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To wait them with his keys, and now at foot 485
Of Heav'n'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 night ye see
Cowls, hoods, and habits with their wearers tost
And flutter'd into rags, then reliques, beads, 491
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds : all these upwhirl'd aloft
Fly o'er the backside of the world far off
Into a Limbo large and broad, since callid 495
The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown
Long after, now unpeopled, and untrod.
All this dark globe the Fiend found as he passid,
And long he wander’d, till at last a gleam
Of dawning light turn'd thither-ward in haste 500
His travell’d steps: far distant he descries
Ascending by degrees magnificent
Up to the wall of Heav'n a structure high :
At top whereof, but far more rich, appear'd
The work as of a kingly palace gate,

505
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.
The stairs were such as whereon Jacob saw

510 Angels ascending and descending, bands Of guardians bright, when he from Esau fled Yo Padin Aram in the field of Luz Dreamiri Bynght under the open sky,

And waking cry'd, This is the gate of Heav'n. 515 Each stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood There always, but drawn up to Heav'n sometimes Viewless; and underneath a bright sea flow’d Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon Who after came from earth sailing arriv'd 520 · 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 : 525 Direct against which open'd from beneath, Just o’er the blissful seat of Paradise, A passage down to th’ Earth, a passage wide, Wider by far than that of after times Over Mount Sion, and, though that were large, Over the Promis'd Land to God so dear, 531 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 Panæas the fount of Jordan's flood 535 Te Beërsaba, where the Holy Land Borders on Egypt and th’ 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 540 That scal'd by steps of gold to Heaven gate, Looks down with wonder at the sudetérr: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 545
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 glist'ring spires and pinnacles adorn'd, 550
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams :
Such wonder seiz'd, though after Heaven seen,
The spi'rit malign, but much more envy seiz'd,
At sight of all this world beheld so fair.
Round he surveys (and well might, 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 th' 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 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 flow'ry vales,
Thrice happy isles, but who dwelt happy there 570
He stay'd not to inquire : above them all
The golden sun in splendor likest Heav'n
Allur'd his eye: thither his course he bends

Through the calm firmament, (but up or down,
By centre, or eccentric, hard to tell, 573
Or longitude,) where the great luminary
Aloof the vulgar constellations thick,
That from his lordly eye keep distance duc,
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
By his magnetic beam, that gently warms
The universe, and to each inward part
With gentle penetration, though unseen,

585
Shoots invisible virtue ev'n 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
Through his glaz’d optic tube yet never saw. 590
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 ;
If metal, part seem'd gold, part silver clcar; 595
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,
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 vр

unbound In various shapes old Proteus from the sea, Drain’d through a limbec to his native form. 605 What wonder then if fields and regions here Breathe forth elixir pure, and rivers run Potable gold, when with one virtuous touch Th' arch-chemic Sun, so far from us remote, Produces, with terrestrial humor mix'd, 610 Here in the dark so many precious things Of color 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, 615 But all sun-shine, as when his beams at-noon Culminate from th’equator, as they now Shot upward still dirent, whence no way round Shadow from body' opaque can fall; and th' air No where so clear, sharpen'd his visual ray

620 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

625 Circled his head, rior 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. Glad was the spi'rit impure, as now in hope 630 To find who might direct his wand'ring flight To Paradise the happy seat of man,

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