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Encamping placed in guard their watches round,
Cherubic waving fires: on th' other part
Satan with his rebellious disappear'd,
Far in the dark dislodged, and void of rest
His potentates to council callid by night;
And in the midst thus undismay'd began.

O now in danger tried, now known in arms
Not to be overpower'd, companions dear,
Found worthy not of liberty alone,
Too mean pretence, but what we more affect,
Honour, dominion, glory, and renown;
Who have sustain'd 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 arm’d,
Some disadvantage we endured and pain,
Till now not known, but known, as soon contemn'd;
Since now we find this our empyreal form
Incapable of mortal injury,
Imperishable, and though pierced with wound
Soon closing, and by native vigour heal'd.
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 superior, while we can preserve
Unhurt our minds and understanding sound,
Due search and consultation will disclose.

He sat; and in th' assembly next upstood
Nisroch,' of principalities the prime;
As one he stood escaped from cruel fight,

1 Nisroch was worshipped by the Assyrians. It was in his temple that

Sennacherib was slain by his two sons.
See 2 Kings xix, 37.

Sore toild, 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 unpain'd, impassive; from which evil
Ruin must needs ensue, for what avails
Valour or strength, though matchless, quell'd with pain,
Which all subdues, and makes remiss the hand
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 defonce, to me deserves
No less than for deliverance what we owe.

Whereto with look composed Satan replied.
Not uninvented that, which thou aright
Believ'st 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 heav'n, adorn'd
With plant, fruit, flow'r 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 spirituous and fiery spume, till touch'd
With heaven's ray, and temper'd they shoot forth
So beauteous, op'ning 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-ramm’d, at th’ other bore with touch of fire
Dilated and infuriate, shall send forth
From far with thund'ring 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 disarm’d
The Thunderer of his only dreaded bolt.
Nor long shall be our labour; yet ere dawn,
Effect shall end our wish. Meanwhile revive;
Abandon fear; to strength and counsel join'd
Think nothing hard, much less to be despair’d.

He ended, and his words their drooping cheer
Enlighten'd, and their languish'd hope revived.
Th’ invention all admired, and each, how he
To be th' inventor miss’d, so easy it seem'd
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 dev'lish 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 turn'd
Wide the celestial soil, and saw beneath
Th' 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 convey'd.
Part hidden veins digg'd 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 finish'd, and in order set,
With silent circumspection unespied.

Now when fair morn orient in heav'n appear'a,
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'd rơind, 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, warriors, 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 ev’n or high ; for this day will pour down,
If I conjecture aught, no drizzling show'r,
But rattling storm of arrows barb'd with fire.

So warn'd he them, aware themselves, and soon
In order, quit of all impediment;
Instant without disturb they took alarm,
And onward move embattell’d; when behold
Not distant far with heavy pace the foe
Approaching gross and huge; in hollow cube
Training his devilish enginry, impaled
On every side with shadowing squadrons deep,
To hide the fraud. At interview both stood
Awhile; but suddenly at head appear'd
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,
Heav'n 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 hear.

So scoffing in ambiguous words, he scarce

may

Had ended; when to right and left the front
Divided, and to either flank retired :
Which to our eyes discover'd, new and strange,
A triple mounted row of pillars, laid
On wheels, for like to pillars most they seem'd,
Or hollow'd bodies made of oak or fir
With branches lopp'd, in wood or mountain fell’d,
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 tipp'd with fire; while we suspense
Collected stood within our thoughts amused;
Not long, for sudden all at once their reeds
Pat forth, and to a narrow vent applied
With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame,
But soon obscured with smoke, all heav'n appear'd,
From those deep-throated engines belch'd, whose roar
Embowell’d with outrageous noise the air,
And all her entrails tore, disgorging foul
Their devilish glut, chain'd thunderbolts and hail
Of iron globes, which on the victor host
Levell’d 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 archangel roll’d,
The sooner for their arms; unarm’d they might
Have easily as spirits evaded swift
By quick contraction or remove: but now
Foul dissipation follow'd and forced rout:
Nor served it to relax their serried files.
What should they do ? if on they rush'd, repulse
Repeated, and indecent overthrow
Doubled, would render them yet more despised,
And to their foes a laughter: for in view
Stood rank'd of seraphim another row,
In posture to displode their second tire
Of thunder : back defeated to return
They worse abhorr'd. Satan beheld their plight,
And to his mates thus in derision call'd.

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