Page images
PDF

With their attendant moons, thus wilt descry,
Communicating male and female light;
Which too great sexes animate the world,
Stored in each orb perhaps with some that live.
For such vast room in nature unpossessed
By living soul, desert and desolate,
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute
Each orb a glimpse of light, conveyed so far
Down to this habitable, which returns
Light back to them, is obvious to dispute.
But whether thus these things, or whether not;
Whether the sun, predominant in Heaven,
Rise on the earth; or earth rise cn the sun;
He from the east his flaming road begin;
Or she from west her silent course advance,
With inoffensive pace that spinning sleeps
On her soft axle, while she paces even,
And bears thee soft with the smooth air along;
Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid;
Leave them to God above; him serve and fear;
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,
Wherever placed, let him dispose: joy thou
In what he gives to thee, this Paradise
And thy fair Eve; Heaven is for thee too high
To know what passes there; be lowly wise:
Think only what concerns thee and thy being;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition or degree;
Contented that thus far hath becn revealed,
Not of earth only, but of highest Heaven.”
To whom thus Adam, cleared of doubt, replied,
“How fully hast thou satisfied me, pure
Intelligence of Heaven, angel serene
And freed from intricacies, taught to live
The easiest way, nor with perplexing thoughts
To interrupt the sweet of life, from which
God hath bid dwell far off all anxious cares,
And not molest us unless we ourselves
Seek them with wand'ring thoughts, and notions
vain.
But apt the mind or fancy is to rove
Unchecked, and of her roving is no end;
Till warned, or by experience taught, she learn,
That not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and subtle, hut, to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom: what is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence,
And renders us, in things that most concern,
Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.
Therefore from this high pitch let us descend
A lower flight, and speak of things at hand
Useful; whence haply mention may arise
Of something not unseasonable to ask,
By sufferance, and thy wonted favour, deigned.
Thee I have heard relating what was done
Ere my remembrance: now hear me relate
My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard;
And day is yet not spent; till then thou seest

How subtly to detain thee I devise,
Inviting thee to hear while I relate,
Fond, were it not in hope of thy reply;
For while 1 sit with thee, I seem in Heaven;
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both, from labour, at the hour
Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill,
Though pleasant; but thy words, with grace di-
vine
Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety.”
To whom thus Raphael answered, heavenly
meek:
“Nor are thy lips ungraceful, sire of men,
Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee
Abundantly his gifts hath also poured
Inward and outward both, his image fair:
Speaking or mute, all comeliness and grace
Attends thee, and each word, each motion forms;
Nor less think we in Heaven of thee on earth
Than our fellow-servant, and inquire
Gladly into the ways of God with man:
For God, we see, hath honoured thee and set
On man his equal love: say therefore on;
For I that day was absent, as befell,
Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure,
Far on excursion toward the gates of hell;
Squared in full legion (such command we had)
To see that none thence issued forth a spy,
Or enemy, while God was in his work;
Lest he, incensed at such eruption bold,
Destruction with creation might have mixed;
Not that they durst without his leave attempt,
But us he sends upon his high behests
For state, as sovereign King, and to insure
Our prompt obedience. Fast we found, fast shut
The dismal gates, and barricadoed strong;
But long ere our approaching heard within
Noise other than the sound of dance or song,
Torment, axd loud lament, and furious rage.
Glad we returned up to the coasts of light
Ere sabbath evening: so we had in charge.
But thy relation now; for I attend,
Pleased with thy words no less than thou with
mine.”
So spake the godlike power, and thus our sire:
“For man to tell how human life began,
Is hard; for who himself beginning knew?
Desire with thee still longer to converse
Induced me. As new waked from soundest sleep,
Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid,
In balmy sweat, which with his beams the sun
Soon dried, and on the reeking moisture fed.
Straight toward Heaven my wondering eyes I
turned
And gazed awhile the ample sky; till, raised
By quick instinctive motion, up I sprung,
As thitherward endeavouring, and upright

