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Up to the wall of Heaven a structure high; 503
At top whereof, but far more rich, appear'd
The work as of a kingly palace-gate,
With frontispiece of diamond and gold
Embellish'd; 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 510
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 flow'd
Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon
Who after came from earth, sailing arriv'd 520
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 open'd 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, 530
Over the Promis'd Land to God so dear;
By which, to visit oft those happy tribes,
On high behests, his Angels to and fro
Pass'd frequent, and his eye with choice regard
From Paneas," the fount of Jordan's flood,
• ‘Paneas: a city at the foot of Lebanon.

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To Beérsaba, where the Holy Land 536
Borders on Egypt and the Arabian shore;
So wide the opening seem’d, 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 renown'd metropolis
With glistering spires and pinnacles adorn'd, 550
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams:
Such wonder seiz'd, though after Heaven seen,
The Spirit malign, but much more envy seiz'd,
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 Libral to the fleecy star that bears
Andromeda far off Atlantic seas
Beyond the horizon; then from pole to pole 560
He views in breadth, and, without longer pause
Downright 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 seem'd other worlds;
Or other worlds they seem’d, or happy isles,
Like those Hesperian gardens fam'd of old,

* * Libra: ' the Balance.

Fortunate fields, and groves, and flow'ry vales, 569
Thrice happy isles; but who dwelt happy there
He stay’d not to enquire : Above them all
The golden sun, in splendour likest Heaven,
Allur'd 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 580
Days, months, and years, towards his all-cheering lamp
Turn swift their various motions, or are turn'd
By his magnetick beam, that gently warms
The universe, and to each inward part
With gentle penetration, though unseen,
Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep ;
So wonderously 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. 590
The place he found beyond expression bright,
Compar'd with aught on earth, metal or stone;
Not all parts like, but all alike inform'd
With radiant light, as glowing iron with fire;
If metal, part seem'd 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 600
Philosophers in vain so long have sought,
In vain, though by their powerful art they bind

Wolatile Hermes, and call up unbound, 603 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 Potable gold, when with one virtuous touch The arch-chemick sun, so far from us remote, Produces, with terrestrial humour mix’d, 610 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, sharpen'd his visual ray 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 Circled his head, nor less his locks behind Illustrious on his shoulders, fledge with wings, Lay waving round: on some great charge employ'd He seem’d, or fixed 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,

“Hermes,’ ‘Proteus: alluding to the pursuit and escape of Matter through its thousand forms, in the researches of Alchemy.

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Which else might work him danger or delay; 635
And now a stripling Cherub he appears,
Not of the prime, yet such as in his face
Youth smil'd celestial, and to every limb
Suitable grace diffus'd, so well he feign'd:
Under a coronet his flowing hair 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 Arch-Angel Uriel, one of the seven
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes 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,
The first art wont his great authentick 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 660
To visit oft this new creation round;
Unspeakable desire to see and know
All these his wonderous works, but chiefly Man,
His chief delight and favour, him for whom
All these his works so wonderous he ordain'd,
Hath brought me from the choirs of Cherubim
Alone thus wandering. Brightest Seraph, tell
“Uriel:" the Angel of Light.

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