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Stand ready to receive them, if they like
Our overture, and turn not back perverse ;
But that I doubt. However witness Heaven,
Heav'n witness thou anon, while we discharge
Freely our part; ye who appointed stand, 564
Do as ye 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 :

570 Which to our eyes discover'd, new and strange, A triple mounted row of pillars laid On wheels (for like to pillars most they seem'd, Or hollow'd bodies made of oak or fir, With branches lopt, in wood or mountain fell'd) 575 Brass, iron, stony mold, had not their mouths With hideous orifice gaped on us wide, Portending hollow truce. At eacb, behind, A Seraph stood, and in his hand, a reed Stood waving, tipt with fire: while we suspense 580 Collected stood within our thoughts amused, Not long, for sudden all at once their reeds Put forth, and to a narrow vent apply'd With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame, 584 But soon obscured with smoke, all Heav'n appear'd, From those deep-throated engines belch'd, whose roar Imbowel'd with outrageous noise the air, And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul Their dev'lish glut, chain'd thunderbolts and hail Of iron globes; which on the victor host 590 Levell’d 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 rollid; The sooner for their arms; unarm'd they might 595 Have easily as Spirits evaded swift By quick contraction or remove; but now Foul dissipation follow'd and forced rout; Nor served it to relax their serried files.

576. Moli, substance. There are stone cannon, it is said, at Delft in Holland, and Milton is supposed to have taken this idea tras having seen them,

580. Held, instead of stood, is proposed as a new readin 599. Serriet, from the Italian serrato; close, compact.

What should they do? If on they rush'd, repulse 600
Repeated, and indecent overthrow
Doubled, would render them yet more despised,
And to their foes a laughter; for in view
Stood rank'd of Seraphim another row,
In posture to displode their second tire

605
Of thunder: back defeated to return
They worse abhorr'd. Satan beheld their plight,
And to his mates thus in derision call's :

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

611 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 seem'd Somewhat extravagant and wild, perhaps 616 For joy of offer'd 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 : 620 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; 625 Not understood, this gift they have besides, They shew us when our foes walk not upright.

So they among themselves in pleasant vein, Stood scoffing, heighten'd in their thoughts beyond All doubt of victory; Eternal Might

630 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 636 Forthwith (behold the excellence, the pow'r, Which God hath in his mighty Angels placed !) Their arms away they threw, and to the hills (For earth hath this variety from Heav'n 640

620. Belial was most fitted by his character to make the answer here

635. Sre Virgil, An. i. 150.

Of pleasure situate in hill and dale)
Light as the lightning glimpse they ran, they flew;
From their foundations loos'ning to and fro,
They pluck'd the seated hills with all their load,
Rocks, waters, woods, and, by the shaggy tops 643
Uplifting, bore them in their hands. Amaze,
Be sure, and terror seized the rebel host,
When coming towards them so dread they saw
The bottom of the mountains upward turn'd;
Till on those cursed engines triple-row

650
They saw them whelm'd, 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 654
Came shadowing, and oppress'd whole legions arm'd.
Their armour help'd their harm,orush'd in and bruis'd
Into their substance pent, which wrought them pain
Implacable, and many a dolorous groan
Long struggling underneath, ere they could wind
Out of such pris'n, though Spirits of purest light; 660
Purest at first, now gross by sinning grown.
The rest in imitation to like arms
Betook them, and the neighb'ring hills uptore :
So hills amid the air encounter'd hills,
Hurl'd to and fro with jaculation dire,

665 That under ground they fought in dismal shade; Infernal noise! War seem'd a civil game To this uproar: horrid confusion heap'd Upon confusion rose : and now all Heav'n Had gone to wrack, with ruin overspread, 670 Had not th' Almighty Father, where he sits Shrined in his sanctuary of Heav'n secure, Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen This tumult, and permitted all, advised : That his great purpose he might so fulfil, 675 To honour his anointed Son avenged

661. It is hardly necessary to call the reader's attention to the adinirable moral lesson given by the idea in this line.

669. It should be observed how the horrors thicken as this war of angels proceeds: no poet ever equalled the terrible

sublimity of these descriptions. Homer we cannot doubt would have done so, had he had Milton's subject and the prophets' light which revelation gave him, but as it was, he could soar no higher than the hignesi point of earth, which though he made it the very throne of sublimity was still but earth.

685

Upon his enemies, and to declare
All pow'r on him transferr'd: whence to his Son
Th' Accessor of his throne, he thus began :
Effulgence of my glory, Son beloved,

680
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 Heav'n,
Since Michael and his Pow'rs went forth to tame
These disobedient. Sore hath been their fight,
As likeliest was, when two such foes met arm'd;
For tu themselves I left them, and thou know'st
Equal in their creation they were form’d, 690
Save what sin hath impair'd, which yet hath
Insensibly, for I suspend their dooin; (wrought
Whence in perpetual fight they needs must last
Endless, and no solution will be found.
War wearied hath perform'd what war can do, 695
And to disorder'd rage let loose the reins,
With mountains as with weapons arm’d, which makes
Wild work in Heav'n, and dang'rous to the main.
Two days are therefore past, the third is thine ;
For thee I have ordain'd it, and thus far

700 Have suffer'd, that the glory may be thine Of ending this great war, since none but Thou Can end it. Into Thee such virtue' and grace Iminense I have transfused, that all may know In Heav'n and Hell thy pow'r above compare;

705 And this perverse commotion govern'd thus, l'o 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, 710 Ascend my chariot, guide the rapid wheels That shake Heav'n'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 715 From all Heav'n's bounds into the utter deep; There let them learn, as likes them, to despise

681. Invisible, for, that which is invisible. 710. See the original of this splendid passage, Ps. xlv. 3, %

730

God and Messiah his anointed King.

He said, and on his Son with rays direct Shone full; he all his Father full express'd 720 Ineffably into his face received; And thus the filial Godhead answ'ring, spake :

O Father, O Supreme of Heav'nly Thrones, First, Highest, Holiest, Best, thou always seek'st To glorify thy Son; I always thee,

728 As is most just; this I my glory' account, My exaltation, and my whole delight, That thou in me well pleased, declar'st thy will Fulfill'd; which to fulfil is all my bliss. Sceptre and pow'r, 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 lov'st: But whom thou hat'st, I hate, and can put on, Thy terrors, as I put thy mildness on,

735 Image of thee in all things; and shall soon, Arm'd with thy might, rid Heav'n of these rebellid, To their prepared ill mansion driv'n down, To chains of darkness, and th' undying worm, That from thy just obedience could revolt, 740 Whom to obey is happiness entire. Then shall thy Saints unmix'd, and from th' impure Far separate, circling thy holy mount, Unfeigned Hallelujahs to thee sing, Hymns of high praise : and I among them Chief. 745

So said, he o'er his sceptre bowing, rose From the right hand of glory where he sat ; And the third sacred morn began to shine, Dawning through Heav'n. Forth rush'd with whirlThe chariot of paternal Deity,

[wind sound Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn, Itself instinct with Spirit, but convoy'd By four Cherubic shapes : four faces each Had wondrous; as with stars their bodies all And wings were set with eyes, with eyes the wheels Of beryl, and careering fires between;

750

732. 1 Cor. xv. 24. and John xvii. 748. Milton is supposed, by making the contest last three days, to allude to the time occupied by the death and resurrection of Christ

749. See Ezekiel i. 4, also Isa. lxvi. 15.

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