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And from about him fierce effusion rolled
Of smoke and bickering flame and sparkles dire.
Attended with ten thousand thousand Saints,
He onward came; far off his coming shone ;
And twenty thousand (I their number heard)
Chariots of God, half on each hand, were seen. 770
He on the wings of Cherub rode sublime
On the crystalline sky, in sapphire throned --
Illustrious far and wide, but by his own
First seen. Them unexpected joy surprised
When the great ensign of Messiah blazed
Aloft, by Angels borne, his sign in Heaven ;
Under whose conduct Michael soon reduced
His army, circumfused on either wing,
Under their Head embodied all in one.
Before him Power Divine his way prepared ; 780
At his command the uprooted hills retired
Each to his place; they heard his voice, and went
Obsequious; Heaven his wonted face renewed,
And with fresh flowerets hill and valley smiled.
“This saw his hapless foes, but stood obdured,
And to rebellious fight rallied their Powers,
Insensate, hope conceiving from despair.
In Heavenly Spirits could such perverseness dwell ?
But to convince the proud what signs avail,
Or wonders move the obdurate to relent?
They, hardened more by what might most reclaim,
Grieving to see his glory, at the sight
Took envy, and, aspiring to his highth,
Stood re-embattled fierce, by force or fraud
Weening to prosper, and at length prevail
Against God and Messiah, or to fall
In universal ruin last ; and now
To final battle drew, disdaining flight,
Or faint retreat : when the great Son of God
To all his host on either hand thus spake :- 800
"• Stand still in bright array, ye Saints ; here stand, Ye Angels armed ; this day from battle rest. Faithful hath been your warfare, and of God Accepted, fearless in his righteous cause ; And, as ye have received, so have ye done, Invincibly. But of this cursed crew The punishment to other hand belongs ; Vengeance is his, or whose he sole appoints. Number to this day's work is not ordained, Nor multitude ; stand only and behold
810 God's indignation on these godless poured By me. Not you, but me, they have despised, Yet envied ; against me is all their rage, Because the Father, to whom in Heaven supreme Kingdom and power and glory appertains, Hath honoured me, according to his will. Therefore to me their doom he hath assigned, That they may have their wish, to try with me In battle which the stronger proves—they all, Or I alone against them ; since by strength
They measure all, of other excellence
Not emulous, nor care who them excels;
Nor other strife with them do I voutsafe.'
“So spake the Son, and into terror changed
His countenance, too severe to be beheld,
And full of wrath bent on his enemies.
At once the Four spread out their starry wings
With dreadful shade contiguous, and the orbs
Of his fierce chariot rolled, as with the sound
Of torrent floods, or of a numerous host.
He on his impious foes right onward drove,
Gloomy as Night. Under his burning wheels
The steadfast Empyrean shook throughout,
All but the throne itself of God. Full soon
Among them he arrived, in his right hand
Grasping ten thousand thunders, which he sent
Before him, such as in their souls infixed
Plagues. They, astonished, all resistance lost,
All courage ; down their idle weapons dropt ;
O’er shields, and helms, and helmed heads he rode 840
Of Thrones and mighty Seraphim prostráte,
That wished the mountains now might be again
Thrown on them, as a shelter from his ire.
Nor less on either side tempestuous fell
His arrows, from the fourfold-visaged Four,
Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels,
Distinct alike with multitude of eyes ;
One spirit in them ruled, and every eye
Glared lightning, and shot forth pernicious fire
Among the accursed, that withered all their strength,
And of their wonted vigour left them drained,
Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fallen.
Yet half his strength he put not forth, but checked
His thunder in mid-volley; for he meant
Not to destroy, but root them out of Heaven.
The overthrown he raised, and, as a herd
Of goats or timorous flock together thronged,
Drove them before him thunderstruck, pursued
With terrors and with furies to the bounds
And crystal wall of Heaven ; which, opening wide, 860
Rolled inward, and a spacious gap disclosed
Into the wasteful Deep. The monstrous sight
Strook them with horror backward ; but far worse
Urged them behind : headlong themselves they threw
Down from the verge of Heaven: eternal wrath
Burnt after them to the bottomless pit.
“ Hell heard the unsufferable noise ; Hell saw
Heaven ruining from Heaven, and would have fled
Affrighted ; but strict Fate had cast too deep
Her dark foundations, and too fast had bound.
Nine days they fell ; confounded Chaos roared,
And felt tenfold confusion in their fall
Through his wild Anarchy ; so huge a rout
Encumbered him with ruin. Hell at last,
Yawning, received them whole, and on them closed
Hell, their fit habitation, fraught with fire
Unquenchable, the house of woe and pain.
Disburdened Heaven rejoiced, and soon repaired
Her mural breach, returning whence it rolled.
Sole victor, from the expulsion of his foes
Messiah his triumphal chariot turned.
To meet him all his Saints, who silent stood
Eye-witnesses of his almighty acts,
With jubilee advanced ; and, as they went,
Shaded with branching palm, each order bright
Sung triumph, and him sung victorious King,
Son, Heir, and Lord, to him dominion given,
Worthiest to reign. He celebrated rode,
Triumphant through mid Heaven, into the courts
And temple of his mighty Father throned
890 On high; who into glory him received, Where now he sits at the right hand of bliss. “ Thus, measuring things in Heaven by things on
Earth, At thy request, and that thou may'st beware By what is past, to thee I have revealed What might have else to human race been hidThe discord which befell, and war in Heaven Among the Angelic Powers, and the deep fall Of those too high aspiring who rebelled With Satan : he who envies now thy state, 900 Who now is plotting how he may seduce Thee also from obedience, that, with him Bereaved of happiness, thou may'st partake His punishment, eternal misery ; Which would be all his solace and revenge, As a despite done against the Most High, Thee once to gain companion of his woe.
But listen not to his temptations; warn
Thy weaker ; let it profit thee to have heard,
By terrible example, the reward
Of disobedience. Firm they might have stood,
Yet fell. Remember, and fear to transgress.”