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Yet scarce allay'd 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 reveal'd, Divine interpreter, by favour sent

Down from the empyrean 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 sovereign will, the end

76

Of what we are. But since thou hast vouchsaf'd 80
Gently for our instruction to impart

Things above earthly thought, which yet concern'd
Our knowing, as to highest wisdom seem'd,
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 adorn'd

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85

72 interpreter] So Mercury is called in Virgil. 'Interpres Divûm.' Æn. iv. 378. Newton.

84 relate] So in the Adamus Exul of Grotius, p. 16. Adam says to the angel:

'Age, si vacabit, (scire nam perfectius

Quæ facta fuerint, ante me factum, potes)

Narra petenti, quomodo, quoque ordine

Tam magna numeris machina impleta est suis.'

95

Inumerable, and this which yields or fills.
All space, the ambient air wide interfus'd
Embracing round this florid earth; what cause 90
Mov'd the Creator in his holy rest
Through all eternity so late to build
In chaos, and the work begun, how soon
Absolv'd, if unforbid thou may'st 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, 100
And longer will delay to hear thee tell
His generation, and the rising birth
Of nature from the unapparent deep:
Or if the star of ev'ning and the moon

104

Haste to thy audience, Night with her will bring
Silence, and Sleep list'ning 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 answer'd mild.
This also thy request with caution ask'd

90 florid] Globous. Bentl. MS.

110

99 heaven] In the first edition there was no comma after 'heaven;' Pearce altered the punctuation.

103 unapparent] ǎoparos. Bentl. MS.

108 End] for ending dismiss thee;' so ii. 917, 'Stood, and look'd' for 'standing look'd' Todd.

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 115
To glorify the Maker, and infer

Thee also happier, shall not be withheld
Thy hearing, such commission from above
I have receiv'd, to answer thy desire

Of knowledge within bounds; beyond abstain 120
To ask, nor let thine own inventions hope
Things not reveal'd, which th' invisible King,
Only omniscient, hath supprest 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,

123 night] Hor. Od. iii. 29. 29.

'Prudens futuri temporis exitum

Caliginosa nocte premit Deus.'

Thyer.

129 surfeit] See Davenant' Gondibert, c. viii. st. 22.

'For though books serve as diet of the mind,
If knowledge early got, self-value breeds,
By false digestion it is turn'd to wind,
And what should nourish on the eater feeds.'

125

130

Fell with his flaming legions through the deep
Into his place, and the great Son return'd
Victorious with his saints, th' omnipotent

Eternal Father from his throne beheld

Their multitude, and to his Son thus spake.

135

140

At least our envious foe hath fail'd, who thought
All like himself rebellious, by whose aid
This inaccessible high strength, the seat
Of deity supreme, us dispossest,

He trusted to have seiz'd, and into fraud
Drew many, whom their place knows here no

more:

Yet far the greater part have kept, I see,
Their station; heav'n yet populous retains
Number 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
Already done, to have dispeopled heaven,
My damage fondly deem'd, I can repair
That deteriment, 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 rais'd,
They open to themselves at length the way
Up hither, under long obedience try'd,

145

150

155

139 least] Mr. Thyer saith,' That I do not like taking liberties with the text, or I should read "at last."

And earth be chang'd to heaven, and heaven to

earth,

161

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 165
I send along; ride forth, and bid the deep
Within appointed bounds be heaven and earth,
Boundless the deep, because I Am who fill
Infinitude, nor vacuous the space.
Though I uncircumscrib'd myself retire,
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 th' 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 process of speech be told,
So told as earthly notion can receive.

170

175

180

Great triumph and rejoicing was in heaven, When such was heard declar'd the Almighty's will; Glory they sung to the Most High, good will

173 fate] Todd has quoted Plato's Timæus, ed. Serrani, vol. iii. p. 41. Bentley cites Lucan, v. ver. 91. Jortin, Statii Theb. i. 212. Thyer, Claud. de R. Pros. ii. 306. and Tasso Gier. Lib. iv. 17.

'Sia destin cio, ch' io voglio.'

182 the] Bentley reads 'to God most high,' which Newton approves.

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