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Waked by the circling Hours,

with rosy hand Unbarr'd 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 vicissitudes, likę 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, array'd in gold Empyreal; from before her vanishd Night, Shot through with orient beams; when all the plain Cover'd 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 mix'd 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 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 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 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, Michæl, 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,
E qual in number to that godless crew
Rebellious: Them with fire and hostile arms
Fearless sssault: 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 Sovereign 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 join?
Of union irresistible, moved on
In silence their bright legions, to the sound
Of instrumental harmony, that breathed
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 wing,
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,
Tenfold the length of this terrene: At last,
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 thronged, and shields
Various, with boastful argument portray'd,
The banded Powers of Satan hasting on
With furious expedition; for they ween'd
That selfsame 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 seem'd
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 join’d,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,
Came towering, arm'd 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 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
Incensed, and thus securely him defied.

Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have reach'd The height of thy aspiring unopposed, 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 raised 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 scornsul eye

askance, Thus answerd: 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, 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 (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;
Ministering Spirits, train'd up in feast and song!
Such hast thou arm’d, the minstrels 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 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 rebelld
Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee,
Thyself not free, but to thyself enthrall'd;
Yet lewdly darest our ministering upbraid.
Reign thou in Hell, thy kingdom; let me serve
In Heaven God ever bless’d, and his divine
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, 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 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 its pines. Amazement seized The rebel Thrones, but greater rage, to see Thus foil'd their mightiest; ours joy fill'd, and shout, Presage of victory, and fierce desire Of battle: Whereat Michael bid sound The Archangel trumpet; through the vast of Heaven It sounded, and the faithful armies rung Hosanna to the Highest: Nor stood at gaze

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