A devotional allegory in 189 Spenserians in three cantos, appended to Samuel Woodford's verse Paraphrase upon the Canticles. "Legend" is used as an archaism; the scheme of the poem is more didactic than narrative.
Edward Payson Morton: "In 1679 Dr. Samuel Woodford used Spenser's stanza in the Epoda to his Legend of Love, as he called his paraphrase upon the Canticles. He also experimented with two or three rhyme-schemes which had already been appropriated by the Spenserians. The rhyme-scheme of the Purple Island (ababccc) he used in four poems, each time varying the line-lengths. In two poems he used the ababcc stanza, with a final alexandrine; in Si ignoras te, however, his lines run 545456, and in David's Elegy, 545556. Aylett, Starkey [supposed author of "Ripley Revived"], and Woodford seem to be the only men of the seventeenth century who used both the regular Spenserian stanza and imitations of it. Aylett and Woodford are interesting also as among the very few Englishmen between Milton and Warton who wrote sonnets" "The Spenserian Stanza before 1700" (1907) 10.
Herbert E. Cory: "In his paraphrase of the Canticles Woodford carried the dialogue-setting of Quarles (Sion's Sonnets) even farther and attempted an approximation of the classical drama and the classical epithalamium. The verses are not only assigned to the Spouse and the Beloved but to the friends on either side, and to a chorus. Woodford takes occasion, incidentally, to condemn blank verse as used by Milton, though he is an enthusiastic lover of Paradise Lost. For blank verse, he thinks, as 'likest prose,' is unfit for any form but the drama. The Song of Solomon may be divided, he thinks, into such parts as a Protasis, the 'Divine Amoris Ecstasis, an Epitasis or the counterturn of action, the Dolor de Absentia Sponsi,' and a third division. The unity of action, we are told, is 'strictly observed in this Hymn, and the Chorus, which is everywhere regular.' In short, Woodford is a compound of the Spenserians, the Marinists, and the neo-classicists, a very characteristic poet of the late seventeenth century. To his version of the Canticles Woodford prefixed a stern Proazma bidding the profane to 'avoid.' He was evidently somewhat disturbed over the possible influence of the Oriental love-language. In his preface he was scandalized by some unspeakable freethinkers who dared to murmur that the Song of Solomon might, after all, be a literal love-lyric and have nothing to do with an allegory of Christ and the Church. To make his 'cheveux de frise' perfect against any loose lovers of wanton lyrics who should chance on his ground in search of amorous poetry to their taste, he added his moralistic Epoda or Legend of Love, imitated partly from Spenser's Hymne to Divine Love and partly from the pageant of the Seven Deadly Sins in The Faerie Queene" "Critics of Edmund Spenser" UCPMP (1911) 122-23.
Harko Gerrit De Maar: "Woodford's Spenserian poem shows the influence of Henry More in its didacticism and of Fanshawe's The Progress of Learning in its construction. The diction is only so far genuinely Spenserian that a few archaisms are repeated over and over again" History of Modern English Romanticism (1924) 65.
Alexander Judson: "Woodford preferred Spenser's minor poetry to The Faerie Queene, yet he printed after his paraphrase of the Canticles a sort of epilogue called, by analogy with Spenser's Legends of Holiness, Temperance, and so on, The Legend of Love It consists of 189 Spenserian stanzas divided into three cantos, which deal respectively with love in a state of innocence, sensual love, and 'the restoration of love by sacred marriage.' Though Spenser's phrasing rarely if at all creeps into Woodford's poems, some Spenserian influence seems evident. In Canto I there is a Platonic ascent to God suggestive of that in Spenser's An Hymne to Heavenly Beautie, and in Canto II occurs a procession of well-known allegorical figures surely reminiscent of Spenser's similar creations" "Samuel Woodford and Edmund Spenser" Notes & Queries (1945) 191-92.
