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Chariots, and flaming arms, and fiery steeds,
Reflecting blaze on blaze, first met his view:
War he perceiv'd, war in procinct; and found
Already known what he for news had thought
To have reported: gladly then he mix'd
Among those friendly powers, who him receiv'd
With joy and acclamations loud, that one,
That of so many myriads fallen, yet one
Return'd 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 maintain'd
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 approv'd in sight of God, though worlda
Judg'd thee perverse: the easier conquest now
Remains thee: aided by this host of friends,
Back on thy foes more glorious to return,
Than scorn'd 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, rang'd 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 awak'd; nor with less dread the loud
Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow :
At which command the powers militante
That stood for heaven, in mighty quadrate join'd
Of union irresistible, mov'd on

In silence their bright legions, to the sound
Of instrumental harmony, that breath'd
Heroic ardour to adventurous deeds
Under their godlike 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 winge

Came summon'd over Eden to receive
Their names of thee; so over many a tract:
Of heaven they march'd, and many a province wide i
Tenfold the length of this terrene: at last, t
Far in the horizon to the north appear'd
From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretch'd
In battailous aspect, and nearer view
Bristled with upright beams innumerable
Of rigid spears, and helmets throng'd, and shields
Various, with boastful argument pourtray'd,
The banded powers of Satan hasting on
With furious expedition; for they ween'd
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 prov'd fond and vain
In the mid-way; though strange to us it seem'd
At first, that angel should with angel war,

And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet.
Sc 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, enclos'd

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 join'd,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanc'd,
Came towering, arm'd in adamant and gold;
Abdiel that sight endur'd 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

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Should yet remain, where faith and reälty Remain not! wherefore should not strength and

might

There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove
Where boldest, though to sight 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
Incens'd, and thus securely him defied:

"Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to havs The highth of thy aspiring unoppos'd,

[reach The throne of God unguarded, and his side Abandon'd, at the terror 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 rais'd incessant armies to defeat
Thy folly; or with solitary hand

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
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, Thus answer'd : Ill for thee, but in wish'ḍ hour

Of my revenge, first sought for, thou return'st
From flight, seditious angel! to
o receive
Thy merited reward, the first assay

Of this right hand provok'd, 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 fee
Vigour divine within them, can allow
Omnipotence to none. But well thou come
Before thy fellows, ambitious to win

From me some plume, that thy success may sho
Destruction to the rest: this pause between,
(Unanswer'd 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,
Minist'ring spirits, train'd up in feast and song
Such hast thou arm'd, the minstrelsy of heaven,
Servility with freedom to contend,

1.

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 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 rebell’d #Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee, Thyself not free, but to thyself enthrall'd ; Yet lewdly dar'st our ministring upbraid. Reign thou in hell, thy kingdom; let me serve In heaven God ever-blest, and his divinė su Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd;

Yet chains in hell, not realms, expect: meanwhile From me return'd, as erst thou said'st, 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 fel.
On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shielà,
Such ruin intercept: ten paces huge st
He back recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee
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
Thus foil'd their mightiest ;ours joy fill'd, and
Presage of victory, and fierce desire [shout

Of battle: whereat Michael bid sound
The archangel trumpet; through the vast of heaven

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