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depicted as at rest within the concave of the Empyrean. Satan, chained to the floor of Hell, is paying the penalty of his reckless ambition; while between the Empyrean and Hell the fallen Angels are being hurled through Chaos to their place of doom.
In another of the illuminations, depicting the return of Hell's Champion Fiend after the Fall of Man, the blackness of Chaos is vividly represented as surrounding Hell proper, and the glare of the surging fires within, darting upwards through the Gates of Hell, like a fire-cloud seen through the mist, illu
mines, for a small space, the lowest boundaries of Chaos.
In this, the first and introductory section of the poem, Cædmon gives a skilful and succinct statement of his theme, and adds such details of the setting of the narrative as would enable a monastic, or even a rustic, audience to picture to the mind, in correct perspective, the scenes which his imagination is about to portray. In other words, it is a masterly outlining of the whole argument of the poem, end
ing as a sub-climax with the "deep-racking pain" of the fiends in Hell.
The next section, which is the true beginning of the story, opens with the deep peace that reigned in Heaven after the expulsion of the rebel Angels; and depicts the Deity, as resolved in mind, to repeople with a better race the Northern quarter of His celestial domain, which had been left vacant by the fall of Satan and his followers. It is at this point, that the poet gives his fine description of the concave of Chaos, which we have already quoted; an eternal sea of blackest Night, forever surging and raging beneath the "vast celestial Firmament" or Empyrean.
Within this concave of seething elements and primal darkness, the Deity resolves to create a new World or Starry Universe and, at its centre, form an earthly Paradise as the abode of the favoured Being, whom He was about to make in His own image and similitude. The poet then sings successively of the creation of Light, the raising of the starry Firmament, and the separation of Land and Water, which, together, comprise the work of Creation of the first two and part of the third Days.
At this point, there is a break in the manuscript, and vestiges showing that three leaves of the poem have been cut out.
The narrative is then resumed with the account of the formation of Eve on the sixth and last Day of Creation, and the section ends with the greater Benediction, when the Deity blesses his masterpiece of creative skill, the new-formed Man, and utters His threefold mandate, to teem and multiply and fill the earth; to assume control over all creation; and strictly to abstain from the alluring fruit of the Tree of Death. This work accomplished, the Angels' Chieftain returns to the Empyrean, leaving to Man the earthly concave as his home.
The conditions of the setting of the narrative in this section of the poem, require one further change in the diagram of infinite space. The World or Universe, as conceived by Cædmon in his description of the Creation, is not the little planet that we call Earth, but the whole of the Starry Universe which surrounds us, as far as the eye can see, with its entire canopy of planets and suns and fixed stars, hung as it were at its highest point or zenith from the Empyrean. The Cædmonian diagram, as finally adapted to the necessities of the narrative, will henceforth consist of four concaves; the Empyrean or Heaven, the World or Starry Universe, Chaos or the Abyss, and Hell.
As, in the case of the other concaves which have already been described, so here, we are not left to
mere conjecture, or to the play of our own imagination for our understanding of the poem; but have both Cadmon's verse, and the artist's drawings to guide us.
The poet tells us :
Then Holy God resolved, beneath the vast,
His boundless realms), to form a beauteous World
And earthly creatures filled, in place of those
And the position of this Starry Universe in space, here so clearly defined, is rendered even clearer still,