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With gentle penetration, though unseen,
Through his glazed optic tube yet never saw.
603. Hermes, or Mercury; Proteus was a sea-god, celebrated as is well known for the variety of shapes he had the power of taking; the ancients meant to express, under the name of this fabulous being, the first principle of things. The stone alluded to is that by which philosophers hoped to turn all things into gold.
The same whom John saw also in the Sun.
His back was turn'd, but not his brightness hid:
Circled his head, nor less his locks behind
Illustrious on his shoulders fledge with wings
Lay waving round. On some great charge employ'd
His journey's end, and our heginning woe.
In curls on either cheek play'd; wings he wore
Of many a colour'd plume, sprinkled with gold;
Before his decent steps a silver wand.
He drew not nigh unheard: the Angel bright, 645
Admonish'd by his ear, and straight was known
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes
That run through all the Heav'ns, or down to th' Earth Bear his swift errands over moist and dry,
O'er sea and land: him Satan thus accosts:
Uriel, for thou of those sev'n Spirits that stand
In sight of God's high throne, gloriously bright, 655
To visit oft this new creation round;
623. See Rev, xix. 17.
627. Instead of fledged for softness.
643. Succinct ready or prepared.
644. Decent, used in the Latin sense, graceful and beautiful. 650. Zech. iv. 10. Tobit xii. 15. Rev. i. 4. v. 6. viii. 2.
Unspeakable desire to see, and know
All these his wondrous works, but chiefly Man,
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,
Who justly hath driv'n out his rebel foes
To serve him better: wise are all his ways.
By his permissive will, thro' Heav'n and Earth: 685
Resigns her charge, while Goodness thinks no ill
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
To witness with thine eyes what some perhaps 706
But what created mind can comprehend
That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep?
The cumbrous elements, Earth, Flood, Air, Fire; 715
Still ending, still renewing, through mid Heav'n,
Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires. 735
As to superior Spirits is wont in Heav'n,
730. Triform, so called from her increase and decrease towards east and west, and her fulness.
742. Niphates, a mountain on the borders of Armenia, near which Paradise is supposed to have been situated.
Satan now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where e must now attempt the bold enterprise which he undertook alone against God and Man, falls into many doubts with himself, and many passions, fear, envy, and despair; but at length confirms himself in evil, journeys on to Paradise, whose outward prospect and situation is described, overleaps the bounds, sits in the shape of a cormorant on the Tree of Life, as highest in the garden, to look about him. The garden described: Satan's first sight of Adam and Eve; his wonder at their excellent form and happy state, but with resolution to work their fall; overhears their discourse, thence gathers that the Tree of Knowledge was forbidden them to eat of, under penalty of Death; and thereon intends to found his temptation, by seducing them to transgress; then leaves them a while, to know further of their state by some other means. Meanwhile Uriel, descending on a sun-beam, warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of Paradise, that some evii Spirit had escaped the deep, and passed at noon by his sphere in the shape of a good Angel down to Paradise, discovered after by his furious gestures in the Mount. Gabriel promises to find him ere morning. Night coming on, Adam and Eve discourse of going to their rest: their bower described; their evening worship. Gabriel drawing forth his bands of night-watch to walk the round of Paradise, appoints two strong Angels to Adam's bower, lest the evil Spirit should be there doing some harm to Adam or Eve sleeping; there they find him at the ear of Eve, tempting her in a dream, and bring him, though unwilling, to Gabriel; by whom questioned, he scornfully answers, prepares resistance, but hindered by a sign from Heaven, flies out of Paradise.
O FOR that warning voice, which he who saw
While time was, our first parents had been warn'd
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,
1. There is great propriety in the opening of the present book. The grand subject of the relation which St. John gave of the Apocalypse or Revelation he received, is the overthrow of Satan, whose first attempts upon Man's purity and happiness form the ground-work of this part of the poem.