תמונות בעמוד



The Argument. Raphael, at the request of Adam, relates how and wherefore this world was first created; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his Angels out of Heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world and other creatures to dwell therein ; sends his son with glory and attendance of Angels to perform the work of creation in six days: the Angels celebrate with hymns the performance thereof, and his reascension into Heaven. Descend from Heav'n, Urania, by that name If rightly thou art call'd, whose voice divine Following, above th’ Olympian hill I soar, Above the flight of Pegaséan wing. The meaning, not the name, I call: for thou Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top Of old Olympus dwell'st, but heav'nly born, Before the hills appear’d, or fountain flow'd, Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse, Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play 10 In presence of th' Almighty Father, pleas'd With thy celestial song. Up led by thee Into the Heav'n of Heav'ns I have presum’d, An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air, Thy temp’ring; with like safety guided down Return me to my native element: Lest from this flying steed unrein’d, (as once Bellerophon, though from a lower clime)

Half yet

Dismounted, on th' Aleian field I fall,
Erroneous there to wander and forlorn. 20

remains unsung, but narrower bound
Within the visible diurnal sphere;
Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchang'd
To hoarse or mute, though fall’n on evil days,
On evil days though fall’n, and evil tongues ;
In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round,
And solitude ; yet not alone, while thou
Visit’st my slumbers nightly, or when Morn
Purples the east: still govern thou my song,

Urania, and fit audience find, though few,
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamor drown'd
Both harp and voice: nor could the Muse defend
Her son.

So fail not thou, who thee implores ; For thou art heav'nly, she an empty dream.

Say, Goddess, what ensu'd when Raphaël, 40 The affable Arch-Angel, had forewarnd Adam by dire example to beware Apostacy, by what befel in Heav'n To those apostates, lest the like befal In Paradise to Adam or his race, Charg'd not to touch the inderdicted tree, If they transgress, and slight that sole command, So easily obey'd amid the choice

Of all tastes else to please their appetite,
Though wand'ring. He, with his consorted Eve,
The story heard attentive, and was fill'd 51
With admiration and deep muse, to hear
Of things so high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in Heav'n,
And war so near the peace of God in bliss
With such confusion: but the evil soon
Driv'n back redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal'd
The doubts-that in his heart arose: and now

Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this world
Of Heav'n and Earth conspicuous first began,
When, and whereof created, for what cause,
What within Eden or without was done
Before his memory, as one whose drought
Yet scarce allay'd still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his heav'nly guest :

Great things, and full of wonder in our ears, 70 Far differing from this world, thou hast reveald, Divine Interpreter, by favor sent Down from the empyréan to forewarn Us timely' of what might else have been our loss, Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach; For which to th' infinitely Good we owe Immortal thanks, and his admonishment Receive with solemn purpose to observe


Immutably his sov'reign will, the end
Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsaf'd 80
Gently for our instruction to impart
Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd
Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'd,
Deign to descend now lower, and relate
What may no less perhaps avail us known,
How first began this Heav'n which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorn'd
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd
Embracing round this florid earth, what 90
Mov'd the Creator in his holy rest
Through all eternity so late to build
In Chaos, and the work begun, how soon
Absolv’d, if unforbid thou may'st unfold
What we, not to explore the secrets, ask
Of his eternal empire, but the more
To magnify his works, the more we know.
And the great light of day yet wants to run
Much of his race though steep; suspense in Heav'n,
Held by thy voice, thy potent voice, he hears, 100
And longer will delay to hear thee tell
His generation, and the rising birth
Of nature from the unapparent deep :
Or if the star of evening and the moon
Haste to thy audience, Night with her will bring
Silence, and sleep list’ning to thee will watch,
Or we can bid his absence, till thy song
End, and dismiss thee cre the morning shine.

Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought;
And thus the godlike Angel answer'd mild : 110
This also thy request with caution ask'd
Obtain: though to recount almighty works
What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice,
Or heart of man suffice to comprehend ?
Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve
To glorify the Maker, and infer
Thee also happier, shall not be withheld
Thy hearing, such commission from above
I have receiv'd, to answer thy desire
Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain 120
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not reveald, which th' invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath suppress'd in Night,
To none communicable in Earth or Heav'n :
Enough is left besides to search and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temporance over appetite to know
Os measure what the mind may well contain ;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly', as nourishment to wind. 130

Know then, that after Lucifer from Heav'n
(So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of Angels, than that star the stars among)
Fell with his flaming legions through the deep
Into his place, and the great Son return'd
Victorious with his Saints, th' omnipotent
Eternal Father from his throne beheld
Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake :

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