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With sails and wind their cany waggons 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 vapours 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,

Naught 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, fleet hither, and in vain,

Till final dissolution, wander here—

Not in the neighbouring 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 Ætna 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 grey, 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, tost
And fluttered into rags; then reliques, 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.

And long he wandered, till at last a gleam

Of dawning light turned thitherward in haste

All this dark globe the Fiend found as he passed;

His travelled 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

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:

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

Passed 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 staid not to inquire: above them all
The golden Sun, in splendour likest Heaven,
Allured his eye. Thither his course he bends,
Through the calm firmament (but up or down,
By centre or eccentric, hard to tell,
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, to the twelve that shone
In Aaron's breast-plate, 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,
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-chemic Sun, so far from us remote,
Produces, with terrestrial humour mixed,
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,
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 coloured 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 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 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 fixèd 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



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