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Breathing united force, with fixed thought,
Moved on in silence to soft pipes, that charmed
Their painful steps o'er the burnt soil: and now
Advanced, in view they stand; a horrid1 front
Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
Of warriors old with ordered spear and shield;
Awaiting what command their mighty Chief
Had to impose: he through the armèd files
Darts his experienced eye, and soon travèrse
The whole battalion views; their order due;
Their visages and stature as of gods;
Their number last he sums. And now his heart
Distends with pride, and hardening in his strength
Glories for never, since created man,
Met such embodied force, as named with these
Could merit more than that small infantry
Warred on by cranes 2; though all the giant brood
Of Phlegra3 with the heroic race were joined
That fought at Thebes1 and Ilium 5, on each side
Mixed with auxiliar gods; and what resounds
In fable or romance of Uther's son 6
Begirt with British and Armoric knights;
And all who since, baptized or infidel,
Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban,
Damasco, or Morocco9, or Trebisond1o,
Or whom Biserta 11 sent from Afric shore,
When Charlemagne with all his peerage fell
By Fontarabia.12 Thus far these beyond
Compare of mortal prowess, yet observed
Their dread Commander: he above the rest,
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower: his form had not yet lost
1 Rough, bristling.
2 An allusion to the Pygmæi (pigmies), a fabulous nation of dwarfs, who, according to Homer, had every spring to sustain a war against the cranes. Hom. Il. iii. 5., &c.
3 A place in Macedonia, where the giants attacked the gods.
4 In the war between Eteocles and Polynices, which formed the subject of several Greek tragedies.
5 Troy, in Asia Minor.
6 King Arthur, a fabulous personage of British legend.
7 Of Bretagne; from Armoricum, the old name of that province.
8 Damascus, in Syria, 126 miles N.N.E. of Jerusalem.
9 A city of Africa, 340 miles S.S.W. of Gibraltar.
10 A city of Asiatic Turkey, on the Black Sea.
11 A sea-port of Tunis, in Africa. 12 A city and sea-port of Biscay, in Spain.
All her original brightness; nor appeared
Less than Arch-Angel ruined, and the excess
Of glory obscured: as when the sun, new risen,
Looks through the horizontal misty air
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon,
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs. Darkened so, yet shone
Above them all the Arch-Angel, but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrenched, and care
Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows
Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride
Waiting revenge: cruel his eye, but cast
Signs of remorse and passion, to behold
The fellows of his crime, the followers rather,
(Far other once beheld in bliss) condemned
For ever now to have their lot in pain;
Millions of Spirits for his fault amerced1
Of Heaven, and from eternal splendours flung
For his revolt; yet faithful how they stood,
Their glory withered2; as when Heaven's fire
Hath scathed the forest oaks, or mountain pines,
With singèd top their stately growth, though bare,
Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepared
To speak; whereat their doubled ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and half enclose him round
With all his peers: attention held them mute.
Thrice he assayed, and thrice, in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as Angels weep, burst forth at last,
Words, interwove with sighs, found out their way.
"O Myriads of immortal Spirits! O Powers
Matchless but with the Almighty! and that strife
Was not inglorious, though the event was dire,
As this place testifies, and this dire change,
Hateful to utter: but what power of mind,
Foreseeing or presaging, from the depth
Of knowledge past or present, could have feared,
How such united force of gods, how such
As stood like these, could ever know repulse?
1 Punished by forfeiture.
2 To understand the construction,
see the verb "behold," line 460.
For who can yet believe, though after loss,
That all these puissant legions, whose exíle
Hath emptied Heaven, shall fail to re-ascend
Self-raised, and re-possess their native seat?
For me, be witness all the host of Heaven,
If counsels different, or dangers shunned
By me, have lost our hopes. But he who reigns
Monarch in Heaven, till then as one secure
Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,
Consent, or custom; and his regal state
Put forth at full, but still his strength concealed,
Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.
Henceforth his might we know, and know our own;
So as not either to provoke, or dread
New war, provoked: our better part remains
To work in close design, by fraud or guile,
What force effected not: that he no less
At length from us may find, who overcomes
By force, hath overcome but half his foe.
