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THE COURSE OF TIME.

BOOK I.

ARGUMENT.

Invocation to the Eternal Spirit.-The subject of the Poem announced.-A period long after the Last Judgment described. -Two youthful Sons of Paradise, waiting on the battlements of Heaven, observant of the return of holy messengers, or the arrival from distant worlds of spirits made perfect, discover one directing his flight towards Heaven.-The hills of Paradise. -The Mount of God.-Welcome of the faithful servant.-The hill of the Throne of God pointed out to him.-The Sons of Paradise offer to guide him into the presence of the Most High. -The New-arrived, bewildered by the strange sights beheld in his flight, begs for knowledge, and the solution of the mysteries he has seen.-Describes his flight through Chaos, and arrival at the place of Everlasting Punishment-Wall of fiery adamant— The Worm that never dies-Eternal Death-Hell-The dreadful sights beheld there.-The youthful Sons of Heaven refer the New-arrived to an ancient Bard of Adam's race.— -They fly towards his dwelling.-Flight through the fields of Heaven.-The Bard of Earth described-His bower in Paradise.-He is entreated to clear up the wondering doubt of the New-arrived, who tells what he has seen and conjectured.-The Bard informs him the gracious form he beheld in Hell is Virtue-Agrees to relate the history of the human race.

E

TERNAL SPIRIT! God of truth! to whom

All things seem as they are-Thou who of old
The prophet's eye unscaled, that nightly saw,
While heavy sleep fell down on other men,

A

In holy vision tranced, the future pass

Before him, and to Judah's harp attuned
Burdens that made the Pagan mountains shake,
And Zion's cedars bow-inspire my song;
My eye unscale; me what is substance teach,
And shadow what, while I of things to come,
As past, rehearsing, sing the course of Time,
The second birth, and final doom of man.

The muse that soft and sickly woos the ear
Of love, or chanting loud, in windy rhyme,
Of fabled hero, raves through gaudy tale,
Not overfraught with sense, I ask not: such
A strain befits not argument so high.
Me thought and phrase severely sifting out
The whole idea, grant, uttering as 'tis

The essential truth-Time gone, the righteous saved,
The wicked damned, and Providence approved.

Hold my right hand, Almighty! and me teach
To strike the lyre, but seldom struck, to notes
Harmonious with the morning stars, and pure
As those by sainted bards and angels sung,
Which wake the echoes of Eternity;

That fools may hear and tremble, and the wise,
Instructed, listen of ages yet to come.

Long was the day, so long expected, past
Of the eternal doom, that gave to each

Of all the human race his due reward.

The sun, earth's sun, and moon, and stars, had ceased
To number seasons, days, and months, and years,

To mortal man; Hope was forgotten, and Fear;
And Time, with all its chance, and change, and smiles,
And frequent tears, and deeds of villany

Or righteousness, once talked of much as things

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