Imatges de pÓgina
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BOOK VI.

THE ARGUMENT.

Raphael continues to relate how Michael and Gabriel were sent forth to battle against Satan and his angels. The first fight described: Satan and his powers retire under night: he calls a council; invents devilish engines, which, in the second day's fight, put Michael and his angels to some dis. order; but they at length pulling up mountains, overwhelmed both the force and machines of Satan; yet, the tumult not so ending, God, on the third day, sends Messiah his Son, for whom he had reserved the glory of that victory. He, in the power of his Father, coming to the place, and

causing all his legions

to stand still on either side, with his chariot and

thunder driving into the midst of his enemies, pursues them, unable to resist, towards the wall of heaven; which opening, they leap down with deep. Messiah returns with triumph to his Father. horror and confusion into the place of punishment prepared for them in the

ALL night the dreadless angel unpursued
Through heaven's wide champaign held his way, till

morn,

Waked by the circling hours, with rosy hand
Within the mount of God, fast by his throne,
Unbarr'd the gates of light. There is a cave
Lodge and dislodge by turns, which makes through
Where light and darkness in perpetual round

heaven

Grateful vicissitude, like day and night;
Light issues forth, and at the other door
Obsequious darkness enters, till her hour
To veil the heaven, though darkness there might well
Seem twilight here; and now went forth the Morn
Such as in highest heaven, array'd in gold
Empyreal, from before her vanish'd night,
Shot through with orient beams; when all the plain
Cover'd with thick embattled squadrons bright,
Chariots, and flaming arms, and fiery steeds,
Reflecting blaze on blaze, first met his view.
War he perceived, war in procinct, and found
Already known what he for news had thought

To have

reported: gladly then he mix'd

Among those friendly powers, who him received
That of so many myriads fallen yet one
With joy and acclamations loud, that one,
They led him high applauded, and present
Return'd not lost. On to the sacred hill
Before the seat supreme; from whence a voice,
From 'midst a golden cloud, thus mild was heard:

Servant

of God, well done; well hast thou fought

The better fight, who single hast maintain'd
Against revolted multitudes the cause

of

truth,

in word mightier than they in arms;

And for the testimony of truth hast borne
Universal reproach, far worse to bear

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That self-same day, by fight or by surprise,
To win the mount of God, and on his throne
To set the envier of his state, the proud
Aspirer; but their thoughts proved fond and vain
In the mid-way. Though strange to us it seem'd
At first, that angel should with angel war,
And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet
So oft in festivals of joy and love
Unanimous,
as sons of one great Sire,

Hymning the Eternal Father; but the shout
Of battle now began, and rushing sound
Of onset ended soon each milder thought.
High in the midst, exalted as a god,
The apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat,
Idol of majesty divine, enclosed
With flaming cherubim and golden shields;
Then lighted from her gorgeous throne, for now
Twixt host and host but narrow space was left,
A dreadful interval, and front to front
Presented stood in terrible array
Of hideous length: before the cloudy van,
On the rough edge of battle ere it join'd,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,
Among the mightiest, bent on highest deeds,
Abdiel that sight endured not, where he stood
Came towering, arm'd in adamant and gold;
And thus his own undaunted heart explores:

Should yet remain, where faith and realty
O Heaven! that such resemblance of the Highest
Remain not; wherefore should not strength and night
There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove
Where boldest, though to sight unconquerable?
His puissance, trusting in the Almighty's aid,
I mean to try, whose reason I have tried
That he, who in debate of truth hath won,
Unsound and false; nor is it aught but just
Should win in arms, in both disputes alike
When reason hath to deal with force; yet so
Victor; though brutish that contest and foul,
Most reason is that reason overcome.

Forth stepping opposite, half-way he met
So pondering, and from his arm'd peers
His daring foe, at this prevention more
Incensed, and thus securely him defied:

The height of thy aspiring unopposed,
Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have reach'd
The throne of God unguarded, and his side
Abandon'd, at the terror of thy power
Who out of smallest things could without end
Against the Omnipotent to rise in arms;
Or potent tongue; fool! not to think how vain
Have raised incessant armies to defeat

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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
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
From flight, seditious angel, to receive
Thy merited reward, the first essay
Of this right hand provoked, since first that tongue,
Inspired with contradiction, durst oppose,
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 comest
Before thy fellows, ambitious to win
I'rom 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 heaven
To heavenly souls had been all one ; but now
I see that most through sloth had rather serve,
Ministering spirits, train'd up in seast and song:
Such hast thou arm'd, the minstrelsy of heaven,
Servility with freedom to contend,
As both their deeds compared this day shall prove.

To whom in brief thus Abdiel stern replied : Apostate, still thou err’st, nor end wilt find Of erring, from the path of truth remote : Unjustly thou depravest it with the name Of servitude, to serve whom God ordains, 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 the unwise, or him who hath rebelld Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee, Thyself not free, but to thyself enthrall’d; Yet lewdly darest our ministering upbraid. Reign thou in hell, thy kingdom, let me serve In heaven God ever-bless'd, and his divine Behests obey, worthiest to be obey'd ; Yet chains in hell, not realms, expect : meanwhile, From me return'd as erst thou saidst, from flight, This greeting on thy impious crest receive.

So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high, Which hung not, but so swist with tempest fell

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On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
Nor motion of swist 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
Winds underground, or waters, forcing way
Side-long, had push'd a mountain from his seat,
Half sunk with all his pines. Amazement seized
The rebel thrones, but greater rage to see
Thus foild their mightiest ; ours joy fill'd, and shout,
Presage of victory, and fierce desire
Of battle : whereat Michaël bid sound
The archangel trumpet ; through the vast of heaven
It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
Hosanna to the Highest : nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, nor less hideous joind
The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose
And clamour, such as heard in heaven till now
Was never ; arms on armour clashing bray'd
Ilorrible discord, and the madding wheels
Of brazen chariots raged ; dire was the noise
Of conflict; overhead the dismal hiss
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew,
And flying vaulted either host with fire.
So under fiery cope together rush'd
Both battles main, with ruinous assault
And inextinguishable rage. All heaven
Resounded, and had earth been then, all earth
Had to her centre shook. What wonder? when
Millions of fierce encountering angels fought
On either side, the least of whom could wield
These elements, and arm him with the force
Of all their regions : how much more of power,
Army against army numberless to raise
Dreadful combustion warring ; and disturb,
Though not destroy, their happy native seat ;
Had not the Eternal King Omnipotent,
From his strong hold of heaven, high overruled
And limited their might ; though number'd such,
As each divided legion might have seem'd
A numerous 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

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

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