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Death is the penalty imposed; beware,
And govern well thy appetite; lest sin
Surprise thee, and her black attendant, death.
Here finish'd he, and all that he had made
View'd, and behold all was entirely good;
So even and morn accomplish'd the sixth day:
Yet not till the Creator, from his work
Desisting, though unwearied, up return'd,
Up to the heaven of heavens, his high abode;
Thence to behold this new-created world,
The addition of his empire, how it show'd
In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair,
Answering his great idea. Up he rode,
Follow'd with acclamation, and the sound
Symphonious of ten thousand harps, that tuned
Angelic harmonies: the earth, the air
Resounded (thou remember'st, for thou heard'st),
The heavens and all the constellations rung,
The planets in their station listening stood,
While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.
Open, ye everlasting gates! they sung;
Open, ye heavens! your living doors; let in
The great Creator, from his work return'd
Magnificent, his six days' work, a world;
Open, and henceforth oft; for God will deign
To visit oft the dwellings of just men,
Delighted; and with frequent intercourse
Thither will send his winged messengers
On errands of supernal grace.
The glorious train ascending: he through heaven,
That open'd wide her blazing portals, led
To God's eternal house direct the way;
A broad and ample road, whose dust is gold,
And pavement stars, as stars to thee appear,
Seen in the galaxy, that milky way,
Which nightly, as a circling zone, thou seest
Powder'd with stars. And now on earth the seventh
Evening arose in Eden, for the sun
Was set, and twilight from the east came on,
Forerunning night; when at the holy mount
Of heaven's high-seated top, the imperial throne
Of Godhead, fix'd for ever firm and sure,
The Filial Power arrived, and sat him down
With his great Father; for he also went
Invisible, yet stay'd, (such privilege
Hath Omnipresence) and the work ordain'd,
Authour and End of all things; and, from work
Now resting, bless'd and hallow'd the seventh day,
As resting on that day from all his work,
But not in silence holy kept: the harp
Had work, and rested not; the solemn pipe,
And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop,
All sounds on fret by string or golden wire,
Temper'd soft tunings, intermix'd with voice
Choral or unison: of incense clouds,
Fuming from golden censers, hid the mount.
Creation and the six days' acts they sung.
Great are thy works, Jehovah! infinite
Thy power! what thought can measure thee, or tongue
Relate thee? Greater now in thy return
Than from the giant angels: thee that day
Thy thunders magnified; but to create
Is greater than created to destroy.
Who can impair thee, Mighty King, or bound
Thy empire? easily the proud attempt
Of spirits apostate, and their counsels vain,
Thou hast repell'd; while impiously they thought
Thee to diminish, and from thee withdraw
The number of thy worshippers. Who seeks
To lessen thee, against his purpose serves
To manifest the more thy might: his evil
Thou usest, and from thence creat'st more good.
Witness this new-made world, another heaven
From heaven-gate not far, founded in view
On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea;
Of amplitude almost immense, with stars
Numerous, and every star perhaps a world
Of destined habitation; but thou know'st
Their seasons: among these the seat of men,
Earth with her nether ocean circumfused,
Their pleasant dwelling-place. Thrice happy men,
And sons of men, whom God hath thus advanced!
Created in his image, there to dwell
And worship him; and in reward to rule
Over his works, on earth, in sea, or air,
And multiply a race of worshippers
Holy and just: thrice happy, if they know
Their happiness, and persevere upright!
So sung they, and the empyréan rung
With halleluiahs: thus was sabbath kept.-
And thy request think now fulfill'd, that ask'd
How first this world and face of things began,
And what before thy memory was done
From the beginning; that posterity,
Inform'd by thee, might know: if else thou seek'st
Aught, not surpassing human measure, say.
597. Fret. On the finger-board of a bassviol, are divisions athwart, by which the sound is regulated and variod: these divisions are called frets.
598. Temper'd, &c.: Produced soft sounds.
619. The hyaline, or glassy sea, is the same as the Crystalline ocean, vii. 271.
No praise can be deemed too high for this eighth book of Paradise Lost. Milton speaks as the historian of idealism; never as a rhetorician he has never any factitious warmth; what he relates he first sees: the richness of his imagination is united with extreme and surprising simplicity he rejects all adornment. The imagination which creates a whole series of characters and actions, resulting from each other,—those actions at the same time springing from high minds and high passions,performs the greatest and rarest work of genius: thus we are filled with the most delightful astonishment, when we read Milton's picture of the creation of Adam and Eve: the beauty, the glow, the enthusiasm, the rapture running through all the senses, and all the veins; the unalloyed grandeur of the man, the celestial grace of the woman; the majesty of his movements, the delicacy of hers; the inconceivable happiness of thoughts and words with which their admiration of each other is expressed; the breaks, the turns of language, the inspired brilliance, and flow of the strains; yet the inimitable chastity and transparence of the whole style; -fill a sensitive reader with an unfeigned wonder and exaltation, which it would be vain to attempt adequately to record.
