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PREFIXED TO THE SECOND EDITION.
IN PARADISUM AMISSAM SUMMI POETÆ
Qui 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 flammivomumque specus ; Quæque colunt terras, pontumque, et Tartara cæca,
Quæque colunt summi lucida regna poli ;
Et quodcunque ullis conclusum est finibus usquam;
Et sine fine Chaos, et sine fine Deus;
Et sine fine magis, si 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 quantâ prælia dira tubâ !
Cælestes acies, atque in certamine Cælum !
Et quæ coelestes pugna deceret agros ! Quantus in ætheriis tollit se Lucifer armis,
Atque ipso graditur vix Michaele minor ! Quantis et quam funestis concurritur iris,
Dum ferus hic stellas 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 pugna non superesse suæ.
At simul in cælis Messiæ insignia fulgent,
Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo,
Horrendumque rotæ strident, et sæva rotarum
Erumpunt torvis fulgura luminibus,
Et flammæ vibrant, et vera tonitrua rauco
Admistis flammis insonuere polo,
Excidit attonitis mens omnis, et impetus omnis,
Et cassis dextris irrita tela cadunt;
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.
WHEN I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,
In slender book his vast design unfold-
Messiah crowned, God's reconciled decree,
Rebelling Angels, the Forbidden Tree,
Heaven, Hell, Earth, Chaos, All- the argument
Held me a while misdoubting his intent,
That he would ruin (for I saw him strong)
The sacred truths to fable and old song
(So Samson groped the temple's posts in spite),
The world o'erwhelming to revenge his sight.
Yet, as I read, soon growing less severe,
I liked his project, the success did fear-
Through that wide field how he his way should find
O'er which lame Faith leads Understanding blind;
Lest he perplexed the things he would explain,
And what was easy he should render vain.
Or, if a work so infinite he spanned,
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, surmise.
But I am now convinced, and none will dare
Within thy labours to pretend a share.
Thou hast not missed one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper dost omit;
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance or theft.
The majesty which through thy work doth reign
Draws the devout, deterring the profane.
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'st with so much gravity and ease,
And above human flight dost soar aloft
With plume so strong, so equal, and so soft.
The bird named from the Paradise you sing
So never flags, but always keeps on wing.
Where could'st thou words of such a compass find ?
Whence furnish such a vast expense of mind ?
Just Heaven, thee like Tiresias to requite,
Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.
Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rime, 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 rime.