Paradise Lost Book VI
by John Milton

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Book VI

 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...

(The entire section is 6,780 words.)