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More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchang'd
To hoarse or mute, thongh fallen on evil days,
On evil days though fallen, 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 vile 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
Her son.

So fail not thou, who thee implores :
For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.
Say, goddess, what ensued when Raphael,
The affable archangel, had forewarn'd
Adam, by dire example, to beware
Apostacy, by what befel in heaven
To those apostates ; lest 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 wandering. He, with his consorted Evo,
The story heard attentive, and was fillid
With admiration and deep muss, to hear
Of things so high and strange; things, to their
So animaginable, as bate in heaven, (thoughe
And war 30 noar the peace of God in bliss,
With such fonfusion : but the evil, soon
Driven 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 works
or heaven and earth conspicuous first began :
When, and whereot created; for what cause ;
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 :

“ Great things and full of wonder in our ears
Far differing from this world, thou hast reveale
Divine interpreter! by favour sent
Down from the empyrean, to forewarn
U8 timely of what might else bave been our logs,
Unknown, which human knowledgecould not reach,
For which to the intinitely Good we owe
Immortal thanks, and his admonishment
Receive, with solemn purpose to observo
Immutably his sovran 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 concera's
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 beaven which we behoid
Distant so high, with moving fires aliorn'd
Innumerable ; and this which yields or ħills
All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd
Embracing round this Horid earth: what caume
Mov'd the Creator, in his holy rest
Through all eternity, so late to build
In Chaos; and the work begun, how gwon
Absolv'd; if unforbid thou may'st untijd
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 ini cavea
Held by thy voice tły potent voice, he heart,
And longer will delay so hear thee tell

His generation, and the rising birth
Of nature from the unapparent deep :
Or if the star of evening and the moon
laste to thy augience, 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 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 servo To glorify the Maker, and infer Thee also happier, shall not be withheli Thy hearing ; such conmission 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 reveald, which the invisible King, Only Omnisoient, hath suppress'd in night, To nune communicable in earth or heaven; 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 Wisdom to folly, as nourishment to wind.

“ Know then, that, after Lucifer from heavet (So call him, brighter once amidst the host Of ange's, 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, the Omnipoteni Eternal Father from his throne beheld Their multitude, and to his son thus spake : ** • At least our envioue for bath fail'd, wbia

thought

BOOK VII

153 All like himself rebellious, by whose aid This inaccessible 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 nomore : 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 : 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 Another world, out of one man a race Of men ingumerable, 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 : [earth, And earth be chang'd to heaven, and heaven to 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! 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, 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 the Almighty, and to what he spako His Word, the Filial Godhead, gave effect. Immediate are the acts of God, mure swift Than time or motion, but to human ear's Cannot wi hout process of speech be told.

So told as earthly notion can receive.
Great triumph and rejoicing was in heaven,
When such was heard declar'd the Almighty's win
Glory they sung to the Most High, good-will
To future men, and in their dwellings peace :
Glory to him, whose just avenging ire
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.
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 inajesty 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, winged spirits, and chariots wing'd
From the armoury of God; where stand of old
Myriads, betweon two brasen mountains lodg'd
Against a solemn day, barness'd at hand,
Celestial equipage ; and now came forth
Spontaneous, for within them spirit liv'd,
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.
On heavenly ground they stood; and from the shor
They view'd the vast immeasurable abyss
Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turn'd by furious wiads
And surging wavęs, as mountains, to assault
Heaven's highth, and with the centre mix the

pole. “ i Silence, ye troubled waves, and th: u de

peace,'

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