, into the courts
    And temple of his Mighty Father throned
    On high; who into glory him received,
    Where now he sits at the right hand of bliss.
    Thus, measuring things in Heaven by things on Earth,
    At thy request, and that thou mayest beware
    By what is past, to thee I have revealed
    What might have else to human race been hid;
    The discord which befel, and war in Heaven
    Among the angelick Powers, and the deep fall
    Of those too high aspiring, who rebelled
    With Satan; he who envies now thy state,
    Who now is plotting how he may seduce
    Thee also from obedience, that, with him
    Bereaved of happiness, thou mayest partake
    His punishment, eternal misery;
    Which would be all his solace and revenge,
    As a despite done against the Most High,
    Thee once to gain companion of his woe.
    But listen not to his temptations, warn
    Thy weaker; let it profit thee to have heard,
    By terrible example, the reward
    Of disobedience; firm they might have stood,
    Yet fell; remember, and fear to transgress.
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