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Against a rumour'd war; the smutty grain, With sudden blaze diffus'd, inflames the air; So started up, in his own shape, the fiend. 820 Back stept those two fair angels, half amaz'd So sudden to behold the grisly king;

Yet thus, unmov'd with fear, accost him soon:

"Which of those rebel spirits, adjudg'd to hell, "Com'st thou, escap'd thy prison? and, transform'd, 825 "Why satt'st thou, like an enemy in wait,

"Here watching at the head of these that sleep?" "Know ye not then," said Satan, fill'd with scorn. "Know ye not me? ye knew me once no mate "For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar : 830"Not to know me, argues yourselves unknown, "The lowest of your throng: or, if ye know,


Why ask ye, and superfluous begin

"Your message-like to end as much in vain ?"

To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn: 835"Think not, revolted spirit! thy shape the same

"Or undiminish'd brightness, to be known


"As when thou stood'st in heaven upright and pure; "That glory then, when thou no more wast good, Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now 840"Thy sin, and place of doom,-obscure, and foul. "But come! for thou, be sure, shalt give account "To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep "This place inviolable, and these from harm."

So spake the Cherub; and his grave rebuke, 845 Severe in youthful beauty, added grace Invincible: abash'd the devil stood,

And felt how awful goodness is, and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely-saw, and pin'd His loss; but chiefly to find here observ'd 850 His lustre visibly impair'd: yet seem'd Undaunted. "If I must contend," said he, "Best with the best, the sender not the sent, "Or all at once; more glory will be won, "Or less be lost."


Thy fear," said Zephon bold,


"Will save us trial what the least can do


Single against thee wicked, and thence weak."
The fiend replied not, overcome with rage;
But, like a proud steed rein'd, went haughty on,
Champing his iron curb: to strive, or fly,

860 He held it vain; awe from above had quell'd

His heart, not else dismay'd. Now drew they nigh The western point, where those half-rounding guards Just met, and closing stood in squadron join'd, Awaiting next command. To whom their chief, 865 Gabriel, from the front thus call'd aloud:


"O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet

Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern "Ithuriel, and Zephon, through the shade; "And with them comes a third, of regal port, 870"But faded splendour wan; who by his gait, "And fierce demeanour, seems the prince of hell; "Not likely to part hence without contést: "Stand firm, for in his look defiance lowers."

He scarce had ended, when those two approach'd, 875 And brief related whom they brought-where foundHow busied in what form and posture couch'd.



To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake: "Why hast thou, Satan! broke the bounds prescrib'd "To thy transgressions, and disturb'd the charge "Of others, who approve not to transgress "By thy example, but have power and right "To question thy bold entrance on this place; Employ'd, it seems, to violate sleep, and those "Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?" To whom thus Satan, with contemptuous brow: "Gabriel! thou hadst in heaven the esteem of wise, "And such I held thee; but this question ask'd


"Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?
"Who would not, finding way, break loose from hell,
Though thither doom'd? Thou wouldst thyself, no


"And boldly venture to whatever place

"Farthest from pain, where thou might'st hope to change "Torment with ease, and soonest recompense

"Dole with delight; which in this place I sought: 895"To thee no reason, who knowest only good, "But evil hast not tried. And wilt object "His will who bounds us? Let him surer bar

"His iron gates, if he intends our stay

"In that dark durance! Thus much what was ask'd. 900"The rest is true; they found me where they say; "But that implies not violence, or harm.”






Thus he in scorn. The warlike angel mov'd,
Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied:

"O loss of one in heaven, to judge of wise,
"Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew!
"And now returns him, from his prison 'scap'd,
"Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
"Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither
"Unlicens'd, from his bounds in hell prescrib'd;
"So wise he judges it to fly from pain

"However, and to 'scape his punishment!'

"So judge thou still, presumptuous! till the wrath,
"Which thou incurrest by flying, meet thy flight
"Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to hell,
"Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain
"Can equal anger infinite provok'd.

"But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee
"Came not all hell broke loose? Is pain to them
"Less pain-less to be fled? or thou than they
"Less hardy to endure? Courageous chief,
"The first in flight from pain! Hadst thou alleg'd
"To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
"Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive."

To which the fiend thus answer'd, frowning stern:
"Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain,
"Insulting angel! well thou know'st I stood
"Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid
"The blasting volley'd thunder made all speed,
"And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.

930"But still thy words at random, as before, "Argue thy inexperience, what behoves, "From hard assays and ill successes past, "A faithful leader,-not to hazard all,


Through ways of danger, by himself untried: 935 "I therefore-I alone, first undertook "To wing the desolate abyss, and spy "This new-created world, whereof in hell "Fame is not silent; here in hope to find "Better abode, and my afflicted powers "To settle here on earth, or in mid air;


"Though, for possession, put to try once more
"What thou, and thy gay legions, dare against;
"Whose easier business were to serve their Lord


High up in heaven, with songs to hymn his throne, 945" And practis'd distances to cringe, not fight.'

To whom the warrior-angel soon replied:

"To say, and straight unsay, pretending first "Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,


Argues no leader, but a liar trac'd,

950 "Satan; and couldst thou faithful add? O name,
"O sacred name of faithfulness profan'd!

"Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?
Army of fiends, fit body to fit head!


"Was this your discipline and faith engag'd— 955 "Your military obedience, to dissolve


Allegiance to the acknowledg'd Power Supreme ? "And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem "Patron of liberty! who more than thou

"Once fawn'd, and cring'd, and servilely ador'd 960 "Heaven's awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope "To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?

"But mark what I areed thee now: Avaunt! "Fly thither whence thou fled'st! If, from this hour, "Within these hallow'd limits thou appear, 965"Back to the infernal pit I drag thee chain'd, "And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scorn "The facile gates of hell too slightly barr'd."


So threaten'd he; but Satan to no threats
Gave heed, but, waxing more in rage, replied:
"Then, when I am thy captive, talk of chains,
"Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then

"Far heavier load thyself expect to feel

"From my prevailing arm; though heaven's King "Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers, 975" Us'd to the yoke, draw'st his triumphant wheels "In progress through the road of heaven star-pav'd.” While thus he spake, the angelic squadron bright Turn'd fiery red, sharp'ning in mooned horns Their phalanx, and began to hem him round 980 With ported spears; as thick as when a field Of Ceres, ripe for harvest, waving bends

Her bearded grove of ears, which way the wind Sways them; the careful ploughman doubting stands, Lest on the threshing floors his hopeful sheaves 985 Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarm'd, Collecting all his might, dilated stood,

Like Teneriff, or Atlas, unremov'd:

His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest
Sat Horror plum'd; nor wanted in his grasp

990 What seem'd both spear and shield. Now dreadful deeds Might have ensu'd: not only Paradise,

In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of heaven perhaps, or all the elements

At least, had gone to wrack, disturb'd and torn
995 With violence of this conflict, had not soon
The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
Hung forth in heaven his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea, and the Scorpion sign;

Wherein all things created first he weigh'd,
1000 The pendulous round earth, with balanc'd air
In counterpoise; now, ponders all events,
Battles, and realms: in these he put two weights,
The sequel each of parting, and of fight:
The latter quick up-flew, and kick'd the beam;
1005 Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the fiend:

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