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Th’eternal regions. Lowly reverent, 's.'
Tow'rds either throne they bow, and to the ground
With solemn adoration down they cast
Their crowns, inwove with amarant and gold;
Immortal amarant, a flow'r which once
In Paradise, fast by the tree of life,
Began to bloom; but soon for man's offence
To heaven remov'd, where first it grew, there grows,
And flow'rs aloft shading the fount of life, ".
And where the river of bliss through midst of heay'n
Rolls o'er Elysian flow'rs her amber stream
With these that never fade, the spirits elect
Bind their resplendent locks, inwreath'd with beams :
Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright
Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone,
Impurpled with celestial roses smil'd..
Then crown'd again, their golden harps they took,
Harps ever tun'd, that, glittring by their side, :
Like quivers hung, and with preamble sweet ?
Of charming symphony they introduce
Their sacred song, and waken raptures high;
No voice exempt, no voice but well could join
Melodious part, such concord is in heav'n.
Thee, Father, first they sung, omnipotent,
Immutable, immortal, infinite,
Eternal King; thee, author of all being,
Fountain of light, thyself invisible . .
Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sitt'st:
Thron'd inaccessible, but when thou shad'st.. ?
The full blaze of thy beams, and through a cloud -
Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine,
Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear,
Yet dazzle heaven, that brightest Seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.
Thee, next they, sang, of all creation first,
Begotten Son, divine similitude,
In whose conspicuous count'nance, without cloud
Made visible, th' almighty Father shines, . )
Whom else no creature can behold; on thee in
Impress’d th? effulgence of his glory abides,
Transfus'd on thee his ample Spirit rests.'
He heav'n of heav'ns, and all the pow'rs therein,
By thee created; and by thee threw down
Th'aspiring dominations: thou that day
Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare,
Nor stop thy faining chariot-wheels, that shook
Ileavin's everlasting frame, while o'er the necks
Thou drov'st of warring angels disarray'd.
Back from pursuit thy pow'rs with loud acclain
Thee only extollid, Son of thy Father's might,
To execute fierce vengeance on his foes.
Not so on man: him, through their malice fall’n,
Father of inercy and grace, thou didst not doom
So strictly, but much more to pity incline :
No sooner did thy dear and only Son
Perceive thee purpos'd not to doom frail man
So strictly, but much more to pity incline,
He, to appease thy wrath, and end the strife
Of mercy and justice in thy face discern'd,
Regardless of the bliss wherein he satis
Second to thee, offer'd himself to die
For man's offence. O unexampled love,
Love no where to be found less than divine! !
Hail, Son of God, Saviour of men, thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song
Henceforth, and never shall iny harp thy praise
Forget, nor from thy Father's praise disjoin.
Thus they in heav'n, above the starry sphere,
Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent. ?
Meanwhile upon the firin opacous globe
of this round world, whose first convex divides
The luminous inferior orbs, inclos'd '
From Chaos, and th’inroad of darkness old,
Satan alighted walks. A globe far off. "
It seem'd, now seems a boundless continent, in
Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of night:
Starless expos'd, and ever-threat'ning storms 3
Of Chaos blust'ring round, inclement sky:
* Save on that side which from the wall of heav'n, Though distant far, some small reflection gains49
of glimmering air, less vex'd with tempest loud:
Here walk'd the fiend at large in spacious field.
As when a vulture, on Imaus bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey,
To gorge the flesh of lambs or yeanling kids,
On hills where tlocks are fed, flies tow'rd the spi
Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams;
But in his way lights on the barren plains
of Sericana, where Chineses drive
With sails and wind their cany waggons light:
So, on this windy sea of land, the fiend
Walk'd up and down alone, bent on his prey;
Alune, 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 fiew
of all things transitory and vain, when sin
With vanity had fill'd the works of men ;
Both all things vain, and all who in vain things
Built their fond hopes of glory or lasting faine,
Or happiness in this or th' other life;
All who have their reward on earth, the fruits
of painful superstition and blind zeal,
Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find
Fit retribution, empty as their deeds:
All th' unaccomplish'd works of Nature's hand,
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mix'd,
Dissolv'd on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,
Till final dissolution, wander here,
Not in the neighb'ring moon, as some have drcam'd;
Those argent fields more likely habitants,
Translated saints, or middle spirits, hold,
Betwixt th' 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
or Sennaar, and still with vain design
New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build : ,
Others came single; he who, to be deem'
d i ? A God, leap'd fondly into Ætna faines, m i s 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 grey, with all their trumpery. Here pilgrims roam, that stray'd so far to seek : In Golgotha him dead, who lives in heav'n; And they who, to be sure of Paradise, Dying put on the weeds of Dominic, Or in Franciscan think to pass disguis'd; They pass the planets seven, and pass the fix'd, And that crystalline sphere whose balance weighs The trepidation talk'd, and that first mov'd:.. And now Saint Peter at heav'n's wicket seeins To wait them with his keys, and now at foot Of heav'n'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 flutter'd'into rags; then reliques, beads, Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls, The sport of winds: all these, upwhirl'd aloft, Fly o'er the backside 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 pass'd, And long he wander'd, till at last a gleam Of dawning light turn'd thitherward in haste His travell’d steps; far distant he descries, Ascending by degrees inagnificent .. Up to the wall of heav'n, a structure high; At top whereof, but far more rich, appear'd. : The work as of a kingly palace gate, With frontispiece of diamond and gold Embellishd: 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 fed
To Padan-Aram, in the field of Luz,
Dreaming by night under the open sky,
And waking cry'd,“ This is the gate of heav'n.”
Each stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood
There always, but drawn up to heav'n sometimes
Viewless; and underneath a bright sea flow'd
Of jasper, or of liquid pearl, whereon
Who after came from earth, sailing arriv'd,
Wafted by angels, or flew o'er tire lake
Rapt in a chariot drawn by fiery steeds.
The stairs were then let down, whether to daro
The fiend by easy ascent, or aggravate
His sad exclusion from the doors of bliss :
Direct against which opend from beneath,
Just o'er the blissful seat of Paradise,
A passage down to th'earth, a passage wide,
Wider by far than that of after-times
Over mount Sion, and, though that were large,
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,
To Beersaba, where the holy land
Borders on Egypt and 'th' 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 scal'd 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