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How busied, in what form and posture couch’d. 876
To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake:
Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed
To thy transgressions, and disturb’d the charge
Of others, who approve not to transgress
By thy example, but have power and right
To question thy bold entrance on this place;
Employ'd it seems, to violate sleep, and those
Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?
To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow; 885
Gabriel! thou had'st in Heaven the esteem of wise,
And such I held thee; but this question ask'd
Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?
Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,
Though thither doom’d? Thou wouldst thyself no doubt,
And boldly venture to what ever place
Furthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to change
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;
To thee no reason, who know'st only good, 895
But evil hast not tried: and wilt object
His will who bound us? Let him surer bar
His iron gates, if he intends our stay
In that dark durance: thus much what was ask'd.
The rest is true, they found me where they say; 900
But that implies not violence or harm.
Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel moved,
Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied:
O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise
Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,
And now returns him from his prison scaped,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither
Unlicensed from his bounds in Hell prescribed;
So wise he judges it to fly from pain
910 However, and to scape his punishment!
So judge thou still presumptuous! till the wrath,
Which thou incurr'st by flying, meet thy flight
Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,
Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain 915
Can equal anger infinite provoked.
But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee
Came not all hell broke loose? is pain to them
Less pain, less to be fled; or thou than they
Less hardy to endure? Courageous Chief! 920
The first in flight from pain! hadst thou alleged
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive.
To which the fiend thus answerd, frowning stern:
Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain, 925
Insulting angel! well thou know'st I stood
Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid
The blasting vollied thunder made all speed,
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.
But still thy words at random, as before,
Argue thy inexperience what behooves
From hard assays and ill successes pass'd
A faithful leader, not to hazard all
Through ways of danger by himself untried:
I, therefore, I alone first undertook
935 To wing the desolate abyss, and spy This new created world, whereof in Hell Fame is not silent, here in hope to find Better abode, and my afflicted Powers To settle here on earth, or in mid air;
940 Though for possession put to try once more What thou and thy gay legions dare against; Whose easier buisness were to serve their Lord High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne And practiced distances to cringe, not fight. 945
To whom the warrior Angel soon replied: To say and straight unsay, pretending first
Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy,
Argues no leader but a liar traced,
Satan, and couldst thou ‘faithful add? O name, 950
O sacred name of faithfulness profane!
Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?
Army of Fiends, fit body to fit head.
Was this your discipline and faith engaged,
Your military obedience, to dissolve
Allegiance to the acknowledged Power supreme!
And thou, sly hypocrite, who now would'st seem
Patron of liberty, who more than thou
Once fawn'd, and cringed, and servilely adored
Heaven's awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope 960
To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?
But mark what I arreed thee now, Avaunt!
Fly thither whence thou fledst! If from this hour
Within these hallow'd limits thou appear,
Back to the infernal pit I drag thee chain'
965 And seal thee so as henceforth not to scorn The facile gates of Hell too slightly barr’d. So threatened he; but Satan to no threats Gave heed, but waxing more in rage replied:
Then when I am thy captive talk of chains, 970 Proud limitary Cherub! but ere then Far heavier load thyself expect to feel From my prevailing arm, though Heaven's King Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers, Used to the yoke, draw'st his triumphant wheels 975 In progress through the road of Heaven star-paved.
While thus he spake, the angelic squadron bright Turn’d fiery red, sharp'ning in mooned horns Their phalanx, and began to hem him round With ported spears, as thick as when a field 980 Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends Her bearded grove of ears, which way the wind Sways them; the careful ploughman doubting stands,
Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeless sheaves
Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarm’d, 985
Collecting all his might, dilated stood
Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:
His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest
Sat Horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp [deeds
What seem'd both spear and shield: now dreadful
Might have ensued, nor only Paradise
In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of Heaven perhaps, or all the elements
At least had gone to wreck, disturb’d and torn
With violence in this conflict, had not soon 995
The Eternal to prevent such horrid fray,
Hung forth in Heaven his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign,
Wherein all things created first he weigh’d,
The pendulous round earth with balanced air 1000
In counterpoise, now ponders all events,
Battles and realms: in these he put two weights,
The sequel each of parting and of fight:
The latter quick up flew and kick'd the beam;
Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the Fiend: 1005
Satan, I know thy strength, and thou knowost mine;
Neither our own but given: what folly then
To boast what arms can do? since thine no more
Than Heaven permits, nor mine, though doubled now
To trample thee as mire: for proof look up, 1010
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign;
(weak Where thou art weigh’d, and shown how light, how If thou resist. The Fiend look'd up, and knew His mounted scale aloft: nor more; but filed Murmuring, and with him fled the shades of night.1015