Page images


In Paradisum amisam* summi poeta Johannis Miltoni.


UI legis Amissam Paradisum, grandia magni

Carmina Miltoni, quid nisi cuncta legis? Res cunctas, et cunctarum primordia rerum,

Et fata, et fines continet iste liber. Intima panduntur magni penetralia mundi;

Scribitur et toto quicquid in orbe latet; Terræque, tractusque maris, coelumque profundum

Sulphureumque Erebi Aammivomumque fpecus ; Quæque colunt terras, portumque et Tartara cæca,

Quæque colunt fummi lucida regna poli;
Et quodcunque ullis conclusum est finibus usquam,

Et fine fine Chaos, et fine fine Deus;
Et sine fine magis, fi quid magis est sine fine,

In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor.
Hæc qui speraret quis crederet esse futurum ?

Et tamen hæc hodie terra Britanna legit.
O quantos in bella duces ! quæ protulit arma!

Quæ canit, et quanta, prælia dira tuba.
Cæleftes acies ! atque in certamine cælum !

Et quæ cæleftes pugna deceret agros ! Quantus in ætheriis tollit se Lucifer armis,

Atque ipfo graditur vix Michaele minor! Quantis, et quam funestis concurritur iris

Dum ferus hic ftellas protegit, ille rapit !
Dum vulsos montes ceu tela reciproca torquent,

Et non mortali desuper igne pluunt :
Stat dubius cui se parti concedat Olympus,

Et metuit pugnæ non superesse suæ,
At fimul in cælis Mesliæ infignia fulgent,

Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo,
Horrendumque rotæ strident, et fæva rotarum

Erumpunt torvis fulgura luminibus,
Et Aammæ vibrant, et vera tonitrua rauco

Admiftis flammis infonuere Polo,
Excidit attonitis mens omnis, et impetus omnis

Et caffis dextris irrita tela cadunt.

• Published with the second edition of Paradise Loft, in 1674.

Ad pænas fugiunt, et ceu foret Orcus asylum

Infernis certant condere se tenebris. Cedite Romani scriptores, cedite Graii

Et quos fama recens vel celebravit anus. Hæc quicunque leget tantum cecinisse putabit

Mæonidem ranas, Virgilium culices.




THEN I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,

In Nender book his vast design unfold,
Messiah crown'd, God's reconcil'd decree,
Rebelling angels, the forbidden tree,
Heav'n, hell, earth, chaos, all; the argument
Held me awhile misdoubting his intent,
That he would ruine (for I saw him strong)
The sacred truths to Fable and old song
(So Sampson grop'd the temple's posts in spite)
The world o'erwhelming to revenge his sight.

Yet as I read, foon growing less severe,
I lik’d his project, the success did fear;
Through that wide field how he his way should find
O’er which lame faith leads understanding blind;
Left he perplex'd the things he would explain,
And what was easy he should render vain.

Or if a work so infinite he spann'd,
Jealous I was that some less skilful hand
(Such as disquiet always what is well,
And by ill imitating would excel)
Might hence presume the whole creation's day
To change in scenes, and show it in a play.

Pardon me, mighty poet, nor despise
My causeless, yet not impious, furmise.
But I am now convinc'd, and none will dare
Within thy labours to pretend a share.
Thou hast not miss'd one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper doft omit:
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance or theft.

That majesty which through thy work doth reign Draws the devout, deterring the profane.

[ocr errors]

And things divine thou treat'st of in such state
As them preserves, and thee, inviolate.
At once delight and horror on us seize,
Thou sing’ft with so much gravity and ease,
And above human fight doit soar ałoft
With plume so strong, fo equal, and so foft.
The bird nam'd from that paradise you fing
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.

Where could'st thou words of such a compass find?
Whence furnish such a vast expanse of mind ?
Just heav'n thee like Tiresias to requite
Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.

Well mightest thou scorn thy readers to allure
With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure;
While the town-bayes writes all the while and spells,
And like a pack-horse tires without his bells :
Their fancies like our bushy points appear,
The poets tag them, we for fashion wear.
I too transported by the mode offend,
And while I meant to praise thee must commend.*
Thy verse created like thy theme sublime,
In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme.

ANDREW Marvel.

See note in Life, p. cvii.



HE measure is English Heroic Verse, with

out Rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; Rime being no necessary Adjunct or true Ornament of Poem or good Verse, in longer Works especially, but the Invention of a barbarous Age, to set off wretched matter and lame Meeter; grac't indeed since by the use of some famous modern Poets, carried away by Custom, but much to thir own vexation, hindrance, and constraint, to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse then else they would have exprest them. Not without cause, therefore, some both Italian and Spanish Poets of prime note, have rejected Rime both in longer and shorter Works, as have also, long since, our best English Tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious eares, triveal and of no true musical delight; which confifts only in apt Numbers, fit quantity of Syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoyded by the learned Ancients both in Poetry and all good Oratory. This neglect then of Rime, so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteem'd an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recover'd to Heroic Poem from the troublesom and modern bondage of Rimeing.”

« PreviousContinue »