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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 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 :

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Direct against which open'd 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 Bëersaba, 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 545
Obtains the brow of some high-climbing hill,

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Which to his eye discovers unaware
The goodly prospect of some foreign land
First seen, or some renown'd metropolis
With glist'ring spires and pinnacles adorn'd, 550
Which now the rising sun gilds with his beams :
Such wonder seiz'd, though after Heaven seen,
The Spi'rit malign, but much more envy seiz'd
At sight of all this world beheld so fair.
Round he surveys (and well might, where he stood 555
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 th'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

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Stars distant, but nigh hand seem'd other worlds;
Or other worlds they seem'd, or happy isles,
Like those Hesperian gardens fam'd of old,
Fortunate fields, and groves, and flow'ry vales,
Thrice happy isles, but who dwelt happy there 570
He stay'd not to inquire : above them all
The golden sun in splendour likest Heaven
Allur'd his eye: thither his course he bends
Through the calm firmament (but up or down
By centre, or eccentric, hard to tell,

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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, tow’ards his all-cheering lamp
Turn swift their various motions, or ale turn'd
By his magnetic beam, that gently warms
The universe, and to each inward part
With gentle penetration, though unseen,

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Shoots invisible virtue ev'n 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 glaz'd optic tube yet never saw. 590
The place he found beyond expression bright,
Compar'd with ought on earth, metal or stone ;
Not all parts like, but all alike inform'd
With radiant light, as glowing ir'on with fire;
If metal, part seem'd gold, part silver clear ; 595
If stone, carbuncle most or chrysolite,
Ruby or topaz, to the twelve that shone
In Aaron's breast-plate, and a stone besides
Imagin'd rather oft than elsewhere seen,
That stone, or like to that which here below 600
Philosophers in vain so long have sought,
In vain, though by their pow'rful 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

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Breathe forth Elixir pure, and rivers run
Potable gold, when with one virtuous touch
Th'arch-chemic sun, so far from us remote,
Produces, with terrestrial humour mix'd,

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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 sun-shine, as when his beams at noon
Culminate from th' equator, as they now
Shot upward still direct, whence no way round
Shadow from body' opaque can fall; and th' air
No where so clear, sharpen'd his visual ray 620
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 Spi'rit impure, as now in hope 630
To find who might direct his/wand'ring 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,'

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Not of the prime, yet such as in his face
Youth smil'd celestial, and to every limb
Suitable grace diffus'd, so well he feign’d:
Under a coronet his flowing hair

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In curls on either cheek play'd; wings he wore
Of many a colour'd 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 turn'd,
Admonish'd by his ear, and straight was known
Th’Arch-Angel Uriel, one of the seven
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes

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That run through all the Heav'ns, or down to th’Earth
Bear his swift errands over moist and dry,
O'er sea and land : him Satan thus accosts.

Uriel, for thou of those sev'n Spi'rits that stand
In sight of God's high throne, gloriously bright,
The first art wont his great authentic will
Interpreter through highest Heav'n to bring,
Where all his sons thy embassy attend;
And here art likeliest by supreme decree
Like honour to obtain, and as his eye

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To visit oft this new creation round;
Uuspeakable 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

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