Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK VII.

DESCEND from heav'n, Urania, by that name,
If rightly thou art callid, whose voice divino
Following, abɔve 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 heav'nly 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
With thy celestial song. Up led by thee
Into the Heav'n of heav'ns I have presum'd,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy temp'ring; with like safety guided down
Return to me my native element :
Lest from this flying steed unrein'd (as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime,)
Dismounted, on th' 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,

[ocr errors]

Her son.

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
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

So fail not thou, who thee implores :
For thou art heav'nly, she an empty dream.

Say, goddess, what ensued when Raphael, The affable arch-angel, had forewarn'd Adam by dire example to beware Apostacy, by what befel in heav'n To those apostates, lést the like befal 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 heav'n, 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'a 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 heav'n and earth conspicuous first began, When and whereof created, for what cause,

[ocr errors]

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 heav'nly 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
Us timely of what might else have been our loss,
Unknown, which human knowledge could not reach:
For which to th' infinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive with solemn purpose to observe
Immutably his sov'reign will, the end
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 seemid,
Deign to descend now lower, and relate
What

may no less perhaps avail to know, How first began this heav'n 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 Embracing round this floral 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 mayst unfold Wbat we, not to explore the secrets ask Of his eternal empire, but the more To inagnify his works, the more we know. And the great light of day yet wants to run Much of his race though steep; suspense in heav'n, 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 unnapparent deep :

[ocr errors]

Or if the star of evening and the moon
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 ard dismiss thee ere the morning shine.

Thus Adam his illustrious guest besought :
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 ?
Yet what thou canst attain, which best may serve
To glorify the Maker, and infer
Thee also happier, shalt not be withheld
Thy hearing, such commission from above
I have receiv'd, to answer thy desire
Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not reveal'd, which th' invisible King,
Only

omniscient, hath suppress'd in night,
To none communicable in earth or heav'n:
Enough is left besides to search and know.
But knowledge is as food, and needs no less
Her temp'rance over appetite, to know
In measure what the mind may well contain ;
Oppresses else with surfeit, and soon turns
Wisdom to fölly, as nourishment to wind.
Know then, that after Lucifer from heav'n
(So call him, brighter once amidst the host
Of angels, than that star the stars among,)
Fell with his flaming legions through the deep
Into his place, and the great Son return'd
Victorious with his saints, th' omnipotent
Eternal Father from his throne beheld
Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake:

At last our envious foe hath fail’d, who thought,
All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
This innaccessible high strength, the seat
Of Deity supreme, us dispossess'd,

He trusted to have seiz'd, and into fraud
Drew many, whom their place knows here no more ;
Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,
Their station, heav'n yet populous retains
Number sufficient to possess her realms -

Though wide, and this high temple to frequent
With ministeries due, and solemn rites:
But lest his heart exalt him in the harm
Already done, to have dispeopled heav'n,
My damage fondly deem'd, I can repair
'That detriment, if such it be to lose
Self-lóst, and in a moment will create
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 try'd,
And earth be chang’d to heav'n, and heav'n to earth,
One kingdom, joy and union without end. ,
Meanwhile inhabit lax, ye pow'rs of heav'n,
And thou my Word, begotten Son, by thee
This I perform, speak thou, and be it done :
My overshadowing spirit and might with thee
I send along; ride forth, and bid the deep
Within appointed bounds be heav'n and earth,
Boundless the deep, because I am who fill
Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.
Though I uncircumscrib'd myself retire,
And put not forth my goodness, which is free
To act or not, necessity and chance
Approach not me, and what I will is fate.

So spake th' Almighty, and to what he spake, 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. Great triumph and rejoicing was in heav'n, When such was heard declar'd th' Almighty's will;

« AnteriorContinuar »