1700 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

Samuel Cobb, in Poetae Britannici (1700) 13-15.



Milton! whose Muse kisses th' Embroider'd Skies,
While Earth below grows little, as she flies.
Thro' trackless Air she bends her winding flight,
Far as the Confines of retreating Light.
Tells the Sindg'd Moors, how Scepter'd Death began
His lengthning Empire o'er offending Man.
Unteaches Conquer'd Nations to Rebel,
By Singing how their Stubborn Parents fell.

Now Seraphs Crown'd with Helmets I behold,
Helmets of substance more refin'd than Gold:
The Skies with an united Lustre shine,
And Face to Face th' Immortal Armies join.
God's plated Son, Majestically gay,
Urges's Chariot thro' the Chrystal way;
Breaks down their Ranks, and Thunders as he flies,
Arms in his Hands, and Terrour in his Eyes.
O'er Heav'ns wide Arch the routed Squadrons rore,
And transfix'd Angels groan upon the Diamond Floor.
Then, wheeling from Olympus Snowy top,
Thro' redned Air the giddy Leaders drop
Down to th' Abyss of their allotted Hell,
And gaze on the lost Sky from whence they fell.

I see the Fiend, who, tumbl'd from his Sphere,
Once by the Victor God, begins to fear
New Lightning, and a second Thunderer.
I hear him yell, and argue with the Skies;
Was't not enough, Relentless Power, he cries,
Despair of better State, and loss of Light
Irreparable? was not loathsome Night,
And ever during dark sufficient pain,
But Man must Triumph by our Fall, and Reign
To register the Fate which we sustain?
Hence Hell is doubly seal'd: Almighty Name,
Hence after Thine we feel the Poet's flame,
And in Immortal Song renew reviving Shame.

O Soul Seraphick, teach us how we may
Thy Praise adapted to thy worth display:
For who can Merit more? or who enough can Pay?
Earth was unworthy thy aspiring view,
Sublimer Objects were reserv'd for you.
Thence nothing mean obtrudes on thy design,
Thy Style is equal to thy Theme Divine,
All Heavenly great, and more than Masculine.
Tho' neither Vernal Bloom, nor Summer's Rose
Their opening Beauties could to Thee disclose:
Tho' Nature's curious Characters which we
Exactly view, were all eras'd to Thee.
Yet Heav'n stood Witness to thy piercing Sight;
Below was Darkness, but Above was Light.
Thy Soul was Brightness all; nor could he stay
In nether Night, and such a want of Day:
But wing'd aloft, from sordid Earth retires
To higher Glory, and his kindred Fires;
Like an unhooded Hawk, who loose to prey,
With open Eyes pursues th' Aetherial way.
There, happy Soul, assume thy destin'd place,
And in yon Sphere begin thy glorious race:
That Sphere, which Lucifer did once Disgrace.
Or, if amongst the Laurell'd Heads there be,
A Mansion in the Sky reserv'd for Thee;
There, Ruler of thy Orb, aloft appear,
And rowl with Homer in the brightest Sphere.
To whom Calliope has joyn'd thy Name,
And recompenc'd thy Fortunes with his Fame:
Tho' she (forgive our freedom!) some times flows;
In Lines too rugged, and a-kin to Prose.
Verse with a lively smoothness should be Wrote.
When Scope is granted to your Speech and Thought.
Like some fair Planet thy Majestick Song,
Should move with ease and Sparkle as it rowl'd along.