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With easy intercourse pass to and fro
To tempt and punish mortals, except whom
Of light appears, and from the walls of heav'n 1035 Shoots far into the bosom of dim Night
A glimmering dawn: here Nature first begins
As from her outmost works, a broken foe,
1052 This pendent world] Verbatim from Shakespeare's Meas. for Meas. act. iii. scene i.
'Thither full fraught, with hope of wished success.' Bentl. MS.
GOD sitting on his throne sees Satan flying towards this world, then newly created; shows him to the Son, who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of Satan in perverting mankind; clears his own justice and wisdom from all imputation, having created Man free, and able enough to have withstood his tempter; yet declares his purpose of grace towards him, in regard he fell not of his own malice, as did Satan, but by him seduced. The Son of God renders praises to his Father for the manifestation of his gracious purpose towards Man; but God again declares, that grace cannot be extended towards Man without the satisfaction of divine justice; Man hath offended the majesty of God by aspiring to Godhead, and therefore with all his progeny devoted to death must die, unless some one can be found sufficient to answer for his offence, and undergo his punishment. The Son of God freely offers himself a ransom for Man; the Father accepts him, ordains his incarnation, pronounces his exaltation above all names in heaven and earth; commands all the Angels to adore him; they obey, and, hymning to their harps in full choir, celebrate the Father and the Son. Mean while Satan alights upon the bare convex of this world's outermost orb; where wandering he first finds a place, since called the Limbo of Vanity; what persons and things fly up thither; thence comes to the gate of heaven, described ascending by stairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it: his passage thence to the orb of the sun; he finds there Uriel the regent of that orb; but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner angel; and pretending a zealous desire to behold the new creation, and Man whom God hath placed here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed; alights first on mount Niphates.
HAIL holy light! offspring of heav'n first-born; Or of th' eternal co-eternal beam
May I express thee unblam'd? since God is light,
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down
3 God is light] See Wakef. Lucret. 1, p. 320. Per emphasin Deus sæpissime Sol audit. Ov. Met. xv. 192.
'Ipse Dei clypeus, terrâ cum tollitur imâ,
adeas notata nobis ad Virg. Georg. i. 6.'
8 fountain] see Lucret. 5. 282, largus item liquidi fons luminis.' 17 other notes] See Bembo Sonnetti, p. 26, 'con altre voce.' Dante
Il Parad. c. xxv. 7, Con altra voce omai, con altra vello Ritornero Poeta.'
And feel thy sov'reign vital lamp; but thou
30 flowery brooks] flowing, silver, crystal, purling. Bentl. MS.
35 Thamyris] Stat. Theb. iv. 183.
25 quench'd] drench'd. Bentl. MS.
25 orbs] Val. Flacc. iv. 235. 'Sanguineosque rotat orbes.' See Burman's Note.
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Of nature's works to me expung'd and ras'd,
Now had the Almighty Father from above,
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd
49 Of] Pearce proposes to read 'All nature's works,' and Newton agrees with him, putting a stop after 'blank,' but I do not understand the force of their objection to the established text.