Page images
PDF

And from whom I was formed, flesh of thy flesh,
And without whom am to no end, my guide
And head! what thou hast said ia just and right
For we tu him indeed all praises owe,
And daily thanks; I chiefly, who enjoy
So far the happier lot, enjoying thee
Pie-eminent by so much odds, while thou
Like consort to thyself canst no where find.
That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awaked, and found myself reposed
L'nder a shade on flowers, much wondering where
And what I was, whence thither brought, and how,
Ni* distant far from thence a murmuring sound
Uf waters issued from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved
Pure as the expanse of Heaven; I thither went
With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
On the green bank to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to mc seemed another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the watery gleam appeared,
Bending to look on me: I started back,
It started back; but pleased I soon returned,
Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks
Of sympathy and love: there I had fixed
Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
Hsd not a voice thus warned me: 'What thou

What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;
With thee it came and goes: but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming, and thy soft embraces, he
Whose image thou art; him thou shall enjoy,
Inseparably thine, to him shall bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called
Mother of human race.' What could I do,
But follow straight, invisibly thus led?
Till I espied thee, fair indeed and tall,
L'nder a plantain; yet methought less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Thsn that smooth watery unage: back I turned;
Thou following eriedst aloud, ' Return, fair Eve,
Whom flii'St thou? whom thou fliest, of him thou

art,

His flesh, bi s bone: to give thee being, I lent
Oul of mv side to thee nearest my heart, •
Substantial life, to have thee by my side
Henceforth an individual solace dear;
Part of my soul I sec^ thee, and thee claim
My other half.' With that thy gentle hand
Seized mine; I yielded, and from that time see
How besuty is excelled by manly grace,
And whdom, which alone is truly fair."

So spake our general mother, and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction, unreproved,
And mock surrender, half-embracing leaned
On our first father; half her swelling breast
Naked met his, under the flowing gold
Of her loo•e tresses hid: he, in delight

Smiled with superior love, as Jupiter

On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clou <«

That shed May flowers; and pressed ner i.,run

lip

With kisses pure: aside the devil turned
For envy, yet with jealous leer malign
Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained
Both of her beauty and submissive charms,

"Sight hateful, sight tormenting! thus these two
Imparadised in one another's arms,
The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill
Of bliss on bliss; while I to hell am thrust,
Where neither joy nor love, but fieree desire,
Among our other torments not the least,
Still unfulfilled, with pain of longing pines.
Yet let me not forget what I have gained
From their own mouths: all is not theirs, it seems:
One fatal tree there stands, of knowledge called,
Forbidden them to taste: knowledge forbidden?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? can it be sin to know?
Can it be death? and do they only stand
By ignorance t is that their happy state,
The proof of their obedience and their faith?
O fair foundation laid whereon to build
Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with design
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exa.
Equal with gods: aspiring to be such,
They taste and die; what likelier can ensue?
But first with narrow seareh I must walk round
This garden, and no corner leave unspied:
A chance but chance may lead where I may meet
Some wandering spirit of Heaven by fountain

side,

Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw What further would be learned. Live while ye

may

Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,
Short pleasures, for long woes are to sueceed."
So saying, his proud step he scornful turned,
But with sly cireumspection, and began,
Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale

his roam.

Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise
Levelled his evening rays: it was a rock
Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent
Aecessible from earth, one entrance high;
The rest was eraggy cliff, that overhung
Still as it rose, impossihle to climb.
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,
Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night:
About him exereised heroic games
The unarmed youth of Heaven, hut nigh at harw
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold.
Thither come Uriel, gliding through the oven
On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star,
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired
Impress the air, and shows the mariner
Vrom what point of hiscompasto beware
Impetuous winds: he thus began in haste.

"Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given
Charge and strict wateh, that to this happy place
No evil thing approach or enter in.
This day at height of noon came to my sphere
A spirit, zealous, as he seemed, to know
More of the Almighty's works, and chiefly man,
God's latest image: I deseribed his way
Bent all on speed, and marked his airy gait;
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted, soon discerned his looks
Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured:
Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him: one of the banished erew,
. fear, hath ventured from the tloop, to raise
New troubles; him thy care must be to find."

