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Of hideous length: before the cloudy van,
On the rough edge of battle ere it join'd,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,
Came towering, arm'd in adamant and gold;
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 Highest Should yet remain, where faith and reälty Remain not! wherefore should not strength and might

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."

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:

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Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have reach'd

The highth of thy aspiring unopposed,

The throne of God unguarded, and his side
Abandon'd, 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 finish'd thee, and whelm'd
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

Seem'd in thy world erroneous to dissent

From all my sect thou seest; now learn too late How few sometimes may know, when thousands err."

Whom the grand foe, with scornful eye askance, Thus answer'd: "Ill for thee, but in wish'd hour Of my revenge, first sought for, thou return'st From flight, seditious angel! to receive Thy merited reward, the first assay

Of this right hand provoked, since first that tongue,
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 comest
Before thy fellows, ambitious to win

From me some plume, that thy success may show
Destruction to the rest: this pause between
(Unanswer'd 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,
Minist'ring spirits, train'd up in feast and song!
Such hast thou arm'd, the minstrelsy of heaven,
Servility with freedom to contend,

As both their deeds compared this day shall prove."
To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern replied:
"Apostate! still thou err'st, nor end wilt find
Of erring, from the path of truth remote:
Unjustly thou depravest 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 rebell'd
Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee,
Thyself not free, but to thyself enthrall'd;
Yet lewdly darest our minist'ring upbraid.
Reign thou in hell, thy kingdom; let me serve

In heaven God ever-blest, and his divine
Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd;

Yet chains in hell, not realms, expect: meanwhile From me return'd, as erst thou said'st, 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
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 recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee
His massy spear upstaid; as if on earth
Winds under ground, or waters, forcing way,
Sidelong had push'd a mountain from his seat,
Half-sunk with all his pines. Amazement seized
The rebel thrones, but greater rage, to see

Thus foil'd their mightiest; ours joy fill'd, and shout,

Presage of victory, and fierce desire
Of battle: whereat Michaël bid sound

The archangel trumpet; through the vast of heaven

It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
Hosanna to the Highest: nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, nor less hideous join'd
The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
And clamour, such as heard in heaven till now
Was never; arms on armour clashing bray'd
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots raged; dire was the noise
Of conflict; over head the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rush'd
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage. All heaven
Resounded; and had earth been then, all earth
Had to her center shook. What wonder? when
Millions of fierce encountering angels fought
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 Dreadful combustion warring, and disturb, Though not destroy, their happy native seat; Had not the Eternal King Omnipotent,

From his strong hold of heaven, high over-ruled
And limited their might; though number'd such
As each divided legion might have seem'd

A numerous host; in strength each armed hand
A legion; led in fight, yet leader, seem'd
Each warrior single as in chief, expert

When to advance, or stand, or turn the sway
Of battle, open when, and when to close
The ridges of grim war: no thought of flight,
None of retreat, no unbecoming deed
That argued fear; each on himself relied,
As only in his arm the moment lay

Of victory. Deeds of eternal fame

Were done, but infinite; for wide was spread
That war, and various: sometimes on firm ground
A standing fight, then, soaring on main wing,
Tormented all the air; all air seem'd then
Conflicting fire. Long time in even scale
The battle hung; till Satan, who that day
Prodigious power had shown, and met in arms
No equal, ranging through the dire attack
Of fighting seraphim confused, at length

Saw where the sword of Michael smote, and fell'd
Squadrons at once; with huge two-handed sway
Brandish'd aloft, the horrid edge came down
Wide-wasting; such destruction to withstand
He hasted, and opposed the rocky orb
Of tenfold adamant, his ample shield,
A vast circumference. At his approach,
The great archangel from his warlike toil
Surceased, and glad, as hoping here to end
Intestine war in heaven, the arch-foe subdued,
Or captive dragg'd in chains; with hostile frown
And visage all inflamed first thus began:

"Author of evil, unknown till thy revolt,
Unnamed in heaven, now plenteous, as thou seest,
These acts of hateful strife, hateful to all,
Though heaviest by just measure on thyself
And thy adherents: how hast thou disturb'd
Heaven's blessed peace, and into nature brought
Misery, uncreated till the crime

Of thy rebellion! how hast thou instill'd
Thy malice into thousands, once upright

And faithful, now proved false! But think not here
To trouble holy rest; heaven casts thee out
From all her confines. Heaven, the seat of bliss,
Brooks not the works of violence and war.
Hence then, and evil go with thee along,
Thy offspring, to the place of evil, hell;
Thou and thy wicked crew! there mingle broils,
Ere this avenging sword begin thy doom;
Or some more sudden vengeance, wing'd from God,
Precipitate thee with augmented pain."

So spake the prince of angels; to whom thus
The adversary: "Nor think thou with wind
Of aery threats to awe whom yet with deeds
Thou canst not. Hast thou turn'd the least of

To flight, or if to fall, but that they rise

Unvanquish'd; easier to transact with me

That thou shouldst hope, imperious, and with


To chase me hence? err not, that so shall end
The strife which thou call'st evil, but we style
The strife of glory; which we mean to win,
Or turn this heaven itself into the hell
Thou fablest; here, however, to dwell free,
If not to reign: meanwhile thy utmost force,
And join him named Almighty to thy aid,
I fly not, but have sought thee far and nigh."

They ended parle, and both address'd for fight
Unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue
Of angels, can relate, or to what things
Liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift

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