Song, which the God of Love did first inspire,
Not he the blind, and sottish World calls so,
No God, nor ought save a wild raging Fire,
Which with incessant Bellows Lust does blow,
But HE, to whom all things their being owe,
In whom alone they live, in whom they move,
And, by his Love made, to perfection grow,
All who below adore Him, or above,
The Mighty Lord of Hosts, the very GOD of LOVE,
Song, by the very God of Love inspir'd,
And of a thousand more the sacred Chief,
But wherein Salomon, from himself retir'd,
Not what his Love, but what was his belief,
(Songs ill became the cause of all his Grief,
If love we to our Mortal Standart bring,
Whose spoils are Robbe'ries, and whose God's a thief)
Under Love's borrow'd name to th' World did sing,
LOVE is the borrow'd Name, Holy Churches FAITH the thing,
Song, which the borrow'd Name dost understand,
And all the Mysteries which in it lie,
For 'tis the Dialect of the Heav'nly Land,
Nor as to us it sounds does signifie,
(Blest Souls in Love discourse with the most High)
Thou, who knowst this, and more than this, whence came
The profanation of the Deity,
And how this lustful Earth took th' empty Name,
Embracing sulphu'rous clouds, for its Gods purest flame,
Tell the World, Song, whence first its madness grew!
Who knows not th' World is mad? Thou best of all,
Which, if 'twere possible Inno'cence to renew,
To its first Inno'cence wouldst the World recal,
And more than e're it lost ith' wretched Fall:
By love Thou callst it, and the Voice is known,
Well known's the Voice, but we too sensual,
So brutish in our Lusts obscene are grown,
That call'd by it's name, we think't an Idol of our own.
Yet none of ours is what we' have stol'n the name,
That Idol, which we thus with Mirtles crown,
But with our form from Heav'n at once it came,
From Heav'n was with a Silver Cord let down,
And into the Souls mass divinely thrown,
To be its Salt, miraculously contriv'd;
And first in Heav'n the name of Love was known,
From whence at length it hither was deriv'd,
And here a while such, and so call'd in pleasure liv'd.
In pleasure 'it liv'd, and with its chang'd aboad,
Strangely surprizd, was strangely pleas'd a-while,
At first perceiv'd not the unusual load,
But in her Face, who should betray 'it, did smile,
As fearless, as unconscious yet of guile:
And to a Body tho it were design'd,
A Body, as the Land of its exile,
All parts so' agreeable, and soft did find,
Its Tour seem'd thence enlarg'd more, than confin'd.
For all with Spi'rits it did converse before,
It self a Spi'rit, but when the Eternal Mind
To new displays of his creating Power,
In beings of a lower Rank inclin'd,
Which Angels yet should not come far behind;
Soon as the great Resolve was past above,
And Man of all those Works the Lord design'd,
Love the first mover, and the last, did move,
That He, whom all obey'd, o're all should rule by Love.
It mov'd thus, and the motion was embrac't,
Als' Love, that made it downwards took its way;
And viewing how the Bodies parts were cast,
Seiz'd, with the Spi'rit, the scarce yet moulded Clay,
Nor for partition, or nice choice did stay,
But blending both together, seiz'd the whole;
Both in the whole, whole both in each part lay,
And both together making th' humane Soul,
Th' unactive Matter did both quicken, and controul.
The Spi'rit gave Life, with what to Life pertain,
Sense, Motion, and the several Faculties,
A cheerful, goodly, and a pompous Train,
When rul'd, as they' ought, and manag'd by the Wise;
The wise is Love, that th' whole unites, and ties,
And which, where e're it undisturb'd does reign,
Makes th' earthly frame, with th' Heav'nly sympathize,
Nor to rebel dare any passion strain,
When o're them reason, o're that love does hold the rein.
Thus ith' first happy Pair, a while Love reign'd,
And but a while, with regal Soveraignty,
Who to its Lore so early both were train'd,
That Love it self, as rapt in extasie,
Wondred what in dull Flesh th' effects might be:
It wondred, but so chast, and innocent,
So Love-conspiring every part did see,
And so obsequious to its great intent,
That Love it self enamour'd was of its descent.
Forthy the happy pair, with sever'd flame,
Which yet in both was one, to love inclin'd;
Two downwards only, but rise'n whence it came,
Again collected in one point, and joynd,
And still the higher rise'n, the more refind;
They lov'd, and so in Heav'n to love are seen
Bright Seraphs, nor could Differe'nce be assignd,
But that the Body here did croud between,
There by pure Spi'rits was dressed out the mighty Scene.
