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Of this round World, whose first convex divides
The luminous inferior orbs, enclosed

From Chaos, and the inroad of Darkness old,
Satan alighted walks. A globe far off

It seemed, now seems a boundless continent,
Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night
Starless, exposed, and ever-threatening storms
Of Chaos blustering round, inclement sky;
Save on that side which, from the wall of Heaven,
Though distant far, some small reflection gains
Of glimmering air less vexed with tempest loud.
Here walked the Fiend at large in spacious field.
As when a vulture, on Imaüs bred,

Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey,

To gorge the flesh of lambs or yearling kids,
On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs

Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams;

But in his way lights on the barren plains

Of Sericana, where Chineses drive

With sails and wind their cany wagons light:

So, on this windy sea of land, the Fiend
Walked up and down alone, bent on his prey;
Alone, for other creature in this place,

Living or lifeless, to be found was none;
None yet, but store hereafter from the Earth
Up hither, like aerial vapors, flew

Of all things transitory and vain, when sin
With vanity had filled the works of men;
Both all things vain, and all who in vain things
Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting fame,
Or happiness in this or the other life.

All who have their reward on earth, the fruits

Of painful superstition and blind zeal,

Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find
Fit retribution, empty as their deeds;


All the unaccomplished works of Nature's hand,
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mixed,

Dissolved on earth, flee thither, and in vain,

Till final dissolution, wander here;

Not in the neighboring moon, as some have dreamed;
Those argent fields more likely habitants,
Translated saints, or middle spirits, hold,
Betwixt the angelical and human-kind.

Hither of ill-joined sons and daughters born
First from the ancient world those giants came,
With many a vain exploit, though then renowned;
The builders next of Babel on the plain

Of Sennaar, and still with vain design

New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build:
Others came single; he, who to be deemed
A god, leaped fondly into Etna flames,
Empedocles; and he who to enjoy
Plato's Elysium, leaped into the sea,
Cleombrotus; and many more too long,
Embryos, and idiots, eremites, and friars
White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery.
Here pilgrims roam, that strayed so far to seek
In Golgotha Him dead who lives in Heaven;
And they, who, to be sure of Paradise,
Dying put on the weeds of Dominic,
Or in Franciscan think to pass disguised;
They pass the planets seven, and pass the fixed,
And that crystalline sphere whose balance weighs
The trepidation talked, and that first moved;
And now Saint Peter at Heaven's wicket seems
To wait them with his keys, and now at foot
Of Heaven'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 might ye see

Cowls, hoods, and habits, with their wearers, tossed


And fluttered into rags; then relics, beads,

Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,

The sport of winds: all these, upwhirled aloft,
Fly o'er the backside of the world far off,
Into a Limbo large and broad, since called
The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown.
Long after, now unpeopled, and untrod.

All this dark globe the Fiend found as he passed,
And long he wandered, till at last a gleam
Of dawning light turned thitherward in haste
His traveled 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, appeared
The work as of a kingly palace-gate,
With frontispiece of diamond and gold
Embellished; 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 flowed

Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon
Who after came from earth, sailing arrived,
Wafted by Angels, or flew o'er the lake
Wrapped 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 opened 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 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 seemed, 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
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 renowned metropolis,
With glistering spires and pinnacles adorned,
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
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

Stars distant, but nigh hand seemed other worlds;
Or other worlds they seemed, 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 stayed not to inquire. Above them all
The golden sun, in splendor likest Heaven,
Allured his eye; thither his course he bends
Through the calm firmament, but up or down,
By center or eccentric, hard to tell,

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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 turned
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

Through his glazed optic tube yet never saw.
The place he found beyond expression bright,
Compared with aught on earth, metal or stone;
Not all parts like, but all alike informed
With radiant light, as glowing iron with fire;
If metal, part seemed gold, part silver clear:
If stone, carbuncle most or chrysolite,
Ruby or topaz, or the twelve that shone
In Aaron's breastplate, and a stone besides

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