Page images

Heavn's height, and with the centre mix the pole.

Silence, ye troubled waves, and thou deep, peace, Said then th' omnific Word; your discord end. Nor stay'd, but on the wings of Cherubim Uplifted, in paternal glory rode Far into Chaos, and the world unborn

220 For Chaos heard his voice: him all his train Follow'd in bright procession, to behold Creation, and the wonders of his might. Then stay'd the fervid wheels, and in his hand He took the golden compasses, prepared

225 In God's eternal store, to circumscribe This universe, and all created things. One foot he center'd, and the other turn'd Round through the vast profundity obscure, And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, 230 This be thy just circumference, O world ! Thus God the Heav'n created, thus the Earth, Matter unform'd and void. Darkness profound Cover'd th' abyss; but on the wat'ry calm His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread, 235 And vital virtue' infused and vital warmth Throughout the fluid mass, but downward purged The black tartareous cold infernal dregs Adverse to life : then founded, then conglobed Like things to like, the rest to sev'ral place 240 Disparted, and between spun out the air ; And Earth. self-balanced, on her centre hung.

Let there be light, said God; and forth with light Ethereal first of things, quintessence pure, Sprung from the deep, and from her native east 245 To journey through the aery gluom began, Sphered in a radiant cloud ; for yet the sun

225. Prov. viii. 27. 232. It is well observed, that this book is a magnificent para

phrase of the Mosaic account of the creation. 243. Gen. i. 3. I cannot but observe here that one of the most sublime, and at the same time learned of modern reasoners, in speaking to me on this passage of Scripture, remarked, that the usual way in which it is understood is not only incorrect, but greatly diminishes its sublimity. It is highly wrong, according to him, ic suppose that light was first called into being on the crea. tion of this world, for Heaven nad been for ever filled with it, and God himself is compared to it; the expression, consequently, 'Let there be light,' is to be interpreted, Let the light flow forth, let there be light shining from its great original fountain on the commencing system.'

Was not: she in a cloudy tabernacle
Sojouru'd the while. God saw the light was good ;
And light from darkness by the hemisphere 253
Divided : light the Day, and darkness Night
He named. Thus was the first day ev'n and morn:
Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung
By the celestial choirs, when orient light
Exhaling first from darkness they beheld 255
Birth-day of Heav'n and Earth ; with joy and shout
The hollow universal orb they fill'd,
And touch'd their golden harps, and hymning praised
God and his works; Creator him they sung,
Both when first ev'ning was, and when first morn.

Again, God said, Let there be firmament 261
Amid the waters, and let it divide
The waters from the waters. "And God made
The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,
Transparent, elemental air, diffused

265 In circuit to the uttermost convex Of this great round : partition firm and sure, The waters underneath from those above Dividing : for as earth, so he the world Built on circumfluous waters calm, in wide 270 Crystalline ocean, and the loud misrule Of Chaos far removed, lest fierce extremes Contiguous might distemper the whole frame: And Heav'n he named the Firmament. So ev'n And morning chorus sung the second day. 275

The earth was form’d, but in the womb as yet Of waters, embryon immature involved, Appear'd not. Over all the face of th' earth Main ocean flow'd, not idle, but with warm Prolific humour soft'ning all her globe,

280 Fermented the great mother to conceive, Satiate with genial moisture, when God said, Be gather'd now, ye waters under Heav'n, Into one place, and let dry land appear. Immediately the mountains huge appear 285 Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave

256. Job xxxviij. 4. 7. I might multiply references without end I. ihis part of the poem, but it must be left to the industry or curiosity of tive reader to discover the scriptural allusions where they are 60 nunerous as in the present instance.

Into the clouds; their tops ascend the sky:
So high as heaved the tumid hills, so low
Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep,
Capacious bed of waters: thither they

Hasted with glad precipitance, uprollid
As drops on dust conglobing from the dry;
Part rise in crystal wall, or ridge direct,
For haste: such flight the great command impress'd
On the swift floods. As armies at the call 295
Of trumpet (for of armies thou hast heard)
Troop to their standard, so the wat’ry throng,
Wave rolling after wave, where way they found;
If steep, with torrent rapture ; if through plain,
Soft-ebbing: nor withstood them rock or hill, 300
But they, or under ground, or circuit wide
With serpent error wand'ring, found their way,
And on the washy oose deep channels wore;
Easy, ere God had bid the ground be dry,
All but within those banks, where rivers now 305
Stream, and perpetual draw their humid train.
The dry land, Earth, and the great receptacle
Of congregated waters he call'd Seas:
And saw that it was good, and said, Let th' earth
Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed, 310
And fruit-tree yielding fruit after her kind,
Whose sécd is in herself upon the earth.
He scarce had said, when the bare earth, till then
Desert and bare, unsightly, unadorn'd,
Brought forth the tender grass, whose verdure clad,
Her universal face with pleasant green;