The new form'd Body here did croud between,
But all to love was so dispos'd, and made,
In either Sex, and with so Beauteous meen,
That either seem'd with other well appay'd,
And Love himself the Hymenaeal said:
(For Love's an He, who proud of what was done,
And of Man most, as fairest there Pourtraid,
The form assum'd, which likest was to' his own,
And will but as a Male, when sung in Verse be known.)
Love said it, and Heav'n all he said approv'd,
By signs authentick, which none durst deny;
The new Creation in soft measures mov'd,
And the whole World of beings, waiting by,
Bow'd all a-down, and blest the Augury,
They bow'd, and blest it, as they waiting stood,
They bow'd, and blest it each, tho near so high,
From the Angelic Natures, to the Brood
Of Earth-born Vegetables, and God saw 'twas Good.
'Twas good He saw for Man to have his Make,
Man saw no less 'twas good for him to love,
And in his Arms the Virgin Bride did take,
With all th' endearments that affection move,
Nor Hell that lookt askaunce could th' Rites reprove.
In 'his Arms he took her, as Superiour,
She, as one yet, who would be Conquer'd, strove,
Till safe arriving at the Genial Bowre,
And conquer'd both, Love each saluted Conquerour.
There gentle purpose did they enterchange,
And all the innocent delights, that make
Blest Wedlock happy, nor did think it strange,
Connubial pleasures to or leave, or take;
For, nor him Inn'ocence did, nor her forsake,
And they who think it did, or that the place,
Or state forbad such use'ith fordice rake
Of their own lusty-head, fouly miss the case,
And on God's noblest Masterpiece retort disgrace.
Think so, who will for me, and bear the shame
Of such sad thought; those just ones thought not so
Nor God, nor Love, who kindled first the flame
Wherewith they in desire alike did glow,
Desire unhappy never till 't would know
Secrets of knowledg unpermitted it,
Unhappy knowledg, source of all our Woe,
Unhappy Tree, ith' midst oth, Garden set,
Unhappy seen, but tasted, more unhappy yet!
Forbidden therefore 'twas, but that alone,
What else beside Man could, or wish, or crave,
Enclosure, Limit and Restraint had none,
Nor other Law than what Right Reason gave;
Right Reason, unforc'd yet to be a Slave,
To 'its under Ministers, a Lawless suit
Of stubborn Lusts, when they the Mastery have,
Less of the Man partaking than the Brute,
And are the dire effects of the forbidden Fruit.
Too dire Effects, if God had seen it fit,
Which Natures Course disturb'd and alter'd so,
That all the Bands, which held it were unknit,
And quite revers'd the Pyramis did show,
Above a Front unshapely, 'a point below:
Thus while 'twas turning, but once set upon
It's no Foundation, for so grim a Brow,
Or which was but a point, as good as none,
Down fell the Heap, Hell trembled, and the Earth did groan.
Love was that Pyramis, which whilst it stood,
As fixt by Heav'n, on its own proper Base,
(Matter, in Mankind, cemented by Blood
Spiritous, where Sense had lowest place,
Reason supreme) whole Nature did embrace;
Which o're her Works such Robes of Beauty threw,
And with such Rays did th' Universe enchase,
That Instinct some, th' rest Inclination drew,
Only to Love, and what was lov'd, by Love pursue.
Love, and Fruition of their Kind, was th' whole,
Whither to 'arrive, most Creatures did aspire,
(By Sense led,) and arriv'd; but Man, whose Soul
Had particles of an Aethereal Fire,
Aim'd at Fruition too, but of what high'er,
And more sublime, was laid up, than his Kind,
Or that part of 'it his Flesh, whence to retire,
In Innocence he found himself inclin'd,
The beauties of his own, and of th' Eternal Mind.
His Kind he lov'd, as all things did beside,
All things beside his Kind he also lov'd
In their due Rank, but how to be apply'd
To use, th' Hypothesis was to be prov'd,
And thousand Stones to move, and be remov'd,
E're Love he to so just an height could raise,
As in his Intellect it was approv'd,
That he from Earth to Heav'n by steps of Praise,
Might hourly mount, and boldly tread God's secret Ways.
Deep in himself was the Foundation laid,
And in those Acts, wherein he did partake
With meaner Beings, for his Empire made,
And of which some for Propagation make,
By their first Institution, call'd Love by mistake,
Whose sacred name they have engrost; but Love,
Or cause, or sign of Love no more are, take
But the Disguise off, as bare Acts they prove,
Nor higher look, than 'tis Love naturally to move.
