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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
Volatile Hermes, and call up unbound
In various shapes old Proteus from the sea,
Drained through a limbec 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-chymic sun, so far from us remote,
Produces, with terrestrial humor mixed,
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,
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,
Nowhere so clear, sharpened 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 turned, but not his brightness hid;
Of beaming sunny rays a golden tiar
Circled his head, nor less his locks behind
Illustrious on his shoulders, fledge with wings,
Lay waving round. On some great charge employed
He seemed, or fixed 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,
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 feigned.
Under a coronet his flowing hair
In curls on either cheek played; wings he wore,
Of many a colored 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 turned,
Admonished 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 honor 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 favor, him for whom
All these His works so wondrous He ordained,
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 bestowed.
Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces poured;
That both in him and all things, is as meet,
The universal Maker we may praise,
Who justly has 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 nor angel can discern
Hypocrisy, 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 the sun, and held
The sharpest-sighted spirit of all in Heaven;
Who to the fraudulent impostor foul,
In his uprightness, answer thus returned:
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 inerits 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.
I saw, when at His word the formless mass,
This world's material mold, came to a heap;
Confusion heard His voice and wild uproar
Stood ruled, stood vast infinitude confined ;:
Till at His second bidding darkness fled,
Light shone, and order from disorder sprung.
Swift to their several quarters hasted then
The cumbrous elements, earth, flood, air, fire;
And this ethereal quintessence of Heaven
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That rolled orbicular, and turned to stars
Numberless, as thou seest, and how they move.
Each had his place appointed, each his course;
The rest in circuit walls this universe.
Look downward on that globe, whose hither side
With light from hence, though but reflected, shines;
That place is Earth, the seat of Man; that light
His day, which else, as the other hemisphere,
Night would invade; but there the neighboring Moon-
So call that opposite fair star—her aid
Timely interposes, and her monthly round
Still ending, still renewing, through mid-heaven,
With borrowed light her countenance triform
Hence fills and empties to enlighten the earth,
And in her pale dominion checks the night.
That spot to which I point is Paradise,
Adam's abode; those lofty shades, his bower.
Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires.
Thus said, he turned; and Satan, bowing low,
As to superior spirits is wont in Heaven,
Where honor due and reverence none neglects,
Took leave, and towards the coast of Earth beneath,
Down from the ecliptic, sped with hoped success,
Throws his steep flight in many an aëry wheel,
Nor stayed, till on Niphates' top he lights.
SATAN, now in prospect of Eden, and nigh the place where he 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 the 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 awhile to know farther of their state by some other means. Meanwhile, Uriel, descending on a sunbeam, warns Gabriel, who had in charge the gate of Paradise, that some evil 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. ight 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 rounds of Paradise, appoints two strong angels to Adam's bower, lest the evil spirit should be there doing some harm to Adam and 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, Alies out of Paradise.
H, for that warning voice, which he, who saw
The Apocalypse, heard cry in Heaven aloud,
Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,
Came furious down to be revenged on men,
“Woe to the inhabitants on earth!” that now,
While time was, our first parents had been warned
The coming of their secret foe, and 'scaped,
Haply so 'scaped his mortal snare.
Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,
The tempter ere the accuser of mankind,
To wreak on innocent frail man his loss
Of that first battle, and his flight to Hell.
Yet not rejoicing in his speed, though bold
Far off and fearless, nor with cause to boast,
Begins his dire attempt; which, nigh the birth
Now rolling, boils in his tumultuous breast,
And like a devilish engine back recoils
Upon himself. Horror and doubt distract
His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir
The hell within him; for within him hell