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Dreaming by night under the open sky, 515 And waking cried, “ This is the gate of heaven.”

Each stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood
There always, but drawn up to heaven sometimes
Viewless; and underneath a bright sea flow'd

Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon
520 Who after came from earth, sailing arriv'd,

Wafted by angels; or flew o'er the lake
Rapt in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.
The stairs were then let down, whether to dare

The fiend by easy ascent, or aggravate
525 His sad exclusion from the doors of bliss :

Direct against which open'd from beneath,
Just o'er the blissful seat of Paradise,
A passage down to the earth—a passage wide-

Wider by far than that of after-times
530 Over mount Sion, and, though that were large,

Over the Promis'd Land, to God so dear;
By which, to visit oft those happy tribes,
On high behests, his angels to and fro

Pass'd frequent, and his eye with choice regard, 535 From Panëas, the fount of Jordan's flood,

To Beërsaba, where the Holy Land
Borders on Egypt and the Arabian shore:
So wide the op'ning seem'd, where bounds were set

To darkness, such as bound the ocean wave. 540 Satan from hence, now on the lower stair,

That scald by steps of gold to heaven-gate,
Looks down with wonder at the sudden view
Of all this world at once. As when a scout,

Through dark and desert ways with peril gone 545 All night, at last by break of cheerful dawn

Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,
Which to his


discovers unaware
The goodly prospect of some foreign land

First seen, or some renown'd metropolis
550 With glistering spires and pinnacles adorn'd,

Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams :

Such wonder seiz'd, though after heaven seen,
The spirit malign; but much more envy seiz'd,

At sight of all this world beheld so fair. 555 Round he surveys, and well might, where he stood

So high above the circling canopy
Of night's extended shade,) from eastern point
Of Libra, to the fleecy star that bears

Andromeda far off Atlantic seas,
560 Beyond th' horizon: then from pole to pole

He views in breadth; and, without longer pause,
Downright into the world's first region throws
His flight precipitant, and winds with ease

Through the pure marble air his oblique way, 565 Amongst innumerable stars, that shone

Stars distant, but nigh hand seem'd other worlds ;
Or other worlds they seem'd, or happy isles,
Like those Hesperian gardens fam'd of old,

Fortunate fields, and groves, and flowery vales, 570 Thrice-happy isles ! But who dwelt happy there

He staid not to inquire. Above them all
The golden sun, in splendour likest heaven,
Allur'd his eye; thither his course he bends

Through the calm firmament, (but up or down, 575 By centre or eccentric, hard to tell,

Or longitude,) where the great luminary,
Aloof the vulgar constellations thick,
That from his lordly eye keep distance due,

Dispenses light from far: they, as they move 580 Their starry dance in numbers that compute

Days, months, and years, towards his all-cheering lamp
Turn swift their various motions, or are turn'd
By his magnetic beam, that gently warms

The universe, and to each inward part 585 With gentle penetration, though unseen,

Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep;
So wondrously was set his station bright.

There lands the fiend, a spot like which, perhaps
Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb,

590 Through his glaz'd optic tube, yet never saw.

The place he found beyond expression bright,
Compar'd with aught on earth, metal or stone:
Not all parts like, but all alike inform’d

With radiant light, as glowing iron with fire ; 595 If metal, part seem'd gold, part silver clear;

If stone, carbuncle most, or chrysolite,
Ruby, or topaz, to the twelve that shone
In Aaron's breast-plate, and a stone besides

Imagin'd rather oft than elsewhere seen-
600 That stone, or like to that, which here below

Philosophers in vain so long have sought-
In vain, though by their powerful art they bind
Volatile Hermes, and call up unbound,

In various shapes, old Proteus from the sea, 605 Drain'd through a limbeck to his native form.

What wonder then if fields and regions here
Breathe forth elixir pure, and rivers run
Potable gold, when with one virtuous touch

The arch-chymic sun, so far from us remote, 610 Produces, with terrestrial humour mix'd,

Here in the dark so many precious things
Of colour glorious, and effect so rare?