Space may produce new worlds; whereof so rife1
There went a fame in Heaven that he ere long
Intended to create, and therein plant
A generation whom his choice regard
Should favour equal to the sons of Heaven:
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
Our first eruption; thither, or elsewhere:
For this infernal pit shall never hold
Celestial Spirits in bondage, nor the abyss
Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts
Full counsel must mature: peace is despaired;
For who can think submission? War then, war,
Open or understood, must be resolved."
He spake :-and, to confirm his words, out-flew
Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze
Far round illumined Hell: highly they raged
Against the Highest, and fierce with graspèd arms
Clashed on their sounding shields the din of war,
Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heaven.
There stood a hill not far, whose grisly 2 top
Belched fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire
Shone with a glossy scurf; undoubted sign
That in his womb was hid metallic ore,
The work of sulphur. Thither, winged with speed,
A numerous brigad hastened: as when bands
Of pioneers, with spade and pick-axe armed,
Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,
Or cast a rampart. Mammon1 led them on;
Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell
From Heaven; for e'en in Heaven his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent, admiring more
The riches of Heaven's pavement, trodden gold,
Than aught, divine or holy, else enjoyed
In vision beatific by him first
Men also, and by his suggestion taught,
Ransacked the centre, and with impious hands
Rifled the bowels of their mother earth
For treasures, better hid.2 Soon had his crew
Opened into the hill a spacious wound,
And digged out ribs of gold. Let none admire 3
That riches grow in Hell; that soil may best
Deserve the precious bane. And here let those
Who boast in mortal things, and wondering tell
Of Babel, and the works of Memphian kings,
Learn how their greatest monuments of fame,
And strength, and art5, are easily out-done
By Spirits reprobate, and in an hour
What in an age they with incessant toil
And hands innumerable scarce perform.
Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepared,
That underneath had veins of liquid fire
Sluiced from the lake, a second multitude
With wondrous art founded the massy ore,
Severing each kind, and scummed the bullion dross :
A third as soon had formed within the ground
A various mould, and from the boiling cells
By strange conveyance filled each hollow nook;
As in an organ, from one blast of wind,
To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes.
Anon, out of the earth, a fabric huge
Rose like an exhalation, with the sound
1 A Syriac word, meaning "riches."
2 See Ovid, Metam. i. 138.
5 Monuments, strength, and art, are the subjects to the verb "are."
Of dulcet symphonies, and voices sweet,
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid
With golden architrave; nor did there want
Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures graven :
The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon,
Nor great Alcairo, such magnificence
Equalled, in all their glories, to enshrine
Belus1or Sérapis 2, their gods; or seat
Their kings, when Egypt with Assyria strove
In wealth and luxury. The ascending pile
Stood fixed her stately height: and straight the doors
Opening their brazen folds, discover, wide
Within, her ample spaces, o'er the smooth
And level pavement: from the arched roof,
Pendent by subtle magic, many a row
Of starry lamps and blazing cressets3, fed
With naphtha and asphaltus5, yielded light
As from a sky. The hasty multitude
Admiring entered; and the work some praise,
And some the architect: his hand was known
In Heaven by many a towered structure high,
Where sceptered Angels held their residence,
And sat as princes; whom the Supreme King
Exalted to such power, and gave to rule,
Each in his hierarchy, the Orders bright.
Nor was his name unheard, or unadored,
In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land
Men called him Mulciber7; and how he fell
From Heaven, they fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropped from the zenith like a falling star,
On Lemnos, the Ægean isle: thus they relate,
Erring; for he with this rebellious rout
1 Belus, Bel, or Baal, the son of Nimrod, worshipped as a god.
2 An Egyptian deity, supposed to be the same as Osiris.
3 Any great light set upon a beacon or watch-tower.
4 A thin, mineral, oily fluid, extremely inflammable.
5 A pitchy substance, found on the surface of the Dead Sea.
6 Ausonia; an ancient name of Italy.
7 A surname of Vulcan.
8 Now Stalimene.