Last Updated on January 19, 2017, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 6780
All night the dreadless Angel, unpursued, Through Heaven's wide champain held his way; till Morn, Waked by the circling Hours, with rosy hand Unbarred the gates of light. There is a cave Within the mount of God, fast by his throne, Where light and darkness in perpetual round Lodge and...
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All night the dreadless Angel, unpursued, Through Heaven's wide champain held his way; till Morn, Waked by the circling Hours, with rosy hand Unbarred the gates of light. There is a cave Within the mount of God, fast by his throne, Where light and darkness in perpetual round Lodge and dislodge by turns, which makes through 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 arrayed in gold Empyreal; from before her vanished Night, Shot through with orient beams; when all the plain Covered 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 mixed Among those friendly Powers, who him received With joy and acclamations loud, that one, That of so many myriads fallen, yet one Returned not lost. On to the sacred hill They led him high applauded, and present 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 maintained 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 Than violence; for this was all thy care To stand approved in sight of God, though worlds Judged thee perverse: The easier conquest now Remains thee, aided by this host of friends, Back on thy foes more glorious to return, Than scorned thou didst depart; and to subdue By force, who reason for their law refuse, Right reason for their law, and for their King Messiah, who by right of merit reigns. Go, Michael, of celestial armies prince, And thou, in military prowess next, Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my sons Invincible; lead forth my armed Saints, By thousands and by millions, ranged for fight, Equal in number to that Godless crew Rebellious: Them with fire and hostile arms Fearless assault; and, to the brow of Heaven Pursuing, drive them out from God and bliss, Into their place of punishment, the gulf Of Tartarus, which ready opens wide His fiery Chaos to receive their fall. So spake the Sovran Voice, and clouds began To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll In dusky wreaths, reluctant flames, the sign Of wrath awaked; nor with less dread the loud Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow: At which command the Powers militant, That stood for Heaven, in mighty quadrate joined Of union irresistible, moved on In silence their bright legions, to the sound Of instrumental harmony, that breathed Heroick ardour to adventurous deeds Under their God-like leaders, in the cause Of God and his Messiah. On they move Indissolubly firm; nor obvious hill, Nor straitening vale, nor wood, nor stream, divides Their perfect ranks; for high above the ground Their march was, and the passive air upbore Their nimble tread; as when the total kind Of birds, in orderly array on wing, Came summoned over Eden to receive Their names of thee; so over many a tract Of Heaven they marched, and many a province wide, Tenfold the length of this terrene: At last, Far in the horizon to the north appeared From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretched In battailous aspect, and nearer view Bristled with upright beams innumerable Of rigid spears, and helmets thronged, and shields Various, with boastful argument portrayed, The banded Powers of Satan hasting on With furious expedition; for they weened 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 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. O 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 fight 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 contest and foul, When reason hath to deal with force, yet so Most reason is that reason overcome. So pondering, and from his armed peers Forth stepping opposite, half-way he met His daring foe, at this prevention more Incensed, and thus securely him defied. Proud, art thou met? thy hope was to have reached The highth of thy aspiring unopposed, The throne of God unguarded, and his side Abandoned, at the terrour 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, 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 Of my revenge, first sought for, thou returnest 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 comest Before thy fellows, ambitious to win 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 To heavenly souls had been all one; but now I see that most through sloth had rather serve, Ministring 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 errest, 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 rebelled Against his worthier, as thine now serve thee, Thyself not free, but to thyself enthralled; Yet lewdly darest our ministring upbraid. Reign thou in Hell, thy kingdom; let me serve In Heaven God ever blest, and his divine Behests obey, worthiest to be obeyed; Yet chains in Hell, not realms, expect: Mean while 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 upstaid; 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 seised The rebel Thrones, but greater rage, to see Thus foiled their mightiest; ours joy filled, and shout, Presage of victory, and fierce desire Of battle: Whereat Michael bid sound The Arch-Angel 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 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; over head the dismal hiss Of fiery darts in flaming vollies 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 center 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 over-ruled 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 