These therefore were laid deep, and of the Pile,
If ought, Substruction, consecrate to Night,
The sense of Touch, too subject to beguile,
Where Reason does not hold the Ballance right;
Reason, wherein true Love, and pure Delight
Only consists, and is the Fabricks Scale,
Uninterruptedly to' ascend Heav'ns height,
To him, who has the skill Heav'n thus to assail,
And o're th' Omnipotent by almighty Love prevail.
The first Man had that Skill, and of his Love,
BEAUTY and GOOD the Object, he it sought
In that bright Sphere, where it on High does move,
And thither by Reduction all things brought,
Which, in their Season, beautiful are wrought;
All that in others, or himself he spi'd,
Which of the Heav'nly Goodness Trace had ought;
And by this Chain did an Ascent provide,
To th' Foot-stool of that Throne, where its first Link was ty'd.
By view hereof He upward did ascend,
Still upward, as he cast his curious view,
The Higher any thing did upward tend,
The better 'twas, and much more Beauteous grew,
And with it from the Earth, Love upward drew:
From th' Earth, of which once having lost the sight,
Love more refin'd became, by Objects new,
And all presented by a clearer Light,
That did exhaust the Flesh, and ravished the Sp'rit.
For having past at length the Atmosphere,
By many a Stage, the Flesh was left behind;
And now another Face of things appear,
And other Beauties, that surprize the Mind,
On which to gaze he did strange Pleasure find:
And tho their Light excessive he scarce bear,
Seeing above his Journey unconfin'd,
Upward he presses still, and void of Fear,
As perfect grown, above the Skies his Head does rear.
Above the Skies he to those Heav'ns does mount,
Step after step ascending, where there be
For happy Souls, as sacred Writ does count,
Mansions prepar'd, for their sublimity,
The third Heav'n call'd, and 'its Furniture does see:
With which he could delighted ever stay,
But that advanced to the last Degree,
That mortal Foot e're toucht, a farther way,
By Wing to be dispatcht he' espies, Loves last Essay.
So on he claps his best, and largest Wings,
And swift as thought, but more direct upright
Than Eagle soars, into a Welkin springs,
(If so it may be call'd) of Flame more bright,
And pure, than what by this Worlds Sun, and Light,
Can be compar'd; and in blest Extasy,
With sacred Wonder, but without affright,
Those fair Idaeas contemplates, whereby
Himself, and th' World was made, and there laid up do lie.
Ascended hither, Love the place well knew,
As whence himself into our World came down,
Eve'n Man as nearer to his God he drew,
New motions felt, and Powers before unknown;
And swallow'd up in Speculation,
Forgot what ever he admir'd below,
Himself, and Her, whom he had left alone,
To wait' his return, and rapt, he scarce knew how,
To th' Land of Love, himself a Love transform'd did grow.
For why that Tract the Realm of Love was stil'd,
And all, who thither in deducted mind,
Leaving this lower Earth arrive, are fill'd,
As the bright Region is, with thoughts refin'd,
And Quintessence of Love; but of what kind,
Impossible it is to be exprest,
And in a Chime of soundful Words design'd,
Which but Conceits are, to our Fashion drest,
And if Immortal, with the mortal Load opprest.
Suffice it, Angels there Inhabited,
Rang'd all in their Trinal Triplicities,
Into a Body, under Love their Head,
And ready all for some Renown'd Emprise,
Soon as the mighty Signal given is:
He saw it given, and all before a Throne,
Of Heav'nly Diamond, vailing each his Eyes,
Each Angel prostrate on his Face falls down,
And at its Foot-stool casts his Consecrated Crown.
From simple ANGELS, as th' Inferiour Band,
To the ARCHANGELS, led by Michael,
Then to DOMINIONS, that the third Rank stand,
To VIRTUES then, whose numerous Banners swell,
And PRINCIPALITIES, of whom none fell
With Rebel Lucifer, 'or abbetted him,
To POWERS then, and to THRONES, whom who can tell?
And so up to th' eighth Order, CHERUBIM,
But by the ninth compleat, Love-flaming SERAPHIM.
