Page images
PDF
EPUB

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 the infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive, with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sovran will, the end
Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsaf'd
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.Heaven 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 cause
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 Heaven,
Held by thy, voice, thy potent voice, he hears,

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, listening to thee, will watch;
Or we can bid his absence, till thy song
End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine.

Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought:
And thus the Godlike Angel answer'd mild,
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,
To ask; nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not reveald, which the invisible King,
Only Omniscient, hath suppress'd in night;
To none communicable in Earth or Heaven:
Enough is left besides to search and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less.
Her temperance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain:

Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.

Know then, that, after Lucifer from Heaven
(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, the Omnipotent
Eternal Father from his throne beheld
Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake.

At last our envious Foe hath fail'd, who thought
All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
This inaccessible high strength, the seat
Of Deity supreme, us dispossess’d,
He trusted to have seis'd, and into fraud
Drew many, whom their place knows here no more
Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,
Their station; Heaven, yet populous, retains
Number sufficient to possess her realms
Though wide, and this high temple to frequent
With ministeries due, and solemn rites :
But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled Heaven,
My damage fondly deem’d, I can repair
That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lost; and in a moment will create
Another world, out of one man a race
Of men innumerable, there to dwell,

[ocr errors][merged small]

Not here; till, by degrees of merit rais'd,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience tried ;
And Earth be chang'd to Heaven, and Heaven to

Earth,
One kingdom, joy and union without end.
Mean while inhabit lax, ye Powers of Heaven;
And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee
This I perform; speak thou, and be it done!
My overshadowing Spirit and Might with thee
I send along ; ride forth, and bid the Deep
Within appointed bounds be Heaven and Earth;
Boundless the Deep, because I Am who fill
Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.
Though I, uncircumscrib’d myself, retire,
And put not forth my goodness, which is free
To act or not, Necessity and Chance
Approach not me, and what I will is Fate.

So spake the Almighty, and to what he spake His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect. Immediate are the acts of God, more swift Than time or motion, but to human ears Cannot without process of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receive. Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven, When such was heard declar'd the Almighty's will; Glory they sung to the Most High, good will, To future men, and in their dwellings peace ;

VOL. II.

[ocr errors]

Glory to Him, whpse just avenging ire
Had drivep out the singodly from his sight
And the habitations of the just; to Him
Glory and praise, whose wisdom hind ordain's

Good out of evil to create ; instead
2 Of Spirits malign, a better race to bring

Into their yacant room, and thence diffuse
His good to worlds and ages infinite,

So sang the Hierarchięs; Mean while the Soe
On his great expedition now appear’d,
Girt with Omnipotence, with radiance crown'd
Or Majesty Divine ; sapience and love
Immense, and all his father in him shone.
About his chariot numberlegs were pour’d
Cherub, and Seraph, Pateptates, and Thrones,
And Virtues, winged Spirits, and chariots wing 4
From the armoury of God; where stand of old
Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodgid
Against a solemn day, barneaşid at hand,
Celestial equipage; and now came forth
Spontaneous, for within the Spirit liv’d,
Attendant on their Lord ; Heaven opep'd wide
Her ever-dyring gates, harmonioję sound
On golden hinges moving, to let forth
The King of Glory, in his powerful Word
And Spirit, coming to create pew worlds.
On heavenly ground they stood, and from the shore
They view'd the vast immeasurable abyss

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »