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HEN I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,
In flender book his vast defign unfold;
Meffiah crown'd, God's reconcil'd decree,
Rebelling angels, the forbidden tree,

Heav'n, hell, earth, chaos, all; the argument
Held me a while mifdoubting his intent,
That he would ruin (for I faw him strong)
The facred truths to fable and old fong;
(So Samfon grop'd the temple's posts in spite)
The world o'erwhelming to revenge his fight.
Yet as I read, ftill growing lefs fevere,

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 thould render vain.
Or if a work fo infinite he spann'd,
Jealous I was that fome lefs (kilful 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 fcenes, and how it in a play.
Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor defpife
My caufelefs, yet not impious furmife.
But I am now convinc'd, and none will dare
Within thy labours to pretend a share..

Thon 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 majefty 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 feize,
Thou fing'ft with fo much gravity and eafe;
And above human flight doft foar aloft,
With plume fo ftrong, fo equal, and fo foft.
The bird nam'd from that Paradife you fing
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.

Where could't thou words of fuch a compass find?
Whence furnish fuch a vaft expence of mind?
Juft Heav'n thee, like Tirefius, to requite,
Rewards with prophecy thy lofs of fight.
Well might't thou fcorn thy readers to allure
With tinkling-rhyme, of thy own fense secure;


While the Town-Bays writes all the while and fpelis,
And, like a pack-horse, tires without his bells:
T'heir fancies like our bufhy-points appear,
The poets tag them, we for fashion wear:
I too tranfported by the mode offend,

And while I meant to praise thee, muft commend.
Thy verfe created like thy theme fublime,

In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme.



HE meafure is English Heroic Verfe, without

Virgil in Latin; rhyme being no neceffary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verfe, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to fet off wretched matter and lame metre; graced indeed fince by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by cuftom; but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint, to exprefs many things otherwife, and, for the most part, worse than lfe they would have expreffed them. Not without caufe, therefore, fome, both Italian and Spanifa rocts of prime note have rejected rhyme, both in longer and fhorter works, as have alfo long fince our beft English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial, and of no true mufical delight; which confifts only in apt numbers, fit quantity of fyllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verfe into another, not in the jingling found of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rhyme fo little is to be taken for a defect, though it may feem fo perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example fet, the firft in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem, from the troublefome and modern bondage of rhyming.


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This First Book proposes, first, in brief, the whole fubject, Man's disobedience, and the lofs thereupon of Paradife wherein he was placed: Then touches the prime caufe of his fall, the ferpent, or rather Satan in the ferpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing to his fide many legions of angels, was, by the command of God driven out of heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, the Poem haftes into the midft of things, prefenting Satan, with his angets, now fallen into hell, defcribed here, not in the centre, (for heaven and earth may be fuppofed as yet not made, certainly not yet accurfed), but in a place of utter darkness, fitlieft called Chaos. Here Satan, with his angels, lying on the burning lake, thunder-ftruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confufion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him: They confer of their miferable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the fame manner confounded: They rife; their numbers, array of battle, their chief leader's named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To thefe Satan directs his fpeech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven ; but tells them, laftly, of a new wo`ld and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in heaven; for that angels were long before this vifible creation, was the opinion of many ancient fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his affociates thence attempt. Pandamonium, the palace of Satan, rifes, fuddenly built out of the deep: The infernal peers there fit in council. PARADISE




F man's first difobedience, and the fruit

Of that forbidden tree, whofe mortal tafte`
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,

With lofs of Eden, till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful feat,
Sing heav'nly Mufe, that on the fecret top
Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didft infpire

That fhepherd, who first taught the chosen feed,1,
In the beginning how the heav'ns and earth
Rofe out of Chaos: or if Sion hill,

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Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd
Faft by the oracle of God; I thence
Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous fong,
That with no middle flight intends to foar
Above th' Aonian mount, while it pursues
Things unattempted yet in profe or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, O Spi'rit, that doft prefer
Before all temples th' upright heart and pure,"
Inftruct me, for thou know'ft; thou from the first
Walt prefent, and with mighty wings outspread 03
Dove-like fat'st brooding on the vast abyss,
And mad❜ft it pregnant: what in me is dark,
Illumine; what is low, raife and fupport
That to the height of this great argument

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