Here matter new to gaze the devil met Undazzl'd; far and wide his eye commands; 615 For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade,

But all sun-shine, as when his beams at noon
Culminate from the equator, as they now
Shot upward still direct, whence no way round

Shadow from body opaque can fall; and the air, 620 Nowhere so clear, sharpened his visual ray

To objects distant far, whereby he soon
Saw within ken a glorious angel stand-
The same whom John saw also in the sun;

His back was turned, but not his brightness hid; 625 Of beaming sunny rays a golden tiar

Circled his head, nor less his locks behind,
Illustrious on his shoulders fledge with wings,

Lay waving round: on some great charge employ'd

He seem'd, or fix'd in cogitation deep.
630 Glad was the spirit impure, as now in hope

To find who might direct his wandering flight
To Paradise, the happy seat of man,
His journey's end, and our beginning woe.

But first he casts to change his proper shape, 635 Which else might work him danger or delay :

And now a stripling Cherub he appears,
Not of the prime, yet such as in his face
Youth smil'd celestial; and to every limb

Suitable grace diffus'd ; so well he feign'd: 640 Under a coronet his flowing hair

In curls on either cheek play'd ; wings he wore,
Of many a colour'd plume, sprinkled with gold;
His habit fit for speed succinct; and held

Before his decent steps a silver wand.
645 He drew not nigh unheard ; the angel bright,

Ere he drew nigh, his radiant visage turn'd,
Admonish'd by his ear; and straight was known
The Archangel Uriel, one of the seven

Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne, 650 Stand ready at command, and are his eyes

That run through all the heavens, or down to the earth
Bear his swift errands, over moist and dry,
O'er sea and land : him Satan thus accosts.

“ Uriel! for thou of those seven spirits that stand 655 “In sight of God's high throne, gloriously bright,

“ The first art wont his great authentic will
“ Interpreter through highest heaven to bring,
“ Where all his sons thy embassy attend;

“ And here art likeliest, by supreme decree, 660 “ Like honour to obtain, and, as his eye,

“ To visit oft this new creation round:
“ Unspeakable desire to see, and know,
“ All these his wondrous works, but chiefly man,

“ His chief delight and favour-him for whom 665 “ All these his works so wondrous he ordained,

“ Hath brought me from the quires of Cherubim
“ Alone thus wandering. Brightest Seraph! tell
“ In which of all these shining orbs hath man

“ His fixed seat, or fixed seat hath none,
670 " But all these shining orbs his choice to dwell;

“ That I may find him, and, with secret gaze,
Or open admiration, him behold,
“ On whom the great Creator hath bestow'd

“ Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces pour'd; 675 “ That both in him and all things, as is meet,

“ The universal Maker we may praise,
“ Who justly hath driven out his rebel foes
“ To deepest hell; and, to repair that loss,

“ Created this new happy race of men
680 “ To serve Him better. Wise are all his ways !"

So spake the false dissembler unperceiv'd :
For neither man, nor angel, can discern
Hypocrisy, (the only evil that walks

Invisible, except to God alone, 685 By his permissive will, through heaven and earth;

And oft, though Wisdom wake, Suspicion sleeps
At Wisdom's gate, and to Simplicity
Resigns her charge, while Goodness thinks no ill

Where no ill seems,) which now for once beguild 690 Uriel, though regent of the sun, and held

The sharpest-sighted spirit of all in heaven;
Who to the fraudulent impostor foul,
In his uprightness answer thus return'd.

“ Fair angel! thy desire, which tends to know 695 “ The works of God, thereby to glorify

“ The great Work-master, leads to no excess
“ That reaches blame, but rather merits praise,
“ The more it seems excess, that led thee hither

From thy empyreal mansion thus alone, 700 “ To witness with thine eyes what some, perhaps,

“ Contented with report, hear only in heaven:
“ For wonderful indeed are all his works,
“ Pleasant to know, and worthiest to be all

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