To whom the winged warrior thus returned. "Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight, Amid the sun's bright cirele where thou sittest, See far and wide: in at this gate none pass The vigilance here placed, but such as come

When Adam thus to Eve. "Fair consort, tf»

hour

Of night, and all things now retired to rest,
Mind us of like repose, since God hath scs
Labour and rest, as day and night, to men
Suecessive; and the timely dew of sleep,
Now falling with soft slumb'rous weight, inclum
Our eyelids: other ereatures all day long
Rove idle, unemployed and less need rest:
Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Appointed, which declares his dignity,
And the regard of Heaven on all his ways;
While other animals unactive range,
And of their doings God takes no aecount.
To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the rnal
With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labour to reform
Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,
Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant manuring, and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth
Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,
That lie bestrowp., unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease:
Meanwhile, as Nature wills, night bids us rest."

To whom thus Eve, with perfect 'beauty adorned "My author and disposer, what thou 'oid'st Unargued I obey: so God ordains;

Well known from Heaven; and since meridian I God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more

hour

No ereature thence: if spirit of other sort,
So minded, have o'erleaped these earthly bounds
On purpose, hard thou k no west it to exclude
Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.
But if within the cireuit of these walks,
In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom
Thou tollest, by morrow dawning I shall know."

So promised he; and Uriel to his charge Returned on that bright beam, whose point now

raised

Bore him slope downward to the sun now fahtr
Beneath the Azores; whether the prime orb,
Ineredible how swift, had thither rolled
Diurnal, or this less voluble earth,
By shorter flight to the east had left him there
Arraying with reflected purple and gold
The clouds that on his western throne attend.
Now came still evening on, and twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence aecompanied, for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
Shtau night long her amorous descant sung;
tSdencG was pleased; now glowed the firmament
With living sapphires; Hesperus, that led
The slurry host, rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length,
Appai t:nt queen, unveiled her peerleas light,
A iid o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.

Is woman's happiest knowledge am! her praise
With thee conversing 1 forget all time;
All seasons and their change, all please alike
Sweet is Hie breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant tile sun.
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
Ol'grateful evening mild; then silent night,
With this her solrmn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of Heaven, her starry tr-in:
Hut neither breath of morn, when she ascvmU
With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun
On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after show, n,
Nor grateful evening mild; nor silent niijht,
With this her solemn bird, nor walk bv moon,
Or glittering starlight, without thee is sweet.
But wherefore all night long shine these? for who-:
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut «r

eyes?"

To whom our general ancestor replied. "Daughter of God and man, aecomplished Fve, These have their course to finish round the carlo. By morrow evening, and from land to land In order, though to nations yet unborn, Ministering light prepared, they set and rijc; 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,
Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were

none, That Heaven would want spectators, God want

praise;

Millions of spiritual ereatures 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 the steep
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 wateh, or nightly rounding walk,
With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds
In full harmonic number joined, their songs
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven."

Thus talking, hand in hand alone they passed
On to their blissful bower: it was a place
Chosen hy the sovereign Planter, when he framed
All things to man's delightful use; the roof
Of thickest covert was interwoven shade
Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew
Of firm and fragrant leaf: on cither side
Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,
Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous

flower,

Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine
Reared high their flourishing heads between, and

wrougl.t

Mosaic; under foot the violet,
Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay
Broidered the ground, more coloured than with

stone

Of costliest emblem:' other ereature here,
Boast, bird, insect, or worm durst enter none,
Such was their awe of man. In shadier bower,
More saered nnd sequestered, though but feigned,
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor nymph
Nor fauns haunted. Here, in close recess,
With flowers, garlands, and sweet swelling herbs,
Espoused Eve decked first her nuptial bed,
And heavenly choirs the hyrnenKan sung,
What day the genial angel to our sire
Brought her, in naked beauty more adorned,
More lowly than Pandora, whom the god
Kndowed with all their gifts, and O too like
In sad event, when to the unwiser son
Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared
Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged
On hun who had stole Jove's authentic fire.
Thin, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood,

