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Hail holy light! offspring of heav'n first-born; Or of th' eternal co-eternal beam May I express thee unblam’d ? since God is light, And never but in unapproached light Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee, Bright effluence of bright essence increate. Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream, Whose fountain who shall tell ? before the sun, Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes, than to th’ Orphean lyre,
of Chaos and eternal Night,
Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend,
Though hard and rare : thee I revisit safe,
3 God is light] See Wakef. Lucret. 1, p. 320. "Per emphasin Deus sæpissime Sol audit. Ov. Met. xv. 192.
• Ipse Dei clypeus, terrâ cum tollitur imâ,
Mane rubet adeas notata nobis ad Virg. Georg. i. 6.'
8 fountain) see Lucret. 5. 282, • largus item liquidi fons luminis.'
17 other notes] See Bembo Sonnetti, p. 26, “con altre voce.' Dante Il Parad. c. xxv. 7, con altra voce omai, con altra vello Ritornero Poeta.'
And feel thy sov’reign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit’st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs, 25
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but ch
Thee Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit ; nor sometimes forget
Those other two equal’d with me in fate,
So were I equal'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresias and Phineus prophets old.
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers, as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note: thus with the year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
25 quench’d] drench’d. Bentl. MS.
B orbs] Val. Flacc. iv. 235. Sanguineosque rotat orbes.' See Burman's Note.
30 flowery brooks) flowing, silver, crystal, purling. Bentl. MS. 35 Thamyris] Stat. Theb. iv. 183.
• Mutos Thamyris damnatus in annos.' VOL. I.
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature's works to me expung'd and ras'd,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou celestial light
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
Now had the Almighty Father from above,
From the pure empyrean where he sits
High thron'd above all highth, bent down his eye,
His own works and their works at once to view.
About him all the sanctities of heaven
Stood thick as stars, and from his sight receiv'd
Beatitude past utterance; on his right
The radiant image of his glory sat,
His only Son : on earth he first beheld
Our two first parents, yet the only two
Of mankind, in the happy garden plac’d,
Reaping immortal fruits of joy and love,
Uninterrupted joy, unrival'd love,
In blissful solitude: he then survey'd
Hell and the gulf between, and Satan there
Coasting the wall of heav'n on this side night
In the dun air sublime, and ready now
Of] Pearce proposes to read • All nature's works,' and Newton agrees with him, putting a stop after blank,' but I do not understand the force of their objection to the established text.
To stoop with wearied wings, and willing feet
On the bare outside of this world, that seem'd
Firm land imbosom'd without firmament,
Uncertain which, in ocean or in air.
Him God beholding from his prospect high,
Wherein past, present, future, he beholds,
Thus to his only son foreseeing spake.
Only begotten Son, seest thou what rage
Transports our adversary, whom no bounds
Prescrib’d, no bars of hell, nor all the chains
Heap'd on him there, nor yet the main abyss
Wide interrupt, can hold, so bent he seems
On desperate revenge, that shall redound
Upon his own rebellious head? And now
Through all restraint broke loose he wings his way
Not far off heaven, in the precincts of light,
Directly towards the new created world,
And man there plac'd, with purpose to assay
If him by force he can destroy, or worse,
By some false guile pervert; and shall pervert;
For man will hearken to his glozing lies,
And easily transgress the sole command,
Sole pledge of his obedience : so will fall
He and his faithless progeny. Whose fault ?
Whose but his own ? Ingrate, he had of me
All he could have : I made him just and right,
Sufficient to have stood, though free to fall.
93 glozing lies] See Beaumont's Psyche, c. v. 37.
"With humble lies, and oaths of glozings drest.' See also B. ix. 549, “ so gloz'd the tempter.'
Such I created all th' ethereal Powers
And Spirits, both them who stood and them who
Freely they stood who stood, and fell who fell.
Not free, what proof could they have giv'n sincere
Of true allegiance, constant faith, or love,
Where only, what they needs must do, appear’d, 105
Not what they would ? what praise could they re-
ceive ? What pleasure I from such obedience paid, When will and reason, (reason also is choice,) Useless and vain, of freedom both despoild, Made passive both, had serv'd necessity, Not me? They therefore, as to right belong’d, So were created, nor can justly accuse Their Maker, or their making, or their fate; As if predestination over-rul'd Their will, dispos’d by absolute decree Or high foreknowledge : they themselves decreed Their own revolt, not I: if I foreknew, Foreknowledge had no influence on their fault, Which had no less prov'd certain unforeknown. So without least impulse or shadow of fate, Or aught by me immutably foreseen, They trespass, authors to themselves in all, Both what they judge and what they choose ; for so I form’d them free, and free they must remain, Till they enthrall themselves ; I else must change
108 “When God gave him reason he gave him freedom to choose; for reason is but choosing.' Milton's Areopagitica.