Графични страници
PDF файл



HE measure is English heroic verse with

out rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and Virgil in Latin; rime being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame meeter; grac't indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance,and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse than else they would have exprest them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rime both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learn'd ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rime so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteem'd an


example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty, recover'd to heroic poem from the troublesome and modern bondage of riming.




T HE first book proposes first in brief the whole

subject, man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was plac't: then touches the prime cause of his fall, the serpent, or rather satan in the serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of angels, was by the command of God driv'n out of heaven with all his crew into the great deep. which action part over, the poem hafts into the midst of things, presenting satan with his angels now fallen into hell, deseribed here, not in the center (for heav'n and earth may be supposid as yet not made, certainly not yet accurst) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest call'd chaos : here satan with his angels lying on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astonisht, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him ; they confer of their miserable fall. satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; they rise, their numbers, array of battel, their chief leaders nam'd, according to the idols known afterwards in canaan and the countries adjoining, to these satan directs his speech, comforts them with hopes yet of regaining heav'n, but tells them lastly

of a new world, and new kind of creature to be cre- ated, according to an ancient prophesie, or report in heaven; for that angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient father's. to find out the truth of this prophesie, and what to determine thereon he refers to a full council. what his associates thence attempt. Pandaemonium the pal. lace of satan rises, suddenly built out of the deep : the infernal peers there sit in council.


'H E consultation begun, satan debates whether

another battle be to be hazarded for the recovery of heaven: some advise it, others dissuade: a third proposal is prefer’d, niention’d before by satan, to search the truth of that prophesie or tradition in heav’n concerning another world, and another kind of creature equal or not much inferiour to themselves, about this time to be created: their doubt who shall be sent on this difficult search : satan their chief undertakes alone the voyage, is honoured and applaudcd. The council thus ended, the rest betake them several ways and to several employments, as their inclinations lead them, to entertain the time till satan return. He passes on his journey to hell gates, finds them shut, and who sat there to guard them, by whom at length they are opened, and discover to him the great gulph between hell and heav'n; with what difficulty he passes through,directed by chaos,the power of that place, to the light of this new world which he fought.


OD sitting on his throne sees satan Aying to

wards this world, then newly created; shews him to the son who sat at his right hand; foretells the success of satan in perverting mankind; clears

« ПредишнаНапред »