Both turned, and under open sky adored

The God that made both sky, air, earth, and

Heaven

Which they heheld, the moon'i resplendent globs,
And starry pole: "Thpu also mad'st the night,
Maker omnipotent, and thou the day,
Which we, in our appointed work employed
Have finished, happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the erown of all nur hliss
Ordained by thee; and this delicious place
For us too large, where thy abundance wants
Partakers, and uneropt 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 hower
Handed they went; and, eased the putting off
These troublesome disguises which we wear,
Straight side hy side were laid; nor turned, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the ritei
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 inerease; who bids abstain
But our destroyer, foe to God and man?
Hail, wedded love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise of all things common else!
By thee adult'rous 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,
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 winy:j
Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile
Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendean-d,
Casual fruition; nor in court amours,
Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Or serenade, which the starved lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.
These lulled by nightingales, embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flowery roof
Showered roses, which the mom repaired. Slespon,
Blest pair; and O yet happiest, if ye seek
No happier stata) and know to know no ,>..se.

Now had night measured with her shadowy Cob* Half way up hill this vast sublunar vault, And from their ivory port the chentbiot.

Forth usuing at the aceustomed hour, stood armed
To their night watehes in warlike parade,
\Vhen Gabriel to his next in power thus spake.

"Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south With strictest wateh; these other wheel the north; Our circuit meets full west." As flame they part, Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear. From these, two strong and subtle spirits he called That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge.

"Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed Search through this garden, leave unsearched no

nook:

But chiefly where those two fair ereatures lodge,
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 ?) es-
caped

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,
Assaying by his devilish art to reach
The organs of her fancy, and with them forge
Illus,ons as he liat, phantasms and dreams;
Or if, inspiring venom, ho might taint
The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise
Like gentle breaths from rivers pure, thence raise
At least distempered, discontented thoughts,
Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,
Rlown up with high conceits engendering pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear
Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness: up ho starts
Ducovered and surprised. As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid
Fit for the tun some magazine to store
Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain,
With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air:
So started up in his own shape the fiend.
Back step those two fair angels, half amazed
So sudden to behold the grisly king;
Yet thus, unmoved with fear, aceost him soon.

"Which of those rebel spirits adjudged to Hell
Comest thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformed'
Why K,t's! thou like an enemy in wait,
Here watehing at the head of these that sleep?"

"Know ye not then," said Satan, filled withI

scorn,

'. Know ye not rnc? ye knew me once no mate
For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar;
Not to know me argues yourselves unknown,
The lowest of your throng; or, if you know,
Why ask ye, and superfluous begin
Your mwHaIre. like to end as much in vain?"

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors]

That glory then, when thou no more wast good,
Departed from then; and thou resemblest now
Thy sin and place of doom, obscure and foul.
But come, for thou, be sure, shall give aceount
To nim who sent us, whose charge is to keep
This place inviolable, and these from harm."

So spake the cherub; and this grave rebuke,
Severe in youthful hcauty, added grace
Invincible; abashed the devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pined
His loss; but chiefly to find her observed
His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed
Undaunted. "If I must contend," said he,
"Best with the best, the sender not the scut,
Or all at once; more glory will be won,
Or less be lost." "Thy fear," said Zephon bold
"Will save us trial what the least can do
Single against thee wicked, and thence weak."
The fiend replied not, overcome with rago;
But, like a proud stet-d reined, went haughty on,
Champing his iron curb: to strive or fly
He held it vain; awe from above had quelled
His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they

nigh The western point, where those half-rounding

guards

Just met, and closing stood in squadron joined. Awaiting next command. To whom their c).ief, Gabriel, from the front thus called aloud.

"O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade; And with them comes a third of regal port, But faded splendour wan; who, by his gait And fierce demeanour, seems the prince of hell, Not likely to part hence without contest . Stand firm, for in hi s look defiance lowers." He scarce had ended, when those two aI

proached, And brief related whom they brought, where

found,

How busied, in what form and posture couched. To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake. "Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescribed

To thy tr-msgressions, and disturbed the charge
Of others, who approve not to transgress
By thy example, but have power nnd right
To question thy bold entrance on this place:
Employed, it seems, to violate sleep, and those
Whose dwelling God hath planted' here in bli»
To whom thus Satan with contemptuous blow

