Page images
PDF
EPUB

500

305

510

515

520

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
Of dawning light turn'd thitherward in haste
His traveld 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, appear’d
The work as of a kingly palace gate,
With frontispiece of diamond and gold
Imbellish'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
Angels ascending and descending, bands
Of guardians bright, when he from Esau fled
To Padan-Aram in the field of Luz,
Dreaming by night under the open sky,
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
Who after came from earth, sailing arrived,
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
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
Over Mount Sion, and, though that were large,
Over the promised 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,
From Paneas, the fount of Jordan's flood,
To Beërsaba, where the Holy Land
Borders on Ægypt and the Arabian shore :
So wide the opening seem'd, where bounds were set
To darkness, such as bound the ocean wave.
Satan from hence now on the lower stair,
That scaled 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
All night, at last by break of cheerful dawn

525

530

535

340

545

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

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,
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams :
Such wonder seized, though after heaven seen,
The spirit malign; but much more envy seized,
At sight of all this world beheld so fair.
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
Beyond the 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
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, famed of old,
Fortunate fields, and groves and flowery vales,
Thrice happy isles; but who dwelt happy there
He stay'd not to inquire. Above them all,
The golden 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,
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
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
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

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

d Round he surreys. He surveys the whole creation from east to west, and from north to south. But poetry delights to say the most common things in an uncommon manner. natural, to represent Satan taking a view of the world before he threw himself into it.NEWTON.

It is fine as it is

590

395

605

610

Through his glazed optic tube yet never sawe.
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 radiant light, as glowing iron with fire :
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 breastplate ; and a stone besides
Imagined rather oft than elsewhere seen:
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
Volatil 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
Potable gold; when with one virtuous touch,
The arch-chemic sun, so far from us remote,
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
Undazzled; far and wide his eye commands:
For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade,
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, sharpen’d 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 turn’d, but not his brightness hid ;
Of beaming sunny rays a golden tiar
Circled his head; nor less his locks behind
Ilustrious on his shoulders fledge with wings
Lay waving round: on some great charge employ'd
He seem'd, or fix'd in cogitation deep.
Glad was the spirit impure, as now in hope
To find who might direct his wandering flight
To Paradise, the happy seat of man,

e Through his glazed optic tube yet never saw. The spots in the sun are visible with a telescope : but astronomer perhaps never saw, through his glazed optic tube," such a spot as Satan, now he was in the sun's orb. The poet mentions this glass the oftener in honour of Galileo, whom he means here by the astronomer.-NEWTON.

i The same whom John. Sce Rev. xix. 17:4" And

saw an angel standing in the sun."_Newton.

615

620

625

630

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

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:
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;
C'nder 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.
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
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
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
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
All these his works so wondrous he ordain'd,
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,
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:
That both in him and all things, as is meet,
The universal Maker we may praise ;

676

673

8 Uriel.

His name is derived from two Hebrew words, which signify God is my light. He is mentioned as a good angel in the second book of Esdras; and the Jews, and some Christians, conceive him to be an angel of light according to his name, and therefore he has, properly, his station in the sun.--NEWTON.

[ocr errors]

685

690

695

absolutely necessary; for otherwise it might be thought very strange, that the evil spirit should pass undiscovered by the archangel Uriel, the regent of the sun, and the sharpestsighted spirit in heaven; and therefore the poet endeavours to account for it by saying, that bypocrisy cannot be discerned by man or angel; it is invisible to all but God, &c.

The poet's recollection of his having been deluded by the matchless hypocrisy of Cromwell, might have inspired him with this admirable apology for Uriel.-HAYLEY.

He must be very critically splenetic indeed who will not pardon this little digressional observation. There is not in my opinion a nobler sentiment, or one more poetically exof a mere moral sentence, by throwing it into the form of a short and beautiful allegory!pressed, in the whole poem. What great art has the poet shown in taking off the dryness

This is one of those places where a negligence in metre is not only excusable, in taking amay monotony, but carries with it a dignity which no smoothness of verse could give it, the words being in almost the same order as in Scripture.-STILLINGFLEET.

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.

So spake the false dissembler unperceived ;
For neither man nòr angel can discern
Hypocrisy 5, the only evil that walks
Invisible, except to God alone,
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 beguiled
Uriel

, though regent of tlie 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
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,
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
Had in remembrance always with delight :
But what created mind can comprehend
Their number; or the wisdom infinite

That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep?
en bat is said here of hypocrisy is censured as a digression ; but it seems no more than is

But bio now, yet he found reason to suspect him afterwards from bis furious gestures on the

And ofl, though wisdom wake.
Pleasant to know.

700

1

703

mount.

ТвүүR.

« PreviousContinue »