warriour 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, 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 Arch-Angel 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, Thy offspring, to the place of evil, Hell; Thou and thy wicked crew! there mingle broils, Ere this avenging sword begin thy doom, Or some more sudden vengeance, winged from God, Precipitate thee with augmented pain. So spake the Prince of Angels; to whom thus The Adversary. Nor think thou with wind Of aery threats to awe whom yet with deeds Thou canst not. Hast thou turned the least of these To flight, or if to fall, but that they rise Unvanquished, easier to transact with me That thou shouldst hope, imperious, and with threats To chase me hence? err not, that so shall end The strife which thou callest evil, but we style The strife of glory; which we mean to win, Or turn this Heaven itself into the Hell Thou fablest; here however to dwell free, If not to reign: Mean while thy utmost force, And join him named Almighty to thy aid, I fly not, but have sought thee far and nigh. They ended parle, and both addressed for fight Unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue Of Angels, can relate, or to what things Liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift Human imagination to such highth Of Godlike power? for likest Gods they seemed, Stood they or moved, in stature, motion, arms, Fit to decide the empire of great Heaven. Now waved their fiery swords, and in the air Made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields Blazed opposite, while Expectation stood In horrour: From each hand with speed retired, Where erst was thickest fight, the angelick throng, And left large field, unsafe within the wind Of such commotion; such as, to set forth Great things by small, if, nature's concord broke, Among the constellations war were sprung, Two planets, rushing from aspect malign Of fiercest opposition, in mid sky Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound. Together both with next to almighty arm Up-lifted imminent, one stroke they aimed That might determine, and not need repeat, As not of power at once; nor odds appeared In might or swift prevention: But the sword Of Michael from the armoury of God Was given him tempered so, that neither keen Nor solid might resist that edge: it met The sword of Satan, with steep force to smite Descending, and in half cut sheer; nor staid, But with swift wheel reverse, deep entering, shared All his right side: Then Satan first knew pain, And writhed him to and fro convolved; so sore The griding sword with discontinuous wound Passed through him: But the ethereal substance closed, Not long divisible; and from the gash A stream of necturous humour issuing flowed Sanguine, such as celestial Spirits may bleed, And all his armour stained, ere while so bright. Forthwith on all sides to his aid was run By Angels many and strong, who interposed Defence, while others bore him on their shields Back to his chariot, where it stood retired From off the files of war: There they him laid Gnashing for anguish, and despite, and shame, To find himself not matchless, and his pride Humbled by such rebuke, so far beneath His confidence to equal God in power. Yet soon he healed; for Spirits that live throughout Vital in every part, not as frail man In entrails, heart of head, liver or reins, Cannot but by annihilating die; Nor in their liquid texture mortal wound Receive, no more than can the fluid air: All heart they live, all head, all eye, all ear, All intellect, all sense; and, as they please, They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size Assume, as?kikes them best, condense or rare. Mean while in other parts like deeds deserved Memorial, where the might of Gabriel fought, And with fierce ensigns pierced the deep array Of Moloch, furious king; who him defied, And at his chariot-wheels to drag him bound Threatened, nor from the Holy One of Heaven Refrained his tongue blasphemous; but anon Down cloven to the waist, with shattered arms And uncouth pain fled bellowing. On each wing Uriel, and Raphael, his vaunting foe, Though huge, and in a rock of diamond armed, Vanquished Adramelech, and Asmadai, Two potent Thrones, that to be less than Gods Disdained, but meaner thoughts learned in their flight, Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail. Nor stood unmindful Abdiel to annoy The atheist crew, but with redoubled blow Ariel, and Arioch, and the violence Of Ramiel scorched and blasted, overthrew. I might relate of thousands, and their names Eternize here on earth; but those elect Angels, contented with their fame in Heaven, Seek not the praise of men: The other sort, In might though wonderous and in acts of war, Nor of renown less eager, yet by doom Cancelled from Heaven and sacred memory, Nameless in dark oblivion let them dwell. For strength from truth divided, and from just, Illaudable, nought merits but dispraise And ignominy; yet to glory aspires Vain-glorious, and through infamy seeks fame: Therefore eternal silence be their doom. And now, their mightiest quelled, the battle swerved, With many an inroad gored; deformed rout Entered, and foul disorder; all the ground With shivered armour strown, and on a heap Chariot and charioteer lay overturned, And fiery-foaming steeds; what stood, recoiled O'er-wearied, through the faint Satanick host Defensive scarce, or with pale fear surprised, Then first with fear surprised, and sense of pain, Fled ignominious, to such evil brought By sin of disobedience; till that hour Not liable to fear, or flight, or pain. Far otherwise the inviolable Saints, In cubick phalanx firm, advanced entire, Invulnerable, impenetrably armed; Such high