All these our Father saw, by Love retir'd
In, and above Himself, but o're them all,
One fairer yet, to whom his Mind aspir'd,
Th' Incomprehensible Original,
In whom no Blemish, and no Spot can fall:
By Love he saw Him, and in Him the end,
And utmost point of Love, enough to' appall
The Holie'st of his Sons, who should descend
From' his after sinful Loins, and thither after tend.
But him the sight appall'd not, rather fill'd
With Images more fair his enlarg'd Brest;
And from the Principles his Love instil'd,
On naught less high could he affix his rest,
Or be content tho of the Earth possest:
Th' whole Earth, that in this Res'very view'd round,
Too scanty seem'd an Heav'n-born Soul to' invest,
Too scant a Limit, and too scant a Bound,
For what an Infinite was only equal found.
Excursions therefore into that he made,
Often Excursions into Infinite,
Infinite Love, and Beauties seen display'd
I' th' Prototype, by Intellectual Light,
And Reasons yet undim'd discursive sight:
Tho when that fail'd, or when 'twas weary grown,
Through 'excess of conceiv'd Vision, as it might,
Th' Almighties self would come in Person down,
And oft prevent Man's journey to Him, with His own.
Or come, or send Him frequent Embassies
Of Angels, who still ready on the Wing,
With hasty flight, from summit of the Skies,
Would seem to vie, who should the Message bring,
And first approach the Favorite of their King:
Tho all the Message, which they bore was Love,
And all their Service was but Ministring
To one below them made, yet who above,
Was Heav'ns great Care, and greatest Ornament should prove.
Not much below them, while his Innocence,
On its Foundation did unshockt abide,
And perfect Love, seen in obedience,
The nether World so fast to th' upper ti'd,
That Hell between them could not once divide:
One Heart, one Business was in both approv'd,
One God alike, in both was magnifi'd,
That mighty Axis, round which both were mov'd,
And whom alike both prais'd, and whom alike both lov'd.
Alike they lov'd, and as they lov'd alike,
All Vertues in that Act did comprehend,
Which did in both an awful Reverence strike,
And careful made them, lest they should offend,
But chiefly Man did thence his Mark intend,
With greater vigour, as on whom was laid
Fear for a Rein, if Hell its Wiles should send;
For Death was threatned, if he disobey'd,
And He not to be' high-minded, chose to be afraid.
Love made him chuse so kind, and wholesome Fear,
From which all Torment yet secluded was,
And but the brighter made his Love appear,
Like Beams reflected upon burnisht Brass,
That their own Native Lustre thence surpass:
So shon his Love, and thence his Temperance,
That the forfended Limit would not pass,
Nor to behold it care'd with wanton Glance,
What ever fond Conceit its Glories might enhance.
Hence Justice, hence true Magnanimity,
Prudence, and Wisdom, o're his Soul did flow,
And sacred Truth, and peaceful Loyalty,
And all the Graces, that to Love do owe
Their Rise, and into' Eternal Rivers grow:
And all upon the Supreme Beauty plac'd,
That Good, which still the more we come to know,
The more we' admire, till in its Arms embrac'd,
An end of all our Love we find, the First, and Last.
Such was his Love, and like it was his Praise,
A Service, wherein with him Nature joyn'd,
Whole Nature, and each part, by several ways,
As with him in one love they were combin'd;
And various was the Anthems stops, and kind,
Articulate by Man, their High Priest, made,
And in one sacred Hallelu-jah twin'd,
Which he, as First-Fruits, on Earths Altar laid,
And Heav'n with grateful Odours early did invade.
Their Orisons, which he each Morning paid,
With his fair Partner, or by Angels taught,
Or whereof capable their Form was made,
By Images from Heav'n first thither brought,
And which they into perfect Figure wrought,
By Plastic Art of Words harmonious;
Which to the great Occasion came unsought:
And whether sung in Verse, or said in Prose,
In Prose most powerful were, in Verse most numerous.
For Verse, and all that does to Verse belong
(In this lowe'r World) had its first happy rise
In Innocence, which first invented Song,
And how so e're one may its Charms despise,
Or which is worse, abuse, in Paradise,
By Pause, and Fugue's, adapted to fit strains,
Was first perform'd; to whose Discoveries
The Sons of Verse now elocate their pains,
And (save from Heav'n) expect no their Immortal gains
In Paradise, discover'd first was Verse,
And Voice, and Number with it given to Song,
And glorious Subjects, which both did reherse,
Alternate, and in Chorus, as or long,
Or short returns did to the Ground belong;
But than of Love they sounded nothing more,
Or ofter, or with Brest more large, and strong,
The Love Divine, whom thus they did implore
In raptur'ous Odes, and (as they of it sang) adore.
