Page images

For Man's offence. O unexampled love, 410
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 my heart thy praise
Forget, nor from thy Father's praise disjoin. 415

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 seem'd, now seems a boundless continent
Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night
Starless exposed, and ever threat’ning storms 425
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 vex'd with tempest loud:
Here walk'd the Fiend at large in spacious field. 430
As when a vulture on Imaus bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey
To gorge the Aesh of lambs or yeanling kids,
On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs
Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams;

436 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

440 Walk'd


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 vapors flew


Of all things transitory and vain, when sin
With vanity had fillid the works of men:
Both all things vain, and all who on 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,
Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find
Fit retribution, empty as their deeds;
All the unaccomplish'd works of Nature's hand, 455
Abortive, monstrous or unkindly mix’d,
Dissolved on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,
Till final dissolution, wander here;
Not in the neighboring moon as some have dream'd;
Those argent fields more likely habitants,

460 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:465 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,

470 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. 475 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;

480 They pass 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 485
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, tossid
And flutter'd into rags; then reliques, beads, 491
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds: All these, up-whirld aloft,
Fly o’er the backside of the world far off
Into a Limbo large and broad, since callid 495
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 500
His traveld 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, 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 fed
To Padan-Aram, in the field of Luz
Dreaming by night under the open sky,
And waking cried, This is the gate of Heaven. 515
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, 520
Wafted by Angels, or flew o'er the lake
Wrapp'd 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 aftertimes
Over mount Sion, and, though that were large, 530
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,

535 To Beersaba 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, 540 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 545 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; Şuch wonder seized, though after Heaven seen, The Spirit malign, but much more envy seized,

[ocr errors]

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 sight'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 560
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

565 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 570 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,

575 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 magnetic beam, that gently warms The universe, and to each inward part With gentle penetration, though unseen,

585 Shoots invisible virtue even to the deep; So wondrously was set his station bright. Their lands the Fiend, a spot like which perhaps Astronomer in the sun's lucent orb

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »