Imágenes de páginas

Translated saints, or middle spirits hold,
Betwixt the angelical and human kind.
Hither, of ill-join'd sons and daughters born,
First, from the ancient world, those giants came,
With many a vain exploit, though then renown’d:
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 deem'd
A god, leap'd fondly into Ætna flames,
Empedocles, and he who, to enjoy
Plato's Elysium, leap'd 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 stray'd 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 passed the planets seven, and pass the fix'd,
And that crystalline sphere, whose balance weighs
The trepidation talk'd, 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, toss'd
And flutter'd into rags; then reliques, beads,
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds: all these, upwhirl'd aloft,
Fly o’er the back side of the world, far off,
Into a limbo, large and broad, since callid
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 wander’d, till at last, a gleam
Of dawning light turn'd thither-ward in haste
His travelld steps : far distant he descries,
Ascending by degrees magnificent
Up to the wall of Heaven, a structure high :
Al 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
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 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, 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,
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’d 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 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
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams.
Such wonder seized, though after Heaven seen.
The spirit malign; but much more envy seize
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, seem'd other worlds ·
Or other worlds they seem'd, 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 splendor 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 (lamp
Days, months, and years, towards his all-cheering
Turn swift their various motions, or are turn'd
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 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
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 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 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


commands; For sight no obstacle found here, nor shade, But all sunshine : as when his beams at noon Cuiminate 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, 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 fix'd 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 feign'd. Under a coronet, his flowing hair, In curls on either cheek, play'd ; wings he wore, Of many a colour'd plume, sprinkled with gold; His habit fit for speed succinet, 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,
That run through all the Heavens, or, down to the
Bear his swift errands, over moist and dry, [Earth
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 ordain’d,
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 bestow'd
Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces pour'd :
That both in him, and all things, as is meet,
The universal Maker we may praise ;
Who justly hath 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 return’d:

“Fair angel! thy desire, which tends to know The works of God, thereby to glorify


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