Mather Byles

Written in Milton's PARADISE LOST.

 Next Poem          

Had I, O had I all the tuneful Arts
Of lofty Verse; did ev'ry Muse inspire
My flowing Numbers, and adorn my Song!
Did Milton's Fire flash furious in my Soul;
Could I command the Harmony, the Force,
The glitt'ring Language, and the true Sublime
Whose mingled Beauties grace his glowing Lays,
Then should my Lines glide languishingly slow,
Or thundring roar, and rattle as they fleet,
Or, lovely-smiling, bud immortal Bloom,
As various as the Subjects they describe,
And imitate the Beauties which they mark.
Thus with ambitious Hand, I'd boldly snatch
A spreading Branch from his immortal Laurels.
But, O my Muse, where shall thy Song begin?
Or where conclude? ten thousand Glories charm
My ravish'd Heart, and dance before my Sight.
O Milton! I'm transported at thy Name!
My Soul takes Wing at once; or shoots away,
Born eager by a Tyde of Thought along.
Sometimes big Fury swells thy awful Verse,
And rolling Thunder bursts along thy Lines.
Now Hell is open'd, and I see the Flames
Wide-waving, blazing high, and flutt'ring dance:
Now clanking Chains amaze my list'ning Ears,
And hideous Spectres skim before my Sight,
Or in my wild Imagination stare.
Here Satan rears his mighty Bulk on high,
And tow'rs amid th' infernal Legions; fill'd
With Pride, and dire Revenge; daring his Looks;
Rage heaves his lab'ring Breast, and all around
His fiery Eye-balls formidably roll,
And dart destructive Flames; with dreadful Blaze
The ruddy Lightning rapid runs along,
And guilds the gloomy Regions of Despair,
With Streaks tremendous. Here assaults my Sight
The gressly Monster Death, He onward stalks
With horrid Strides, Hell trembles as he treads;
On his fierce Front a bold defiance low'rs;
Bent is his Brow, in his right Hand he shakes
His quiv'ring Lance. How fell the Fiend appears
In ev'ry Prospect, wrathful or serene?
Pleas'd, horrible he grins a gastly Smile;
And Erebus grows blacker as he Frowns.
But tell, immortal Muse, O Goddess! tell
The joyful Dread, the terrible Delight,
Which fill my Mind, when I behold the Ranks,
Th' embatt'led Ranks of mighty Cherubim,
In dreadful Quadrate croud the Plains of Heav'n.
I hear, I hear the Trumpets loud Alarms;
The keen Vibration cuts the yielding Air,
And the shril Clangors ring around the Sky.
I see the bold intrepid Cohorts move;
From ev'ry Scabbard flies a flaming Sword,
Wav'd by the mighty Combatants on high,
So flashing radiant from a gloomy Cloud,
Long Lightnings flourish with a livid Glare.
Now on at once th' immortal Hero's rush,
And with a sudden Onset shake the Field.
Hark! how confus'd Sounds thicken in the Air,
Mingling, tumultous, and perplex'd, and rough,
Of Shouts, and Groans, and grating Clang of Arms,
The twanging Bow, the Jav'lins deadly Hiss,
Loud-clashing Swords, and Spears encountring Spears.
Helms sound on Helms, on Bucklers Bucklers ring,
Vast waving Wings high in the Air are heard,
Whilst loud-resounding Feet beat thick the Ground,
And all the jarring Sounds of War unite,
In direful Discord, and outragious Roar.
Behold, my Muse, where Michael bends his Course,
Starts his swift Car, and bounds impetuous on,
With rapid Rage it rattles thro' the Ranks,
Smokes o'er the Field, and drives the War along.
But who can tell the Raptures which I feel,
When fix'd in deep Astonishment, my Eyes
Behold Messiah, dread Messiah! arm'd
With all the dire Artillery of God?
Unnumber'd Seraphim around him throng,
Clap their expanded Wings, and shout aloud;
Heav'ns mighty Concave echo's to their Voice,
The everlasting Hills return the Sound.
Oh! how I feel the noble Ardor warm
My beating Breast, and thrill along my Veins!
My charging Spirits pour around my Heart;
My Eyes bright-sparkling with immortal Fires.
His flying Chariot shakes the tott'ring Sky,
Swift all the vast Expanse behind him rolls,
Resistless Thunders rattle from his Hand,
Devouring Lightnings shoot beneath his Feet,
Ten thousand Terrors thicken where he bends.
What Havock! What Confusion spreads the Plain!