"Gabriel, thoo hadst in Heaven the esteem of To settle here on earth, or in mid air;

WIB'!,

And such I heldthee; but this question asked Puts me in doubt. Livrathere who loves his pail I Who would not, finding w ay, break loose from

bell, Though thither doomed? Thou wouldst thyself

no doubt,

And boldly venture to whatever place
Farthest from pain, where tliou mightest hope to

change

Torment with earn, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;
To thee no reason, who knowest only good,
Rat evil host not tried: and wilt object
His will who bounds us? let him surer bar
His iron gates, if he intends our stay
In that dark durance: thus much what was asked.
The rest is true, they found me where they say;
But that implies not violence or harm."

Thus he in scorn. The warlike angel, moved, Disdainfully half smiling, thus replied. i

'• O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise,
Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,
And now returns him from his prison 'scaped,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither,
Unlicensed, from his bounds in hell preseribed;
So wise he judges it to fly from pain,
However, and to escape his punishment'
So judge thou still, presumptuous! till the wrath
Which thou incurrest by flying, meet thy flight
Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to hell,
Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain
Can equal anger infinite provoked.
But wherefore thou alone? wherefore with thee
Came not all hell broke loose' is pain to them
Less pain, less to be fled? or thou than they
Lew haniy to endure? Courageous chief!
The first in flight from pain! hadst thou alleged
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
Thnu surely hadst not come sole fugitive."
To which the fiend thus answered, frowning

stem.

'- XU that I less endure or shrink from pain,
Insulting angel! well thou knowest I stood
Thy fiereest, when in battle to thy aid
The blasting vollied thunder made all speed,
And seconded thy else not dreaded spear.
But still thy words at random, as before,
Argue thy inexperience what behooves,
From hard assays and ill suecesses past,
A faithful leader, not to hazard all
Through ways of danger by himself untried:
I therefore, I alone first undertook
To wing the desolate abyss, and spy
This new ereated world, whereof in hell
Fame is not silent, here in hope to find
lietter abode, and my afflicted nowent
5 • -

Though for possession put to try once more What thou and thy gay legions dare against; Who* easier business were to serve their Lord High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne And practised distances to cringe, not fight."

To whom the warrior angel soon replied. "To say and straight unsay, pretending first Wise to fly pain, professing next the spy, Argues no leader hut a liar traced, Satan, and could'st thou faithful add : O name,

0 saered name of faithfulness profaned! Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious erew t Army of fiends, fit body to fit head.

Was this your discipline and faith engaged,

Your military obedience, to dissolve

Allegiance to the acknowledged Power supreme?

And thou, sly hypocrite, who now wouldst seem

Patron of liberty, who more than thou

Once fawned, and cringed, and servilely adored

Heaven's awful Monareh? whrerefore, but m hops

To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?

But mark what I arreedthec now, avaunt;

Fly thither whence thou fledst! if from this hour

Within these hallowed limits thou appear,

Back to the infernal pit I drag thee chained,

And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scorn

The facile gates of hell too slightly barred."

So threatened he: but Satan to no Ihreatti Gave heed, but wasing more in rage, replied.

en I am thy captive talk of chains, Proud limitary cherub! but ere then Far heavier load thyself expect to feel From my prevailing arm, though Heaven's Kmg Ride on thy win^s, and thou with thy compeers, Used to the yoke, drawest his triumphant wheels In progress through the road of Heaven star-paved."

While thus he spake, the angelic squadron

bright

Turned fiery red, sharpening in mooned horns
Their phalanx, and began to hem him round
With ported spears, as thick as when a field
Of Ceres ripe for harvest waving bends
i Her bearded grove of ears, which way the wind
Sways them; the careful ploughman doubting

stands,

Lest on the threshing-floor his hnpeful sheaves
Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarmed.
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,
Like Teneriff or Atlas, unremoved:

l lis stature reached the sky, and on his crest
Sat horror plumed: nor wanted in his grasp
What seemed both spear and shield: now dread

ful deeds

Might have ensued, not only Paradise
In this commotion, but the starry copo
Of Heaven perhaps, or all the element*
At least had gone to wrack, disturbed aml tot i.
With violence of this conflict, had not s>-.q

« PreviousContinue »