« PreviousContinue »
To whom our general ancestor replied :
Daughter of God and Man, accomplish'd Eve, 660
These have their course to finish round the earth,
By morrow evening, and from land to land
In order, though to nations yet unborn,
Ministering light prepared, they set and rise ;
Lest total Darkness should by night regain
Her old possession, and extinguish life
In Nature and all things; which these soft fires
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat
Of various influence foment and warm,
Temper or nourish, or in part shed down.
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun's more potent ray.
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night, 674
Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none,
That Heaven would want spectators, God want praiso
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep;
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night : How often from sheep
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to other's note,
Singing their great Creator? oft in bands
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk, 685
With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds
In full harmonic number join'd, their songs
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven:
Thus talking, hand in hand alone they passid
On to their blissful bower : it was a place 690
Chosen by the sov'reign Planter, when he framed
All things to Man's delightful use : the roof
Of thickest covert was inwoven shade
Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew
Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side 695
Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,
Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine,
Rear'd high their flourish'd heads between, and wrought
Mosaic ; underfoot the violet,
Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay
Broider'd the ground, more colour'd than with stone
Of costliest emblem : Other creature here,
Bird, beast, insect, or worm, durst enter none,
Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower 705
More sacred and sequester'd, though but feign'd,
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph
Nor Faunus haunted. Here, in close recess,
With flowers, garlands, and sweet-smelling herbs,
Espoused Eve deck'd first her nuptial bed : 710
And heavenly choirs the hymenæan sung,
What day the genial Angel to our sire
Brought her in naked beauty more adorn'd,
More lovely, than Pandora, whom the Gods
Endow'd with all their gifts, and O! too like 715
In sad event, when to the unwiser son
Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared
Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged
On him who had stolen Jove's authentic fire.
Thus, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood, 720 Both turn'd, and under open sky adored The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heaven, Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe, And starry pole : Thou also madest the night, Maker Omnipotent, and thou the day Which we, in our appointed work employd, Have finish'd, happy in our mutual help And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss
For us too large, where thy abundance wants
Partakers, and uncropp'd falls to the ground.
But thou hast promised from us two a race
To fill the earth, who shall with us extol
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.
This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower
Handed they went; and, eased the putting off
These troublesome disguises which we wear, 740
Straight side by side were laid ; nor turn'd, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refused :
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity, and place, and innocence,
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
Our Maker bids increase ; who bids abstain
But our Destroyer, foe to God and Man?
Hail, wedded Love! mysterious law, true source 750
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise of all things common else.
By thee adulterous Lust was driven from men
Among the bestial herds to range ; by thee,
Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known.
Far be it, that I should write thee sin or blame,
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,
760 Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced, Present or past, as saints and patriarchs used. Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings, Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile 765 Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendear'd, Casual fruition; nor in court amours, Mix'd dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball, Or serenate, which the starved lever sings To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain. 1770
These, lulld by nightingales, embracing slept
And on their naked limbs the flowery roof
Shower'd roses, which the morn repair'd. Sleep on,
Bless'd pair ! and O! yet happiest, if ye seek
No happier state, and know to know no more. 775
Now had night measured with her shadowy cone
Half way up hill this vast sublunar vault,
And from their ivory port the Cherubim,
Forth issuing at the accustom'd hour, stood arm'd
To their night watches in warlike parade; 780
When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake : -
Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south With strictest.watch; these other wheel the north; Our circuit meets full west. As flame they part, Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear. 785 From these two strong and subtle Spirits he callid That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge.
Ithuriel and Zephon, with wing'd speed Search through this garden, leave unsearch'd no nook ; But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, 790 Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm. This evening from the sun's decline arrived, Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen Hitherward bent (who could have thought :) escaped The bars of Hell, on errand bad no doubt ;' Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.
So saying, on he led his radiant files, Dazzling the moon ; these to the bower direct In search of whom they sought: Him there they found Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve, 800 Assaying by his devilish art to reach The organs of her fancy, and with them forge Illusions, as he list, phantasms and dreams; Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint The animal spirits that from pure blood arise 805 Like gentle breaths, from rivers pure, thence raise At least distemper’d, discontented thoughts, Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,
Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touch'd lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness : Up he starts
Discover'd and surprised. As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid
Fit for the tun some magazine to store
Against a rumour'd war, the smutty grain,
With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air;
So started up in his own shape the Fiend.
Back stepp'd those two fair Angels, half amazed 820
So sudden to behold the grisly king;
Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon :
Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell Comest thou, escaped thy prison ? and, transform’d, Why sat'st thou like an enemy in wait,
825 Here watching at the head of these that sleep?
know ye not then, said Satan, fill'd with scorn, Know ye not me ? ye knew me once no mate For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar: Not to know me argues yourselves unknown, 830 The lowest of your throng; or, if ye know, Why ask ye, and superfluous begin Your message, like to end as much in vain ?
To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn: Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same, 835 Or undiminish'd brightness to be known, As when thou stood'st in Heaven upright and pure; That glory then, when thou no more wast good, Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now Thy sin and place of doom, obscure and foul. 840 But come ; for thou, be sure, shalt give account To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep This place inviolable, and these from harm.
So spake the Cherub: and his grave rebuke, Severe in youthful beauty, added grace
845 Invincible : Abash'd the Devil stood,