« PreviousContinue »
BOOK THE SIXTH.
THE ARGUMENT. Raphael continues to relate how Michael and Gabriel were sent forth to battle
against Satan and his Angels. The first fight described : Satan and his powers retire under night: He calls a council, invents devilish engines, which in the second day's fight put Michael and his Angels to some disorder ; but they at length pulling up mountains overwhelmed both the force and machines of Satan : yet the tumult not so ending, God on the third day sends Messiah his son, for whom he had reserved the glory of that victory: He in the power of his Father coming to the place, and causing all his legions to stand still on either side, with his chariot and thunder driving into the midst of his enc. mies, pursues them unable to resist towards the wall of Heaven; which opening, they leap down with horror and confusion into the place of punishment prepared for them in the deep : Messiah returns with triumph to his Father.
All night the dreadless Angel unpursued
hand Unbarr'd the gates of light. There is a cave Within the mount of God, fast by his throne, 5 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 Heav'n, though darkness there might well Scem twilight here : and now went forth the morn
Such as in highest Heav'n, array'd in gold
SERVANT of God, well done, well hast thou fought The better fight, who single hast maintain'd
30 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
35 To stand approv'd in sight of God, though worlds Judg'd thee perverse : the easier conquest now Remains thee, aided by this host of friends, Back on thy foes more glorious to return Than scorn'd thou didst depart, and to subdue 40 By force, who reason for their law refuse, Right reason for their law, and for their king
Messiah, who by right of merit reigns.
55 So spake the sov'reign voice, and clouds began To darken all the hill, and smoke to roll In dusky wreathes, reluctant flames, the sign Of wrath awak'd; nor with less dread the loud Ethereal trumpet from on high 'gan blow; At which command the Powers militant, That stood for Heav'n, in mighty quadrate join'd Of union irresistible, mov'd on In silence their bright legions, to the sound Of instrumental harmony, that breath'd Heroic ardour to advent'rous deeds Under their God-like 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 march was, and the passive air upbore
Their nimble tread; as when the total kind
80 In battailous aspéct, and nearer view Bristled with upright heams innumerable Of rigid spears, and helmets throng'd, and shields Various, with boastful argument portray’d, The banded Pow'rs of Satan hasting on
85 With furious expedition : for they ween'd '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 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 So oft in festivals of joy and love Unanimous, as sons of one great Sire
95 Hymning th' 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 Th’ Apostate in his sun-bright chariot sat,
100 Idol of majesty divine, inclos'd 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
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 sight indur'd not, where he stood Among the mightiest, bent on highest deeds, And thus his own undaunted heart explores.
O Heav'n! 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 boldest, though to sight unconquerable ? His puissance, trusting in th’ Almighty's aid, I mean to try, whose reason I have try'd Unsound 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 contést and foul, When reason hath to deal with force, yet so
125 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 Incens’d, and thus securely him defy'd.
130 Proud art thou met ? thy hope was to have reach'd The height of thy aspiring unoppos’d,