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 
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.