They sang how All things their beginning had,
From Loves diffusive, and Life-giving heat;
How Immaterial Spirits, with Glory clad,
Its First-born were, with Love as high, and great,
As from this lower World's remov'd their Seat:
Then how this lower World from Nothing rose,
And No-where, in that beauteous order met,
That Place, and Matter, which the whole compose,
And circumscribe, unconceiv'd Luster did disclose.
Not at an instant made, but by degrees,
As confus'd Chaos could th' impression take,
In Six Days space, and throughly purge its Lees,
Hell newly form'd more horrible to make,
And its own new made Enmities off-shake,
For of such jarring Parts it was contriv'd,
And of such contrarieties did partake,
That it by Discord, and Confusion liv'd,
(A life such as it was) with Death to be surviv'd.
So strove they, thus would they have striven ever;
Till pittying their debate, the Spirit of Love
Calm'd the discordant Mole, and did dissever
Th' Eternal Combatants, plac'd some above,
Others did to the deep Abysse remove
Fast to be held, in Adamantine Chain;
Whilst those few Parts, that did more ductile prove,
Into Four Principles, which all contain,
Themselves in all contain'd, were solely left to reign.
FIRE, which as lightest took the highest place,
And upward rais'd its towring Head; then AIR,
That follow'd it, but with unequal pace,
And tho it vy'd to be and look as fair,
Forc'd in the midst to hang, self-ballanc'd there:
Next WATER, which the Surface cover'd o're,
That pregnant Mother of the EARTH, less rare,
In its vast Womb conceiv'd, but which, before
It could emerge, lackt mighty Love to force the Door.
And so it did, but LIGHT was first to shine,
And an whole Day, for that which makes the Day,
But little enough was thought ith' Mind Divine,
Through Darkness palpable to clear its way,
And all its various Beauties to display:
Darkness, which tho but counted Privative,
Such claims to th' heap, whence 'twas call'd out, did lay,
That Love like equal shares to both did give,
Alternately, each Day, in Day, and Night to live.
But harder were the teeming Waters Throes,
When on the second Day, Earth nearer came
To its great Birth, like weight, that heavier grows,
Long born, and to break through disjoynts the frame;
The Waters pangs compar'd thus, were the same,
When they divided burst, but ne're to close,
Stopt by the solid FIRMAMENT, whose Name
Immoveable Partition does suppose,
By' whose Shoar disjoyn'd, upper and nether Ocean flows.
And now the third Day of her Monstrous Child
Half way deliver'd the Great Mother was;
Monstrous, unsightly yet, with Horrour fill'd,
Which in its Oasy Arms it did embrace,
And, half supprest, to the Birth would ne're let pass,
But, with it joyn'd, one Monstrous Body made,
Above DRY GROUND, below a confus'd Mass,
Part Earth, with Briny Hatchments overlaid,
Part unmixt Water, upon empty Nothing staid,
And called SEA; as what appear'd was LAND;
Rough, bare, mishape't, tho dry, unbeautifi'd,
It self unbeautiful, vast plains of Sand,
More horribly deform'd, with terrors Pride,
Mountains, that to' Heav'n aspir'd, and gaping wide,
With rais'd up Jaws, threatned to swallow down,
In gorge unsatiate, glories there envy'd,
And wrinkled Forehead, which scarce made did frown,
And Omens give of Future War, from cause unknown.
Nor could there cause be gi'ven, for a new Face
From the Love Divine it took, and Nakedness
Was cloath'd upon with all the Charming Grace
Of Fruit, and Flower; and the grim Gyantess,
(Its own Eternal Goodness to express)
Kind Heav'n illumin'd with a double Light,
The fourth Day made, the greater, and the less;
By Day the SUN with vital heat, and bright,
To warm, the MOON with starry Robe to' invest at night.
