« PreviousContinue »
bath offended the majesty of God by afpiring to Godhead, and therefore with all bis progeny devoted to death muft die, unlefs fome one can be found fufficient to anfwer for his offenfe, 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 outermoft orb; where wandring he firft finds a place, fince call'd the Limbo of Vanity; what perfons and things fly up thither; thence comes to the gate of heaven, defcrib'd afcending by ftairs, and the waters above the firmament that flow about it: bis paffage thence to the orb of the fun: he finds there Uriel the regent of that orb; but first changes himself into the shape of a meaner Angel; and pretending a zealous defire to behold the new creation, and Man whom God hath plac'd here, inquires of him the place of his habitation, and is directed; alights firft on mount Niphates..
Ail holy light, offspring of heav'n firft-born!
May I express thee unblam'd? fince God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity; dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright effence increate!
Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who fhall tell? Before the fun,
Before the heav'ns thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle didst invest
The rifing world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless Infinite.
Thee I re-vifit now with bolder wing,
Efcap'd the Stygian pool, tho' long detain'd
In that obfcure fojourn; while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness born,
With other notes than to th' Orphean lyre,
I fung of Chaos, and eternal Night;
Taught by the heav'nly Mufe to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Tho' hard, and rare! Thee I re-visit safe,
And feel thy fov'reign vital lamp: but thou
Re-vifit'ft not thefe eyes, that rowl in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a Drop Serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim fuffufion veil'd! Yet not the more 26
Ceafe I to wander, where the Muses haunt
Clear fpring, or fhady grove, or funny hill,
Smit with the love of facred fong: but chief
Thee Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I vifit: nor fometimes forget
Those other two equal'd with me in fate,
(So were I equal'd with them in renown!)
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides:
And Tirefias, and Phineus, Prophets old.
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious Numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year 40
Seafons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev'n or morn,
Or fight of vernal bloom, or fummer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine:
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark 45
Surrounds me! from the chearful ways of men
and for the book of knowledge fair,
Prefented with a universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expung'd and ras'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out!
So much the rather thou, cœleftial light!
Shine inward, and the mind through all her pow'rs
Irradiate; there plant eyes; all mist from thence
Purge, and difperfe; that I may fee and tell
Of things invisible to mortal fight.
Now had th' Almighty Father from above, (From the pure empyrean where He fits High thron'd above all height) bent down His eye, His own works and their works at once to view: