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PREFIXED TO THE SECOND EDITION.
IN PARADISUM AMISSAM SUMMI POETÆ
Qui legis Amissam Paradisum, grandia magni
Et sine fine magis, si quid magis est sine fine,
Et tamen hæc hodie terra Britanna legit.
Et quæ coelestes pugna deceret agros !
Atque ipso graditur vix Michaele minor!
Dum ferus hic stellas protegit, ille rapit!
Et metuit pugnæ non superesse suæ.
Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo,
Excidit attonitis mens omnis, et impetus omnis,
Ad poenas fugiunt, et, ceu foret Orcus asylum,
ON PARADISE LOST.
WHEN I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,
Yet, as I read, soon growing less severe, I liked his project, the success did fearThrough 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,
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.