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Cherubic waving fires: on th’ other part
Satan with his rebellious disappear’d,
Far in the dark dislodg’d, and void of rest
His potentates to council call’d by night;
And in the midst thus undismay'd began.
O now in danger try'd, 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 judg’d
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, 430
Some disadvantage we endur'd 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 pierc'd 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
Nisroc, of principalities the prime;
As one he stood escap'd from cruel fight,
Sore toil'd, 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, quelld with
Which all subdues, and makes remiss the hands
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
Our selves with like defence, to me deserves
No less than for deliverance what we owe.
Whereto with look compos'd Satan reply'd.
Not uninvented that, which thou aright
167 to me) i. e. in my opinion.
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, flower 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 480
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 485
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. Mean while 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 reviv'd.
Th’invention all admir’d, and each, how he
To be th' inventor miss’d, so easy it seem'd
478 dark] dank. Bentl. MS.
Once found, which yet unfound most would have
Impossible: yet haply of thy race
In future days, if malice should abound,
Some one intent on mischief, or inspir'd
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 reduc'd
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 unespy’d.
Now when fair morn orient in heaven appeard,
Up rose the victor angels, and to arms
520 pernicious) probably to be understood in the sense of the Latin pernix, speedy. Newton.
The matin trumpet sung: in arms they stood
Of golden panoply, refulgent host,
Soon banded; others from the dawning hills
Look'd round, 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 cry'd.
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 embattle'd; when behold
526 matin] Tasso Gier. Lib. c. xi. st. 19.
«Quando a cantar la mattutina tromba
Comincia a l' arme.'
Thyer. 542 coat] Hor. Od. i. vi. 13.
Martem tunica tectum adamantina. Todd. 545 aught] Fenton wishes to read right.”