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befell after Lucifer's
What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice, What
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 received, to answer thy desire
Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain 120
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not revealed, which the invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath suppressed in night,
To none communicable in Earth or Heaven.
Enough is left beside 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 returned Victorious with his Saints, the Omnipotent Eternal Father from his throne beheld Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake :-""At least our envious foe hath failed, who thought
All like himself rebellious; by whose aid
This inaccessible high strength, the seat
Of Deity supreme, us dispossessed,
He trusted to have seized, and into fraud
Drew many whom their place knows here no
The Son Yet far the greater part have kept, I see, is bidden Their station; Heaven, yet populous, retains speak the Number sufficient to creative her realms, word 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 HeavenMy damage fondly deemed-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, Not here, till by degrees of merit raised, They open to themselves at length the way Up hither, under long obedience tried, And Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven to Earth,
One kingdom, joy and union without end.
Meanwhile 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, uncircumscribed, 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
His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect.
Immediate are the acts of God, more swift
The Son prepares for the
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 180 work
When such was heard declared the Almighty's
Glory they sung to the Most High, good-will
To future men, and in their dwellings peace-
Glory to Him whose just avenging ire
Had driven out the ungodly from his sight
And the habitations of the just; to Him
Glory and praise whose wisdom had ordained
Good out of evil to create-instead
Of Spirits malign, a better race to bring
Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse
His good to worlds and ages infinite.
'So sang the Hierarchies. Meanwhile the Sou
On his great expedition now appeared,
Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crowned
Of majesty divine, sapience and love
Immense; and all his Father in him shone.
About his chariot numberless were poured
Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones,
And Virtues, winged Spirits, and chariots winged
From the armoury of God, where stand of old 200
Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodged
Against a solemn day, harnessed at hand,
Celestial equipage; and now came forth
Spontaneous, for within them Spirit lived,
Attendant on their Lord. Heaven opened wide
Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound
On golden hinges moving, to let forth
The King of Glory, in his powerful Word
And Spirit coming to create new worlds.
On Heavenly ground they stood, and from the
They viewed the vast immeasurable Abyss,
Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turned by furious winds
And surging waves, as mountains to assault
Heaven's highth, and with the centre mix the
"Silence, ye troubled waves, and, thou Deep, peace!"
Said then the omnific Word: "your discord end!"
Nor stayed; but, on the wings of Cherubim
Uplifted, in paternal glory rode
Far into Chaos and the World unborn;
For Chaos heard his voice. Him all his train
Followed in bright procession, to behold
Creation, and the wonders of his might.
Then stayed the fervid wheels, and in his hand
He took the golden compasses, prepared
In God's eternal store, to circumscribe
This Universe, and all created things.
One foot he centred, and the other turned
Round through the vast profundity obscure,
And said, "Thus far extend, thus far thy
This be thy just circumference, O World!"
Thus God the Heaven created, thus the Earth,
Matter unformed and void. Darkness profound
Covered the Abyss; but on the watery calm
His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread,
And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth,
Throughout the fluid mass, but downward purged
The black, tartareous, cold, infernal dregs,
there be Light!'
Adverse to life; then founded, then conglobed, Let Like things to like, the rest to several place 240 Disparted, and between spun out the Air, And Earth, self-balanced, on her centre hung. "Let there be Light!" said God; and forthwith Light
Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure,
Sprung from the Deep, and from her native East
To journey through the aery gloom began,
Sphered in a radiant cloud-for yet the Sun
Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle
Sojourned the while.
God saw the Light was
And light from darkness by the hemisphere 250
Divided Light the Day, and Darkness Night,
He named. Thus was the first Day even and
Nor passed uncelebrated, nor unsung
By the celestial quires, when orient light
Exhaling first from darkness they beheld,
Birth-day of Heaven and Earth. With joy and
The hollow universal orb they filled,
And touched their golden harps, and hymning
God and his works; Creator him they sung,
Both when first evening was, and whe first
'Again God said, "Let there be firmament
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
In circuit to the uttermost convex