Page images

As each divided legion might have seemed

230 A numerous host, in strength each armed hand A legion! Led in fight, yet leader seemed 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 seemed 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 felled 250
Squadrons at once : with huge two-handed sway
Brandished 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 dragged in chains, with hostile frown 260
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 disturbed
Heaven's blessed peace, and into Nature brought
Misery, uncreated till the crime
Of thy rebellion ! how hast thou instilled
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, winged from God,
Precipitate thee with augmented pain.'

280 “So spake the Prince of Angels; to whom thus The Adversary :

-Nor think thou with wind Of airy threats to awe whom yet with deeds Thou canst not. Hast thou turned the least of these To flight-or, if to fall, but that they rise Unvanquished—easier to transact with me That thou shouldst hope, imperious, and with threats 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, 290 Or turn this Heaven itself into the Hell Thou fablest ; here, however, to dwell free, If not to reign. Meanwhile, thy utmost forceAnd join him named Almighty to thy aidI fly not, but have sought thee far and nigh.'

“They ended parle, and both addressed for fight Unspeakable ; for who, though with the tongue Of Angels, can relate, or to what things Liken on Earth conspicuous, that may lift Human imagination to such highth

300 Of godlike power ? for likest gods they seemed,

Stood they or moved, in stature, motion, arms,
Fit to decide the empire of great Heaven.
Now waved their fiery swords, and in the air
Made horrid circles : two broad suns their shields
Blazed opposite, while Expectation stood
In horror; from each hand with speed retired,
Where erst was thickest fight, the Angelic throng,
And left large field, unsafe within the wind
Of such commotion : such as (to set forth 310
Great things by small) if, Nature's concord broke,
Among the constellations war were sprung,
Two planets, rushing from aspéct malign
Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky
Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound.
Together both, with next to almighty arm
Uplifted imminent, one stroke they aimed
That might determine, and not need repeat
As not of power, at once; nor odds appeared
In might or swift prevention. But the sword

Of Michael from the armoury of God
Was given him tempered so that neither keen
Nor solid might resist that edge: it met
The sword of Satan, with steep force to smite
Descending, and in half cut sheer ; nor stayed,
But, with swift wheel reverse, deep entering, shared
All his right side. Then Satan first knew pain,
And writhed him to and fro convolved ; so sore
The griding sword with discontinuous wound
Passed through him. But the ethereal substance closed
Not long divisible ; and from the gash

331 A stream of nectarous humour issuing flowed Sanguine, such as celestial Spirits may bleed, And all his armour stained, erewhile so bright. Forthwith, on all sides, to his aid was run By Angels many and strong, who interposed Defence, while others bore him on their shields

Back to his chariot where it stood retired
From off the files of war: there they him laid
Gnashing for anguish, and despite, and shame

To find himself not matchless, and his pride
Humbled by such rebuke, so far beneath
His confidence to equal God in power.
Yet soon he healed; for Spirits, that live throughout
Vital in every part—not, as frail Man,
In entrails, heart or head, liver or reins--
Cannot but by annihilating die ;
Nor in their liquid texture mortal wound
Receive, no more than can the fluid air :
All heart they live, all head, all eye, all ear, 350
All intellect, all sense ; and as they please
They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size
Assume, as likes them best, condense or rare.

“ Meanwhile, in other parts, like deeds deserved Memorial, where the might of Gabriel fought, And with fierce ensigns pierced the deep array Of Moloch, furious king, who him defied, And at his chariot-wheels to drag him bound Threatened, nor from the Holy One of Heaven Refrained his tongue blasphemous, but anon, Down cloven to the waist, with shattered arms And uncouth pain fled bellowing. On each wing Uriel and Raphaël his vaunting foe, Though huge and in a rock of diamond armed, Vanquished —Andramelech and Asmadai, Two potent Thrones, that to be less than Gods Disdained, but meaner thoughts learned in their flight, Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail. Nor stood unmindful Abdiel to annoy The atheist crew, but with redoubled blow

370 Ariel, and Arioch, and the violence Of Ramiel, scorched and blasted, overthrew. I might relate of thousands, and their names





Eternize here on Earth ; but those elect
Angels, contented with their fame in Heaven,
Seek not the praise of men : the other sort,
In might though wondrous and in acts of war,
Nor of renown less eager, yet by doom
Cancelled from Heaven and sacred memory,
Nameless in dark oblivion let them dwell!
For strength from truth divided, and from just,
Illaudable, nought merits but dispraise
And ignominy, yet to glory aspires,
Vain-glorious, and through infamy seeks fame:
Therefore eternal silence be their doom !

“And now, their mightiest quelled, the battle
With many an inroad gored; deformed rout (swerved,
Entered, and foul disorder ; all the ground
With shivered armour strown, and on a heap
Chariot and charioter lay overturned,

390 And fiery foaming steeds; what stood recoiled, O'er-wearied, through the faint Satanic host, Defensive scarce, or with pale fear surprised Then first with fear surprised and sense of pain-Fled ignominious, to such evil brought By sin of disobedience, till that hour Not liable to fear, or flight, or pain. Far otherwise the inviolable Saints In cubic phalanx firm advanced entire, Invulnerable, impenetrably armed;

400 Such high advantages their innocence Gave them above their foes—not to have sinned, Not to have disobeyed; in fight they stood Unwearied, unobnoxious to be pained By wound, though from their place by violence moved

“Now Night her course began, and, over Heaven Inducing darkness, grateful truce imposed, And silence on the odious din of war. Under her cloudy covert both retired,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »