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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 Newarrived, 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.
COURSE OF TIME.
ETERNAL Spirit! God of truth! to whom
My eye unscale; me what is substance teach,
The muse that soft and sickly wooes the ear Of love, or, chanting loud, in windy rhyme,
Of fabled hero, raves through gaudy tale,
Me thought and phrase severely sifting out
The essential truth-Time gone, the righteous saved,
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
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
Seen far remote, as country, which has left
Thus far the years had rolled, which none but God Doth number, when two sons, two youthful sons Of Paradise, in conversation sweet—
For thus the heavenly muse instructs me, wooed
Whence goodliest prospect looks beyond the walls
the pure serene, observant if returned
Thus viewing, one they saw, on hasty wing Directing towards heaven his course; and now, His flight ascending near the battlements And lofty hills on which they walked, approached. For round and round, in spacious circuit wide, Mountains of tallest stature circumscribe The plains of Paradise, whose tops, arrayed In uncreated radiance, seem so pure, That nought but angel's foot, or saint's, elect Of God, may venture there to walk. Here oft The sons of bliss take morn or evening pastime, Delighted to behold ten thousand worlds Around their suns revolving in the vast External space, or listen the harmonies That each to other in its motion sings; And hence, in middle heaven remote is seen The mount of God in awful glory bright. Within, no orb create of moon, or star, Or sun, gives light: for God's own countenance, Beaming eternally, gives light to all.