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PREFIXED TO THE SECOND EDITION.
IN PARADISUM AMISSAM SUMMI POETÆ
Qui legis Amissam Paradisum, grandia magni
Carmina Miltoni, quid nisi cuncta legis ? Res cunctas, et cunctarum primordia rerum,
Et fata, et fines, continet iste liber. Intima panduntur magni penetralia Mundi,
Scribitur et toto quicquid in Orbe latet ; Terræque, tractusque maris, cælumque profundum,
Sulphureumque Erebi flammivomumque specus ; Quæque colunt terras, pontumque, et Tartara cæca,
Quæque colunt summi lucida regna poli ;
Et sine fine Chaos, et sine fine Deus ;
In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor.
Et tamen hæc hodie terra Britanna legit.
Quæ canit, et quantâ prælia dira tubâ !
Et quæ cælestes pugna deceret agros ! Quantus in ætheriis tollit se Lucifer armis,
Atque ipso graditur vix Michaele minor !
Quantis et quam funestis concurritur iris,
Dum ferus hic stellas protegit, ille rapit ! Dum vulsos montes ceu tela reciproca torquent,
Et non mortali desuper igne pluunt,
Et metuit pugnæ non superesse suæ.
Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo,
Erumpunt torvis fulgura luminibus,
Admistis flammis insonuere polo,
Et cassis dextris irrita tela cadunt;
Infernis certant condere se tenebris.
Et quos fama recens vel celebravit anus : Hæc quicunque leget tantum cecinisse putabit Mæonidem ranas, Virgilium culices.
S. B., M.D
ON PARADISE LOST.
WHEN I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,
Yet, as I read, soon growing less severe,
Or, if a work so infinite he spanned,
Pardon me, mighty Poet; nor despise
The 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 named from the 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 expense of mind ? Just Heaven, thee like Tiresias to requite, Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.
Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rime, of thy ow
While the Town-Bayes writes all the while and spells,
The measure is English heroic verse without rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin,-rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, than else they would have expressed them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings,-a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.