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Already known, what he for news had thought
To have reported. Gladly then he mix'd
Among those friendly powers, who him receiv'd
With joy and acclamations loud, that one,
That of so many myriads fallen, yet one
Return'd not lost. On to the sacred hill
They led him high applauded, and present
Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice,
From midst a golden cloud, thus mild was heard:
"Servant of God! well done, well hast thou fought
The better fight, who single hast maintain'd
Against revolted multitudes the cause

Of truth, in word mightier than they in arms;
And for the testimony' of truth hast borne
Universal reproach, far worse to bear

Than violence: for this was all thy care
To stand approv'd in sight of God, though worlds
Judg'd thee perverse. The easier conquest now
Remains thee, aided by this host of friends,
Back on thy foes more glorious to return,
Than scorn'd thou didst depart, and to subdue
By force, who reason for their law refuse,
Right reason for their law, and for their king
Messiah, who by right of merit reigns.
Go, Michael, of celestial armies prince,
And thou, in military prowess next,
Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my sons
Invincible; lead forth my armed saints,
By thousands and by millions rang'd for fight,
Equal in number to that godless crew
Rebellious; them with fire and hostile arms
Fearless assault, and to the brow of heaven
Pursuing, drive them out from God and bliss
Into their place of punishment, the gulf
Of Tartarus, which ready opens wide
His fiery Chaos to receive their fall.'

"So spake the Sovereign voice, and clouds began
To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll
In dusky wreaths, reluctant flames, the sign
Of wrath awak'd; nor with less dread the loud
Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow;

At which command the powers militant,

That stood for heaven, in mighty quadrate join'
Of union irresistible, mov'd on

In silence their bright legions, to the sound
Of instrumental harmony, that breath'd
Heroic ardour to advent'rous deeds
Under their godlike leaders, in the cause
Of God and his Messiah. On they move
Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill,

Nor strait'ning vale, nor wood, nor stream divides
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, summon'd over Eden, to receive
Their names of thee; so over many a tract

Of heaven they march'd, and many a province wide,
Tenfold the length of this terrene.

At last,

Far in th' horizon, to the north, appear'd

From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretch'd
In battallious aspect, and nearer view
Bristled with upright beams innumerable
Of rigid spears, and helmets throng'd, and shields
Various, with boastful argument pourtray'd
The banded powers of Satan, lasting on
With furious expedition; for they ween'd
'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 prov'd fond and vain
In the midway: though strange to us it seem'd
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 th' 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,
Th'apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat,
Idol of majesty divine, enclosed

With flaming cherubim and golden shields:
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 join'd,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides, advanc'd,
Came tow'ring, arm'd in adamant and gold.
Abdiel that sight endur'd 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 reality might
Remain not: wherefore should not strength and
There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove
Where boldest, though to sight unconquerable?
His puissance, trusting in th' Almighty's aid,
I mean to try, whose reason I have tried
Unsound and false; nor is it ought but just,
That he who in debate of truth bath won,
Should win in arms, in both disputes alike
Victor; though brutish that contest 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
Incens'd, and thus securely him defied:

"Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have The height of thy aspiring unoppos'd,

[reach'd 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 th' Omnipotent to rise in arms!
Who out of smallest things could without end
Have rais'd incessant armies to defeat

Thy folly; or with solitary hand,

Reaching beyond all limit, at one blow

Unaided could have finish'd thee, and wheln'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 provok'd, since first that tongue
Inspir'd 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,
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,
Minis'tring 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 compar'd 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 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 th' unwise, or him who hath rebell'd
Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee,
Thyself not free, but to thyself inthrall'd;
Yet Jewdly dar'st our minist'ring upbraid.
Reign thou in hell, thy kingdom; let me serve


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

Yet chains in hell, nor 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 upstay'd; 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 seiz'd

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 Michael bid sound

Th' archangel trumpet: through the vast of heaven
It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
Hosannah 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; aims on armour clashing bray'd
Horrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots rag'd; 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 centre shook. What wonder? when
Millions of fierce encount'ring 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 ariny, numberless to raise

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