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Of mercy and justice in thy face discern'd,
Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat
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 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.
Mean while upon the firm opacous globe
Of this round world, whose first convex divides
The luminous inferiour orbs, enclos'd
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 expos’d, 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 vex'd with tempest loud:
Here walk'd 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 yeanling 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
Walk'd 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 aëreal vapours flew
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 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,
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mix’d,
Dissolv'd on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,
Till final dissolution wander here;
Not in the neighbouring moon, as some have dream’d;
Those argent fields more likely habitants,
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 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 deem'd
A God, leap'd 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 Dominick,
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 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, 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 call'd
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 thither-ward in haste
His travell’d 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, appeard
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, not 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
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 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 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 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 desart ways with peril gone
All night, at last by break of cheerful dawn
Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,

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