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LL night the dreadless angel, unpursu'd,
That of so many myriads fall’n, yet one
Servant of God, well done, well hast thou fought
45 Gabriel, lead forth to battle these my
Of wrath awakd ; nor with less dread the loud
65 Heroic ardor to advent'rous deeds, Under their godlike leaders, in the cause Of God and his Messiah. On they move Indissolubly firm ; nor obvious hill, Nor strait'ning vale, nor wood, 'nor stream divides 70 Their perfect ranks; for high above the ground Their marck was, and the passive air upbore Their nimble tread; as when the total kind Of birds, in orderly array on wing, Came fummon'd over Eden, to receive
75 Their names of thee ; so over many a tract Of heav'n they march'd, and many a province wide, Tenfold the length of this terrene: at last Far in th’horizon to the north appear'd From skirt to skirt a fiery region, stretch'd In battalious aspéct, and nearer view Bristled with upright beams innumerable of rigid fpears, and helmets throng'd, and shields Various, with boastful argument portray'd, The banded powers of Satan hafting on
85 With furious expedition ; for they ween’d That felf-fame 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 prov'd fond and vain 90 In the mid-way: though strange to us it seem'd At first, that angel should with angel war, And in fierce hosting meet, who wont to meet K 3
So oft in festivals of joy and love
105 Presented stood in terrible array Of hideous length: before the cloudy van, On the rough edge of battle ere it join'd, Satan with vast and haughty strides advanc'd Came tow'ring, arm'd in adamant and gold; Abdiel that fight endur'd not, where he flood Among the mightiert, bent on highest deeds, And thus his own undounted heart explores.
O Heaven! that such resemblance of the Highest Should yet remain, where faith and realty 115 Remain not: wherefore should not strength and might There fail where virtue fails, or weakest prove Where boldelt, though to fight unconquerable ? His puissance, trusting in th' Almighty's aid, I mean to try, whofe, reason I have try'd Unfound and false ; nor is it ought 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 fo 125 Most reason is that reason overcome.
So pondering, and from his armed peers, Forth stepping oppofite, half-way he met
His daring foe, at this prevention more
140 Unaided, could hare finish'd thee, and whelm'd Thy legions under darkness: but thou feest All are not of thy train; there be who failh. Prefer, and piety to God, though then To thee not visible, when I alone
145 Seem'd in thy world erroneous to diffent From all: my fect thou seest; now learn too late How few fometimes may know, when thousands err.
Whom the grand foe, with scornful eye askance, Thus answer'd. Ill for thee, but in with'd hour 159 Of my revenge, first fought, for thou return'st From fight, feditious angel, to receive Thy merited reward, the first effiy Of this right hand provok'd ; fince first that tongue, Inspird with contradiction, durft oppose 155 A third part of the gods, in fynod met Their deities to assert, who, while they feel Vigour divine within them, can allow Omnipotence to none. But well thou com'lt Before thy fellows, ambitious to win
160 From me some plume, that thy success may
show Destruction to the rest: this pause between (Unanswer'd lest thou boast,) to let thee know;