|Stood on my feet: about me round I saw

Hill, dale, and shady woods, and sunny plains,
And liquid lapse of murmuring streams; by these,
Creatures that lived and moved, and walked, or
flew;
Birds on the branches warbling; all things smiled;
With fragrance and with joy my heart o'erflowed.
Myself I then perused, and limb by limb
Surveyed, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran
With supple joints, as lively vigour led:
But who I was, or where, or from what cause,
Knew not; to speak I tried, and forthwith spake;
My tongue obeyed, and readily could name .
Whate'er I saw, ‘Thou sun,” said I, ‘fair light,
And thou enlightened earth, so fresh and gay,
Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods, and plains,
And ye that live and move, fair creatures, tell,
Tell, if ye saw, how came I thus, how here?
Not of myself; by some great Maker then,
In goodness and in power pre-eminent:
Tell me, how may I know him, how adore,
From whom I have that thus I move and live,
And feel that I am happier than I know.’
While thus I called, and strayed, I knew not whi-
ther,
From where I first drew air, and first beheld
This happy light, when, answer none returned,
On a green shady bank, profuse of flowers
Pensive I sat me down; there gentle sleep
First found me, and with soft oppression seized
My drowsed sense, untroubled, though I thought
I then was passing to my former state
Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve:
When suddenly stood at my head a dream,
Whose inward apparition gently moved
My fancy to believe I yet had being,
And lived: one came, methought, of shape divine,
And said, ‘Thy mansion wants thee Adam; rise,
First man, of men innumerable ordained
First father! called by thee, I come thy guide
To the garden of bliss, thy seat prepared.’
So saying, by the hand he took me raised,
And over fields and waters, as in air
Smooth sliding without step, last led me up
A woody mountain; whose high top was plain,
A circuit wide, enclosed, with goodliest trees
Planted, with walks, and bowers, that what I saw
Of earth before scarce pleasant seemed. Each
tree,
Loaden with fairest fruit that hung to the eye
Tempting, stirred in me sudden appetite
To pluck and eat; whereat I waked, and found
Before mine eyes all real, as the dream
Had lively shadowed: here had new begun
My wandering, had not he, who was my guide
Up hither, from among the trees appeared,
Presence divine. Rejoicing, but with awe,
In adoration at his feet I fell
Submiss: he reared me," and whom thou sought'st

[ocr errors]

Said mildly, ‘Author of all this thou seest
Above, or round about thee, or beneath,
This Paradise I give thee, count it thine
To till and keep, and of the fruit to eat:
Of every tree that in the garden grows
Eat freely with glad heart; fear here no dearth:
But of the tree whose operation brings
Knowledge of good and ill, which I have set
The pledge of thy obedience and thy faith,
Amid the garden by the tree of life,
Remember what I warn thee, shun to taste,
And shun the bitter consequence: for know,
The day thou eat'st thereof, my sole command
Transgressed, inevitably thou shalt die,
From that day mortal, and this happy state
Shalt lose, expelled from hence into a world
Of wo and sorrow.' Sternly he pronounced
The rigid interdiction, which resounds
Yet dreadful in mine ear, though my choice
Not to incur; but soon his clear aspect
Returned, and gracious purpose thus renewed.
‘Not only these fair bounds, but all the earth
To thee and to thy race I give: as lords
Possess it, and all things that therein live,
Or live in sea, or air; beast, fish, and fowl.
In sign whereof each bird and beast behold
After their kinds; I bring them to receive
From thee their names, and pay thee fealty
With low subjection; understand the same
Of fish within their watery residence,
Not hither summoned, since they can not change
Their element, to draw the thinner air.’
As thus he spake, each bird and beast behold
Approaching two and two; these cowering low
With blandishment; each bird stooped on his
wing.
I named them, as they passed, and understood
Their nature, with such knowledge God endued
My sudden apprehension: but in these
I found not what methought I wanted still:
And to the heavenly vision thus presumed.
“‘O by what name, for thou above all these,
Above mankind, or aught than mankind higher,
Surpasseth far my naming, how may I
Adore thee, Author of this universe,
And all this good to man? for whose well being
So amply, and with hands so liberal,
Thou hast provided all things: but with me
I see not who partakes. In solitude
What happiness, who can enjoy alone,
Or, all enjoying, what contentment find o'
Thus I presumptuous; and the vision bright,
As with a smile more brightened, thus replied:
“‘What call'st thou solitude 2 is not the earth
With various living creatures, and the air,
Replenished, and all these at thy command
To come and plav before thee! knowest thou not
Their language and their ways 1 they also know,
And reason not contemptibly: with these

