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Embellish'd ; thick with sparkling orient gems
The portal shone, inimitable on earth
By model, or by shading pencil drawn.
The stairs were such as whereon Jacob saw 510
Angels ascending and descending, bands
Of guardians bright, when he from Esau fled
To Padail-Aram, in the field of Luz
Dreaming by night under the open sky,
And waking cried, This is the gate of Heaven. 515
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
Who after came from earth, sailing arrived 520
Wafted by Angels, or flew o'er the lake
Wrapp'd in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.
The stairs were then let down, whether to dare
The Fiend by easy ascent, or aggravate
His sad exclusion from the doors of bliss :

525
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 aftertimes
Over mount Sion, and, though that were large, 530
Over the Promised Land to God so dear;
By which to visit oft those happy tribes,
On high behests his Angels to andsfro
Pass'd frequent, and his eye with choice regard
From Paneas, the fount of Jordan's flood,
To Beërsaba where the Holy Land
Borders on Egypt and the Arabian shore ;
So wide the opening seemd, where bounds were set
To darkness, such as bound the ocean wave
Satan from hence, now on the lower stair, 540
That scaled by steps of gold to Heaven-gate,
Looks down with wonder at the sudden view
Of all this world at onge. As when a scout,
Through dark and desert ways with peril gone

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All night, at last by break of cheerful dawn
Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,
Which to his eye discovers unaware
The goodly prospect of some foreign land
First seen, or some renown'd metropolis
With glistering spires and pinnacles adorn'd, 550
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams :
Such wonder seized, though after Heaven seen,
The Spirit malign, but inuch more envy seized,
At sight of all this world beheld so fair.
Round he surveys (and well right, where he stood
So high above the circling canopy

556
Of night's extended shade,) from eastern point
Of Libra to the fleecy star that bears
Andromeda far off Atlantic seas
Beyond the horizon; then from pole to pole 560
He views in breadth, and without longer pause
Down right into the world's first region throws
His flight precipitant, and winds with ease
Through the pure marble air his oblique way
Amongst innumerable stars, that shone

565
Stars disiant, but nigh hand seem'd other worlds ;
Or other worlds they seem'd, or happy isles,
Like those Hesperian gardens famed of old,
Fortunate fields, and groves, and flowery vales,
Thrice happy isles; but who dwelt happy there 570
He staid not to inquire : Above them all
The yolden sun, in splendour likest Heaven,
Allured his eye; thither his course he bends
Through the calm firmament (but up or down,
By centre, or eccentric, hard to tell,

575

575
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
Their starry dance in numbers that compute 580
Days, months, and years, towards his all cheering lamp
Turn swift their various motions, or are turn'd

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By his magnetic beam, that gently warms
The universe, and to each inward part
With gentle penetration, though unseen, . 585
Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep;
So wondrously was set his station bright.
Their lands the Fiend, a spot like which perhaps
Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb
Through his glazed optic tube yet never saw., 590
The place he found beyond expression bright,
Compared with aught on earth, metal or stone;
Not all parts like, but all alike inform'd
With radient light, as glowing iron with fire;
If metal, part seem'd gold, part silver clear; 595
If stone, carbuncle most or crysolite,
Ruby or topaz, to the twelve that shone
In Aaron's breastplate, and a stone besides
Imagined rather oft, than elsewhere seen,
That stone, or like to that which here below 600
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,
Drain'd through a limbeck to his native form.
What wonder then if fields and regions here
Breathe forth elixir pure, and rivers run
Portable gold, when with one virtuous touch
The archchemic sun, so far from us remote,
Produces, with terrestrial humour mix'd,

610
Here in the dark so many precious things
Of colour glorious and effect so'rare ?
Jlere matter new to gaze the Devil met
Undazzled ; far and wide his eye commands,
For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade, 615
But all sunshine, 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,
No where so clear, sharpeird his visual ray 620

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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 turn'd, but not his brightness hid; Of beaming sunny rays a golden tiar Circled his head, nor less his locks behind INustrious on his shoulders fledge with wings Lay waving round ; on some great charge employ He seem'd, or fix'd in cogitation deep. Glad was the Spirit impure, as now in hope 630 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, Which else might work him danger or delay : 635 And now a stripling Cherub he appears, Not of the prime, yet such as in his face Youth smiled celestial, and to every limb Suitable grace diffused, so well he feign'd: Under a coronet his flowing hair

640 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. He drew not nigh unheard ; the Angel bright, 645 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, Stand ready at command, and are his eyes 650 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 In sight of God's high throne, gloriously bright, 655 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
Like honour to obtain, and as his eye

660
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
All these his works so wondrous he ordain'd, 665
Hath brought me from the choirs 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,
But all these shining orbs his choice to dwell; 670
That I may find him, and with secret gaze
Or open admiration him behold,
On whom the great Creator hath bestowed
Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces pour'd;
That both in him and all things, as is meet,

675 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 To serve him better : Wise are all his ways. 680

So spake the false dissembler unperceived ; For neither Man nor Angels can discern Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks Invisible, except to God alone, Py his permissive will, through Heaven and Earth And oft, though Wisdom wake, Suspicion sleeps 686 At Wisdom's gate, and to Simplicity Resigns her charge, while Goodness thinks no ill Where no ill seems; which now for once beguiled Uriel, though regent of the sun, and held 690 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 The works of God, thereby to glorify

695 The great Workmaster, leads to no excess

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