advantages their innocence Gave them above their foes; not to have sinned, Not to have disobeyed; in fight they stood Unwearied, unobnoxious to be pained By wound, though from their place by violence moved, Now Night her course began, and, over Heaven Inducing darkness, grateful truce imposed, And silence on the odious din of war: Under her cloudy covert both retired, Victor and vanquished: On the foughten field Michael and his Angels prevalent Encamping, placed in guard their watches round, Cherubick 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, 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, 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, Or equal what between us made the odds, In nature none: If other hidden cause Left them superiour, while we can preserve Unhurt our minds, and understanding sound, Due search and consultation will disclose. 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 havock hewn, And cloudy in aspect thus answering spake. 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 Believest 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 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 The Thunderer of his only dreaded bolt. Nor long shall be our labour; yet ere dawn, Effect shall end our wish. Mean while 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 inventer missed; so easy it seemed Once found, which yet unfound most would have thought 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 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: 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 Look round, and scouts each coast light-armed scour, Each quarter to descry the distant foe, 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, Warriours, 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 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 moved embattled: When behold! Not distant far with heavy pace the foe Approaching gross and huge, in hollow cube Training his devilish enginery, 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: 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, 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 Embowelled with outrageous noise the air, And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul Their devilish glut, chained thunderbolts and hail Of iron globes; which, on the victor host Levelled, with such impetuous fury smote, That, whom they hit, none on their feet might stand, Though standing else as rocks, but down they fell By thousands, Angel on Arch-Angel rolled; The sooner for their arms; unarmed, they might Have easily, as Spirits, evaded swift By quick contraction or remove; but now Foul dissipation followed, and forced rout; Nor served it to relax their serried files. What should they do? if on they rushed, repulse Repeated, and indecent overthrow Doubled, would render them yet more despised, And to their foes a laughter; for in view Stood ranked of Seraphim another row, In posture to displode their second tire Of thunder: Back defeated to return They worse abhorred. Satan beheld their plight, And to his mates thus in derision called. O Friends! why come not on these victors proud Ere while they fierce were coming; and when we, To entertain them fair with open front And breast, (what could we more?) propounded terms Of composition, straight they changed their minds, Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell, As they would dance; yet for a dance they seemed Somewhat extravagant and wild; perhaps For joy of offered peace: But I suppose, If our proposals once again were heard, We should compel them to a quick result. To whom thus Belial, in like gamesome mood. Leader! the terms we sent were terms of weight, Of hard contents, and full of force urged home; Such as we might perceive amused them all, And stumbled many: Who receives them right, Had need from head to foot well understand; Not understood, this gift they have besides, They show us when our foes walk not upright. So they among themselves in pleasant vein Stood scoffing, hightened in their thoughts beyond All doubt of victory: Eternal Might To match with their inventions they presumed So easy, and of his thunder made a scorn, And all his host derided, while they stood A while in trouble: But they stood not long; Rage prompted them at length, and found them arms Against such hellish mischief fit to oppose. Forthwith (behold the excellence, the power, Which God hath in his mighty Angels placed!) Their arms away they threw, and to the hills (For Earth hath this variety from Heaven Of pleasure situate in hill and dale,) Light as the lightning glimpse they ran, they flew; From their foundations loosening to and fro, They plucked the seated hills, with all their load, Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops Up-lifting bore them in their hands: Amaze, Be sure, and terrour, seized the rebel host, When coming towards them so dread they saw The bottom of the mountains upward turned; Till on those cursed engines' triple-row They saw them whelmed, and all their confidence Under the weight of mountains buried deep; Themselves invaded next, and on their heads Main promontories flung, which in the air Came shadowing, and oppressed whole legions armed; Their armour helped their harm, crushed in and bruised Into their substance pent, which wrought them pain Implacable, and many a dolorous groan; Long struggling underneath, ere they could wind Out of such prison, though Spirits of purest light, Purest at first, now gross by sinning grown. The rest, in imitation, to like arms Betook them, and the neighbouring hills uptore: So hills amid the air encountered hills, Hurled to and fro with jaculation dire; That under ground