Nor was this all, but at the fifth Days dawn,
Earth, and her Mother Sea replenished
With new Inhab'itants were, and every Laune,
And every Hill (scar'd Solitude thence fled)
Legions of FOWL produc'd, and kindly bred,
Which on large Wings, above the Ground did fly,
But perching on some Tree, made that their Bed;
Whilst Lakes, and Streams, and the huge Sea fast by,
With mighty WHALES were fill'd, and with the lesser FRY.
Fill'd were the Floods with these, but still the Earth,
(As whose Wing'd-People most partook of th' Air,
Their haunt) impregnate with a second Birth,
For which disclos'd 't had room enough to spare,
Did on the sixth Day to disclose prepare;
And out all BEASTS, and REPTILS, in their kind,
Sprang from the fertile Womb, proportion'd fair,
Each to its Nature, but with Look declin'd,
To th' Earth whence tane, to th' Earth whereto confin'd.
Of these, and other Works of God they sang,
In Lays harmonious, as Love utterance gave;
Yet these, and others, which they lowdly rang,
Were but as Praeludes, which, with Mast'ry brave,
Their Voice shew'd, and what compass Verse might have:
Verse which then triumpht in Recitative,
When they all other Grounds resolv'd to wave,
Sang of themselves, and Him, who at once did give
One power to Sing thus to Him, and like Him to live.
A wondrous Work it was, from Nothing thus
All things in weight, and measure up to raise,
And perfect Order form'd most beauteous,
Subordinate, as different were the Ways,
Whereby their Maker would direct his Praise:
But none so Wondrous did, and strange appear,
Of Power and Beauty with so rich displays,
As Mans Formation, made the Rule to bear,
And sublim'd Earth equal to highest Heaven rear.
That Dust could Live, in what was done before
Was plainly told, but that it too could love,
As Love all life in it contains, and more,
All that or Reason knows, or can improve,
Th' Eternal Treasures only were enough
To drein, and to be drein'd: For God but spake,
And all below, and all the Hosts above,
Being, and Life from the great Word did take;
But Hands Divine, Man's model were employ'd to make.
By Hands Divine, his Body first was wrought,
The full Abridgment of this World to be;
With curious Art, to 'its last perfection brought,
But infinitely base, in its degree,
To th' Soul the Pourtraict of the Deity,
Into his Nostrils breath'd; that in his Brain
Might be infixt the Heav'nly Ima'gry,
And Life, with Vital Blood in every Vein,
To th' Parts extream convey'd, the Character retain.
Love was that Character, in Holiness,
And perfect Purity exemplifi'd,
And Innocence, which that first state did bless,
And Reason with them Empire to divide,
And o're th' Inferiour Appetite preside,
Which it restrain'd, and furnisht with true Skill,
It self, in all its Acts to curb, and guide;
At least had power to do so, and fulfil
The Charge Divine, close backt by Freedom of the Will.
Blest Qualities, which made him Lord and King,
Of all this lower World, and Majesty
On his Erected Countenance stampt, did bring
Heav'n down to Earth, and Earth, that flat did lie,
Advance'd to be for Angels Company;
Nay farther, and what Angels did admire,
For its Aetern Exemplar, the Most High,
Who with his Work delighted, would retire
Frequent from Heav'n, as to divert, and view it nighe'r.
Himself hereby Man dexterously did guide,
And o're himself so absolutely reign,
(The greatest Kingdom in the World beside,
And which all other Kingdoms did contain,
In 'it self in Chief, or Vassalages Chain)
That only Peace, and only what was Good,
And only Love was given for Love again;
With Charms, that by no force could be withstood,
And centred in one Point Indivisible GOD.
Hail happy state of Innocence, thrice Hail!
Hail to Thy Love and Thee! And may my Verse,
From thence inspir'd, with generous Souls prevail,
As they deserve, Thy Wonders to reherse,
And through the World thy Sacred Name disperse!
No Theam, like that, so high can Numbers raise,
Or render more Humane Mankinds converse;
For if there any Vertue be, or Praise,
They in Perfection shon, in those first happy Days.
Ah! that those Happy Days should be so few,
Ended, cut off, e're scarce they were begun!
Whose early Happiness, when known to Two,
A Third crept in, by whom all was undone,
And Love unthron'd hard drive'n away to run.
Follow him, Muse, for if he should go wrong,
Thou art in danger too, whose Fates are one
With his; Nor canst Thou be without him long,
But do it, if thou'hast Courage, in another Song.