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John Milton. (1608–1674). Complete Poems.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.


Paradise Lost: The Third Book

THE ARGUMENT.—God, sitting on his throne, sees Satan flying towards this World, then newly created; shews him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his, own Justice and Wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free, and able enough to have withstood his Tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards Man: but God again declares that Grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of Divine Justice; Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore, with all his progeny, devoted to death, must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man: the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all Names in Heaven and Earth; commands all the Angels to adore him. They obey, and, hymning to their harps in full quire, celebrate the Father and the Son. Meanwhile Satan alights upon the bare convex of this World’s outermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place since called the Limbo of Vanity; what persons and things fly up thither: thence comes to the gate of Heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it. His passage thence to the orb of the Sun: he finds there Uriel, the regent of that orb, but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner Angel, and, pretending a zealous desire to behold the new Creation, and Man whom God had placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed: Alights first on Mount Niphates.

HAIL, holy Light, offspring of Heaven first-born!

Or of the Eternal coeternal beam

May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,

And never but in unapproached light

Dwelt from eternity-dwelt then in thee,

Bright effluence of bright essence increate!

Or hear’st thou rather pure Ethereal Stream,

Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the Sun,

Before the Heavens, thou wert, and at the voice

Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest

The rising World of waters dark and deep,

Won from the void and formless Infinite!

Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,

Escaped the Stygian Pool, though long detained

In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight,

Through utter and through middle Darkness borne,

With other notes than to the Orphean lyre

I sung of Chaos and eternal Night,

Taught by the Heavenly Muse to venture down

The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,

Though hard and rare. Thee I revisit safe,

And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou

Revisit’st not these eyes, that rowl in vain

To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;

So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs,

Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more

Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt

Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,

Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief

Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,

That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,

Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget

Those other two equalled with me in fate,

(So were I equalled with them in renown!)

Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,

And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old:

Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move

Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird

Sings darkling, and, in shadiest covert hid,

Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year

Seasons return; but not to me returns

Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,

Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,

Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;

But cloud instead and ever-during dark

Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men

Cut off, and, for the book of knowledge fair,

Presented with a universal blank

Of Nature’s works, to me expunged and rased,

And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.

So much the rather thou, Celestial Light,

Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers

Irradiate; there plant eyes; all mist from thence

Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell

Of things invisible to mortal sight.

Now had the Almighty Father from above,

From the pure Empyrean where He sits

High throned above all highth, bent down his eye,

His own works and their works at once to view:

About him all the Sanctities of Heaven

Stood thick as stars, and from his sight received

Beatitude past utterance; on his right

The radiant image of his glory sat,

His only Son. On Earth he first beheld

Our two first parents, yet the only two

Of mankind, in the Happy Garden placed,

Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,

Uninterrupted joy, unrivalled love,

In blissful solitude. He then surveyed

Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there

Coasting the wall of Heaven on this side Night,

In the dun air sublime, and ready now

To stoop, with wearied wings and willing feet,

On the bare outside of this World, that seemed

Firm land imbosomed without firmament,

Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.

Him God beholding from his prospect high,

Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,

Thus to His only Son foreseeing spake:—

“Only-begotten Son, seest thou what rage

Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds

Prescribed, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains

Heaped on him there, nor yet the main Abyss

Wide interrupt, can hold; so bent he seems

On desperate revenge, that shall redound

Upon his own rebellious head. And now,

Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way

Not far off Heaven, in the precincts of light,

Directly towards the new-created World,

And Man there placed, with purpose to assay

If him by force he can destroy, or, worse,

By some false guile pervert: and shall pervert;

For Man will hearken to his glozing lies,

And easily transgress the sole command,

Sole pledge of his obedience: so will fall

He and his faithless progeny. Whose fault?

Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me

All he could have; I made him just and right,

Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.

Such I created all the Ethereal Powers

And Spirits, both them who stood and them who failed;

Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.

Not free, what proof could they have given sincere

Of true allegiance, constant faith, or love,

Where only what they needs must do appeared,

Not what they would? What praise could they receive,

What pleasure I, from such obedience paid.

When Will and Reason (Reason also is Choice),

Useless and vain, of freedom both despoiled,

Made passive both, had served Necessity,

Not Me? They, therefore, as to right belonged

So were created, nor can justly accuse

Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,

As if Predestination overruled

Their will, disposed by absolute decree

Or high foreknowledge. They themselves decreed

Their own revolt, not I. If I foreknew,

Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,

Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.