Find pastime, and bear rule; thy realm is large.’ So spake the universal Lord, and seemed So ordering. I, with leave of speech implored, And humble deprecation, thus replied. “‘Let not my words offend thee, heavenly power: My Maker, be propitious while I speak. Hast thou not made me here thy substitute, And these inferior far beneath me set? Among unequals what society Can sort, what harmony or true delight? Which must be mutual, in proportion due Given and received; but in disparity, The one intense, the other still remiss, Can not well suit with either, but soon prove Tedious alike; of fellowship I speak Such as I seek, fit to participate All rational delight, wherein the brute Can not be human consort; they rejoice Each with their kind, lion with lioness; So fitly them in pairs thou hast combined: Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl So well converse, nor with the ox the ape: Worse then can man with beast, and least of all.' “Whereto th' Almighty answered, not displeased. ‘A nice and subtle happiness, I see, Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice Of thy associates, Adam, and wilt taste No pleasure, though in pleasure, solitary. What think'st thou then of me, and this my state? Seem I to thee sufficiently possessed Of happiness, or not who am alone From all eternity; for none I know Second to me or like, equal much less. How have I then with whom to hold converse, Save with the creatures which I made, and those To me inferior, infinite descents Beneath what other creatures are to thee ''' “He ceased; I lowly answered. “To attain The height and depth of thy eternal ways All human thoughts come short, Supreme of things! Thou in thyself art perfect, and in thee Is no deficience found; not so is man, But in degree; the cause of his desire By conversation with his like to help, Or solace his defects. No need that thou Should'st propagate, already infinite, And through all numbers absolute, though one; But man by number is to manifest His single imperfection, and beget Like of his like, his image multiplied, In unity defective, which require Collateral love, and dearest amity Thou in thy secrecy, although alone, Best with thyself accompanied, seek'st not Social communication; yet, so pleased, Canst raise thy creature to what height thou wilt

Of union or communion, deified: I, by conversing, can not these erect From prone; nor in their ways complacence find. Thus I emboldened spake, and freedom used Permissive, and acceptance found; which gained This answer from the gracious voice divine. “‘Thus far to try thee, Adam, I was pleased; And find knowing, not of beasts alone, Which thou hast rightly named, but of thyself; Expressing well the spirit within thee free, My image, not imparted to the brute; Whose fellowship therefore unmeet for thee Good reason wast thou freely shouldst dislike; And be so minded still: I, ere thou spakist, Knew it not good for man to be alone, And no such company as then thou saw'st Intended thee, for trial only brought, To see how thou could'st judge of fit and meet: What next I bring shall please thee, be assured, Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self, Thy wish exactly to thy heart's desire.” “He ended, or I heard no more; for now My earthly by his Heavenly overpowered, Which it had long stood under, strained to th’ height In that celestial colloquy sublime, As with an object that excels the sense, Dazzled and spent, sunk down, and sought repair Of sleep, which instantly fell on me, called By nature, as in aid, and closed mine eyes. Mine eyes he closed, but open left the cell Of fancy, my internal sight, by which, Abstract as in a trance, methought I saw, Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape Still glorious before whom awake I stood; Who, stooping, opened my left side, and took From thence a rib, with cordial spirits warm, And life-blood streaming fresh; wide was the wound, But suddenly with flesh filled up and healed: The rib he formed and fashioned with his hands; Under his forming hands a creature grew, Manlike, but different sex; so lovely fair, That what seemed fair in all the world, seemed now Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained And in her looks, which from that time infused Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before, And into all things from her air inspired The spirit of love and amorous delight. She disappeared, and left me dark; I waked To find her, or for ever to deplore Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure: When out of hope, behold her, not far off, Such as I saw her in my dream, adorned With what all earth or Heaven could bestow To make her amiable: on she came, Led by her Heavenly Maker, though unseen, And guided by his voice; nor uninformed

