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135 “'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 rais'd incessant armies to defeat

"• Thy folly; or, with solitary hand
140 “Reaching beyond all limit, at one blow,
“Unaided, could have finish'd thee, and whelm'd

Thy legions under darkness. But thou seest All are not of thy train; there be who faith

“ . Prefer, and piety to God, though then 145 “. To thee not visible, when I alone

Seem'd 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, 150 “ Thus answer'd: Ill for thee, but in wish'd hour

“Of my revenge, first sought for, thou return'st
“From flight, seditious angel! to receive
“ • Thy merited reward, the first assay
“Of this right hand provoked, since first that tongue,

Inspir’d 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 com'st 160 “. Before thy fellows, ambitious to win

“ . From me some plume, that thy success may show
“ • Destruction to the rest: this pause between,
“ (Unanswer'd lest thou boast,) to let thee know

“At first I thought that liberty, and heaven,
165 . To heavenly souls had been all one; but now
“I see that most through sloth had rather serve:

Ministring spirits, train’d up in feast and song !
“Such hast thou arm’d—the minstrelsy of heaven,

Servility with freedom to contend, 170 " " As both their deeds compar'd this day shall prove.'

“ To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern replied:

Apostate ! still thou err’st, nor end wilt find

155 so

"Of erring, from the path of truth remote:

“Unjustly thou deprav'st it with the name 175 "Of servitude, to serve whom God ordains,

66. 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 rebellid 180 166

Against his worthier; as thine now serve thee,
“ • Thyself not free, but to thyself enthrall’d:
«« Yet lewdly darst our minist’ring upbraid.

Reign thou in hell, thy kingdom; let me serve,
“* In heaven, God ever-blest, and his divine
185 “Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd !

Yet chains in hell, not realms, expect: meanwhile,
“ From me return'd, as erst thou saidst, from flight,
" . This greeting on thy impious crest receive.'

“So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,
190“ 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 recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee 195 “His massy spear upstaid; as if on earth

“ Winds under ground, or waters, forcing way,
“Sidelong had push'd a mountain from his seat,
“Half-sunk with all his pines. Amazement seiz'd

“ The rebel thrones, but greater rage, to see 200 “ Thus foil'd their mightiest ; ours joy fill'd, and shout,

Presage of victory, and fierce desire
“ Of battle: whereat Michaël bid sound
“The archangel trumpet; through the vast of heaven

“ It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
205 “ Hosanna to the Highest : nor stood at gaze

“ The adverse legions, nor less hideous join'd
“ The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
“ And clamour, such as heard in heaven till now

“ Was never; arms on armour clashing bray'd 210 Horrible discord, and the madding wheels

“Of brazen chariots rag'd; dire was the noise
“Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss
“Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,

“ And, flying, vaulted either host with fire: 215 “ So under fiery cope together rush'd

“ Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage. All heaven
“Resounded; and had earth been then, all earth

“ Had to her centre shook. What wonder ? when 220 “Millions of fierce encount'ring 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
225 “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 overrul'd

“ And limited their might; though number'd such 230 “As each divided legion might have seem'd

“A numerous host; in strength each armed hand
A legion ; led in fight, yet leader seemed
“Each warrior, single, as in chief, expert

“ When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway 235 “ 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 240 “ 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 seem'd then 245 “ 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

L

“Of fighting Seraphim confus’d, at length
250 “Saw where the sword of Michael smote, and fellid

“Squadrons at once; with huge two-handed sway
“ Brandish'd aloft, the horrid edge came down,
“ Wide-wasting! Such destruction to withstand

“ He hasted, and oppos'd the rocky orb 255 “Of tenfold adamant, his ample shield,

“A vast circumference. At his approach,
“ The great archangel from his warlike toil
“Surceas'd; and, glad, as hoping here to end

“ Intestine war in heaven, the arch-foe subdued, 260 “ Or captive dragg’d in chains, with hostile frown

“And visage all inflam'd first thus began :

• Author of evil, unknown till thy revolt, “«Unnam'd in heaven-now plenteous, as thou seest,

"These acts of hateful strife, hateful to all,
265 “Though heaviest, by just measure, on thyself

“. And thy adherents : how hast thou disturb’d
“Heaven's blessed peace, and into nature brought
"Misery, uncreated till the crime

". Of thy rebellion ! how hast thou instill’d 270 "" Thy malice into thousands, once upright

" And faithful-now prov'd false! But think not here
". To trouble holy rest: heaven casts thee out
“From all her confines; heaven, the seat of bliss,

«6 • Brooks not the works of violence and war. 275 "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, wing'd 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 turn'd the least of these “To flight; or if to fall, but that they rise

Unvanquish’d, easier to transact with me,

280

285

“That thou shouldst hope, imperious, and with threats, To chase me hence? Err not, that so shall end

“The strife which thou call'st evil, but we style 290 “. 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: meanwhile thy utmost force,

“(And join him nam’d Almighty to thy aid,) 295 “I fly not; but have sought thee far and nigh.'

They ended parle, and both address'd for fight
Unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue
Of angels, can relate, or to what things

“Liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift 300 “Human imagination to such height

“Of godlike power? for likest gods they seem'd,
“Stood they, or mov'd; in stature, motion, arms,
“ Fit to decide the empire of great heaven.

“Now wav'd their fiery swords, and in the air
305 “ Made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields

“ Blaz'd opposite, while Expectation stood
“ In horror: from each hand with speed retir'd,
“ Where erst was thickest fight, the angelic throng,

“And left large field, unsafe within the wind 310 “ 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 aspéct malign

“Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky 315 “ Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound.

“ Together both, with next to almighty arm

Uplifted imminent, one stroke they aim'd
“That might determine, and not need repeat,
“ As not of power at once: nor odds appear'd
“In might, or swift prevention : but the sword
“Of Michäel, from the armoury of God
“ Was given him temper'd so, that neither keen,
“Nor solid, might resist that edge: it met
“ The sword of Satan, with steep force to smite

320

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