Page images
[ocr errors]

The discord which befell, and war in heaven
Among th' angelic powers, and the deep fall
Of those too high aspiring, who rebell'd
With Satan; he who envies now thy state,
Who now is plotting how he may seduce
Thee also from obedience, that with him
Bereav'd 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.

900 he] The construction, Bentley observes, requires him.'







RAPHAEL, at the request of Adam, relates how, and wherefore, this world was first created; that GOD, after the expelling of Satan and his angels out of heaven, declared 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 heav'n, Urania, by that name
If rightly thou art call'd, whose voice divine
Following, above th' 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 appear'd, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of th' almighty Father, pleas'd

[blocks in formation]

7 old Olympus] 'cold.' Bentl. MS. 1. 516. 1. 428. 2. 393. 7 old] Some would read 'cold,' as in book i. 516; but it is called 'old,' as being 'fam'd of old,' see book i. 420, ii. 593. Newton.

With thy celestial song. Up led by thee
Into the heaven of heaven's I have presum❜d,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy temp'ring; with like safety guided down
Return me to my native element:

Lest from this flying steed unrein'd, as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime,
Dismounted, on the Aleian field I fall,
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, unchang'd
To hoarse or mute, though fall'n on evil days,
On evil days though fall'n and evil tongues,
In darkness, and with dangers compast round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east. Still govern thou my song,
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 drown'd
Both harp and voice; nor could the muse defend

35 ears] Hor. Od. i. xii. v. 11.

'Auritas fidibus canoris

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]


Ducere quercus.'




Her son.
So fail not thou, who thee implores :
For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.

Say, goddess, what ensu'd when Raphael,
The affable arch-angel, had forewarn'd
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,

Charg'd not to touch the interdicted tree,

If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obey'd, amid the choice

Of all tastes else to please their appetite,

Though wand'ring. He with his consorted Eve
The story heard attentive, and was fill'd
With admiration and deep muse, to hear




Of things so high and strange, things to their thought
So unimaginable as hate in heaven,

And war so near the peace of God in bliss

With such confusion: but the evil soon
Driv'n back redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung, impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal'd
The doubts that in his heart arose and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him, how this world
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


[ocr errors]



Yet scarce allay'd 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,
Far differing from this world, thou hast reveal'd,
Divine interpreter, by favour sent

Down from the empyrean to forewarn

[blocks in formation]


Us timely of what might else have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach:
For which to the infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sovereign will, the end

Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsaf'd 80
Gently for our instruction to impart

Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'd,

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 adorn'd
Innumerable, and this which yields or fills
All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd


72 interpreter] So Mercury is called in Virgil. Interpres Divûm.' En. iv. 378. Newton.

84 relate] So in the Adamus Exsul of Grotius, p. 16. Adam says to the angel:

'Age, si vacabit, (scire nam perfectius

Quæ facta fuerint, ante me factum, potes)

Narra petenti, quomodo, quoque ordine

Tam magna numeris machina impleta est suis.'

« PreviousContinue »