So without least impulse or shadow of fate,

Or aught by me immutably foreseen,

They trespass, authors to themselves in all,

Both what they judge and what they choose; for so

I formed them free, and free they must remain

Till they enthrall themselves: I else must change

Their nature, and revoke the high decree

Unchangeable, eternal, which ordained

Their freedom; they themselves ordained their fall.

The first sort by their own suggestion fell,

Self-tempted, self-depraved; Man falls, deceived

By the other first: Man, therefore, shall find grace;

The other, none. In mercy and justice both,

Through Heaven and Earth, so shall my glory excel;

But mercy, first and last, shall brightest shine.”

Thus while God spake ambrosial fragrance filled

All Heaven, and in the blessèd Spirits elect

Sense of new joy ineffable diffused.

Beyond compare the Son of God was seen

Most glorious; in him all his Father shon

Substantially expressed; and in his face

Divine compassion visibly appeared,

Love without end, and without measure grace;

Which uttering, thus He to his Father spake;—

“O Father, gracious was that word which closed

Thy sovran sentence, that Man should find grace;

For which both Heaven and Earth shall high extol

Thy praises, with the innumerable sound

Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne

Encompassed shall resound thee ever blest.

For, should Man finally be lost—should Man,

Thy creature late so loved, thy youngest son,

Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though joined

With his own folly—! That be from thee far,

That far be from thee, Father, who art judge

Of all things made, and judgest only right!

Or shall the Adversary thus obtain

His end, and frustrate thine? Shall he fulfil

His malice, and thy goodness bring to naught

Or proud return, though to his heavier doom

Yet with revenge accomplished, and to Hell

Draw after him the whole race of mankind,

By him corrupted? Or wilt thou thyself

Abolish thy creation, and unmake,

For him, what for thy glory thou hast made?—

So should thy goodness and thy greatness both

Be questioned and blasphemed without defense.”

To whom the great Creator thus replied:—

“O Son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,

Son of my bosom, Son who art alone

My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,

All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are, all

As my eternal purpose hath decreed.

Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will;

Yet not of will in him, but grace in me

Freely voutsafed. Once more I will renew

His lapsed powers, though forfeit, and enthralled

By sin to foul exorbitant desires:

Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand

On even ground against his mortal foe—

By me upheld, that he may know how frail

His fallen condition is, and to me owe

All his deliverance, and to none but me.

Some I have chosen of peculiar grace,

Elect above the rest; so is my will:

The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warned

Their sinful state, and to appease betimes

The incensèd Deity, while offered grace

Invites; for I will clear their senses dark

What may suffice, and soften stony hearts

To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.

To prayer, repentance, and obedience due,

Though but endeavoured with sincere intent,

Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.

And I will place within them as a guide

My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear,

Light after light well used they shall attain,

And to the end persisting safe arrive.

This my long sufferance, and my day of grace,

They who neglect and scorn shall never taste;

But hard be hardened, blind be blinded more,

That they may stumble on, and deeper fall;

And none but such from mercy I exclude.—

But yet all is not done. Man disobeying,

Disloyal, breaks his fealty, and sins

Against the high supremacy of Heaven,

Affecting Godhead, and, so losing all,

To expiate his treason hath naught left,

But, to destruction sacred and devote,

He with his whole posterity must die;

Die he or Justice must; unless for him

Some other, able, and as willing, pay

The rigid satisfaction, death for death.

Say, Heavenly Powers, where shall we find such love?

Which of ye will be mortal, to redeem

Man’s mortal crime, and just, the unjust to save?

Dwells in all Heaven charity so dear?”

He asked, but all the Heavenly Quire stood mute,

And silence was in Heaven: on Man’s behalf

Patron or intercessor none appeared—

Much less that durst upon his own head draw

The deadly forfeiture, and ransom set.

And now without redemption all mankind

Must have been lost, adjudged to Death and Hell

By doom severe, had not the Son of God,

In whom the fulness dwells of love divine,

His dearest mediation thus renewed:—

“Father, thy word is passed, Man shall find grace;

And shall Grace not find means, that finds her way,

The speediest of thy winged messengers,

To visit all thy creatures, and to all

Comes unprevented, unimplored, unsought?

Happy for Man, so coming! He her aid

Can never seek, once dead in sins and lost—

Atonement for himself, or offering meet,

Indebted and undone, hath none to bring.

