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1. Defcend from Heav'n, Urania,] Defcende cœlo, Hor. Od. III. IV. i. but here it is better apply'd, as now his fubject leads him from Heaven to Earth. The word Urania in Greek fignifies heav'nly; and he invokes the beav'nly Mufe as he had done before, I. 6. and as he had faid in the beginning that he intended to foar above th' Aonian mount, fo now he fays very truly that he had effected what he intended, and foars above th' Olympian hill, above the flight of Pegafean ring, that is his fubject was more fublime than the loftieft flights of the Heathen poets. Dr. Bentley propofes Parnaffus inftead of Olympus, but the mountain Olympus is likewise celebrated for the feat of the Mufes, who were therefore called Olympiades, as in Homer, Iliad II. 491. OXUMTrades Moal. And fome would read cold Olympus, as in I. 516.



Efcend from Heav'n, Urania, by that name If rightly thou art call'd, whofe voice divine Following, above th' Olympian hill I foar, Above the flight of Pegaféan wing. The meaning, not the name I call: for thou


on the fnowy top Of cold Olympus



and nowy is an epithet often given to this mountain by the ancient poets: but he calls it old, that is fam'd of old and long celebrated, as he fays old Euphrates, I. 420. and mount Cafius old, II. 593. His heavenly Mufe was before the hills, which were from the beginning, as it follows.


for thou Nor of the Mufes nine, nor on the top Of old Olympus dwell' ft, but heav'nly

the fame fentiment. Gier. Lib. Cant. born,] Taffo in his invocation has

1. St. 2.

O Mufa, tu, che di caduchi allori
Non circondi la fronte in Helicona ;
Ma sù nel cielo infra i beati chori
Hai di ftelle immortali aurea co-
rona. Thyer.
8. Before

A 3

Nor of the Mufes nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwell'ft, but heav'nly born,
Before the hills appear'd, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didft converse,
Wisdom thy fifter, and with her didft play
In presence of th' almighty Father, pleas'd
With thy celeftial fong. Up led by thee
Into the Heav'n of Heav'ns I have prefum'd,

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printer and poet, Fairy Queen, B. 2. Cant. 2. St. 39.

8 Before the hills appear'd, or fountain flow'd, &c.] From Prov. VIII. 24, 25, 30. When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water: Before the mountains

were fettled, before the bills was I I agree with the Doctor that thee is brought forth: Then was I by bim as better than thy temp'ring. Thyer. one brought up with him; and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always be fore him, or playing according to the Vulgar Latin (ludens coram eo omni tempore) to which Milton alludes, when he fays and with her didft play &c. And fo he quotes it likewife in his Tetrachordon, p. 222. Vol. I. Edit. 1738. "God himself conceals "not his own recreations before "the world was built; I was, faith "the eternal Wisdom, daily his de"light, playing always before him."

Thus fairly she attempered her feast, And pleas'd them all with meet fatiety.

15 Thy temp'ring;] This is faid in allufion to the difficulty of refpiration on high mountains. This empyreal air was too pure and fine for him, but the heavenly Mufe temper'd and qualify'd it fo as to make him capable of breathing in it: which is a modest and beautiful way of befpeaking his reader to make favorable allowances for any failings he may have been guilty of in treating of fo fublime a subject.



(as once Bellerophon, &c.] Bellerophon and drawn empyreal air, Thy temp'ring;] Dr.Bentley makes was a beautiful and valiant youth, himself very merry in his infulting fon of Glaucus; who refufing the manner, with the word temp'ring, amorous applications of Antea wife and calls it the printer's blunder; of Prætus king of Argos, was by but I think the following application her falfe fuggeftions like thofe of of it in Spenfer may juftify both Jofeph's mitrefs to her husband,


An earthly gueft, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy temp'ring; with like fafety guided down
Return me to my native element:

Left from this flying fteed unrein'd, (as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime)
Difmounted, on th' Aleian field I fall
Erroneous there to wander and forlorn.
Half yet remains unfung, but narrower bound

fent into Lycia with letters defiring his deftruction; where he was put on feveral enterprises full of hazard,

in which however he came off con

queror: but attempting vain-glorioufly to mount up to Heaven on the winged horfe Pegasus, he fell and wander'd in the Aleian plains till he died. Hume and Richardfon. His story is related at large in the fixth book of Homer's Iliad; but it is to the latter part of it that Milton chiefly alludes, ver. 200. &c.

But when at laft, diftracted in his
Forlook by Heav'n, forfaking hu-
man kind,


Wide o'er th' Aleian field he chofe
to ftray,
A long, forlorn, uncomfortable way.



It is thus tranflated by Cicero in his third book of Tufculan Disputations. Qui mifer in campis morens erra

The plain truth of the story feems to be, that in his latter days he grew mad with his poetry, which Milton begs may never be his own cafe: Left from this flying fleed &c. He fays this to diftinguish his from the common Pegafus, above the fight of

Αλλ' ότε δη κᾴκεινος απήχθετο chofe wing he joared, as he fpeaks,

πασι θεοίσιν,

Ετσι ὁ καππέδιον το Αληιον οιος

bat Aleis,

Ipfe fuum cor edens, hominum vef

tigia vitans.


Ὄν θυμον κατέδων, πατον ανθρω- that 'tis the half of the epifode, not



of the whole work, that is here meant; for when the poem was divided into but ten books, that edition had this paffage at the beginThe ning of the feventh as now. epifode has two principal parts, the war in Heaven, and the new creation; the one was fung, but the other remained unfung, and he is Pope. now entring upon it. but narrower bound,

A 4

ver. 4.

21. Half yet remains unfung,] I understand this with Mr. Richardson,

Within the visible diurnal sphere';
Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More fafe I fing with mortal voice, unchang'd

To hoarfe or mute, though fall'n on evil days, 25
On evil days though fall'n, and evil tongues;
In darkness, and with dangers compafs'd round,
And folitude; yet not alone, while thou
Vifit'ft my flumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east: ftill govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.

24. More fafe I fing with mortal voice, unchang'd

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bound. Bound here feems to be a fuppofes; and then all is good fenfe,
participle as well as unfung. Half and there will be no need to read
yet remains unfung; but this other with the Doctor, To boarfe or low.
half is not rapt fo much into the
invifible world as the former, it is
25.-though fall'n on evil days,]
confin'd in narrower compafs, and The repetition and turn of the words
bound within the visible fphere of is very beautiful,

To boarfe or mute,] Dr. Bentley reads with lofty voice. Why mortal vaice? fays the Doctor. I answer, because Milton had faid in ver. 2. that he had follow'd Urania's voice divine. Again (fays the Doctor) if his voice had grown boarfe, would it not have been ftill mortal? and what is a voice changed to mute? Both these questions are fatisfy'd by putting only a comma, as in the first editions, (not a colon, as the Doctor has done) after mute. The words unchang'd to boarfe or mute refer to I, and not to voice, as he


though fall'n on evil days, On evil days though fall'n, and evil tongues; &'c.

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