Satan Viewing the Ascent to Heaven: Martin 1824-25

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  • Title: Satan Viewing the Ascent to Heaven
  • Author: John Martin
  • Date: 1824-25
  • Medium: Mezzotint
  • Condition: Excellent
  • Inches: 8 x 10.5 [Image]
  • Centimeters: 20.32 x 26.67 [Image]
  • Product ID: 4271

From The Paradise Lost of John Milton (pub. 1846), Book 3, Line 501

As Satan continues his journey towards the Garden, he encounters the ethereal stairway upon which God's angels travel to earth. Satan observes the angels ascending and descending, marveling at the structure's dazzling beauty. Faced with its glory, he begins to bitterly lament his exclusion from Heaven.

"And long he wanderd, till at last a gleame
Of dawning light turnd thither-ward in haste
His travell'd steps; farr distant he descries
Ascending by degrees magnificent
Up to the wall of Heaven a Structure high,
At top whereof, but farr more rich appeer'd
The work as of a Kingly Palace Gate
With Frontispice of Diamond and Gold
Imbellisht, thick with sparkling orient Gemmes
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 Skie,
And waking cri'd, This is the Gate of Heav'n
Each Stair mysteriously was meant, nor stood
There alwayes, but drawn up to Heav'n somtimes
Viewless, and underneath a bright Sea flow'd
Of Jasper, or of liquid Pearle, whereon
Who after came from Earth, sayling arriv'd,
Wafted by Angels, or flew o're the Lake
Rapt in a Chariot drawn by fiery Steeds.
The Stairs were then let down, whether to dare
The Fiend by easie ascent, or aggravate
His sad exclusion from the dores of Bliss" (Paradise Lost III.499-525).