they fought in dismal shade; Infernal noise! war seemed a civil game To this uproar; horrid confusion heaped Upon confusion rose: And now all Heaven Had gone to wrack, with ruin overspread; Had not the Almighty Father, where he sits Shrined in his sanctuary of Heaven secure, Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen This tumult, and permitted all, advised: That his great purpose he might so fulfil, To honour his anointed Son avenged Upon his enemies, and to declare All power on him transferred: Whence to his Son, The Assessour of his throne, he thus began. Effulgence of my glory, Son beloved, Son, in whose face invisible is beheld Visibly, what by Deity I am; And in whose hand what by decree I do, Second Omnipotence! two days are past, Two days, as we compute the days of Heaven, Since Michael and his Powers went forth to tame These disobedient: Sore hath been their fight, As likeliest was, when two such foes met armed; For to themselves I left them; and thou knowest, Equal in their creation they were formed, Save what sin hath impaired; which yet hath wrought Insensibly, for I suspend their doom; Whence in perpetual fight they needs must last Endless, and no solution will be found: War wearied hath performed what war can do, And to disordered rage let loose the reins With mountains, as with weapons, armed; which makes Wild work in Heaven, and dangerous to the main. Two days are therefore past, the third is thine; For thee I have ordained it; and thus far Have suffered, that the glory may be thine Of ending this great war, since none but Thou Can end it. Into thee such virtue and grace Immense I have transfused, that all may know In Heaven and Hell thy power above compare; And, this perverse commotion governed thus, To manifest thee worthiest to be Heir Of all things; to be Heir, and to be King By sacred unction, thy deserved right. Go then, Thou Mightiest, in thy Father's might; Ascend my chariot, guide the rapid wheels That shake Heaven's basis, bring forth all my war, My bow and thunder, my almighty arms Gird on, and sword upon thy puissant thigh; Pursue these sons of darkness, drive them out From all Heaven's bounds into the utter deep: There let them learn, as likes them, to despise God, and Messiah his anointed King. He said, and on his Son with rays direct Shone full; he all his Father full expressed Ineffably into his face received; And thus the Filial Godhead answering spake. O Father, O Supreme of heavenly Thrones, First, Highest, Holiest, Best; thou always seek'st To glorify thy Son, I always thee, As is most just: This I my glory account, My exaltation, and my whole delight, That thou, in me well pleased, declarest thy will Fulfilled, which to fulfil is all my bliss. Scepter and power, thy giving, I assume, And gladlier shall resign, when in the end Thou shalt be all in all, and I in thee For ever; and in me all whom thou lovest: But whom thou hatest, I hate, and can put on Thy terrours, as I put thy mildness on, Image of thee in all things; and shall soon, Armed with thy might, rid Heaven of these rebelled; To their prepared ill mansion driven down, To chains of darkness, and the undying worm; That from thy just obedience could revolt, Whom to obey is happiness entire. Then shall thy Saints unmixed, and from the impure Far separate, circling thy holy mount, Unfeigned Halleluiahs to thee sing, Hymns of high praise, and I among them Chief. So said, he, o'er his scepter bowing, rose From the right hand of Glory where he sat; And the third sacred morn began to shine, Dawning through Heaven. Forth rushed with whirlwind sound The chariot of Paternal Deity, Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn, Itself instinct with Spirit, but convoyed By four Cherubick shapes; four faces each Had wonderous; as with stars, their bodies all And wings were set with eyes; with eyes the wheels Of beryl, and careering fires between; Over their heads a crystal firmament, Whereon a sapphire throne, inlaid with pure Amber, and colours of the showery arch. He, in celestial panoply all armed Of radiant Urim, work divinely wrought, Ascended; at his right hand Victory Sat eagle-winged; beside him hung his bow And quiver with three-bolted thunder stored; 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; 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 imbodied all in one. Before him Power Divine his way prepared; 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. 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 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 s'preme 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 vouchsafe. So spake the Son, and into terrour 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 stedfast 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 Of Thrones and mighty Seraphim prostrate, 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 thunder-struck, pursued With terrours, and with furies, to the bounds And crystal wall of Heaven; which, opening wide, Rolled inward, and a spacious gap disclosed Into the wasteful deep: The monstrous sight Struck them with horrour 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 Incumbered 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 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 mayest beware By what is past, to thee I have revealed What might have else to human race been hid; The discord which befel, and war in Heaven Among the angelick Powers, and the deep fall Of those too high aspiring, who rebelled With Satan; he who envies now thy state, Who now is plotting how he may seduce Thee also from obedience, that, with him Bereaved of happiness, thou mayest 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.