I need not say, that all the art and skill alone of all the poets of the earth would never have reached those thoughts, though natural and human, yet mixed with intellectual sublimity and exalted passion, which the poet ascribes to Adam and Eve; and in which his beautiful language could only be attained by following those thoughts in a congenial tone. This is the real secret of Milton's great superiority in the true language of poetry: it is miserable, when flat thoughts are covered by sounding or gaudy words.
The mind of him who undertakes to write poetry can only be worked into a due temperament by the force of a warm and pregnant imagination in that state he need not seek for phrases or ideas: these rise out of the ideal position to which his genius has transported him: they are not the result of slow reflection, or reasoning, or memory: admit the circumstances, and nature points out the sentiments: but it is the great poet alone who can invent the circumstances; and of all men, Milton could invent them with the most fertility and splendour.
There is another consideration which makes Milton's invention deserving of the most unlimited praise: he was bound down by his awe of religion, and his search after truth and wisdom. When imagination may indulge itself in wanton flights, it may easily blaze by its erratic courses: here the poet had to keep within a prescribed track: he had therefore all his mighty powers at command; he threw his light where it was required.
Again I must say something of the argumentative parts of the poem as applied to this eighth book: these are as profound and excellent as those in the former books: they are not, as Dryden has hinted, flat and unprofitable; but the reverse: they are exalted, closely-argued, nakedly but vigorously expressed, sagacious, moral, instructive, comprehensive, deep in the knowledge of life, consolatory, and fortifying. Whoever supposes them unpoetical, has a narrow and mean conception of poetry: they are never out of place, but result from the leading characters of the poem; and are quite as essential to it, even as its grand, or beautiful, and breathing imagery. SIR EGERTON BRYDGES.
ADAM inquires concerning celestial motions; is doubtfully answered, and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge: Adam assents; and, still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remembered since his own creation; his placing in Paradise; his talk with God concerning solitude and fit society; his first meeting and nuptials with Eve; his discourse with the angel thereupon; who, after admonitions repeated, departs.
THE angel ended, and in Adam's ear
So charming left his voice, that he awhile
Thought him still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear;
Then, as new-waked, thus gratefully replied:
What thanks sufficient, or what recompense
Equal, have I to render thee, divine
Historian, who thus largely hast allay'd
The thirst I had of knowledge, and vouchsafed
This friendly condescension to relate
Things else by me unsearchable; now heard
With wonder, but delight, and, as is due,
With glory áttributed to the high
Creator? Something yet of doubt remains,
Which only thy solution can resolve.
When I behold this goodly frame, this world,
Of heaven and earth consisting, and compute
Their magnitudes; this earth, a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compared
And all her number'd stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible (for such
Their distance argues, and their swift return
Diurnal), merely to officiate light
Round this opacous earth, this punctual spot,
One day and night; in all their vast survey
Useless besides; reasoning I oft admire,
How Nature, wise and frugal, could commit
Such disproportions, with superfluous hand
3. Stood: Remained, continued: not his attitude, but his great attention being described.
15. When I behold, &c. Milton, after having given so noble an idea of the creation of this new world, takes a proper occasion to show the two great systes, usually called the Ptolemaic and Copernican, the former making the
So many nobler bodies to create,
Greater so manifold, to this one use,
For aught appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution day by day
Repeated; while the sedentary earth,
That better might with far less compass move,
Served by more noble than herself, attains
Her end without least motion, and receives,
As tribute, such a sumless journey brought
Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;
Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails.
So spake our sire, and by his countenance seem'd
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prosper'd, bud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And, touch'd by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high: such pleasure she reserved,
Adam relating, she sole auditress:
Her husband the relater she preferr'd
Before the angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses: from his lip
Not words alone pleased her. O! when meet now
Such pairs in love and mutual honour join'd?
With goddess-like demeanour forth she went,
Not unattended; for on her, as queen,
A pomp of winning Graces waited still,
And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes, to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now, to Adam's doubt proposed,
Benevolent and facile thus replied:
To ask or search, I blame thee not; for heaven
Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years:
This to attain, whether heaven move or earth,
Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest
37. Incorporeal speed: Speed such as spirits might use.
40. What a lovely picture has the poet here drawn of Eve! As it did not become her to bear a part in the conversation, she modestly sits at a distance, but yet within view. She stays as long as the angel and her husband are discoursing of things which it might concern her and her duty to know; but when