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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 received
With joy and acclamations loud, that one,
That of so many myriads fall’n, 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 approved in sight of God, though worlds
Judged thee perverse : the easier conquest now
Remains thee: aided by this host of friends,
Back on thy foes more glorious to rebarn,
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, ranged 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 awaked ; 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'd
Of union irresistible, moved on,
In silence, their bright legions to the sound
Of instrumental harmony, that breathed
Heroic ardour to adventurous deeds
Under their godlike leaders, in the cause
Of God and his Messiah. On they move,
Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill,
Nor straitening 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 the horizon, to the north, appear’d,
From skirt to skirt, a fiery region, stretch'd

In battailous aspect, and, nearer view,
Bristled with upright beams innumerable
Of rigid spears, and helmets throng’d, and shields
Various, with boastful argument portray’d,
The banded powers of Satan hasting 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 proved fond and vain
In the mid-way; 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 the 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,
The 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 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 realty 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: “Proud, art thou met ? thy hope was to have

reach'd The height 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 answered: '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 (Unanswered 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.'

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