What Myriads fall by his descending Bolts,
Dash'd to the Ground, and crush'd beneath his Wheels?
Tumult and Ruin, Horror, Rage and Death,
Play round his Sword, and shake their shaggy Wings:
Hell flames before him, wild Despair stalks on,
And purple Vict'ry hovers o'er his Head.
Great GOD! what Vengeance kindled in thy Eyes!
What Thunders bellow'd! and what Lightnings blaz'd!
When Satan, daring Chief of all thy Foes!
Was seiz'd, as trembling and agast he stood,
Seiz'd by thy mighty Hand, and rais'd aloft,
Then headlong hurl'd down the high Steep of Heav'n?
At the dire Sight his bold compeers amaz'd,
Confounded, shiver ev'n amidst the Flames,
Forget to Fight, drop all their idle Arms,
Swift from thy Fury fly away, and down
Down from the tow'ring Battlements they rush
Precipitant, into the Dark profound,
Whilst Chaos loud rebellows to the Fall.
No more--my fainting Muse folds up her Wings,
Unable to sustain so strong a Flight--
The Battle only Raphael should relate,
Or Milton in such Strains as Raphael sings.
Let softer Subjects now command my Muse,
Let softer Numbers smoothly flow along,
And bloom, and blossom as the Ever-greens,
That deck the flow'ry Face of Paradise.
O Milton, Eden opens by thy Art,
And with redoubl'd Beauty wanton smiles.
I'm charm'd, I'm ravish'd, all my Soul dissolves,
I loose my Life amid the heav'nly Scenes;
That in gay Order from thy Pencil flow.
O beauteous Garden! O delightful Walks!
In you forever, ever will I stray,
Glide o'er thy flow'ry Vales, climb thy fair Hills,
And thro' thy fragrant Lawns transported tread.
I'd trace the mazy Windings of thy Bow'rs,
And in the Gloom of thy surrounding Groves
Ask the cool Shadow, and the fanning Breeze.
Here rising Perfume should regale my Smell,
And heav'nly Harmony transport my Ears;
While all the Trees around, to court a look,
Flourish luxuriant with unfading Charms.
Roses, and Violets, and Daffodils,
And gaudy Tulips of a thousand Dyes,
Shall spring profusely round; the Lilly too,
Ambitious, offer its unsullied White,
To grace a Garland for fair Innocence.
Ye feather'd Songsters of the Spring, arise,
Display your spangled Plumes, where twinkling Gems,
With blended Beauties, cast a doubtful Blaze,
And, keenly-flashing, strike the Gazer's Sight.
Let your sweet Voices warble thro' the Grove,
While in concording Harmony I hear
The purling Murmurs of the bubbling Brooks.
Mean time the embroider'd Banks on either Hand
Shall open all their everlasting Sweets,
Their verdant Honours, and their flow'ry Pride,
As the pure floating Volumes wind along.
Here the first Pair, divinely reign'd supream,
And sunk reclining on the flow'ry Turff.
Hail, happy Adam, Heav'n adorns thy Soul,
Full bless'd. And thou, immortal Mother, Hail!
O heav'nly-fair, divinely-beauteous Eve!
Thee to adorn what endless Charms conspire?
Cælestial Coral blushes on thy Lips,
No op'ning Rose glows with so bright a Bloom.
Thy Breath abroad diffusive Odor spreads,
A gay Carnation purples o'er thy Cheeks,
While thy fair Eyes roll round their radiant Orbs,
With winning Majesty, and nat'ral Art.
Thy waving Tresses on thy Shoulders play,
Flow loosely down, and wanton in the Wind.
You, am'rous Zephires, kiss her snowy Breast,
Flit softly by, and gently lift her Locks.
Forgive, fair Mother, O forgive thy Son,
Forgive his vain Redundance of Expression,
Fir'd by thy Beauty, and by Milton's Song.
Here could the ravish'd Fancy rove perpetual,
Amid the Raptures, the transporting Bliss,
That in soft Measures move for ever round.--
But, O my Muse, shake off these idle Dreams,
Imaginary Trances! vain Illusions!
Count the gay Stars, and number all the Sands,
And ev'ry Drop that in the Ocean floats:
But never hope to sum th' unnumber'd Charms,
That swim before thy ever-ravish'd Eyes,
When they on thee, O Milton, give a glance.
In vain thou striv'st to lisp his lofty Praise;
Imperfect Accents flutter round thy Tongue,
And on thy Lips unfinish'd, Milton dies.
His mighty Numbers tow'r above thy Sight,
Mock thy low Musick, and elude thy Strains.

Next Poem 

 Back to
Mather Byles