Page images
PDF
EPUB

Of airy threats to awe whom yet with deeds
'Thou canst not. Hast thou turn'd the least of these
To Aight, or if to fall, but that they rise

285
Unvanquish'd, 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 call'st evil, but we style
The strife of glory ; which we mean to win, 290
Or turn this Heav'n itself into the Hell
Thou fablest, here however to dwell free,
If not to reign : meanwhile thy utmost force,
And join him nam'd Almighty to thy aid,
I fly not, but have sought thee far and nigh. 295

They ended parle, and both address'd for fight
Unspeakable; for who, though with the tongue
Of Angels, can relate, or to what things
Liken on carth conspicuous, that may lift
Human imagination to such height

300
Of Godlike pow'r? for likest Gods they seem'd,
Stood they or mov’d, in stature, motion, arms,
Fit to decide the empire of great Heaven.
Now wav'd their fiery swords, and in the air
Made horrid circles; two broad suns their shields 305
Blaz’d opposite, while expectation stood
In horror; from each hand with speed retird,
Where erst was thickest fight, th'angelic 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,

310 316

320

Two planets rushing from aspéct malign
Of fiercest opposition in mid sky
Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound.
Together both with next to' almighty arm
Uplifted imminent, one stroke they aim'd
That might determine, and not need repeat,
As not of pow'r at once ; nor odds appear'd
In might or swift prevention : but the sword
Of Michael from the armoury of God
Was giv’n him temper’d 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 stay'd, 325
But with swift wheel reverse, deep ent'ring shar'd
All his right side : then Satan first knew pain,
And writh'd him to and fro convolv'd; so sore
The griding sword with discontinuous wound
Pass'd through him : but th' ethereal substance clos'd,
Not long divisible; and from the gash

331
A stream of necta'rous humour issuing flow'd
Sanguine, such as celestial Spi'rits may bleed,
And all his armour stain'd ere while so bright.
Forthwith on all sides to his aid was run
By Angels many' and strong, who interpos'd
Defence, while others bore him on their shields
Back to his chariot, where it stood retir'd
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

335

340

all

355

His confidence to equal God in power.
Yet soon he heald; for Spi'rits that live throughout
Vital in every part, not as frail man

345
In entrails, heart or 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, ear, 350
All intellect, all sense : and as they please,
They limb themselves, and colour, shape, or size
Assume, as likes them best, condense or rare.

Meanwhile in other parts like deeds deserv'd
Memorial, where the might of Gabriel fought,
And with fierce ensigns pierc'd the deep array
Of Moloch furious king; who him defy'd,
And at his chariot wheels to drag him bound
Threaten'd, nor from the Holy One of Heaven
Refrain'd his tongue blasphemous; but anon
Down cloven to the waist, with shatter'd arms
And uncouth pain fled bellowing. On each wing
Uriel and Raphael his vaunting foe,
Though huge, and in a rock of diamond arm’d,
Vanquish'd Adramelech, and Asmaida,

365
Two potent thrones, that to be less than Gods
Disdain'd, but mcaner thoughts learn’d in their light,
Mangled with ghastly wounds through plate and mail.
Nor stood unmindful Abdiel to annoy
The atheist crew, but with redoubled blow 370
Ariel and Arioch, and the violence
Of Ramiel scorch'd and blasted overthrew.

360 380

I might relate of thousands, and their names
Eternize here on earth; but those elect
Angels, contented with their fame in Heaven, 375
Seek not the praise of men : the other sort,
In might though wondrous, and in acts of war,
Nor of renown less eager, yet by doom
Cancel'd from Heav'n 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 fanie:
Therefore eternal silence be their doom.

385
And now their mightiest quell'd, the battle swerv'd,
With many an inroad gor'd ; deformed rout
Enter'd, and foul disorder ; all the ground
With shiver'd armour strown, and on a heap
Chariot and charioteer lay overturn'd,

390 And fiery foaming steeds; what stood, recoil'd O'er-wearied, through the faint Satanic host Defensive scarce, or with pale fear surpris'd, Then first with fear surpris’d and sense of pain, Fled ignominious, to such evil brought

395 By sin of disobedience, till that hour Not liable to fear, or flight, or pain. Far otherwise th' inviolable Saints In cubic phalanx firm advanc'd entire, Invulnerable, impenetrably arm’d;

400 Such high advantages their innocence Gave them above their foes, not to have sinn'd,

Not to have disobey'd ; in fight they stood
Unwearied, unobnoxious to be pain'd
By wound, though from their place by violence mov’d.

Now night her course began, and over Heav'n 406
Inducing darkness, grateful truce impos'd,
And silence on the odious din of war :
Under her cloudy covert both retir'd,
Victor and vanquish'd : on the foughten field

410 Michael and his Angels prevalent Incamping, plac'd in guard their watches round, Cherubic waving fires : on th’ other part Satan with his rebellious disappear'd, Far in the dark dislodg'd; and void of rest, 415 His potentates to council call’d by night; And in the midst thus undismay'd began.

O now in danger try'd, not known in arms Not to be overpow'r’d. Companions dear, Found worthy not of liberty alone,

420 Too mean pretence, but what we more affect, Honour, dominion, glory, and renown; Who have sustain's one day in doubtful fight (And if one day, why not eternal days ?) What Heaven's Lord had pow'rfullest to send 425 Against us from about his throne, and judg'd Sufficient to subdue us to his will, Eut proves not so : then fallible, it seems, Of future we may deem him, though till now Omniscient thought. True is, less firmly arm'd, 430 Some disadvantage we endur'd and pain, Till now not known, but kitown as soon contemn'd,

« PreviousContinue »