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None can than Heaven such glorious shape contain;
Since, by descending from the thrones above,
Those happy places thou hast deign'd a while
To want, and honoar these, vouchsafe with us 365
Two only, who yet by sov’reign gift possess
This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower
To rest; and what the garden choicest bears
To sit and taste, till this meridian heat
Be over, and the sun inore cool decline.

370
Whom thus the angelic Virtue answer'd mild :
Adam, I therefore came ; nor art thou such
Created, or such place hast here to dwell,
As may not oft invite, though Spirits of Heaven,
To visit thee ; lead on then where thy bower 375
O'ershades; for these midhours, till evening rise,
I have at will. So to the silvan lodge
They came, that like Pomona's arbour smiled,
With flowerets deck'd, and fragrant smells; but Eve,
Undeck'd save with herself, more lovely fair 380
Than Woodnymph, or the fairest Goddess feign’d
Of three that in mount Ida naked strove,
Stood to entertain her guest from Heaven; no veil
She needed, virtue-proof; no thought infirm
Alter'd her cheek. On whom the Angel Hail 385
Bestow'd, the holy salutation used
Long after to bless’d Mary, second Eve.

Hail, Mother of Mankind, whose fruitful womb Shall fill the world more numerous with thy sons Than with these various fruits the trees of God 390 Have heap'd this table Raised of grassy turf Their table was, and mossy seats had round, And on her ample square from side to side All autumn piled, though spring and autumn here Danced hand in hand. A while discourse they hold ; 395 No fear lest dinner cool ; when thus began Our author : Heavenly stranger, please to taste These bounties, which our Nourisher, from whom All perfect good, unmeasured out, descends,

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To us for food and for delight hath caused 405
The earth to yield; unsavoury food perhaps
To spiritual nature ; only this I know,
That one celestial Father gives to all.

To whom the Angel : Therefore what he gives
(Whose praise be ever sung) to Man in part 410
Spiritual, may of purest Spirits be found
No ingrateful food : and food alike those pure

Intelligential substances require,
· As doth your rational; and both contain:

Within them every lower faculty
Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste,
Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,
And corporeal to incorporeal turn.
For know, whatever was created needs
To be sustain'd and fed : of elements
The grosser feeds the purer, earth the sea,
Earth and the sea feed air, the air those fires
Ethereal, and as lowest first the moon ;
Whence in her visage round those spots, unpurged
Vapours not yet into her substance turn’d.
Nor doth the moon no nourishment exhale
From her moist continent to higher orbs.
The sun, that light imparts to all, receives
From all his alimental recompense
In humid exhalations, and at even

430
Sups with the ocean. Though in Heaven the trees
Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines
Yield nectar; though from off the boughs each morn
We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground
Cover'd with pearly grain : yet God hath here 435
Varied his bounty so with new delights,
As may compare with Heaven; and to taste
Think not I shall be nice. So down they sat,
And to their viands fell; nor seemingly
The Angel, nor in mist, the common gloss 440
Of Theologians; but with keen despatch
Of real hunger, and concoctive heat

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To transubstantiate : what redounds transpires
Through Spirits with ease: nor wonder; if by fire
Of sooty coal the empiric alchemist

445
Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold,
As from the mine. Meanwhile at table Eve
Minister'd naked, and their flowing cups
With pleasant liquors crown'd: 0) innocence 450

Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
Enamour'd at that sight; but in those hearts
Loye unlibidinous reign'd, nor jealousy
Was understood, the injured lover's hell.

455
Thus when with meats and drinks they had sufficed,
Not burden'd nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam, not to let the occasion pass
Given him by this great conference to know
Of things above his world, and of their being 460
Who dwell in Heaven, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far; whose radiant forms,
Divine effulgence, whose high power, so far
Exceeded human; and his wary speech
Thus to the empyreal minister he framed : 465

Inhabitant with God, now know I well Thy favour, in this honour done to Man: Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsafed To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste, Food not of Angels, yet accepted so, As that more willingly thou couldst not seem At Heaven's high feasts to have fed; yet what compare?

To whom the winged Hierarch replied: O Adam, One Almighty is, from whom All things proceed, and up to him return, 475 If not depraved from good, created all Such to perfection, one first matter all, Endued with various forms, various degrees Of substance, and, in things that live, of life ; But more refined, more spiritous, and pure, 480

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As nearer to him placed, or nearer tending
Each in their several active spheres assign'd,
Till body up to spirit work, in bounds
Proportion'd to each kind. So from the root
Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves
More aery, last the bright consummate flower 486
Spirit odórous breathes : flowers and their fruit,
Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublimed,
To vital spirits aspire, to animal,
To intellectual ; give both life and sense,

490
Fancy and understanding ; whence the soul
Reason receives, and reason is her being,
Discursive, or intuitive; discourse
Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours,
Differing but in degree, of kind the same. 495
Wonder not then, what God for you saw good
If I refuse not, but convert, as you,
To proper substance. Time may come, when Men
With Angels may participate, and find
No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare;

500
And from these corporal nutriments perhaps
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,
Improved by tract of time, and, wing'd, ascend
Ethereal, as we; or may, at choice,
Here or in heavenly Paradises dwell;

505
If ye be found obedient, and retain
Unalterably firm his love entire,
Whose progeny you are. Meanwhile enjoy.
Your fill what happiness this happy state
Can comprehend, incapable of more.

510
To whom the patriarch of mankind replied :
O favourable Spirit, propitious guest,
Well hast thou taught the way that might direct
Our knowledge, and the scale of nature set
From centre to circumference ; whereon, • 515
In contemplation of created things,
By steps we may ascend to God. But say,
What meant that caution join'd, If ye be found

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Obedient ? Can we want obedience then
To him, or possibly his love desert,
Who form'd us from the dust and placed us here,

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Human desires can seek or apprehend ?
To whom the Angel: Son of Heaven and Earth,
Attend ! That thou art happy, owe to God;
That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,
That is, to thy obedience; therein stand.
This was that caution given thee; be advised.
God made thee perfect, not immutable ;
And good he made thee, but to persevere
He left it in thy power; ordain'd thy will
By nature free, not overruled by fate

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Our voluntary service he requires,
Not our necessitated; such with him

535
Finds no acceptance, nor can find ; for how
Can hearts, not free, be tried whether they serve
Willing or no, who will but what they must
By destiny, and can no other choose ?
Myself, and all the angelic host, that stand 540
In sight of God enthroned, our happy state
Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds;
On other surety none: freely we serve,
Because we freely love, as in our will.
To love or not; in this we stand or fall: 545
And some are fallen, to disobedience fallen, .
And so from Heaven to deepest Hell; O fall
From what high state of bliss, into what woe!

To whom our great progenitor : Thy words Attentive, and with more delighted ear,

550 Divine instructor, I have heard, than when Cherubic songs by night from neighbouring hills Aerial music send : nor knew I not To be both will and deed created free; Yet that we never shall forget to love

550 Our Maker, and obey him whose command

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