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In the mid-way ; though strange to us it seemed
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 his 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 joined,
Satan, with vast and haughty strides advanced,
Came towering, armed in adamant and gold.
Abdiel that sight endured not, where he stood
Among the mightiest, bent on highest deeds,
And thus his own undaunted heart explores :-

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WO Heaven ! that such resemblance of the Highest
Should yet remain, where faith and realty
Remain not! Wherefore should not strength and might
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
Unsound and false ; nor is it aught but just
That he who in debate of truth hath won
Should win in arms, in both disputes alike
Victor. Though brutish that contést and foul,
When reason hath to deal with force, yet so
Most reason is that reason overcome.'

So pondering, and from his armed peers

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Forth stepping opposite, half-way he met
His daring foe, at this prevention more
Incensed, and thus securely him defied :-

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“ « Proud, art thou met? Thy hope was to have reached
The height of thy aspiring unopposed-
The throne of God unguarded, and His side
Abandoned at the terror of thy power
Or potent tongue. Fool! not to think how vain
Against the Omnipotent to rise in arms;
Who, out of smallest things, could without end
Have raised incessant armies to defeat
Thy folly; or with solitary hand,
Reaching beyond all limit, at one blow,

140 Unaided could have finished thee, and whelmed 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 Seemed 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 answered : Ill for thee, but in wished hour 150 Of my revenge, first sought for, thou return'st From flight, seditious angel, to receive Thy merited reward, the first assay 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 com'st Before thy fellows, ambitious to win

160 From me some plume, that thy success may show Destruction to the rest. This pause between (Unanswered lest thou boast) to let thee know, At first I thought that liberty and Heaven

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To heavenly souls had been all one; but now
I see that most through sloth had rather serve,
Ministering spirits, trained up in feast and song:
Such hast thou armed, 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 deprav'st 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 rebelled
Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee,
Thyself not free, but to thyself enthralled ;
Yet lewdly dar'st our ministering upbraid.
Reign thou in Hell, thy kingdom ; let me serve
In Heaven God ever blessed, and His divine
Behests obey, worthiest to be obeyed.
Yet chains in Hell, not realms, expect : meanwhile,
From me returned, 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 swift with tempest fell
On the proud crest of Satan that no sight,
Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield,
Such ruin intercept. Ten paces huge
He back recoiled ; the tenth on bended knee
His massy spear upstayed ; as if, on earth,
Winds under ground, or waters forcing way,
Sidelong had pushed a mountain from his seat,
Half sunk with all his pines. Amazement seized
The rebel thrones, but greater rage, to see
Thus foiled their mightiest; ours joy filled, and shout,
Presage of victory, and fierce desire

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Of battle : whereat Michaël bid sound
The archangel trumpet. Through the vast of Heaven
It sounded, and the faithful armies rung
Hosannah to the Highest; nor stood at gaze
The adverse legions, nor less hideous joined
The horrid shock. Now storming fury rose,
And clamour such as heard in Heaven till now
Was never ; arms on armour clashing brayed
Horrible 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 rushed
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 numbered such
As each divided legion might have seemed
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

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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
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
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,

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