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Though I uncircumscrib'd myself retire,

170 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. 175 Immediate are the acts of God, more swift Than time or motion, but to human ears Cannot without procéss of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receive. Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven, 180 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 Had driven out the ungodly from his sight 185 And th' habitations of the just; to him Glory and praise, whose wisdom had ordain'd Good out of evil to create, instead Of Spi'rits malign a better race to bring Into their vacant room, and thence diffuse 190 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

195 Immense, and all his father in him shone. About his chariot numberless were pour'd Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones, And Virtues, winged Spi'rits, and chariots wing'd

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From th' 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,
Attendant on their Lord : Heav'n open'd wide 205
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 heav'nly ground they stood, and from the shore
They view'd the vast immeasurable abyss
Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,
Up from the bottom turn’d by furious winds
And surging waves, as mountains, to assault
Heav'n's height, and with the centre mix the pole.

SILENCE, ye troubled waves, and thou deep, peace,
Said then th' omnific Word, your discord end :
Nor stay'd, but on the wings of Cherubim
Uplifted, in paternal glory rode
Far into chaos, and the world unborn;
For Chaos heard his voice : him all his train
Follow'd in bright procession to behold
Creation, and the wonders of his might.
Then stay'd the fervid wheels, and in his hand
He took the golden compasses, preparid

225 In God's eternal store, to circumscribe This universe, and all created things : One foot he center'd, and the other turn'd Round through the vast profundity obscure,

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And said, Thus far extend, thus far thy bounds, 230
This be thy just circumference, O world.
Thus God the Heav'n created, thus the Earth,
Matter unform'd and void : Darkness profound
Cover'd th' abyss : but on the wat’ry calm
His brooding wings the Spi'rit of God outspread, 235
And vital virtue' infus'd, and vital warmth
Throughout the fuid mass, but downward purg'd
The black tartareous cold infernal dregs
Adverse to life: then founded, then conglob’d
Like things to like, the rest to several place 240
Disparted, and between spun out'the air,
And Earth self-balanc'd on her centre hungi

Let there be light, said God, and forth with light
Ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure
Sprung from the deep, and from her native east 245
To journey through the airy gloom began,
Spher'd in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun
Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle
Sojourn'd the while. God saw the light was good;
And light from darkness by the hemisphere

250 Divided : light the day, and darkness night He nam'd. Thus was the first day ev'n and morn: Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung By the celestial quires, when orient light Exhaling first from darkness they beheld;

255 Birth-day of Heav'n and Earth ; with joy and shout The hollow universal orb they fillid, And touch'd their golden harps, and hymning prais’d

God and his works, Creator him they sung,
Both when first evening was, and when first morn.

Again, God said, Let there be firmament 261
Amid the waters, and let it divide
The waters from the waters : and God made
The firmament, expanse of liquid, pure,
Transparent, elemental air, diffus'd

265 In circuit to the uttermost convex Of this great round : partition firm and sure, The waters underneath from those above Dividing : for as earth, so he the world Built on circumfluous waters calm, in wide

270 Crystalline ocean, and the loud misrule Of Chaos far remov'd, lest fierce extremes Contiguous might distemper the whole frame: And Heav'n he nam'd the firmament: So even And morning chorus sung the second day.

275 The earth was form'd, but in the womb as yet Of waters, embryon immature involv'd, Appear'd not: over all the face of earth Main ocean flow'd, not idle, but with warm Prolific humour soft'ning all her globe,

280 Fermented the great mother to conceive, Satiate with genial moisture, when God said, Be gather'd now ye waters under Heaven Into one place, and let dry land appear. Immediately the mountains huge appear

285 Emergent, and their broad bare backs upheave Into the clouds, their tops ascend the sky :

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So high as heav'd the tumid hills, so low
Down sunk a hollow bottom broad and deep,
Capacious bed of waters : thither they
Hasted with glad precipitance, uprollid
As drops on dust conglobing from the dry;
Part rise in crystal wall, or ridge direct,
For haste; such flight the great command impress'd
On the swift floods: as armies at the call

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Of trumpet (for of armies thou hast heard)
Troop to their standard, so the wat’ry throng,
Wave rolling after wave, where wave they found,
If steep, with torrent rapture, if through plain,
Soft-ebbing; nor withstood them rock or hill, 300
But they or under ground, or circuit wide
With serpent error wand'ring, found their way,
And on the washy ooze deep channels wore;
Easy, ere God had bid the ground be dry,
All but within those banks, where rivers now 305
Stream, and perpetual draw their humid train.
The dry land earth, and the great receptacle
Of congregated waters he call'd seas :
And saw that it was good, and said, Let th' earth
Put forth the verdant grass, herb yielding seed, 310
And fruit-tree yielding fruit after her kind,
Whose seed is in herself upon the earth.
He scarce had said, when the bare earth, till then
Desert and bare, unsightly, unadorn'd,
Brought forth the tender grass, whose verdure clad
Her universal face with pleasant green,
Then herbs of every leaf, that sudden flow'r'd

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