Page images

They At thy request, and that thou may'st beware might By what is past, to thee I have revealed have What might have else to human race been hid— stood, The discord which befell, and war in Heaven yet fell Among the Angelic Powers, and the deep fall Of those too high aspiring who rebelled With Satan: he who envies now thy state, 900 Who now is plotting how he may seduce Thee also from obedience, that, with him Bereaved of happiness, thou may'st partake His punishment, eternal misery; Which would be all his solace and revenge, As a despite done against the Most High, Thee once to gain companion of his woe. But listen not to his temptations; warn Thy weaker; let it profit thee to have heard, By terrible example, the reward Of disobedience. Firm they might have stood, Yet fell. Remember, and fear to transgress.'






RAPHAEL, at the request of Adam, relates how and where- Urania, fore this World was first created :—that God, after the Wisdom's expelling of Satan and his Angels out of Heaven, declared sister his pleasure to create another World, and other creatures to dwell therein; sends his Son with glory, and attendance of Angels, to perform the work of creation in six days: the Angels celebrate with hymns the performance thereof, and his reascension into Heaven.

DESCEND from Heaven, Urania, by that name
If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine
Following, above the Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing!
The meaning, not the name, I call; for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top
Of old Olympus dwell'st; but, heavenly-born,
Before the hills appeared or fountain flowed,
Thou with Eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of the Almighty Father, pleased
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee,
Into the Heaven of Heavens I have presumed,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy tempering. With like safety guided down,
Return me to my native element;
Lest, from this flying steed unreined (as once



The poet Bellerophon, though from a lower clime)
prays her Dismounted, on the Aleian field I fall,
sure pro- Erroneous there to wander and forlorn.
Half yet remains unsung,
but narrower bound
Within the visible Diurnal Sphere.
Standing on Earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged
To hoarse or mute, though fallen on evil days,
On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues,
In darkness, and with dangers compassed round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when Morn
Purples the East. Still govern thou my song, 30
Urania, and fit audience find, though few.
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drowned
Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her son.
So fail not thou who thee implores;
For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.
Say, Goddess, what ensued when Raphael, 40
The affable Archangel, had forewarned
Adam, by dire example, to beware
Apostasy, by what befell in Heaven
To those apostates, lest the like befall
In Paradise to Adam or his race,
Charged not to touch the interdicted Tree,
If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obeyed amid the choice

Of all tastes else to please their appetite,
Though wandering. He, with his consorted




The story heard attentive, and was filled
With admiration and deep muse, to hear
Of things so high and strange-things to their the angel

for timely


So unimaginable as hate in Heaven,

And war so near the peace of God in bliss,
With such confusion; but the evil, soon
Driven back, redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repealed
The doubts that in his heart arose; and, now 60
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him-how this

Of heaven and earth conspicuous first began;
When, and whereof, created; for what cause;
What within Eden, or without, was done
Before his memory-as one whose drouth,
Yet scarce allayed, still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,
Proceeded thus to ask his Heavenly Guest :-

'Great things, and full of wonder in our ears, 70
Far differing from this World, thou hast revealed,
Divine Interpreter! by favour sent
Down from the Empyrean to forewarn
Us timely of what might else have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not


For which to the infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sovran will, the end

Of what we are. But, since thou hast vout





He asks Gently, for our instruction, to impart. of the Things above Earthly thought, which yet conCreation


Our knowing, as to highest Wisdom seemed,
Deign to descend now lower, and relate
What may no less perhaps avail us known--
How first began this Heaven which we behold
Distant so high, with moving fires adorned
Innumerable; and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient Air, wide interfused,
Embracing round this florid Earth; what cause 90
Moved the Creator, in his holy rest
Through all eternity, so late to build

In Chaos; and, the work begun, how soon
Absolved: if unforbid thou may'st unfold
What we not to explore the secrets ask
Of his eternal empire, but the more
To magnify his works the more we know.
And the great Light of Day yet wants to run
Much of his race, though steep. Suspense in


Held by thy voice, thy potent voice he hears, 100
And longer will delay, to hear thee tell
His generation, and the rising birth
Of Nature from the unapparent deep:
Or, if the Star of Evening and the Moon
Haste to thy audience, Night with her will bring
Silence, and Sleep listening to thee will watch;
Or we can bid his absence till thy song
End, and dismiss thee ere the morning shine."

Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought;
And thus the godlike Angel answered mild:- 110
This also thy request, with caution asked,
Obtain; though to recount almighty works

« PreviousContinue »