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To whom thus Satan, with contemptuous brow:
Gabriel, thou hadst in Heaven the esteem of wise,
And such I held thee; but this question asked
Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?
Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,

Though thither doomed? Thou wouldst thyself, no doubt,
And boldly venture to whatever place

Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change

Torment with ease, and soonest recompense

Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;

To thee no reason, who knowest only good,

But evil hast not tried: and wilt object

His will, who bound us? Let Him surer bar

His iron gates, if He intends our stay

In that dark durance. Thus much what was asked.
The rest is true, they found me where they say;
But that implies not violence or harm.

Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel moved,
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 'scaped,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither
Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed;
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 incurr'st 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 provoked.

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 alleged
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,

Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.

To which the Fiend thus answered, frowning stern: Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain, Insulting Angel! Well thou knowest I stood The fiercest, when in battle to thy aid The blasting volleyed thunder made all speed, And seconded thy else not dreaded spear. 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. 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, And practiced 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 traced,

Satan and couldst thou faithful add? O name,

O sacred name of faithfulness profaned!

Faithful to whom? To thy rebellious crew?

Army of fiends, fit body to fit head.

Was this your discipline and faith engaged,

Your military obedience, to dissolve

Allegiance to the acknowledged Power Supreme?

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And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem
Patron of liberty, who more than thou

Once fawned, and cringed, and servilely adored
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 fledd'st! If from this hour
Within these hallowed limits thou appear,
Back to the infernal pit I drag thee chained,
And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scorn
The facile gates of Hell too slightly barred.

So threatened 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,
Used to the yoke, draw'st His triumphant wheels
In progress through the road of Heaven star-paved.

While thus he spake, the angelic squadron bright
Turned fiery red, sharpening in mooned horns
Their phalanx, and began to hem him round
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 plowman doubting stands
Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves
Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarmed,
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,

Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:

His stature reached the sky, and on his crest

Sat horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp

What seemed both spear and shield. Now dreadful deeds
Might have ensued; nor only Paradise,

In this commotion, but the starry cope

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