Behold me, then: me for him, life for life,

I offer; on me let thine anger fall;

Account me Man: I for his sake will leave

Thy bosom, and this glory next to thee

Freely put off, and for him lastly die

Well pleased; on me let Death wreak all his rage.

Under his gloomy power I shall not long

Lie vanquished. Thou hast given me to possess

Life in myself for ever; by thee I live;

Though now to Death I yield, and am his due,

All that of men can die, yet, that debt paid,

Thou wilt not leave me in the loathsome grave

His prey, nor suffer my unspotted soul

For ever with corruption there to dwell;

But I shall rise victorious, and subdue

My vanquisher, spoiled of his vaunted spoil.

Death his death’s wound shall then receive, and stoop

Inglorious, of his mortal sting disarmed;

I through the ample air in triumph high

Shall lead Hell captive maugre Hell, and show

The powers of Darkness bound. Thou, at the sight

Pleased, out of Heaven shalt look down and smile,

While, by thee raised, I ruin all my foes—

Death last, and with his carcase glut the grave;

Then, with the multitude of my redeemed,

Shall enter Heaven, long absent, and return,

Father, to see thy face, wherein no cloud

Of anger shall remain, but peace assured

And reconcilement: wrauth shall be no more

Thenceforth, but in thy presence joy entire.”

His words here ended; but his meek aspect’

Silent yet spake, and breathed immortal love

To mortal man, above which only shon

Filial obedience: as a sacrifice

Glad to be offered, he attends the will

Of his great Father. Admiration seized

All Heaven, what this might mean, and whither tend,

Wondering; but soon the Almighty thus replied:—

“O thou in Heaven and Earth the only peace

Found out for mankind under wrauth, O thou

My sole complacence! well thou know’st how dear

To me are all my works; nor Man the least,

Though last created, that for him I spare

Thee from my bosom and right hand, to save,

By losing thee a while, the whole race lost!

Thou, therefore, whom thou only canst redeem,

Their nature also to thy nature join;

And be thyself Man among men on Earth,

Made flesh, when time shall be, of virgin seed,

By wondrous birth; be thou in Adam’s room

The head of all mankind, though Adam’s son.

As in him perish all men, so in thee,

As from a second root, shall be restored

As many as are restored; without thee, none.

His crime makes guilty all his sons; thy merit,

Imputed, shall absolve them who renounce

Their own both righteous and unrighteous deeds,

And live in thee transplanted, and from thee

Receive new life, So Man, as is most just,

Shall satisfy for Man, be judged and die,

And dying rise, and, rising, with him raise

His brethren, ransomed with his own dear life.

So Heavenly love shall outdo Hellish hate,

Giving to death, and dying to redeem,

So dearly to redeem what Hellish hate

So easily destroyed, and still destroys

In those who, when they may, accept not grace.

Nor shalt thou, by descending to assume

Man’s nature, lessen or degrade thine own.

Because thou hast, though throned in highest bliss

Equal to God, and equally enjoying

God-like fruition, quitted all to save

A world from utter loss, and hast been found

By merit more than birthright Son of God,—

Found worthiest to be so by being good,

Far more than great or high; because in thee

Love hath abounded more than glory abounds;

Therefore thy humiliation shall exalt

With thee thy manhood also to this Throne:

Here shalt thou sit incarnate, here shalt reign

Both God and Man, Son both of God and Man,

Anointed universal King. All power

I give thee; reign for ever, and assume

Thy merits; under thee, as Head Supreme,

Thrones, Princedoms, Powers, Dominions, I reduce:

All knees to thee shall bow of them that bide

In Heaven, or Earth, or, under Earth, in Hell.

When thou, attended gloriously from Heaven,

Shalt in the sky appear, and from thee send

The summoning Archangels to proclaim

Thy dread tribunal, forthwith from all winds

The living, and forthwith the cited dead

Of all past ages, to the general doom

Shall hasten; such a peal shall rouse their sleep.

Then, all thy Saints assembled, thou shalt judge

Bad men and Angels; they arraigned shall sink

Beneath thy sentence; Hell, her numbers full,

Thenceforth shall be for ever shut. Meanwhile

The World shall burn, and from her ashes spring

New Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell,

And, after all their tribulations long,

See golden days, fruitful of golden deeds,

With Joy and Love triumph’ing, and fair Truth.

