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I, who ere-while the happy garden sung,
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recover'd paradise to all mankind,
By one man's firm obedience fully try'd
Through all temptation, and the tempter foild
In all his wiles, defeated, and repuls’d,
And Eden rais'd in the waste wilderness.
Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious Eremite
Into the desert, his victorious field,
Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence
By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,
As thou art wont, my prompted song,
And bear thro' highth or depth of nature's bounds
With prosperous wing full summ'd to tell of deeds
Above heroic, though in secret done,
And unrecorded left through many an age,
Worthy t' have not remain’d so long unsung.
7 waste] Spens. Fairy Queen, i. i. 32.
Far hence, quoth he, in wasteful wilderness,' Dunster. 14 summ'd] Drayton's Polyolbion. Song xi. The muse from Cambria comes, with pinions summ'd and sound.'
Todd. VOL. JI.
Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice More awful than the sound of trumpet, cry'd Repentance, and heaven's kingdom nigh at hand 20 To all baptiz'd: to his great baptism flock'd With awe the regions round, and with them came From Nazareth the Son of Joseph deemid, To the flood Jordan; came, as then obscure, Unmarkt, unknown; but him the Baptist soon Descry’d, divinely warn’d, and witness bore As to his worthier, and would have resign'd To him his heavenly office, nor was long His witness unconfirm’d: on him baptiz'd Heaven open'd, and in likeness of a dove The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice From heaven pronounc'd him his beloved Son. That heard the adversary, who, roving still About the world, at that assembly fam’d Would not be last, and, with the voice divine Nigh thunder-struck, th' exalted man, to whom Such high attest was giv’n, a while survey'd With wonder; then, with envy fraught and rage, Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air To council summons all his mighty peers, Within thick clouds and dark ten-fold involv'd, A gloomy consistory; and them amidst With looks aghast and sad he thus bespake.
42 consistory) Virg. Æn. iii. 677.
·Concilium horrendum. Thyer.
12 gloomy consistory] See Dante Il Paradiso, xxix. 66.
• Omai dintorno a questo consistoro
Puoi contemplare assai.'
O ancient Powers of air and this wide world,
(For much more willingly I mention air,
This our old conquest, than remember hell,
Our hated habitation ;) well ye
How many ages, as the years of men,
This universe we have possess'd, and ruld
In manr.er at our will th' affairs of earth,
Since Adam and his facil consort Eve
Lost paradise deceiv'd by me, though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head; long the decrees of heaven
Delay, for longest time to him is short;
And now too soon for us the circling hours
This dreaded time have compast, wherein we
Must bide the stroke of that long threaten'd wound,
At least if so we can, and by the head
Broken be not intended all our power
To be infring'd, our freedom, and our being,
In this fair empire won of earth and air :
For this ill news I bring, the woman's seed,
Destin’d to this, is late of woman born;
His birth to our just fear gave no small cause,
But his growth now to youth's full flow'r, displaying
All virtue, grace, and wisdom to achieve
Things highest, greatest, multiplies my sear.
57 circling] So P. L. vi. 3. vii. 342, • Circling years.' Dunster.
67 youth's full flow'r] Hom. Il. iv. 484, nens ävôos. Lucret. i. 565, ævi contingere florem. ij. 771, ætatis tangere florem. Sil. Ital. xvi. 406, primævæ flore juventæ.
Before him a great prophet to proclaim
His coming is sent harbinger, who all
Invites, and in the consecrated stream
Pretends to wash off sin, and fit them so
Purify'd to receive him pure, or rather
To do him honour as their king: all come,
And he himself among them was baptiz'd,
Not thence to be more pure, but to receive
The testimony of heaven, that who he is
Thenceforth the nations may not doubt. I saw
The prophet do him reverence; on him rising
Out of the water, heaven above the clouds
Unfold her crystal doors, thence on his head
A perfect dove descend, (whate'er it meant,)
And out of heav'n the sovereign voice I heard,
• This is my Son belov’d, in him am pleas’d.'
His mother then is mortal, but his sire
He who obtains the monarchy of heaven;
And what will he not do to advance his Son ?
His first-begot we know, and sore have felt,
When his fierce thunder drove us to the deep ;
Who this is we must learn, for man he seems
In all his lineaments, though in his face
The glimpses of his father's glory shine.
82 crystal] •Crystal was a favourite expression among our elder poets for • bright.' It occurs nearly twenty times in Milton. It is often used, when no allusion to 'crystal’ as a substance is meant, as in Shakesp. Hen. VI. p. i. act i. sc. 1. Brandish your crystal tresses in the sky.' Dekker's Satiromastix, Sig. K. 4, ed: 1602, Bow their crystal knees.'
Ye see our danger on the utmost edge
Of hazard, which admits no long debate,
But must with something sudden be oppos’d,
(Not force, but well-couch'd fraud, well-woven snares,)
Ere in the head of nations he appear
Their king, their leader, and supreme on earth.
I, when no other durst, sole undertook
The dismal expedition to find out
And ruin Adam, and the exploit perform’d
Successfully; a calmer voyage now
Will waft me; and the way found prosp’rous once
Induces best to hope of like success.
He ended, and his words impression left
Of much amazement to th' infernal crew,
Distracted and surpriz'd with deep dismay
At these sad tidings; but no time was then
For long indulgence to their fears or grief.
Unanimous they all commit the care
And management of this main enterprize
To him their great dictator, whose attempt
At first against mankind so well had thriv'd
In Adam's overthrow, and led their march
94 edge) Shakesp. All's Well, &c. Act iii. sc. 3.
• We'll strive to bear it for your worthy sake
To the extreme edge of hazard.'
Newton. 97 well-woven] Sil. Ital. iii. 233.
• Docilis fallendi, et nectere tectos
Dunster. 104 waft] P. L. ii. 1041.
• Now with ease,
Wafts on the calmer wave.' Dunster.