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Paradise Lost by John Milton - Barron's Booknotes
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LINES 748-892. THE THIRD DAY

God's chariot rushes out as soon as the third day dawns. It is magnificently decorated with jewels; flames surround a sapphire throne on which the Son rides, with the allegorical figure of Victory at his right hand. He is accompanied by "ten thousand thousand saints," a contrast to the weary soldiers under Michael's command. The two forces combine to make an army of unimaginable size. As the Son and the Army advance, the hills uprooted in the previous day's fighting return miraculously to their places and the flowers grow again.

Satan's forces also regroup, "hope conceiving from despair." They make themselves ready for a battle they know must be final. The Son tells his forces to stand aside-this battle is his. The war was caused by Lucifer's injured pride when God elevated his Son, so it is right that the Son alone should fight the last fight: "against me is all their rage."

The sweeping of the fallen angels out of Heaven is the most thrilling action of the War in Heaven. The invention of gunpowder has its comic aspects, but the sweep stretches the imagination. Read it out loud to get the excitement of the images and the sound effects.



The four cherubs on the Son's chariot spread their wings, and the chariot charges on the enemy. The rebel angels drop their weapons in horror as the chariot rides over them: "O'er shields and helms and helmed heads he rode / Of Thrones and mighty Seraphim prostrate." He uses no more than half of his forces; he doesn't want to destroy the angels but to push them out of Heaven.

He drives them before him like a herd of frightened goats, to the "Crystal wall of Heaven," which opens on Chaos. The rebel angels look out with horror, but they are so terrified of the Son in his flaming chariot that they throw themselves down.

They fall for nine days through Chaos, who objects loudly to their huge number. He knows that he will lose a lot of territory to house them in Hell.

Hell closes on the rebels now the fallen angels, while in Heaven the faithful angels repair the gap in the crystal wall and the Son returns to the honor of a seat on God's right hand.

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