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

Once fawn'd, 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 fled'st. If from this hour
Within these hallow'd limits thou appear,
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
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
Turn'd 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 ploughman doubting stands,
Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves

Prove chaff.

On the other side, Satan, alarm'd, Collecting all his might, dilated stood,

Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:

His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest
Sat horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp
What seem'd both spear and shield. Now dreadful


Might have ensued, 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
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,

The pendulous round earth with balanced 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;
Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the fiend:

⚫ Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st mine;

Neither our own, but given: what folly then
To boast what arms can do? since thine no more
Than Heaven permits, nor mine, though doubled


To trample thee as mire: for proof look up,
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign,

Where thou art weigh'd, and shown how light, how weak,

If thou resist.'

The fiend look'd up, and knew

His mounted scale aloft: nor more; but fled

Murmuring, and with him fled the shades of night.



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