Page images
PDF
EPUB

And where the riv'er of bliss,through midst of Heaven,
Rolls o'er Elysian flow’rs her amber stream;
With these, that never fade, the Spi'rits elect 360
Bind their resplendent locks,inwreath'd with beams,
Now in loose garlands thick thrown off, the bright
Pavement, that like a sea of jasper shone,
Impurpled with celestial roses smil'd.
Then crown'dagain, their golden harps they took; 365
Harps ever tun'd, that glittering by their fide
Like quivers. hung, and with preamble sweet
Of charming symphony they introduce
Their sacred song, and waken raptures high;
No voice exempt, no voice but well could join 370
Melodious part, such concord is in Heaven.

Thee, Father, first they sung, Omnipotent,
Immutable, Immortal, Infinite,
Eternal King; thee, Author of all being,
Fountain of light, thyself invisible,

. 375
Amidst the glorious brightness where thou sitst,
Thron’d inaccessible, but when thou shad'st
The full blaze of thy beams, and through a cloud,
Drawn round about thee like a radiant shrine,
Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear; 380
Yet dazle Heav'n, that brightest Seraphim
Approach not, but with both wings veil their eyes.
Thee next they sang,of all creation first,
Begotten Son, Divine Similitude,
In whose conspicuous count'nance, without cloud 385

Made

Made visible, th'almighty Father shines,
Whom else no creature can behold; on thee
Impress’d th'effulgence of his glory abides,
Transfus’d on thee his ample Spirit rests.
He Heav'n of Heav'ns and all the Pow’rs therein 390
By thee created; and by thee threw down
Th’aspiring Dominations: thou that day
Thy Father's dreadful thunder didst not spare,
Nor stop thy flaming chariot wheels, that shook
Heav'n's everlasting frame, while o'er the necks 395
Thou drov'st of warring Angels disarray'd.
Back from pursuit thy Pow'rs, with loud acclame,
Thee only extoll’d, Son of thy Father's might,
To execute fierce vengeance on his foes;
Not fo on Man: Him through their malice fall’n, 400
Father of mercy and grace, thou didst not doom
So strictly, but much more to pity incline:
No sooner did thy dear and only Son
Perceive thee purpos'd not to doom frail Man
So strictly, but much more to pity inclin’d,

405
He, to appease thy wrath, and end the strife
Of mercy and justice in thy face discern’d,
Regardless of the bliss wherein he sat
Second to thee, offer'd himself to die
For Man's offence. O unexampled love,' 410
Love no where to be found less than Divine!
Hail, Son of God, Saviour of Men, thy name
Shall be the copious matter of my song

Henceforth

Henceforth; and never shall my harp thy praise
Forget, nor from thy Father's praise disjoin, 415

Thus they in Heav'n, above the starry sphere,
Their happy hours in joy and hymning spent.
Mean while, upon the firm opacous globe
Of this round world, whose first convex divides
The luminous inferior orbs, inclos'd

420
From Chaos and th’inroad of Darkness old,
Satan, alighted walks: a globe far off
It seem'd, now seems a boundless continent,
Dark, waste, and wild, under the frown of Night
Starless expos’d, and ever-threatning storms 425.
Of Chaos, blust'ring round, inclement sky;
Save on that side which from the wall of Heaven,
Though distant far, some small reflection gains
Of glimmering air, less vex'd with tempest loud:
Here walk'd the Fiend at large, in spacious field. 430
As when a vultur on Imaus bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey
To gorge the flesh of lambs,or yeanling kids,
On hills where flocks are fed, flies tow’ard the springs
Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams; 436
But in his way lights on the barren plains
Of Sericana, where Chineses drive,
With fails and wind their cany waggons light:
So on this windy sea of land, the Fiend 440
Walk'd up and down alone, bent on his prey;

Alone,

Alone, for other creature in this place,
Living or lifeless, to be found was none;
None yet, but store hereafter from the earth
Up hither like aereal vapors flew

445
Of all things transitory and vain, when sin
With vanity had fill’d the works of men;
Both all things vain, and all who in vain things
Built their fond hopes of glory, or lasting fame,
Or happiness in this or th’other life;

450
All who have their reward on earth, the fruits
Of painful fuperstition and blind zeal,
Nought seeking but the praise of men, here find
Fit retribution, empty as their deeds;
All th’unaccomplish'd works of Nature's hand, 455
Abortive, monstrous, or unkindly mix'd,
Dissolv'd on earth, fleet hither, and in vain,
Till final dissolution, wander here;
Not in the neighb’ring moon, as some have dream'd;
Those argent fields more likely habitants,
Translated Saints, or middle Spirits hold,
Betwixt th’angelical and human kind.
Hither, of ill-join'd sons and daughters born,
First from the ancient world those giants came
With many a vain exploit, though then renown'd: 465
The builders next of Babel on the plain
Of Sennaar, and still with vain design,
New Babels, had they wherewithal, would build:
Others came single; he who to be deem'd

460

[ocr errors]

A

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

A God, leap'd fondly into Aetna flames, - 470
Empedocles; and he who to enjoy
Plato's Elysium, leap'd into the sea,
Cleombrotus; and many more too long,
Embryo's and idiots, eremits and friers
White, black, and gray, with all their trumpery. 475
Here pilgrims roam, that stray'd so far to seek
In Golgotha him dead, who lives in Heaven;
And they who to be sure of Paradise,
Dying put on the weeds of Dominic,
Or in Franciscan think to pass disguis’d; 480
They pass the planets sev’n, and pass the fix’d,
And that crystallin sphere whose balance weighs
The trepidation talk'd, and that first mov’d;
And now Saint Peter at Heav'n's wicket seems
To wait them with his keys; and now at foot 485
Of Heav'n's ascent they lift their feet, when lo
A violent cross wind, from either coast, .
Blows them transverse ten thousand leagues awry
Into the devious air; then might ye see
Cowls, hoods, and habits,with their wearers,tost 495
And flutter'd into rags; then reliques, beads,
Indulgences, dispenses, pardons, bulls,
The sport of winds: all these,upwhirl’d aloft,
Fly o’er the backside of the world far off
Into a Limbo large and broad, since call d 495
The Paradise of Fools, to few unknown
Long after, now unpeopled, and untrod.

[ocr errors]

All

« PreviousContinue »