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140

Abandon’d at the terror of thy pow'r
Or potent tongue. Fool, not to think how vain
Against th' Omnipotent to rise in arms ! 136
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 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

145
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 151 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 155 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 160 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 Heav'n
To heav'nly souls had been all one; but now 165
I see that most through sloth had rather serve,
Minist'ring Sp'rits, train'd up in feast and song:
Such hast thou arm’d, the minstrelsy of Heav'n,
Servility with freedom to contend,
As both their deeds compar'd this day shall prove.

To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern reply'd :
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, 175
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 enthrall’d; 181
Yet lewdly dar’st our minist’ring upbraid.
Reign thou in Hell, thy kingdom; let me serve
In Heav'n God ever blest, and his divine
Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd ; 185
Yet chains in Hell, not realms expect: mean while
From me return'd, as erst thou saidst, from flight,
This greeting on thy impious crest receive.

So say'ng, a noble stroke he lifted high, Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight, 191 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 195
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 foild their mightiest; ours joy fill'd, and
shout,

200
Presage of victory and fierce desire
Of battle: whereat Michael bid sound
Th’Arch-Angel trumpet: thro' the vast of Heav'n
It sounded, and the faithful armies

rung Hosanna to the High’st: nor stood at gaze 205 The adverse legions, nor less hideous join'd The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose, And clamour such as heard in Heav'n till now Was never; arms 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 vollies flew, And flying vaulted either host with fire, So under fiery cope together rush'd

215 Both battles main, with ruinous assault And inextinguishable rage. All Heav'n Resounded; and had Earth been then, all Earth Had to her centre shook. What wonder ? when Millions of fierce encount’ring Angels fought 220 On either side, the least of whom could wield

210

These elements, and arm him with the force
Of all their regions : how much more of pow'r
Army 'gainst army numberless, to raise
Dreadful combustion warring, and disturb, 225
Though not destroy, their happy native seat;
Had not th’ Eternal King omnipotent
From his strong hold of Heav'n high over-rul'd
And limited their might; though number'd such
As each divided legion might have seem'd 230
A num'rous 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

235
The ridges of grim war: no thought of flight,
None of retreat, no unbecoming deed
That argued fear : each on himself rely'd,
As only in his arm the moment lay
Of victory: deeds of eternal fame

240 Were done, but infinite; for wide was spread That

at 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

245 The battle hung; till Satan, who that day Prodigious pow'r had shown, and met in arms No equal, ranging through the dire attack Of fighting Seraphim confus’d, at length Saw where the sword of Michael smote, and fellid 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 oppos’d the rocky orb
Of tenfold adamant, his ample shield : 255
A vast circumference. At his approach
The great Arch-Angel from his warlike toil
Surceas'd, and glad, as hoping here to end
Intestine war in Heav'n, th'arch-foe subdu'd,
Or captive dragg’d in chains, with hostile frown
And visage all inflam’d, first thus began : 261

Author of evil, unknown till thy revolt,
Unnam'd in Heav'n, now plenteous, as thou seest
These acts of hateful strife, hateful to all,
Though heaviest by just measure on thyself 265
And thy adherents, how hast thou disturb’d
Heav'n's blessed peace, and into nature brought
Misery, uncreated till the crime
Of thy rebellion? How hast thou instillid
Thy malice into thousands, once upright 270
And faithful, now prov'd false? But think not here
To trouble holy rest; Heav'n casts thee out
From all her confines. Heav'n, the seat of bliss,
Brooks not the works of violence and war.
Hence then, and evil go with thee along,

, 275 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. 280

So spake the Prince of Angels: to whom thus

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