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Gabriel from the front thus call'd aloud.
O friends, I hear the tread of nimble feet
He scarce had ended, when those two approach'd, And brief related whom they brought, where found, How busied, in what form and posture couch’d.
To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake. Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescrib'd To thy transgressions, and disturb’d the charge Of others, who approve not to transgress 889 By thy example, but have pow'r and right To question thy bold entrance on this place ; Employ'd it seems to violate sleep, and those Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss ?
To whon thus Satan with contemptuous brow. Gabriel, thou had'st in heav’n th' esteem of wise, And such I held thee; but this question ask'd Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain? Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell, Though thither doom'd ? Tkou would'st thyself, no doubt,
890 And boldly venture to whatever place Farthest from pain, where thou might'st hope to
change Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;
Thus he in scorn. The warlike Angel mov'd,
To which the Fiend thus answer'd frowning stern. Not that I less endure, or shrink from pain, Insulting Angel : weil thou know'st I stood Thy fiercest, when in battle to thy aid The blasting volied thunder made all speed, And seconded thy else not dreaded spear. But still thy words at random, as before, 930 Argue thy inexperience whät behoves From hard assays and ill successes past A faithful leader, not to hazard all Through ways of danger by himself untry'd : I therefore, I alone first undertook To wing the desolate abyss, and spy This new-created world, whereof in Hell Fame is not silent, here in hope to find Better abode, and my afflicted Powers To settle here on earth, or in mid-air ; 940 Though for possession put to try once more What thou and thy gay legions dare against; Whose easier business were to serve their Lord High up in Heav'n, with songs to hymn his throne, And practis'd distances to cringe, not fight.
To whom the warrior Angel soon reply'd. To say and straight unsay, pretending first Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy, Argues no leader but a lyar trac'd, Satan, and couldst thou faithful add ? O name, 950 O sacred name of faithfulness profan'd! Faithful to whom ? To thy rebellious crew ?
Army of Fiends, fit body to fit head.
rage reply'd. Then when I am thy captive talk of chains, 970 Proud limitary Cherub, but ere then Far heavier load thyself expect to feel From my prevailing arm, though Heaven's King Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers, Us'd to the yoke, draw'st his triumphant wheels In progress through the road of Heav'n star-pav’d.
While thus he spake, th' angelic squadron bright Turn'd fiery red, sharp'ning in mooned horns Their plialanx, and began to hem him round With ported spears, as thick as when a field 980 Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends
Her bearded grove
of ears, which way the wind Sways them; the careful ploughman doubting stands, Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves Prove chaff. On th’ other side Satan alarm’d Collecting all his might dilated stood, Like Teneriff or Atlas unremov'd: His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest Sat horror plum'd; nor wanted in his grasp What seem'd both spear and shield: now dreadful deeds
990 Might have ensued, nor only Paradise In this commotion, but the starry cope Of Heav'n perhaps, or all the elements At least had gone to wreck, disturb’d and torn With violence of this conflict, had not soon Th’ Eternal to prevent such horrid fray Hung forth in Heav'n his golden scales, yet seen Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign, Wherein all things created first he weigh’d, The pendulous round earth with balanc'd air 1000 In counterpoise, now ponders all events, Battles and realms : in these he put two weights The sequel each of parting and of fight; The latter quick up flew, and kick'd the beam; Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the Fiend. Satan, I know tliy strength, and thou know'st
mine, Neither our own but giv’n ; what folly then To boast what arms can do? Since thine no more