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UI legis Amissam Paradisum, grandia magni
Carmina Miltoni, quid nisi cuncta legis?
Et fata, et fines continet iste liber.
Scribitur et toto quicquid in orbe latet:
Sulphureumque Erebi, flammivomumque specus:
Quaeque colunt summi lucida regna poli:
Et sine fine Chaos, et sine fine Deus:
In Christo erga homines conciliatus amor.
Et tamen haec hodie terra Britanna legit.
Quae canit, et quanta praelia dira tuba!
Quantus in aethereis tollit se Lucifer armis!
Atque ipso graditur vix Michaele minor!
Dum ferus hic stellas protegit, ille rapit!
Et non mortali defuper igne pluunt:
Et metuit pugnae non fuperese fuae.
Et currus animes, armaque digna Deo,
Erumpunt torvis fulgura luminibus,
Admistis flammis infonuere polo:
Et casis dextris irrita tela cadunt;
Infernis certant condere se tenebris.
Et quos fama recens vel celebravit anus.
Maconidem ranas, Virgilium culices.
HEN I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,
In slender book his vast design unfold,
Yet as I read, foon growing less severe,
Or if a work so infinite he spann'd,
Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor despise
So that no room is here for writers left,
That majesty which through thy work doth reign,
Where couldst 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 rime, 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 Commend, And while I mean to Praise thee must offend. Thy verse created like thy theme sublime, In number, weight, and measure, needs not rime.
T 'HE measure is English heroic verse without
rime, as that of Homer in Greek, and of Virgil in Latin; rime 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 meter; grac'd 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 express’d them. Not without cause therefore fome both Italian and Spanish poets of prime note, have rejected rime 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 rime 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 riming.