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560

On every side with shadowing squadrons deep,
To hide the fraud. At interview both stood
A while; 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 may hear.

So scoffing in ambiguous words, he scarce
Had ended; when to right and left the front
Divided, and to either flank retir'd:

570 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 lopt, in wood or mountain felld) Brass, iron, stony mould, had not their mouths With hideous orifice gap'd 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 580 Collected stood within our thoughts amus'd, Not long, for sudden all at once their reeds Put forth, and to a narrow vent apply'd

With nicest touch. Immediate in a flame,
But soon obscur'd with smoke, all Heav'n appear'd,
From those deep-throated engines belch'd, whose roar
Imbowell'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

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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 Arch-Angel rollid;
The sooner for their arms; unarm’d they might
Have easily as Spi'rits evaded swift
By quick contraction or remove; but now
Foul dissipation follow'd and forc'd rout;
Nor serv'd it to relax their serried files.
What should they do? If on they rush'd, repulse 600
Repeated, and indecent overthrow
Doubled, would render them yet more despis’d,
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 callid:

O friends, why come not on these victors proud ? Ere while they fierce were coming; and when we, 610 To entertain them fair with open front And breast, (what could we more?) propounded terms Volume 11.

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Of composition, straight they chang'd their minds,
Flew off, and into strange vagaries fell,
As they would dance; yet for a dance they seem'd
Somewhat extravagant and wild, perhaps
For joy of offer'd 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: 620
Leader, the terms we sent were terms of weight,
Of hard contents, and full of force urg'd home,
Such as we might perceive amus'd 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, heighten'd in their thoughts beyond All doubt of victory; eternal might

630 To match with their inventions they presum’d So easy', and of his thunder made a scorn, And all his hoșt derided, while they stood A while in trouble: but they stood not long; Rage prompted them at length, and found them arms Against such bellish mischief fit to' oppose. Forthwith (behold the excellence, the power Which God hath in his mighty Angels plac'd) Their arms away they threw, and 10 the hills (For earth hath this variety from Heav'n 640 Of pleasure situate in hill and dale) Light as the lightning glimpse they ran, they flew;

From their foundations loos'ning to and fro
They pluck'd the seated hills with all their load,
Rocks, waters, woods, and by the shaggy tops
Uplifting bore them in their hands. Amaze,
Be sure, and terror seiz'd the rebel host,
When coming towards them so dread they saw
The bottom of the mountains upward turn'd;
Till on those cursed engines triple-row

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They saw them whelm'd, 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 oppress’d whole legions arm’d;
Their armour help'd their harm, crush'd in and bruis'd
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 Spi'rits of purest light, 660
Purest at first, now gross by sinning grown.
The rest in imitation to like arms
Betook them, and the neighb’ring hills uptore;
So bills amid the air encounter'd hills,
Huri'd to and fro with jaculation dire,
That under ground they fought in dismal shade;
Infernal noise; war seem'd a civil game
To this uproar; horrid confusion heap'd
Upon confusion rose; and now all Heav'n
Had gone to wrack, with ruin overspread, 670
Had not th’ Almighty Father, where he sits

C ü

Shrin'd in his sanctuary of Heav'n secure,
Consulting on the sum of things, foreseen
This tumult, and permitted all, advis'd:
That his great purpose he might so fulfil,
To honour his anointed Son aveng'd
Upon his enemies, and to declare
All power on him transferr’d: whence to his Son,
Th' assessor of his throne, he thus began :
Effulgence of my glory, Son belov'd,

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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 Heav'n,
Since Michael and his powers went forth to tame
These disobedient; sore had been their fight,
As likeliest was, when two such foes met arm’d:
For to themselves I left them, and thou know'st,
Equal in their creation they were form’d, 690
Save what sin hath impair'd, 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 perform’d what war can do,
And to disorder'd rage let loose the reins,
With mountains as with weapons arm’d, which makes
Wild work in Heav'n, and dange'rous to the main.
Two days are therefore past, the third is thine;
For thee I have ordain'd it, and thus far

750 Have suffer'd, that the glory may be thine

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