Of nuptial sanctity, and marriage rites:
Grace was in all her steps, Heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
I, overjoyed, could not forbear aloud.
“‘This turn hath made amends; thou hast sul-
filled
Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign,
Giver of all things fair but fairest this
Of all thy gifts! nor enviest. I now see
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, myself
Before me; woman is her name, of man
Extracted: for this cause he shall forego
Father and mother, and to his wife adhere;
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul.”
“She heard me thus, and, though divinely
brought,
Yet innocence and virgin modesty,
Her virtue and the conscience of her worth,
That would be wooed, and not unsought be won,
Not obvious, not obstrusive, but retired,
The more desirable; or, to say all,
Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought,
Wrought in her so, that, seeing me, she turned:
I followed her; she what was honour knew,
And with obsequious majesty approved
My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower
I led her blushing like the morn: all Heaven,
And happy constellations, on that hour
Shed their selectest influence; the earth
Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill;
Joyous the birds; fresh gales and gentle airs
Whispered it to the woods, and from their wings
Flung rose, flung odours from the spicy shrub,
Disporting, till the amorous bird of night
Sung spousal, and bid haste the evening star
On his hill top, to light the bridal lamp.
“Thus have I told thee all my state, and brought
My story to the sum of earthly bliss,
Which I enjoy; and must confess to find
In all things else, delight indeed, but such
As, used or not, works in the mind no change,
Nor vehement desire; these delicacies,
I mean of taste, sight, smell, herbs, fruits, and
flowers,
Walks, and the melody of birds: but here
Far otherwise, transported I behold,
Transported touch; here passion first I felt,
Commotion stranges in all enjoyments else
Superior and unmoved; here only weak
Against the charm of beauty's powerful glance.
Or nature failed in me, and left some part
Not proof enough such object to sustain;
Or, from my side subducting, took perhaps
More than enough; at least on her bestowed
Too much of ornament, in outward show
Elaborate, of inward less exact.
For well I understand in the prime end
Of nature her th’ inferior in the mind
And inward faculties, which most excel;

In outward also her resembling less
His image who made both, and less expressing
The character of that dominion given
O'er other creatures: yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say,
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best; o
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded; wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discountenanced, and like folly shows;
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind, and nobleness, their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic placed.”
To whom the angel, with contracted brow.
“Accuse not nature, she hath done her part;
Do thou but thine; and be not diffident
Of wisdom; she deserts thee not, if thou
Dismiss not her, when most thou need'st her nigh,
By attributing over much to things
Less excellent, as thou thyself perceiv'st.
For what admirest thou, what transports thee so,
An outside 1 fair, no doubt, and worthy well
Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love;
Not thy subjection: weigh with her thyself;
Then value: ofttimes nothing profits more
Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right
Well managed; of that skill the more thou know-
est,
The more she will acknowledge thee her head,
And to realities yield all her shows:
Made so adorn for thy deliget the more.
So awful, that with honour thou may’st love
Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise:
But if the sense of touch, whereby mankind
Is propagated, seem such dear delight
Beyond all other, think the same vouchsafed
To cattle and each beast; which would not be
To them made common and divulged, if aught
Therein enjoyed were worthy to subdue
The soul of man, or passion in him move.
What higher in her society thou find'st
Attractive, human, rational, love still;
In loving thou dost well, in passion not,
Wherein true love consists not; love refines
The thoughts, and heart enlarges; hath his seat
In reason, and is judicious; is the scale
By which to heavenly love thou may’st ascend,
Not sunk in carnal pleasure; for which cause
Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.”
To whom thus, half abashed, Adam replied.
“Neither her outside, formed so fair; nor aught
In procreation common to all kinds
(Though higher of the genial bed by far,
And with mysterious reverence I deem)

