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Thou hast not miss'd one thought that could be fit,
That majesty which through thy work doth reign,
Where could'st thou words of such a compass find? Whence furnish such a vast expense of mind? Just Heav'n thee like Tiresias to requite Rewards with prophecy thy loss of sight.
Well might'st thou scorn thy readers to allure With tinkling rhyme, of thy own sense secure; While the Town-Bays writes all the while and spells, And like a pack-horse tires without his bells: Their fancies like our bushy-points appear, The poets tag them, we for fashion wear. I too transported by the mode offend, And while I meant to praise thee must commend. Thy verse created like thy theme sublime, In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme,
THE measure is English heroic verse without rhyme, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; rhyme being no necessary adjunct or true ornament of poem or good verse, in longer works especially, but the invention of a barbarous age, to set off wretched matter and lame metre; graced indeed since by the use of some famous modern poets, carried away by custom, but much to their own vexation, hindrance, and constraint to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse than else they would have expressed them. Not without cause therefore some both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note have rejected rhyme both in longer and shorter works, as have also long since our best English tragedies, as a thing of itself, to all judicious ears, trivial and of no true musical delight; which consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory. This neglect then of rhyme so little is to be taken for a defect, though it may seem so perhaps to vulgar readers, that it rather is to be esteemed an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recovered to heroic poem, from the troublesome and modern bondage of rhyming".
* The Earl of Surrey bad trans Rather, says Mr. Hayley, from lated two books of Virgil's Æneid Tasso," who wrote a poem withwithout rhyme; and, beside our “out rhyme on the Creation, and Tragedies, a few short poems had “is celebrated by his friend and appeared in blank verse, parti- “ biographer, the Marquis of cularly one tending to reconcile “ Villa, for the introduction of the nation to Raleigh's wild at « blank verse into the Italian tempt upon Guiana, and pro poetry; so little was even then bably written by Raleigh himself. « thought of Trissino's heavy perThese petty performances, how “ formance." See however the ever, cannot be supposed to have remarks on this subject in Rolli's much influenced Milton, who Life of Milton, in which several more probably took his hint from Italian writers of blank verse are Trissino's Italia Liberata. John. noticed and commended between
Trissino and Tasso. E.
THIS first book proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, Man's disobedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise wherein he was placed: then touches the prime cause of his fall, the Serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent; who revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of Angels, was by the command of God driven out of heaven with all his crew into the great deep. Which action passed over, the poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his Angels now falling into hell, described here, not in the centre, (for heaven and earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called chaos: here Satan with his Angels lying on the burning lake, thunder-struck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion, calls up him who next in order and dignity ay by him ; they confer of their miserable fall. Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded; they rise, their numbers, array of battle, their chief leaders named, according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hopes yet of regaining heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world and new kind of creature to be created, according to an ancient prophecy or report in heaven; for that Angels were long before this visible creation, was the opinion of many ancient Fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandemonium the palace of Satan rises, suddenly built out of the deep: the infernal peers there sit in council.