Page images
PDF
EPUB

ON

Paradise Lost.

WHEN I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,

In slender book his vast design unfold;
Messiah crown'd, God's reconcild decree,
Rebelling Angels, the forbidden tree,
Heav'n, Hell, Earth, Chaos, All! the argument
Held me awhile misdoubting his intent;
That he would ruin (for I saw him strong)
The sacred truths to fable, and old song ;
(So Samson grop'd the temple's post in spite)
The world o'erwhelming to revenge his sight.

Yet as I read, soon growing less severe,
I lik'd his project, the success did fear;
Through that wide field how he his way should find,
O’er which lame faith leads understanding blind,
Lest he perplex'd the things he would explain,
And what was easy he should render vain.

Or, if a work so infinite he spann's,
Jealous I was that some less skilful hand
(Such as disquiet always what is well,
And by ill imitating would excel)
Might hence presume the whole creation's day
To change in scenes, and shew it in a play.

Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor despise
My causeless, yet not impious surmise.
But I am now convinc'd, and none will dare
Within thy labours to pretend a share.
Thou hast not miss'd one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper dost omit:
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance, or theft.

That majesty which through thy work doth reign, Draws the devout, deterring the profane : And things divine thou treat'st of in such state, As them preserves, and thee inviolate. At once delight and horror on us seize, Thou sing'st with so much gravity and ease; And above human flight dost soar aloft, With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft: The bird nam'd from that Paradise you sing So never flags, but always keeps on wing.

Where could'st thou words of such a compass find? Whence furnish such a vast expanse of mind? Just Heav'o thee, like Tiresias, to requite, Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.

Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rhyme of thy own sense secure; While the town-bays writes all the while and spells, And, like a pack-horse, tires without his bells : Their fancies like our bushy points appear, The poets tag them, we for fashion wear. I too transported by the mode commend, And while I mean to praise thee must offend. Thy verse created like thy theme sublime, In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme.

ANDREW MARVELL.

Paradise Lost.

BOOK I.

ARGUMENT. This first book proposes first in brief) the whole subject,

Man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was placed ; then touches the prime cause of his fall--the Serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was, by the command of God, driven out of Heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, the poem hastes into the midst of things; presenting Satan with bis Angels now fallen into Hell, described here not in the centre (for Heaven and Earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter dark. ness, fitliest called Chaos: Here Satan, with his Angels lying on the burning lake thander-struck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him; they confer of their miserable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then ju the same manner confounded : they rise, their numbers, array of battle, their chief leaders named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan, and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech; comforts them with hope yet of regaining Heaven; but tells them, lastly, of a new world and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in Heaven; (for that Angels were long before this visible creation was the opinion of many ancient Fathers.) To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, be refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandemonium, the palace of Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep; the infernal peers there sit in council.

Paradise Lost.

BOOK I.

OF.

Man's first disobedience, and the fruit

Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste Brought death into the world, and all our woe, With loss of Eden, till one greater Man Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,

5 Sing, heav'nly Muse, that on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed, In the beginning how the Heav'ns and Earth Rose out of Chaos! Or, if Sion hill

10 Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook, that flow'd Fast by the oracle of God; I thence Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous song, That with no middle flight intends to soar Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues 15 Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme. And chiefly Thou, O Spi'rit that dost prefer Before all temples th' upright heart and pure, Instruct me, for Thou know'st ; Thou from the first Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread, 20 Dove-like, sat'st brooding on the vast abyss, And mad'st it pregnant: What in me is dark, Illumine; what is low, raise and support; That to the beight of this great argument .

« PreviousContinue »