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Ad poenas fugiunt, et ceu foret Orcus asylum
Et quos fama recens vel celebravit anus.
SAMUEL BARROW, M. D.
ON PARADISE LOST.
WHEN I beheld the poet blind, yet bold,
(So Sampson grop'd the temple's posts in spite)
I lik'd his project, the success did fear;
Through that wide field how he his way should find
Jealous I was that some less skilful hand
Might hence presume the whole creation's day
My causeless, yet not impious, surmise.
Thou hast not miss'd one thought that could be fit,
That majesty which through thy work doth reign Draws the devout, deterring the profane.
And things divine thou treat'st of in such state
Where could'st thou words of such a compass find?
Well mightest thou scorn thy readers to allure
And while I meant to praise thee must commend.1
In number, weight, and measure, needs not rhyme.
1 See note in Life, p. lxxvii.
"THE 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 Meeter; grac't indeed since by the use of some famous modern Poets, carried away by Custom, but much to thir own vexation, hindrance, and constraint, to express many things otherwise, and for the most part worse, then else they would have exprest them. Not without cause, therefore, some 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 eares, triveal 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 avoyded 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 esteem'd an example set, the first in English, of ancient liberty recover'd to Heroic Poem from the troublesom and modern bondage of Rimeing."