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Nor straitening vale, nor wood, nor stream, The

70 opposing hosts

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 summoned over Eden to receive
Their names of thee; so over many a tract
Of Heaven they marched, and many a province


Tenfold the length of this terrene.
At last,
Far in the horizon, to the north, appeared
From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretched 80
In battailous aspect; and, nearer view,
Bristled with upright beams innumerable
Of rigid spears, and helmets thronged, and shields
Various, with boastful argument portrayed,
The banded Powers of Satan hasting on
With furious expedition; for they weened
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 proved fond and



In the mid-way; though strange to us it seemed
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, 100

Abdiel Idol of majesty divine, enclosed

meets the With flaming Cherubim and golden shields ;
Apostate 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 joined,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,
Came towering, armed in adamant and gold. IIC
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

Should yet remain, where faith and realty
Remain not!

and might

Wherefore should not strength


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 contést and foul,
When reason hath to deal with force, yet so
Most reason is that reason overcome.'

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'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 reached


The highth of thy aspiring unopposed-
The throne of God unguarded, and his side
Abandoned 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 finished thee, and whelmed
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

Seemed in thy world erroneous to dissent
From all my Sect thou seest; now learn too late
How few sometimes may know when thousands

'Whom the grand Foe, with scornful eye

Thus answered :-"Ill for thee, but in wished hour


Of my revenge, first sought for, thou return'st
From flight, seditious Angel, to receive

Thy merited reward, the first


Of this right hand provoked, since first that

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 com'st
Before thy fellows, ambitious to win


From me some plume, that thy success may show

Few may

know when thousands


The first Destruction to the rest. This pause between
blow (Unanswered 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, trained up in feast and song:
Such hast thou armed, the minstrelsy of heaven—
Servility with freedom to contend,

As both their deeds compared this day shall


To whom, in brief, thus Abdiel stern re

"Apostate! still thou err'st, nor end wilt find
Of erring, from the path of truth remote.
Unjustly thou deprav'st 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 rebelled
Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee, 180
Thyself not free, but to thyself enthralled;
Yet lewdly dar❜st our ministering upbraid.
Reign thou in Hell, thy kingdom; let me serve
In Heaven God ever blest, and his divine
Behests obey, worthiest to be obeyed.

Yet chains in Hell, not realms, expect: mean-

From me returned, 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 190
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 recoiled; the tenth on bended knee
His massy spear upstayed: as if, on earth,
Winds under ground, or waters forcing way,
Sidelong had pushed a mountain from his seat,
Half-sunk with all his pines. Amazement seized
The rebel Thrones, but greater rage, to see
Thus foiled their mightiest; ours joy filled, and

Presage of victory, and fierce desire


Of battle: whereat Michaël bid sound
The Archangel trumpet. Through the vast of


It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
Hosannah to the Highest; nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, nor less hideous joined
The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
And clamour such as heard in Heaven till now
Was never; arms on armour clashing brayed
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise
Of conflict; overhead the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,
And, flying, vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rushed
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
Millions of fierce encountering Angels fought 220
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


Now storm

ing fury


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