Page images
PDF
EPUB

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.

585

Their lands the Fiend, a spot like which perhaps
Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb

590

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 inform'd
With radient light, as glowing iron with fire;
If metal, part seem'd gold, part silver clear;
If stone, carbuncle most or crysolite,
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
Volatile 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
Portable gold, when with one virtuous touch
The archchemic 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

595

600

605

610

615

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, nor less his locks behind

Illustrious on his shoulders fledge with wings

Lay waving round; on some great charge employ
He seem'd, or fix'd in cogitation deep.

Glad was the Spirit impure, as now in hope

630

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 feign'd :
Under a coronet his flowing hair

635

640

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

645

650

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, 655
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 choirs 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

660

665

670

Or open admiration him behold,

On whom the great Creator hath bestowed

Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces pour'd;
That both in him and all things, as is meet,

675

The universal Maker we may praise;

Who justly hath driven out his rebel focs
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 Angels can discern
Hypocrisy, the only evil that walks

Invisible, except to God alone,

680

By his permissive will, through Heaven and Earth
And oft, though Wisdom wake, Suspicion sleeps 686
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 return'd:

Fair Angel, thy desire, which tends to know
The works of God, thereby to glorify
The great Workmaster, leads to no excess

690

695

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 creative mind can comprehend
Their number, or the wisdom infinite

700

705

710

715

That brought them forth, but hid their causes deep
I saw when at his word the formless mass,
This world's material mould, 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 etherial quintessence of Heaven
Flew upward, spirited with various forms,
That roll'd orbicular, and turn'd 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 neighbouring moon
(So call that opposite fair star) her aid
Timely interposes, and her monthly round

Still ending, still renewing, through mid Heaven,
With borrow'd 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,

720

725

730

Adam's abode; those lofty shades, his bower.
Thy way thou canst not miss, me mine requires. 735
Thus said, he turn'd; and Satan, bowing low,
As to Superior Spirits is wont in Heaven,
Where honour due and reverence none neglects,
Took leave, and toward the coast of earth beneath,
Down from the ecliptic, sped with hoped success, 740
Throws his steep flight in many an aery wheel;
Nor staid, till on Niphates' top he lights.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »