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Approaching gross and huge, in hollow cube
Training his devilish enginry, impal'd
On every side with shadowing squadrons deep,
To hide the fraud. At interview both stood
A while; but suddenly at head appear'd
Satan, and thus was heard commanding loud:

Vanguard, to right and left the front unfold;
That all may see who hate us, how we seek
Peace and composure, and with open breast
Stand ready to receive them, if they like
Our overture, and turn not back perverse:
But that I doubt; howewer, witness Heaven!
Heaven, witness thou anon! while we discharge
Freely our part; ye, who appointed stand,
Do as you 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 retir'd:

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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,)
Brass, iron, stony mould, had not their mouths
With hideous orifice gap'd on us wide,
Portending hollow truce: at each behind
A seraph stood, and in his hand a reed
Stood waving tipt with fire; while we, suspense,
Collected stood within our thoughts amus'd,
Not long; for sudden all at once their reeds
Put forth, and to a narrow vent applied

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Il nemico appressar, suoi truci ingegni
Traendo in mezzo a cubica falange
Serrata intorno con profonde squadre

La frode ad occultar. Sostaro entrambi

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Alquanto; ma improvviso a fronte apparve
Satano, ed alto si imperar fu udito:

Vanguardo, a destra e a manca il fronte s'apra ; Vegga chi ci odía, come noi cerchiamo

Pace e amistade, e stiam con braccia aperte
Pronti ad accôrli, s'elli al par magnanimi
Vorranno oprare e non voltarne il tergo.
Dubbio io però; ma testimone è il cielo !
Tu o ciel sei testimon, che nostre parti
Femmo spontanei; e voi che pronti state,
Qual siete edotti, in brevi cenni e forti
A tutti fate udir la nostra mente! >>

Così schernendo in detti ambigui, appena Ei finiva, che a destra e a manca il fronte S'apri, e piegò sull' uno e l'altro corno: Scoprissi allor novella vista e strana, Triplice ordin gradato di colonne

Prone su rote (ché parean colonne

O cavi tronchi già di quercia o abete

Con branche mozze o in selva o in monte ancisi),
Di bronzo, salde masse, che le orrende
Lor bocche contro noi puntando, immani
Fauci squarciavan: stea di dietro a ognuna
Un serafin che in man brandia una canna
Con punta accesa; mentre noi sospesi
Ci tenevam ne' pensier nostri accolti,
Ecco, in un tratto tutti insiem lor canne
Allungaro e applicaro a foro angusto

With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame,

But soon obscur'd with smoke, all heaven appear'd, From those deep-throated engines belch'd, whose roar Embowell'd with outrageous noise the air;

And all her entrails tore disgorging foul

Their devilish glut, chain'd thunderbolts and hail
Of iron globes; which, on the victor-host
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 roll'd;
The sooner for their arms; unarm'd they might
Have easily, as spirits, evaded swift

By quick contraction or remove; but now
Foul dissipation follow'd, and forc'd rout;
Nor serv'd it to relax their serried files.
What should they do? if on they rush'd, repulse
Repeated, and indecent overthrow

Doubled, would render them yet more despis'd,
And to their foes a laughter; for in view
Stood rank'd of seraphim another row;
In posture to displode their second tire
Of thunder: back defeated to return
They worse abhorr'd. Satan beheld their plight,
And to his mates thus in derision call'd:

« 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 And breast (what could we more?) propounded terms Of composition, strait they chang'd their minds, Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell, As they would dance; yet for a dance they seem'd

Con lieve tocco. Di presente in fiamme
Ravvolte in nero fumo il ciel tutt' arse,
Che da este macchine eruttar, con mugghio
Che sfiancò l'aer con violento rombo,
E da lor viscere squarciate a turbo
Vomitar fulmin catenati e grando
Di ferrei globi, che sui vincitori
Spianando, si a impeto e furor percossero
Che li atterrar; tenersi in piè niun valse
Benchè qual rupe stesse; a mille a mille
Angeli sopra arcangeli tomaro;
E più per l'armi lor; potean senz' armi
Meglio adoprar, quai spirti, ratto evasi
Per sbiecar subito o contrarsi; intanto
Tutto è ruina e disperata rotta,

E nulla giova a governar lor file.
Che farsi allor? S'elli si slancian, nuota
Repulsa, e nuovo rovesciare indegno.
Fatti li avrebbe più dispetti e scherno
A lor nemici; chè ordinata incontro
Già stea di serafini un'altra fila

A trar parata folgori seconde:

Ma più abborrian tornar disfatti indietro.
Satan mirò la lor fortuna, e a suoi
Compagni si chiamò con ghigno amaro:
Soci, che stan que' vincitori alteri?

Testè venian feroci; e quando noi


A ben trattarli con aperto fronte
E core, (che far più?) ragion di pace
Proponemmo, ratto ei mutar lor mente,
Scostarsi e corser strane fantasic

Quai danzator; ma menar danza ei paiono.

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Somewhat extravagant and wild, perhaps
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:

Leader, the terms we sent were terms of weight, Of hard contents, and full of force urg'd home, Such as we might perceive amus'd them all, And stumbled many; who receives them right, Had need from head to foot well understand; Not understood, this gift they have besides, They show 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 To match with their inventions they presum'd 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 lenght, and found them arms Against such hellish mischief fit to oppose. Forthwith (behold the excellence, the power, Which God hath in his mighty angels plac'd!) Their arms away they threw, and to the hills (For earth hath this variety from heaven Of pleasure situate in hill and dale)

Light as the lightning-glympse they ran, they flew;
From their foundations loosening to and fro,

They pluck'd the seated hills, with all their load,
Bocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops
Up-lifting bore them in their hands; amaze,
Be sure, and terror, seiz'd the rebel-host,

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