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Ezekiel saw, when, by the vision led,
His eye survey'd the dark idolatries
Of alienated Judah. Next came one
Who mourn'd in earnest, when the captive ark
Maim'd his brute image, head and hands lopt off
In his own temple, on the grunsel edge,
Where he fell flat, and sham'd his worshippers:
Dagon his name, sea monster, upward man
And downward fish: yet had his temple high
Rear'd in Azotus, dreaded through the coast
Of Palestine, in Gath and Ascalon,
And Accaron, and Gaza's frontier bounds.
Him follow'd Rimmon, whose delightful seat
Was fair Damascus, on the fertile banks
Of Abbana and Pharphar, lucid streams.
He also' against the house of God was bold:
A leper once he lost, and gained a king,
Ahaz, his sottish conqu'ror, whom he drew
God's altar to disparage, and displace,
For one of Syrian mode, whereon to burn
His odious offerings, and adore the gods
Whom he had vanquish'd. After these appear'd
A crew, who, under names of old renown,
Osiris, Isis, Orus, and their train,

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With monstrous shapes and sorceries abus'd
Fanatic Egypt and her priests, to seek
Their wand'ring Gods disguis'd in brutish forms
Rather than human. Nor did Israel 'scape

Th' infection, when their borrow'd gold compos'd
The calf in Oreb; and the rebel king
Doubled that sin in Bethel and in Dan,
Likening his Maker to the grazed ox,
Jehovah, who in one night, when he pass'd
From Egypt marching, equall'd with one stroke
Both her first-born and all her bleating Gods.
Belial came last, than whom a Spirit more lewd 490
Fell not from Heaven, or more gross to love
Vice for itself: to him no temple stood,
Or altar smok'd; yet who more oft than he

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In temples and at altars, when the priest
Turns atheist, as did Eli's sons, who fill'd
With lust and violence the house of God?
In courts and palaces he also reigns,
And in luxurious cities, where the noise
Of ri'ot ascends above their loftiest towers,
And injury, and outrage: and when night
Darkens the streets, then wander forth the sons
Of Belial, flown with insolence and wine.
Witness the streets of Sodom, and that night
In Gibeah, when the hospitable door
Expos'd a matron, to avoid worse rape.
These were the prime in order and in might;
The rest were long to tell, though far renown'd,
Th' Ionian Gods, of Javan's issue; held
Gods, yet confess'd later than Heav'n and Earth,
Their boasted parents: Titan, Heav'n's first-born, 510
With his enormous brood, and birthright seiz'd
By younger Saturn; he from mightier Jove,
His own and Rhea's son, like measure found;
So Jove usurping reign'd: these first in Crete
And Ida known, thence on the snowy top
Of cold Olympus, rul'd the middle air,
Their highest Heav'n; or on the Delphian cliff,
Or in Dodona, and through all the bounds
Of Doric land; or who with Saturn old
Fled over Adria to th' Hesperian fields,
And o'er the Celtic roam'd the utmost isles.

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All these and more came flocking; but with looks Down-cast and damp; yet such wherein appear'd Obscure some glimpse of joy, to' have found their chief Not in despair, to' have found themselves not lost 525 In loss itself; which on his count'nance cast Like doubtful hue: but he, his wonted pride Soon recollecting, with high words, that bore Semblance of worth, not substance, gently rais'd 'Their fainting courage, and dispell'd their fears. 530 Then straight commands that at the warlike sound Of trumpets loud and clarions be uprear'

His mighty standard: that proud honour ciaim'd
Azazel as his right, a cherub tall;

Who forthwith from the glittering staff unfurl'd 535
Th' imperial ensign, which, full high advanc'd,
Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind,
With gems and golden lustre rich emblaz❜d,
Seraphic arms and trophies; all the while
Sonorous metal blowing martial sounds:
At which the universal host up-sent
A shout, that tore Hell's concave, and beyond
Frighted the reign of Chaos and old Night.
All in a moment through the gloom were seen
Ten thousand banners rise into the air,
With orient colours waving: with them rose
A forest huge of spears; and thronging helms
Appear'd, and serried shields in thick array,
Of depth immeasurable: anon they move
In perfect phalanx to the Dorian mood
Of flutes and soft recorders; such as rais'd
To height of noblest temper heroes old
Arming to battle; and, instead of rage,
Deliberate valour breath'd, firm and unmoved
With dread of death to flight or foul retreat;
Nor wanting pow'r to mitigate and swage
With solemn touches troubled thoughts, and chase
Anguish, and doubt, and fear, and sorrow', and pain,
From mortal or immortal minds. Thus they,
Breathing united force, with fixed thought,
Mov'd on in silence to soft pipes, that charm'd
Their painful steps o'er the burnt soil: and now
Advane'd in view they stand, a horrid front
Of dreadful length and dazzling arms, in guise
Of warriors old with order' spear and shield,
Awaiting what command their mighty chief
Had to impose: be through the armed files
Darts his experienc'd eye, and soon traverse
The whole battalion views, their order due,
Their visages and stature as of Gods;
Their number last he sums. And now his heart

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Distends with pride, and, hard'ning, in his strength Glories: for never since created man, Met such embodied force, as, nam'd with these, Could merit more than that small infantry Warr'd on by cranes; though all the giant brood Of Phlegra with th' heroic race were join'd 'That fought at Thebes and Ilium, on each side Mix'd with auxiliar Gods; and what resounds In fable or romance of Uther's son, Begirt with British and Armoric knights; And all who since, baptiz'd or infidel, Jousted in Aspramont, or Montalban, Damasco, or Marocco, or Trebisond, Or whom Biserta sent from Afric shore, When Charlemain with all his peerage fell By Fontarabbia. Thus far these beyond Compare of mortal prowess, yet observ'd Their dread commander: he, above the rest In shape and gesture proudly eminent, Stood like a tower: his form had yet not lost All her original brightness, nor appear'd Less than arch-angel ruin'd, and the excess Of glory' obscur'd: 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. Darken'd so, yet shone Above them all th' arch-angel: but his face Deep scars of thunder had intrench'd, 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 bebold The fellows of his crime, the followers rather (Far other once beheld in bliss), condemn'd For ever now to have their lot in pain, Millions of spirits for his fault amerc'd Of Heav'n, and from eternal splendours flung

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For his revolt, yet faithful how they stood,
Their glory wither'd: as when Heaven's fire
Hath seath'd the forest oaks, or mountain pines,
With singed top their stately growth, though bare,
Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepar'd 615
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 assay'd, 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 th' Almighty! and that strife
Was not inglorious, though th' event was dire,
As this place testifies, and this dire change,
Hateful to utter: but what pow'r of mind,
Forseeing or presaging, from the depth
Of knowledge past or present, could have fear'd
How such united force of Gods, how such
As stood like these, could ever know repulse?
For who can yet believe, though after loss,
That all these puissant legions, whose exile
Hath emptied Heav'n, shall fail to re-ascend,
Self-rais'd, and repossess their native seat?
For me, be witness all the host of Heaven,
If counsels different, or dangers shunn'd
By me, have lost our hopes. But he, who reigns
Monarch in Heav'n, 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 conceal'd,
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, provok'd: 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.

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