Page images


In Paradifum amissam* fummi poetæ Johannis Miltoni.


UI legis Amiffam Paradifum, grandia magni Carmina Miltoni, quid nifi cuncta legis? Res cunctas, et cunctarum primordia rerum, Et fata, et fines continet ifte liber. Intima panduntur magni penetralia mundi; Scribitur et toto quicquid in orbe latet; Terræque, tractufque maris, cœlumque profundum Sulphureumque Erebi flammivomumque fpecus; Quæque colunt terras, portumque et Tartara cæca, Quæque colunt fummi lucida regna poli; Et quodcunque ullis conclufum eft finibus ufquam, Et fine fine Chaos, et fine fine Deus;

Et fine fine magis, fi quid magis eft fine fine,

In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor.
Hæc qui fperaret quis crederet efse futurum?

Et tamen hæc hodie terra Britanna legit.
O quantos in bella duces! quæ protulit arma!

Quæ canit, et quanta, prælia dira tuba.
Cœleftes acies! atque in certamine cœlum !

Et quæ cœleftes pugna deceret agros ! Quantus in ætheriis tollit fe Lucifer armis,

Atque ipfo graditur vix Michaele minor!
Quantis, et quam funeftis concurritur iris

Dum ferus hic ftellas protegit, ille rapit!
Dum vulfos montes ceu tela reciproca torquent,
Et non mortali defuper igne pluunt :
Stat dubius cui fe parti concedat Olympus,
Et metuit pugnæ non fupereffe fuæ,
At fimul in cœlis Meffiæ infignia fulgent,

Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo,
Horrendumque rotæ ftrident, et fæva rotarum
Erumpunt torvis fulgura luminibus,
Et flammæ vibrant, et vera tonitrua rauco
Admiftis flammis infonuere Polo,

Excidit attonitis mens omnis, et impetus omnis
Et caffis dextris irrita tela cadunt.

• Published with the fecond edition of Paradife Loft, in 1674.

Ad pœnas fugiunt, et ceu foret Orcus afylum
Infernis certant condere fe tenebris.
Cedite Romani fcriptores, cedite Graii

Et quos fama recens vel celebravit anus.
Hæc quicunque leget tantum ceciniffe putabit
Mæonidem ranas, Virgilium culices.




HEN I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,
In flender book his vaft design unfold,
Meffiah crown'd, God's reconcil'd decree,
Rebelling angels, the forbidden tree,
Heav'n, hell, earth, chaos, all; the argument
Held me awhile mifdoubting his intent,
That he would ruine (for I faw him ftrong)
The facred truths to Fable and old fong
(So Sampfon grop'd the temple's posts in spite)
The world o'erwhelming to revenge his fight.

Yet as I read, foon growing lefs severe,
I lik'd his project, the fuccefs did fear;
Through that wide field how he his way should find
O'er which lame faith leads understanding blind;
Left he perplex'd the things he would explain,
And what was eafy he should render vain,
Or if a work fo infinite he spann'd,
Jealous I was that fome lefs fkilful hand
(Such as difquiet always what is well,
And by ill imitating would excel)
Might hence prefume the whole creation's day
To change in scenes, and show it in a play.
Pardon me, mighty poet, nor despise
My caufelefs, yet not impious, furmife.
But I am now convinc'd, and none will dare
Within thy labours to pretend a share.
Thou haft not mifs'd one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper doft 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'ft of in such state
As them preferves, and thee, inviolate.
At once delight and horror on us seize,
Thou fing'ft with fo much gravity and ease,
And above human flight doft foar aloft
With plume fo ftrong, fo equal, and so soft.
The bird nam'd from that paradife you fing
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.

Where could'st thou words of fuch a compass find?
Whence furnish fuch a vaft expanse of mind?
Juft heav'n thee like Tirefias to requite
Rewards with prophecy thy lofs of fight.

Well mightest thou fcorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure; While the town-bayes writes all the while and spells, And like a pack-horfe tires without his bells: Their fancies like our bushy points appear, The poets tag them, we for fashion wear. I too tranfported by the mode offend, And while I meant to praise thee must commend.* Thy verfe created like thy theme sublime, In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme.


See note in Life, p. cvii.



HE measure is English Heroic Verfe, without Rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; Rime being no neceffary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verfe, in longer Works especially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age, to set off wretched matter and lame Meeter; grac't indeed fince by the ufe of some famous modern Poets, carried away by Cuftom, but much to thir own vexation, hindrance, and constraint, to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse then else they would have exprefst them. Not without cause, therefore, fome both Italian and Spanish Poets of prime note, have rejected Rime both in longer and shorter Works, as have alfo, long fince, our best English Tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious eares, triveal and of no true mufical delight; which confifts only in apt Numbers, fit quantity of Syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling found of like endings, a fault avoyded by the learned Ancients both in Poetry and all good Oratory. This neglect then of Rime, fo little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteem'd an example fet, the first in English, of ancient liberty recover'd to Heroic Poem from the troublesom and modern bondage of Rimeing."

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »