When I beheld the Poet blind, yet bold,
In slender Book his vast Design unfold,
Messiah Crown’d, God’s Reconcil’d Decree,
Rebelling Angels, the Forbidden Tree,
Heav’n, Hell, Earth, Chaos, All; the Argument
Held me a while, misdoubting his Intent
That he would ruine (for I saw him strong)
The sacred Truths to Fable and old Song,
(So Sampson grop’d the Temple’s Posts in spite)
The World o’erwhelming to revenge his Sight.

Yet as I read, soon growing less severe,
I lik’d his Project, the success did fear;
Through that wide Field how he his way should find
O’er which lame Faith leads Understanding blind;
Lest he perplext the things he would explain,
And what was easie he should render vain.

Or if a Work so infinite he spann’d,
Jealous I was that some less skilful hand
(Such as disquiet alwayes what is well,
And by ill imitating would excell)
Might hence presume the whole Creations day
To change in Scenes, and show it in a Play.

Pardon me, mighty Poet, nor despise
My causeless, yet not impious, surmise.
But I am now convinc’d that none will dare
Within thy Labors to pretend a Share.
Thou hast not miss’d one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper dost omit:
So that no room is here for Writers left,
But to detect their Ignorance or Theft.

That Majesty which through thy Work doth Reign
Draws the Devout, deterring the Profane.
And things divine thou treatst of in such state
As them preserves, and Thee, inviolate.
At once delight and horrour on us seize,
Thou singst with so much gravity and ease;
And above humane flight dost soar aloft,
With Plume so strong, so equal, and so soft.
The Bird named from that Paradise you sing
So never Flags, but always keeps on Wing.

Where couldst thou Words of such a compass find?
Whence furnish such a vast expanse of Mind?
Just Heaven Thee, like Tiresias, to requite,
Rewards with Prophecie the loss of Sight.

Well might thou scorn thy Readers to allure
With tinkling Rhyme, of thine own Sense secure;
While the Town-Bayes 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.
The verse created like thy Theme sublime,
In Number, Weight, and Measure, needs not Rhime.

Ordained Servant Online, August/September, 2023.

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Ordained Servant: August–September 2023

The Second Century Church

Also in this issue

A Guide to the Second Century

The Voice of the Good Shepherd: God’s Method: Proclamation, Chapter 6[1]

Textual Criticism

Commentary on the Book of Discipline of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Chapter 6

Discouragement and the Ruling Elder: Letters to a Younger Ruling Elder, No. 7

Real Differences: The Danger of Radical Individualism: A Review Article

Big Answers to Big Questions

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