Then thou thy regal sceptre shalt lay by;

For regal sceptre then no more shall need;

God shall be All in All. But all ye Gods,

Adore Him who, to compass all this, dies;

Adore the Son, and honour him as me.”

No sooner had the Almighty ceased but—all

The multitude of Angels, with a shout

Loud as from numbers without number, sweet

As from blest voices, uttering joy—Heaven rung

With jubilee, and loud Hosannas filled

The eternal regions. Lowly reverent

Towards either throne they bow, and to the ground

With solemn adoration down they cast

Their crowns, inwove with amarant and gold,—

Immortal amarant, a flower which once

In Paradise, fast by the Tree of Life,

Began to bloom, but, soon for Man’s offence

To Heaven removed where first it grew, there grows

And flowers aloft, shading the Fount of Life,

And where the River of Bliss through midst of Heaven

Rowls o’er Elysian flowers her amber stream!

With these, that never fade, the Spirits elect

Bind their resplendent locks, inwreathed with beams.

Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright

Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shon,

Impurpled with celestial roses smiled.

Then, crowned again, their golden harps they took—

Harps ever tuned, that glittering 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 Heaven.

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

Throned 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 countenance, without cloud

Made visible, the Almighty Father shines,

Whom else no creature can behold: on thee

Impressed the effulgence of his glory abides;

Transfused on thee his ample Spirit rests.

He Heaven of Heavens, and all the Powers therein,

By thee created; and by thee threw down

The aspiring Dominations. Thou that day

Thy Father’s dreadful thunder didst not spare,

Nor stop thy flaming chariot-wheels, that shook

Heaven’s everlasting frame, while o’er the necks

Thou drov’st of warring Angels disarrayed.

Back from pursuit, thy Powers with loud acclaim

Thee only extolled, Son of thy Father’s might,

To execute fierce vengeance on his foes.

Not so on Man: him, through their malice fallen,

Father of mercy and grace, thou didst not doom

So strictly, but much more to pity encline.

No sooner did thy dear and only Son

Perceive thee purposed not to doom frail Man

So strictly, but much more to pity enclined,

He, to appease thy wrauth, and end the strife

Of mercy and justice in thy face discerned,

Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat

Second to thee, offered himself to die

For Man’s offence. O unexampled love!

Love nowhere 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 my harp thy praise

Forget, nor from thy Father’s praise disjoin!

Thus they in Heaven, above the Starry Sphere,

Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent.

Meanwhile, upon the firm opacous globe

Of this round World, whose first convex divides

The luminous inferior Orbs, enclosed

From Chaos and the inroad of Darkness old,

Satan alighted walks. A globe far off

It seemed; now seems a boundless continent,

Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night

Starless exposed, and ever-threatening storms

Of Chaos blustering round, inclement sky,

Save on that side which from the wall of Heaven,

Though distant far, some small reflection gains

Of glimmering air less vexed with tempest loud.

Here walked the Fiend at large in spacious field.

As when a vultur, on Imaus bred,

Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,

Dislodging from a region scarce of prey,

To gorge the flesh of lambs or yearling kids

On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs

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

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 crystal’lin 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, then 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.

All this dark globe the Fiend found as he passed;

And long he wandered, till at last a gleam

Of dawning light turned thitherward in haste

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

Imbellished; thick with sparkling orient gems

The portal shon, 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 is 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 Ægypt 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 desart 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 shon

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 the 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 shon

In Aaron’s breast-plate, and a stone besides;

Imagined rather oft than elsewhere seen—

That stone, or like to that, which there 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-chimic 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 imployed

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

Worlds, and on whom hath all these graces poured;

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 returned:—

“Fair Angel, thy desire, which tends to know

The works of God, thereby to glorify

The great Work-maister, leads to no excess

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 created mind can comprehend

Their number, or the wisdom infinite

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 shon, and order from disorder sprung.

Swift to their several quarters hasted then

The cumbrous elements—Earth, Flood, Air, Fire;

And this ethereal quint’ essence of Heaven

Flew upward, spirited with various forms,

That rowled orbicular, and turned 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 called that opposite fair star) her aid

Timely interposes, and, her monthly round

Still ending, still renewing, through mid-heaven,

With borrowed 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,

Adam’s abode; those lofty shades his bower.

Thy way thou canst not miss; me mine requires.”

Thus said, he turned; 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,

Throws his steep flight in many an aerie wheel,

Nor staid till on Niphates’ top he lights.