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Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne
With other notes than to th' Orphéan lyre
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night,
Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sov'reign vital lamp: but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs, 25
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equall'd with me in fate,
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresias 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
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev'n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the Book of knowledge fair
Presented with an universal blank
Of Nature's works, to me expunged and rased,
17. Orpheus composed a hymn to night.
30. The brooks here mentioned were Kedron and Siloah. 35. Thamyris, a poet mentioned in Homer, Il. ii. 595. Mæo. nides, Hon er, so named from his father Mæon. Tiresias was a Theban, and Phineus a king of Arcadia, both blind poets.
37. The melody of the verse is here particularly observable.
49. Rased, from the Latiu radere, to rub out, in allusion to the manner in which the ancients, who wrote on waxen tablets, obViterated writing.
And Wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her pow'rs
Irradiate, there plant eyes; all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
Now had th' Almighty Father from above,
From the pure empyréan where he sits
High throned above all highth, bent down his eye,
His own works and their works at once to view :
About him all the sanctities of Heav'n
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight received
Beatitude past utterance; on his right
The radiant image of his glory sat,
His only Son: on earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two
Of mankind, in the happy garden placed,
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,
Uninterrupted joy, unrivall'd love,
In blissful solitude. He then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there
Coasting the wall of Heav'n on this side Night,
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
To stoop with wearied wings and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land embosom'd, without firmament,
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,
Thus to his only Son foreseeing spake :
Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage
Transports our Adversary? whom no bounds
Prescribed, no bars of Hell, nor all the chains
Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss
Wide interrupt can hold; so bent he seems
52. It is observed, that the same idea occurs in Milton's Prose
Works. He probably alluded to Eph. i. 18.
56. Tasso may have been translated here.-Canto I. st. 7.
62. See Heb. i. 3. also Tasso, Canto 9. st. 55.
80. Addison has judicious y observed, that it is not the imagination of Milton which is so much to be looked for in these speeches as his learning. The one could not be safely trusted in giving a living language to the wisdom of the Almighty. Notwithstanding this, however, almost every passage of the kind is remarkable for great dignity and grandeur.
On desperate revenge, that shall redound
Upon his own rebellious head. And now,
Through all restraint broke loose, he wings his way
Not far off Heav'n, in the precincts of light,
Directly tow'rds the new-created world,
And man there placed, with purpose to assay
If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert,
For Man will hearken to his glozing lies,
And easily transgress the sole command,
Sole pledge of his obedience: So will fall,
He and his faithless progeny. Whose fault?
Whose but his own? Ingrate, he had of me
All he could have; I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
Such I created all th' ethereal Pow'rs
And Spirits, both them who stood and them who fail'd;
Freely they stood, who stood,--and fell, who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have giv'n sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith, or love,
Where only what they needs must do appear'd, 105
Not what they would? what praise could they receive?
What pleasure I from such obedience paid,
When will and reason (reason also is choice)
Useless and vain, of freedom both despoil'd,
Made passive both, had served necessity,
Not me? They therefore as to right belong'd,
So were created, nor can justly accuse
Their Maker, or their making, or their fate,
As if predestination over-ruled
Their will, disposed by absolute decree
Or high foreknowledge; they themselves decreed
Their own revolt, not I. If I foreknew,
Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault,
Which had no less proved certain unforeknown.
So without least impulse or shadow of fate,
Or aught by me immutably foreseen,
They trespass, authors to themselves in all
Both what they judge and what they choose; for so
I form'd them free, and free they must remain,
Till they enthrall themselves; I else must change
117. If is here used in the sense of though.
Their nature, and revoke the high decree
Unchangeable, eternal, which ordain'd
1 Their freedom, they themselves ordain'd their fall. The first sort by their own suggestion fell,
Self-tempted, self-depraved: Man falls, deceived 130 By th' other first: Man therefore shall find grace, The other none: in mercy' and justice both, Through Heav'n and Earth, so shall my glory' excel. But mercy first and last shall brightest shine.
Thus while God spake, ambrosial fragrance fill'd All Heav'n, and in the blessed Spirits elect Sense of new joy ineffable diffused. Beyond compare the Son of God was seen Most glorious; in him all his Father shone Substantially express'd; and in his face Divine compassion visibly appear'd, Love without end, and without measure grace; Which utt'ring, thus he to his Father spake :
O Father, gracious was that word which closed Thy sov'reign sentence, that Man should find grace; For which both Heav'n and Earth shall high extol 146 Thy praises, with th' innumerable sound
Of hymns and sacred songs, wherewith thy throne
Encompass'd shall resound thee ever blest.
For should Man finally be lost, should Man,
Thy creature late so loved, thy youngest son,
Fall circumvented thus by fraud, though join'd
With his own folly? that be from thee far,
That far be from thee, Father, who art Judge
Of all things made, and judgest only right.
Or shall the Adversary thus obtain
His end, and frustrate thine? Shall he fulfil
His malice, and thy goodness bring to nought,
Or proud return, though to his heavier doom,
Yet with revenge accomplish'd, and to Hell
Draw after him the whole race of mankind
By him corrupted? Or, wilt thou thyself
Abolish thy creation, and unmake,
For him, what for thy glory thou hast made?
135. A difference is here marked in the effect which Homer and Milton attribute to the speeches of their several Deities, the one making terror, the other delight, the consequence.
So should thy goodness and thy greatness both
Be question'd and blasphemed without defence.
To whom the great Creator thus reply'd:
O Son, in whom my soul hath chief delight,
Son of my bosom, Son who art alone
My word, my wisdom, and effectual might,
All hast thou spoken as my thoughts are; all
As my eternal purpose hath decreed.
Man shall not quite be lost, but saved who will,
Yet not of will in him, but grace in me
Freely vouchsafed. Once more I will renew
His lapsed pow'rs, though forfeit and enthrall'd
By sin to foul exorbitant desires:
Upheld by me, yet once more he shall stand
On even ground against his mortal foe,
By me upheld, that he may know how frail
His fall'n condition is, and to me owe
All his deliv'rance, and to none but me
Some I have chosen of peculiar grace
Elect above the rest; so is my will:
The rest shall hear me call, and oft be warn'd
Their sinful state, and to appease betimes
Th' incensed Deity, while offer'd grace
Invites; for I will clear their senses dark,
What may suffice, and soften stony hearts
To pray, repent, and bring obedience due.
To pray'r, repentance, and obedience due,
Though but endeavour'd with sincere intent,
Mine ear shall not be slow, mine eye not shut.
And I will place within them as a guide
My umpire Conscience; whom if they will hear, 195
Light after light well used they shall attain,
And, to the end persisting, safe arrive.
This my long suffrance and my day of grace
They who neglect and scorn, shall never taste;
But hard be harden'd, blind be blinded more,
That they may stumble on, and deeper fall:
And none but such from mercy I exclude.
But yet all is not done: Man disobeying,
Disloyal breaks his fealty, and sins
Against the High Supremacy of Heav'n,
168. The reader will find Jesus Christ addressed by thewe titles in different parts of Scripture.