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BOOK VII.

INTRODUCTORY REMARKS.

THE seventh book is nothing but delight;-all beauty, and hope, and smiles : it has little of the awful sublimity of the preceding books; and it has much less of that grand invention, which sometimes astonishes with a painful emotion, but which is the first power of a poet: at the same time, there is poetical invention in filling up the details.

In every description Milton has seized the most picturesque feature, and found the most expressive and poetical words for it. On the mirror of his mind all creation was delineated in the clearest and most brilliant forms and colours; and he has reflected them with such harmony and enchantment of language, as has never been equalled.

The globe, with all its rich contents, thus lies displayed before us, like a landscape under the freshness of the dewy light of the opening morning, when the shadows of night first fly away.

Here is to be found every thing which in descriptive poetry has the greatest spell: all majesty or grace of forms, animate or inanimate; all variety of mountains, and valleys, and forests, and plains, and seas, and lakes, and rivers; the vicissitudes of suns and of darkness; the flame and the snow; the murmur of the breeze; the roar of the tempest.

One great business of poetry is to teach men to see, and feel, and think upon the beauties of the creation, and to have gratitude and devotion to their Maker: this can best be effected by a poet's eye and a poet's tongue. Poets can present things lights which can warm the coldest hearts: he who can create himself, can best represent what is already created.

ARGUMENT.

RAPHAEL, at the request of Adam, relates how and wherefore this world was first created; that God, after the expelling of Satan and his angels out of heaven, declared his pleasure to create another world, and other creatures to dwell therein; sends his Son with glory, and attendance of angels, to perform the work of creation in six days; the angels celebrate with hymns the performance thereof, and his reascension into heaven.

DESCEND from heaven a, Urania b, by that name
If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine
Following, above the Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing.

The meaning, not the name I call; for thou
Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top

a Descend from Heaven.

"Descende cœlo," Hor. Od. iii. 4. 1. He invokes the heavenly Muse as he had done before, b. i. 6: and as he had said in the beginning that he "intended to soar above the Aonian mount," so now he says very truly that he had effected what he intended, and

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soars above the Olympian hill, above the flight of Pegasean wing:" that is, his subject was more sublime than the loftiest flight of heathen poets.-NEWTON.

b Urania

The word Urania, in Greek, signifies "heavenly."-NEWTON.

Of Old Olympus dwell'st; but heavenly-born,
Before the hills appeared, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with Eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of the Almighty Father, pleased
With thy celestial song. Up-led by thee,
Into the heaven of heavens I have presumed,
An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,
Thy tempering: with like safety guided down,
Return me to my native element;

Lest from this flying steed unrein'd, (as once
Bellerophon, though from a lower clime)
Dismounted, on the Aleian field I fall,
Erroneous there to wander, and forlorn.
Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound
Within the visible diurnal sphere:

Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,
More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged
To hoarse or mute, though fallen on evil days,
On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues ;
In darkness, and with dangers compass'd round,
And solitude; yet not alone, while thou
Visit'st my slumbers nightly, or when morn
Purples the east; still govern thou my song,
Urania, and fit audience find, though few:
But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers', the race

Of that vile rout that tore the Thracian bard
In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears
To rapture, till the savage clamour drown'd

e Before the hills appear'd.

10

13

23

30

33

From Prov. viii. 24, 25, and 30, where the phrase of Wisdom always "rejoicing" before God, is "playing," according to the Vulgate Latin; "ludens coram eo omni tempore."-NEWTON.

d Half yet remains unsung.

Half of the episode, not of the whole work, is here meant. cipal parts, the war in heaven, and the new creation.-NEWTON.

e Though fallen on evil days.

The episode has two prin

The repetition and turn of the words is very beautiful: a lively picture this, in a few lines, of the poet's wretched condition. Though he was blind, in darkness; and with dangers compass'd round, and solitude," obnoxious to the government, and having a world of enemies among the royal party, and therefore obliged to live very much in privacy and alone, he was not become hoarse or mute. And what strength of mind was it, that could not only support him under the weight of these misfortunes, but enable him to soar to such heights as no human genius ever reached before!-NEWTON.

f Of Bacchus and his revellers.

It is not improbable that the poet intended this as an oblique satire upon the dissolute ness of Charles the Second and his court; from whom he seems to apprehend the fate of Orpheus, who, though he is said to have charmed woods and rocks with his divine songs, was torn to pieces by the Bacchanalian women of Rhodope, a mountain of Thrace; nor could the Muse Calliope, his mother, defend him: "so fail not thou who thee implores," Nor was his wish ineffectual; for the government suffered him to live and die unmolested.

-NEWTON.

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Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend
Her son.
So fail not thou, who thee implores :
For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.

Say, goddess, what ensued, when Raphaël,
The affable archangel, had forewarn'd
Adam, by dire example, to beware
Apostasy, but what befell in heaven
To those apostates; lest the like befall

In Paradise to Adam or his race,

Charged not to touch the interdicted tree,

If they transgress, and slight that sole command,
So easily obey'd amid the choice

Of all tastes else to please their appetite,

Though wandering. He, with his consorted Eve,
The story heard attentive, and was fill’d
With admiration and deep muse, to hear

Of things so high and strange; things, to their thought
So unimaginable, as hate in heaven,

And war so near the peace of God and bliss,
With such confusion: but the evil, soon
Driven back, redounded as a flood on those
From whom it sprung; impossible to mix
With blessedness. Whence Adam soon repeal'd
The doubts that in his heart arose; and now
Led on, yet sinless, with desire to know
What nearer might concern him; how this world
Of heaven and earth conspicuous first began;
When, and whereof created; for what cause;
What within Eden, or without was done
Before his memory: as one, whose drouth
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,
Far differing from this world, thou hast revealed,
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 sovran will, the end
Of what we are.
Gently, for our instruction, to impart

But since thou hast vouchsafed

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;

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