[ocr errors]

So much delights me, as those graceful acts,

Those thousand decencies, that daily flow
From all her words and actions, mixed with love
And sweet compliance, which declare unseigned
Union of mind, or in us both one soul;
Harmony to behold in wedded pair
More grateful than harmonious sound to the ear.
Yet these subject not; I to thee disclose
What inward thence I feel, not therefore foiled,
Who meet with various objects, from the sense
Variously representing: yet, still free,
Approve the best, and follow what I approve.
To love thou blam'st me not, for love, thou say'st,
Leads up to Heaven, is both the way and guide:
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask:
Love not the heavenly spirits, and how their love
Express they by looks only 1 or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch ""
To whom the angel, with a smile that glowed
Celestial rosy red, love's proper hue,
Answered. “Let it suffice thee that thou knowest
Us happy, and without love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoy'st,
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence, and obstacle find none
Of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars;
Easier than air with air, if spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring; nor restrained conveyance need,
As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.
But I can now no more; the parting sun
Beyond the earth's green cape and verdant isles
Hesperean sets, my signal to depart.
Be strong, live happy, and love! but, first of all,
Him, whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command; take heed lest passion sway
Thy judgment to do aught, which else free will
Would not admit: thine, and of all thy sons,
The weal or wo in thee is placed; beware!
I in thy persevering shall rejoice,
And all the blest: stand fast; to stand or fall
Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require;
And all temptation to transgress, repel.”
So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus
Followed with benediction. “Since to part,
Go, heavenly guest, ethereal messenger,
Sent from whose sovereign goodness I adore!
Gentle to me and assable hath been
Thy condescension, and shall be honoured ever
With grateful memory: thou to mankind
Be good and friendly still, and oft return.”
So parted they; the angel up to Heaven
From the thick shade, and Adam to his bower.

BOOK IX. .

The ARGUMENT. Satan, having compassed the earth, with meditated guile returns, as a mist by night, into Paradise; enters into the ser

pent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the moning go forth to their labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart; Adam consents not, alleging the danger, lest that enemy, of whom they were forewarned, should attempt her, found alone; Eve, loath to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make trial of her strength; Adam at last yields; the serpent finds her alone; his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking; with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech and such understanding not till now; the serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain tree in the garden he attained both to speech and reason, tili then void of both; Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the tree of knowledge forbidden: the serpent, now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments induces her at length to eat; she, pleased with the taste, deliberates a while whether to impart thereos to Adam or not; at last brings him of the fruit; relates what persuaded her to eat thereof; Adam, at first amazed, but perceiving her lost, resolves, through vehemence of love, to perish with her; and, extenuating the trespass, eats also of the fruit; the effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

No more of talk, where God or angel guest
With man, as with his friend, familiar used
To sit indulgent, and with him partake
Rural repast: permitting him the while
Venial discourse unblamed: I now must change
Those notes to tragic; foul distrust, and breach
Disloyal; on the part of man, revolt,
And disobedience: on the part of Heaven,
Now alienated, distance and distaste,
Anger and just rebuke, and judgment given,
That brought into this world a world of wo,
Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery,
Death's harbinger: sad tasks yet argument
Not less, but more heroic than the wrath
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespoused;
Of Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long
Perplexed the Greek, and Cytherea's son;
If answerable style I can obtain
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
Her nightly visitation unimplored,
And dictates to me slumbering, or inspires
Easy my unpremeditated verse:
Since first this subject for heroic song
Pleased me, long choosing, and beginning late;
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deemed; chief mastery to dissect
With long and tedious havoc, fabled knights
In battles feigned; the better fortitude -
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazoned shields,
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds;
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights

At joust and tournament; then marshalled feast Served up in hall with sewers, and seneschals;

« PreviousContinue »