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Her son.

Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,

More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchang’d 25 To hoarse or mute, though fall’n on evil days;

On evil days though fall’n, and evil tongues ;
In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round,
And solitude! yet not alone, while thou

Visit'st my slumbers nightly; or when morn 30 Purples the east. Still govern thou my song,

Urania! and fit audience find, though few :
But drive far off the barb'rous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers—the race

Of that vile rout that tore the Thracian bard 35 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

So fail not thou who thee implores;
For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.
40 Say, goddess, what ensued when Raphaël,

The affable archangel, had forewarn'd
Adam, by dire example, to beware
Apostasy, by what befel in heaven

To those apostates : lest the like befal 45 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, 50 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,
55 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

60 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 cause65 What within Eden, or without, was done

Before his memory, as one whose drought
Yet scarce allay'd still eyes the current stream,
Whose liquid murmur heard new thirst excites,

Proceeded thus to ask his heavenly guest:
70 “Great things, and full of wonder in our ears,

“Far diff'ring from this world, thou hast reveal'd,
“Divine interpreter! by favour sent
“Down from the empyréan, to forewarn

“Us timely of what might else have been our loss 75 “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 sov'reign will—the end 80 “ Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsaf'd

“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
85 “ 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,
90 “Embracing round this florid earth—what cause
“ Mov'd the Creator, in his holy rest

Through all eternity, so late to build
“ In Chaos; and the work begun, how soon

“ Absolv'd ; if unforbid thou may'st unfold 95 “ 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 heaven 100 “ Held by thy voice: thy potent voice he hears,

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, 105 “ Haste to thy audience, night with her will bring

“Silence; and sleep, list’ning 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; 110 And thus the godlike angel answer'd mild:

“ This also thy request, with caution ask'd,
“ Obtain: though, to recount almighty works,
“What words or tongue of Seraph can suffice,

“Or heart of man suffice to comprehend ? 115 “ Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve

“ To glorify the Maker, and infer
Thee also happier, shall not be withheld
“Thy hearing: such commission from above

“I have receiv'd, to answer thy desire
120 “ Of knowledge within bounds; beyond, abstain

To ask; nor let thine own inventions hope
“ Things not reveal'd, which the invisible King,

Only Omniscient, hath suppress'd in night,

“ To none communicable in earth or heaven: 125 “Enough is left besides to search and know :

“But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
“Her temperance over appetite, to know
“In measure what the mind may well contain ;

“Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns 130

“ Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.

“Know then, that, after Lucifer from heaven
(So call him, brighter once, amidst the host
“Of angels, than that star the stars among,)

“ Fell with his flaming legions through the deep 135 “Into his place, and the great Son return'd

“ Victorious with his saints, the Omnipotent
“ Eternal Father from his throne beheld
“ Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake :

“At least our envious foe hath fail'd, who thought 140 “. All like himself rebellious, by whose aid

“ « This inaccessible high strength, the seat
“• Of Deity supreme, us dispossessed,
“ ' He trusted to have seiz'd; and into fraud

“ Drew many, whom their place knows here no more : 145 Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,

« « Their station : heaven, yet populous, retains
“ Number sufficient to possess her realms

Though wide, and this high temple to frequent

"• With ministeries due, and solemn rites: 150 But, lest his heart exalt him in the harm

Already done, to have dispeopled heaven,
“My damage fondly deem'd, I can repair
«. That detriment, if such it be to lose

“ • Self-lost; and in a moment will create 155

66 • Another world-out of one man a race
“Of men innumerable, there to dwell,
“Not here; till, by degrees of merit rais'd,
" • They open to themselves at length the way
“Up hither, under long obedience tried ;
And earth be chang'd to heaven, and heaven to

“ earth-
“One kingdom, joy, and union, without end.
“Meanwhile inhabit lax, ye Powers of heaven!
“And thou, my Word, begotten Son! by thee

“ This I perform; speak thou, and be it done! 165 “My overshadowing Spirit and Might with thee

“• I send along: ride forth, and bid the deep
“• Within appointed bounds be heaven and earth;
“ • Boundless the deep, because I AM who fill

Infinitude; nor vacuous the space,
170 “ • Though I, uncircumscrib'd myself, retire,

“• And put not forth my goodness, which is free
“ • To act, or not: necessity, and chance,

160

" Approach not me; and what I will is fate.'

So spake the Almighty, and to what he spake 175 “His Word, the filial Godhead, gave effect.

“ Immediate are the acts of God, more swift
“ Than time, or motion ; but to human ears
“ Cannot without process of speech be told-

“So told, as earthly notion can receive.
180 “Great triumph and rejoicing was in heaven,

“When such was heard declar'd the Almighty's will:

Glory they sung to the Most High-good will “ To future men, and in their dwellings peace

Glory to him, whose just avenging ire 185 “Had driven out the ungodly from his sight

“ And the habitations of the just—to him

Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordain'd Good out of evil to create instead

“Of spirits malign, a better race to bring 190 “ Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse

“ His good to worlds, and ages infinite !

“ So sang the Hierarchies. Meanwhile the Son
“ On his great expedition now appear'd,
“Girt with omnipotence, with radiance crown'd
“Of majesty divine: sapience, and love
“ Immense, and all his Father, in him shone.
“ About his chariot numberless were pour'd
“ Cherub, and Seraph, Potentates, and Thrones,
“ And Virtues—wing'd Spirits, and chariots wing'd
“From the armoury of God; where stand of old
Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodg'd

Against a solemn day, harness'd at hand,
“ Celestial equipage! and now came forth

Spontaneous, for within them spirit liv’d,
205 “ Attendant on their Lord: heaven open'd wide

“Her ever-during gates, harmonious sound !
“On golden hinges moving, to let forth
“ The King of Glory, in his powerful Word,

“ And Spirit, coming to create new worlds. 210 “ On heavenly ground they stood; and from the shore

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