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HEN I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,
In Nender book his vast design unfold;
Yet as. I read, still growing less severe,
Or if a work so infinite he spanri'd,
Pardon me, mighty. Poet, nor despise
That majesty which through thy work doth reign,
Where could'it thou words of such a compass find?
Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure
While the 'Iowr Bays writes all the white and fpeits,
rhyme, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; rhyme being no necessary adjune or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to. set of wretched matter and lame metre; graced ina deed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom; but much to their own vexa ation, hindrance, and constraint, to express many things otherwise, and, for the most part, worse than clle they would have expressed them. Not without cause, therefore, fome, both Italian and Spanish rocts of prime note have rejected rhyme, both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best inglish tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all ju. dicious cars, trivial, and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of fyllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling found of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rhyme so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem, from the troublesome and modero bondage of rhyming.
This First Book proposes, first, in brief, the whole fubo
ject, Man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was placed i Then touches the prime cause of his fall, the ferpent, or rather Satan in the ferpent; who, revolting from God, and drawing in his fide many legions of angels, was, by the command of God driven out of heaven, with all bis crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, the Poem haftes into the midst of things, presenting Satan, with his angels, now fallen into hell, defcri. bed here, not in the centre, (for heaven and earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed), but in a place of utter darkness, fitlieft called Chaos. Here Satan, with his angels, lying
. on the burning lake, thunder.ftruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confufion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him: They confer of their miferable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same. manner confounded: They rife; their numbers, are ray of battle, their chief leu fers named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regaining heaven; but tells them, lastly, of a neru wold and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in heaven; for that angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associuies thence attempt. Panda monium, the palace of Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep: The infernal peers there fit in council.
PARADISE LO S T..
F man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Brought death into the world, and all our woe,'-
52 Sing heav'nly Mufe, that on the secret top Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didit inspire That fhepherd, who first taught the chosen feed,, In the beginning how the heav'ns and earth Rose out of Chaos: or if Sion hilly Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd Fast by the oracle of God; I thence Invoke thy aid to my advent'rous fong," That with no middle flight intends to foar Above th’Aonian mount, while it pursues
15 Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.
And chiefly thou, 0 Spi'rit, that dost prefer Before all temples th' upright heart and pur'e," Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the first Walt prefent, and with mighty wings outspread 10 Dove-like fat'st brooding on the vast abyss, And mad'st it pregnant : what in me is dark, Illumine; what is low, raise and support; That to the height of this great argument