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What nearer might concern him—how this world
Of Heaven and Earth conspicuous first began-
When, and whereof created—for what cause-
What within Eden, or without, was done
Before his memory—as one, whose drouth
Yet scarce allayed, 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,

70 “ Far differing from this world thou hast revealed, Divine interpreter! by favour sent “ Down from the empyréan, to forewarn

Us, timely, of what might else have been our loss “ 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 sovran will—the end 5. Of what we are.

But since thou hast vouchsafed 80 Gently, for our instruction, to impart

Things above earthly thought, which yet concerned 6. Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seemed,

Deign to descend now lower, and relate “What may no less perhaps avail us known“ How first began this Heaven which we behold Distant so high, with moving fires adorned “ Innumerable; and this which yields, or fills All space, the ambient air, wide interfused,

Embracing round this florid Earth-what cause 90 Moved the Creator, in his holy rest

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

if unforbid thou mayst unfold “ 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 “Held by thy voice: thy potent voice he hears, And longer will delay to hear thee tell

100 IIO

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“ His generation, and the rising birth
“ Of Nature from the unapparent deep :
“ Or if the Star of evening and the Moon
“ Haste to thy audience, 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 answered mild:

“ This also thy request, with caution asked, “ 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, shall not be with held * Thy hearing ; such commission from above

I have received, to answer thy desire “Of knowledge within bounds; beyond, abstain “ To ask; nor let thine own inventions hope “ Things not revealed, which the invisible King,

Only Omniscient, hath suppressed in night, To none 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 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
“ Into his place, and the great Son returned
“ 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 failed, who thought “ All like himself rebellious, by whose aid “ This inaccessible high strength, the seat

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“Of Deity supreme, us dispossessed,
“ He trusted to have seized; and into fraud
“ Drew many, whom their place knows here no more:
“ Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,
“ Their station : Heaven, yet populous, retains
“ Numbers 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

150 Already done, to have dispeopled Heaven“My damage fondly deemed, -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 innumerable, there to dwell, “Not here ; till, by degrees of merit raised,

They open to themselves at length the way “ Up hither, under long obedience tried ; “ And Earth be changed to Heaven, and Heaven to Earth

160 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 66 Infinitude : nor vacuous the space Though I, uncircumscribed 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 the 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 procéss of speech be told, So told as earthly notion can receive. · Great triumph and rejoicing was in Heaven,


“ When such was heard declared 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
“ And the habitations of the just--to him

Glory and praise, whose wisdonı had ordained
" Good out of evil to create--instead
“Of spirits 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 appeared, “ Girt with omnipotence, with ra liance crowned “Of majesty divine! sapience and love “ Immense, and all his Father in him shone. “ About his chariot numberless were poured “ Cherub and Seraph, Potentates and Thrones, And Virtues, winged Spirits, and chariots winged From the armoury of God; where stand of old

Myriads, between two brazen mountains lodged

Against a solemn day, harnessed at hand, “Celestial equipage! and now came forth

Spontaneous, for within them Spirit lived,

Attendant on their Lord: Heaven opened 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 shore 210 They viewed the vast immeasurable abyss Outrageous as a sea, dark, wasteful, wild,

Up from the bottom turned by furious winds, “ And surging waves, as mountains, to assault “Heaven's height, and with the centre mix the pole.

“Silence, ye troubled Waves, and thou Deep, peace! “ Said then the Omnific Word; 'your discord end!' “ Nor staid ; 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 “ Followed in bright procession, to hehold “ Creation, and the wonders of his might. “ Then staid the fervid wheels; and in his hand “ He took the golden compasses, prepared “ In God's eternal store, to circumscribe “ This universe, and all created things: “ One foot he centred, and the other turned “ Round through the vast profundity obscure ; And said, “Thus far extend—thus far thy bounds- 230 “ This be thy circumference, O world!' • Thus God the Heaven created, thus the Earth, “ Matter unformed and void: darkness profound “ Covered the abyss; but on the watery calm His brooding wings the Spirit of God outspread, “ And vital virtue infused, and vital warmth,

Throughout the fluid mass; but downward purged “ The black, tartareous, cold, infernal dregs, “ Adverse to life: then founded, then conglobed “ Like things to like; the rest to several place

240 Disparted; and, between, spun out the air : “ And Earth, self-balanced, on her centre hung.

“Let there be light,' said God; and forthwith light “ Ethereal—first of things--quintessence pure,

· Sprung from the deep; and from her native East “ To journey through the airy gloom began,

Sphered in a radiant cloud, for yet the sun “Was not; she in a cloudy tabernacle

Sojourned the while. God saw the light was good; And light from darkness by the hemisphere

250 Divided: light the Day, and darkness Night “ He named. Thus was the first day even and morn: “ Nor past uncelebrated, nor unsung ' By the celestial quires, when orient light “ Exhaling first from darkness they beheld

Birthday of Heaven and Earth! with joy and shout “ The hollow universal orb they filled, “ And touched their golden harps, and hymning praised “ God and his works; Creator him they sung, “ Both when first evening was, and when first morn. 260


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