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340

325 “ The summoning Archangels to proclaim

“ Thy dread tribunal; forthwith, from all winds,
“ The living, and forthwith the cited dead
“Of all past ages, to the general doom

“Shall hasten ; such a peal shall rouse their sleep! 330 “ Then, all thy saints assembled, thou shalt judge

“ Bad men and angels; they, arraign'd, shall sink
“Beneath thy sentence: Hell, her numbers full,
" Thenceforth shall be for ever shut. Meanwhile

“ The world shall burn, and from her ashes spring 335 “New heaven and earth, wherein the just shall dwell;

“ And, after all their tribulations long,
“ See golden days, fruitful of golden deeds,
“With joy and love triumphing, and fair truth:
“ Then thou thy regal sceptre shalt lay by,
“For regal sceptre then no more shall need;
“God shall be all in all. But, all ye gods,
Adore him who, to compass all this, dies ;-
Adore the Son, and honour him as me.”

No sooner had the Almighty ceas'd, but all 345 The multitude of angels, with a shout

Loud as from numbers without number, sweet
As from blest voices uttering joy, heaven rung
With jubilee, and loud hosannas fillid

The eternal regions. Lowly reverent 350 Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground,

With solemn adoration, down they cast
Their crowns inwove with amarant and gold-
Immortal amarant, a flower which once

In Paradise, fast by the tree of life,
355 Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence

To heaven remov'd, where first it grew, there grows,
And flowers aloft, shading the fount of life,
And where the river of bliss, through midst of heaven,

Rolls o'er Elysian flowers her amber stream: 360 With these, that never fade, the spirits elect

Bind their resplendent locks, inwreath'd with beams;
Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright

Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone,

Impurpled with celestial roses smiled. 365 Then, crown'd again, their golden harps they took

Harps ever tun'd, that glittering by their side
Like quivers hung; and, with preamble sweet
Of charming symphony, they introduce

Their sacred song, and waken raptures high: 370 No voice exempt—no voice but well could joii Melodious part: such concord is in heaven.

Thee, Father, first they sung, Omnipotent
Immutable-Immortal-Infinite-

Eternal King! Thee, Author of all being, 375 Fountain of light, thyself invisible

Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sitt'st
Thron'd inaccessible, but when thou shad'st
The full blaze of thy beams, and through a cloud

Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine, 380 Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear,

Yet dazzle heaven, that brightest Seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.
Thee next they sang of all creation first,

Begotten Son, Divine Similitude ! 385 In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud

Made visible, the Almighty Father shines,
Whom else no creature can behold; on thee
Impress'd, the effulgence of his glory abides ;

Transfus'd on thee his ample Spirit rests. 390 He heaven of heavens, and all the Powers therein,

By thee created; and by thee threw down
The aspiring Dominations : thou that day
Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare ;

Nor stop thy flaming chariot wheels, that shook 395 Heaven's everlasting frame, while o'er the necks

Thou drov'st of warring angels disarrayed.
Back from pursuit thy Powers with loud acclaim
Thee only extoll’d, Son of thy Father's might,

To execute fierce vengeance on his foes, 400 Not so on man: him, through their malice fallen,

Father of mercy and grace! thou didst not doom
So strictly, but much more to pity incline.
No sooner did thy dear and only Son

Perceive thee purposed not to doom frail man 405 So strictly, but much more to pity inclin'd,

He, to appease thy wrath, and end the strife
Of mercy and justice in thy face discern'd,
Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat

Second to thee, offer'd himself to die
410 For man's offence. O unexampled love,

Love nowhere to be found less than divine !
Hail, Son of God, Saviour of men ! Thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song

Henceforth, and never shall my harp thy praise 415 Forget, nor from thy Father's praise disjoin.

Thus they in heaven, above the starry sphere,
Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent.

Meanwhile upon the firm opacous globe Of this round world, whose first convex divides 420 The luminous inferior orbs, enclos'd

From Chaos, and the inroad of darkness old,
Satan alighted walks. A globe far off
It seem'd ; now seems a boundless continent,

Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of night 425 Starless expos'd, and ever-threatening storms

Of Chaos blustering round, inclement sky;
Save on that side which, from the wall of heaven,
Though distant far, some small reflection gains

Of glimmering air, less vex'd with tempest loud: 430 Here walked the fiend at large in spacious field.

As when a vulture on Imaüs bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey,

To gorge the flesh of lambs or yeanling kids 435 On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs

Of Ganges, or Hydaspes, Indian streams;
But in his way lights on the barren plains

Of Sericana, where Chineses drive

With sails and wind their cany waggons light: 440 So, on this windy sea of land, the fiend

Walk'd up and down alone, bent on his prey;
Alone, for other creature in this place,
Living, or lifeless, to be found was none-

None yet, but store hereafter from the earth 445 Up hither, like aërial vapours, flew

Of all things transitory and vain, when sin
With vanity had fill'd the works of men;
Both all things vain, and all who in vain things

Built their fond hopes of glory, or lasting fame, 450 Or happiness in this, or the other life:

All who have their reward on earth, the fruits
Of painful superstition, and blind zeal,
Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find

Fit retribution, empty as their deeds;
455 All the unaccomplish'd works of Nature's hand,

Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mix'd,
Dissolv'd on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,
Till final dissolution, wander here:

(Not in the neighbouring moon, as some have dream'd ; 460 Those argent fields more likely habitants,

Translated saints, or middle spirits, hold,
Betwixt the angelical and human kind :)
Hither, of ill-join'd sons and daughters born,

First from the ancient world those giants came
465 With many a vain exploit, though then renown'd:

The builders next of Babel on the plain
Of Sennaär,-and still with vain design
New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build:

Others came single; he, who, to be deem'd 170 A god, leap'd fondly into Ætna flames,

Empedocles; and he, who, to enjoy
Plato's Elysium, leap'd into the sea,
Cleombrotus ; and many more too long,

Embryos and idiots, eremites and friars
475 White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery.

Here pilgrims roam, that stray’d so far to seek
In Golgotha him dead, who lives in heaven;
And they, who, to be sure of Paradise,

Dying put on the weeds of Dominic,
480 Or in Franciscan think to pass disguis'd;

They pass the planets seven, and pass the fix’d,
And that crystalline sphere whose balance weighs
The trepidation talk'd, and that first mov'd;

And now Saint Peter at heaven's wicket seems 485 To wait them with his keys, and now at foot

Of heaven's ascent they lift their feet, when, lo!
A violent cross wind from either coast
Blows them transverse, ten thousand leagues awry

Into the devious air: then might ye see 490 Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tost

And flutter'd into rags; then relics, beads,
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds. All these, upwhirl'd aloft,

Fly o'er the backside of the world far off, 495 Into a Limbo large and broad, since callid

The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown
Long after, now unpeopled, and untrod.

All this dark globe the fiend found as he pass'd ;

And long he wander'd, till at last a gleam
500 Of dawning light turn'd thitherward in haste

His travell’d steps: far distant he descries,
Ascending by degrees magnificent
Up to the wall of heaven, a structure high;

At top whereof, but far more rich, appeared 505 The work as of a kingly palace-gate,

With frontispiece of diamond and gold
Embellish'd ; thick with sparkling orient gems
The portal shone, inimitable on earth,

By model, or by shading pencil, drawn.
510 The stairs were such as whereon Jacob saw

Angels ascending and descending, bands
Of guardians bright, when he from Esau fled
To Padan-Aram, in the field of Luz,

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