316 Then herbs of every leaf, that sudden flow'r'd Opening their various colours, and made gay Her bosom smelling sweet: and these scarce blown, Forth flourish'd thick the clust'ring vine, forth crept The smelling gourd, upstood the corny reed 321 Embattled in her field, and th' humble shrub, And bush with frizzled hair implicit. Last Rose, as in dance, the stately trees, and spread Their branches, hung with copious fruit, or gemm'd

321. Swelling has been suggested, and most probably correctly.

325. Hair, conia is the same in Latin, small leaves, twigs, &ce implicit, entangled.

$25. Gemm'd, from gemmare, lo put forth blossoms.

Their blossoms: with high woods the hills were crown'a

326 With tufts the valleys, and each fountain side, With borders long the rivers: that earth now Seem'd like to Heav'n, a seat where Gods might

dwell, (Ir wander with delight, and love to haunt 330 Her sacred shades. Though God had yet not rain'd Upon the earth, and man to till the ground None was, but from the earth a dewy mist Went up and water'd all the ground, and each Plant of the field, which, ere it was in th' earth 335 God made, and ev'ry herb, before it grew On the green stem; God saw that it was good : So ev'n and morn recorded the third day.

Again the Almighty spake, Let there be Lights High in th' expanse of Heaven, to divide 340 The day from night: and let them be for signs, For seasons, and for days, and circling years; And let them be for lights, as I ordain Their office in the firmament of Heav'n, To give light on the earth : and it was so. 349 And God made two great lights, great for their use To Man; the greater to have rule by day, The less by night altern; and made the stars And set them in the firmament of Heav'n T' illuminate the earth, and rule the day 350 In their vicissitude, and rule the night, And light from darkness to divide. God saw, Burveying his great work, that it was good : For, of celestial bodies, first the sun, A mighty sphere, he framed, unlightsome first, 355 Though of ethereal mould: then form'd the moon Globose, and ev'ry magnitude of stars, And sow'd with stars the Heav'n thick as a field : Of light by far the greater part he took, Transplanted from her cloudy shrine, and placod. 380 In the sun's orb, made porous to receive And drink the liquid light, firm to retain Her gather'd beams, great palace now of light. Hither, as to their fountain, other stars Repairing, in their golden urns draw light, 885 And hence the morning planet gilds her horns;

By tincture or reflection they angment
Their small peculiar, though for human sight
So far remote, with diminution seen.
First in his east the glorious lamp was seen,

Regent of day, and all th’ horizon round
Invested with bright rays, jocund to run
His longitude through Heav'n's high road. The grey
Dawn and the Pleiades before him danced,
Shedding sweet influence. Less bright the moon,
But opposite in levell’d west was set

376 His mirror, with full face borrowing her light From him, for other light she needed none In that aspéct; and still that distance keeps Till night, then in the east her turn she shines, 380 Revolved on Heav'n's great axle; and her reign With thousand lesser lights dividual holds, With thousan! thousand stars, that then appear'd Spangling the hemisphere. Then first adorn'd With her bright luminaries that set and rose, 385 Glad ev'ning and glad morn crown'd the fourth day.

And God said, Let the waters generate Reptile with spawn abundant, living soul: And let fowl fly above the earth, with wings Display'd on th' open firmament of Heav'n. 390 And God created the great whales, and each Soul living, each that crept, which plenteously The waters generated by their kinds, And ev'ry bird of wing after his kind; And saw that it was good, and bless’d them, saying, Be fruitful, multiply, and in the seas,

396 And lakes, and running streams, the waters fill; And let the fowl be multiply'd on th' earth. Forth with the sounds and seas, each creek and bay With fry innumerable swarm, and shoals 400 Of fish that with their fins and shining scales Glide under the green wave, in sculls that oft Bank the mid-sea : part single or with mate Graze the sea-weed their pasture, and through groves Of coral stray or sporting with quick glance,

405 Shew to the sun their waved coats dropt with gold, Or in their pearly shells at ease, attend

373. For longitude Bentley reads his long career.
462. Sculls, a Saxon word, signifying an assembly.

« PreviousContinue »