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Victor and vanquished. On the foughten field

410 Michaël and his Angels, prevalent Encamping, placed in guard their watches round, Cherubic waving fires : on the other part, Satan with his rebellious disappeared, Far in the dark dislodged, and, void of rest, His potentates to council called by night, And in the midst thus undismayed began :

“O now in danger tried, now known in arms Not to be overpowered, companions dear, Found worthy not of liberty alone

420 Too mean pretence-but, what we more affect, Honour, dominion, glory, and renown; Who have sustained one day in doubtful fight (And, if one day, why not eternal days ?) What Heaven's Lord had powerfullest to send Against us from about his throne, and judged Sufficient to subdue us to his will, But proves not so: then fallible, it seems, Of future we may deem him, though till now Omniscient thought! True is, less firmly armed, 430 Some disadvantage we endured, and pain--Till now not known, but, known, as soon contemned ; Since now we find this our empyreal form Incapable of mortal injury, Imperishable, and, though pierced with wound, Soon closing, and by native vigour healed. Of evil, then, so small as easy think The remedy: perhaps more valid arms, Weapons more violent, when next we meet, May serve to better us and worse our foes,

440 Or equal what between us made the odds, In nature none.

If other hidden cause
Left them superior, while we can preserve
Unhurt our minds, and understanding sound,
Due search and consultation will disclose.'

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" He sat ; and in the assembly next upstood
Nisroch, of Principalities the prime.
As one he stood escaped from cruel fight
Sore toiled, his riven arms to havoc hewn,
And, cloudy in aspect, thus answering spake

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“Deliverer from new Lords, leader to free
Enjoyment of our right as Gods ! yet hard
For Gods, and too unequal work, we find
Against unequal arms to fight in pain,
Against unpained, impassive ; from which evil
Ruin must needs ensue. For what avails
Valour or strength, though matchless, quelled with

pain,
Which all subdues, and makes remiss the hands
Of mightiest ? Sense of pleasure we may well
Spare out of life perhaps, and not repine,
But live content-which is the calmest life ;
But pain is perfect misery, the worst
Of evils, and, excessive, overturns
All patience. He who, therefore, can invent
With what more forcible we may offend
Our yet unwounded enemies, or arm
Ourselves with like defence, to me deserves
No less than for deliverance what we owe.'

“ Whereto, with look composed, Satan replied :“Not uninvented that, which thou aright

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Believ'st so main to our success, I bring.
Which of us who beholds the bright surface
Of this ethereous mould whereon we stand-
This continent of spacious Heaven, adorned
With plant, fruit, flower ambrosial, gems and gold-
Whose eye so superficially surveys
These things as not to mind from whence they grow
Deep under ground : materials dark and crude,
Of spiritous and fiery spume, till, touched
With Heaven's ray, and tempered, they shoot forth 480

So beauteous, opening to the ambient light ?
These in their dark nativity the Deep
Shall yield us, pregnant with infernal flame;
Which, into hollow engines long and round
Thick-rammed, at the other bore with touch of fire
Dilated and infuriate, shall send forth
From far, with thundering noise, among our foes
Such implements of mischief as shall dash
To pieces and o’erwhelm whatever stands
Adverse, that they shall fear we have disarmed

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The Thunderer of his only dreaded bolt.
Nor long shall be our labour; yet ere dawn
Effect shall end our wish. Meanwhile revive ;
Abandon fear; to strength and counsel joined
Think nothing hard, much less to be despaired.'

“He ended ; and his words their drooping cheer Enlightened, and their languished hope revived. The invention all admired, and each how he To be the inventor missed ; so easy it seemed Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought

500 Impossible! Yet, haply, of thy race, In future days, if malice should abound, Some one, intent on mischief, or inspired With devilish machination, might devise Like instrument to plague the sons of men For sin, on war and mutual slaughter bent. Forthwith from council to the work they flew ; None arguing stood ; innumerable hands Were ready; in a moment up they turned Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath

510 The originals of nature in their crude Conception ; sulphurous and nitrous foam They found, they mingled, and, with subtle art Concocted and adusted, they reduced To blackest grain, and into store conveyed.

520

Part hidden veins digged up (nor hath this Earth
Entrails unlike) of mineral and stone,
Whereof to found their engines and their balls
Of missive ruin ; part incentive reed
Provide, pernicious with one touch to fire.
So all ere day-spring, under conscious Night,
Secret they finished, and in order set
With silent circumspection, unespied.

“Now, when fair Morn orient in Heaven appeared, Up rose the victor Angels, and to arms The matin trumpet sung.

In arms they stood Of golden panoply, refulgent host, Soon banded ; others from the dawning hills Looked round, and scouts each coast light-armed

scour, Each quarter, to descry the distant foe,

530 Where lodged, or whither fled, or if for fight, In motion or in halt. Him soon they met Under spread ensigns moving nigh, in slow But firm battalion : back with speediest sail Zophiel, of Cherubim the swiftest wing, Came flying, and in mid air aloud thus cried :

« Arm, Warriors, arm for fight! The foe at hand, Whom fled we thought, will save us long pursuit This day ; fear not his flight; so thick a cloud He comes, and settled in his face I see

540 Sad resolution and secure. Let each His adamantine coat gird well, and each Fit well his helm, gripe fast his orbed shield, Borne even or high; for this day will pour down, If I conjecture aught, no drizzling shower, But rattling storm of arrows barbed with fire.'

“So warned he them, aware themselves, and soon In order, quit of all impediment. Instant, without disturb, they took alarm, And onward move embattled : when, behold, 550

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Not distant far, with heavy pace the foe
Approaching gross and huge, in hollow cube
Training his devilish enginry, impaled
On every side with shadowing squadrons deep,
To hide the fraud. At interview both stood
A while ; but suddenly at head appeared
Satan, and thus was heard commanding loud :

Vanguard, to right and left the front unfold,
That all may see who hate us how we seek
Peace and composure, and with open breast
Stand ready to receive them, if they like
Our overture, and turn not back perverse :
But that I doubt. However, witness Heaven !
Heaven, witness thou anon! while we discharge
Freely our part. Ye, who appointed stand,
Do as you have in charge, and briefly touch
What we propound, and loud that all may hear.'

“So scoffing in ambiguous words, he scarce Had ended, when to right and left the front Divided, and to either flank retired ;

570 Which to our eyes discovered, new and strange, A triple mounted row of pillars laid On wheels (for like to pillars most they seemed, Or hollowed bodies made of oak or fir, With branches lopt, in wood or mountain felled), Brass, iron, stony mould, had not their mouths With hideous orifice gaped on us wide, Portending hollow truce. At each, behind, A Seraph stood, and in his hand a reed Stood waving tipt with fire; while we, suspense, 580 Collected stood within our thoughts amused. Not long ! for sudden all at once their reeds Put forth, and to a narrow vent applied With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame, But soon obscured with smoke, all Heaven appeared, From those deep-throated engines belched, whose roar

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