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Heaven's last best gift, my ever new delight!
Awake: the morning shines, and the fresh field
Calls us; we lose the prime, to mark how spring
Our tender plants, how blows the citron grove,
What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed,
How nature paints her colours, how the bee
Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet.
Such whispering waked her, but with startled eye On Adam, whom embracing, thus she spake.
O sole, in whom my thoughts find all repose, My glory, my perfection ! glad I see Thy face, and morn returned; for I this night (Such night till this I never passed) have dreamed, If dreamed, not, as I oft am wont, of thee, Works of day past, or morrow's next design, But of offence and trouble, which my mind Knew never till this irksome night : methought, Close at mine ear one called me forth to walk With gentle voice; I thought it thine: it said, • Why sleep'st thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time, The cool, the silent, save where silence yields To the night-warbling bird, that now awake Tunes sweetest his love-laboured song ; now reigns Full-orbed the moon, and with more pleasing light Shadowy sets off the face of things; in vain, If none regard, Heaven wakes with all his eyes, Whom to behold but thee, Nature's desire ? In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze.' I rose as at thy call, but found thee not ; To find thee I directed then my walk;
And on, methought, alone I passed through ways
That brought me on a sudden to the tree
Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seemed,
Much fairer to my fancy than by day :
And, as I wondering looked, beside it stood
One shaped and winged like one of those from Heaven
By us oft seen : his dewy locks distilled
Ambrosia : on that tree he also gazed :
And “O fair plant !' said he, 'with fruit surcharged,
Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet,
Nor God, nor Man? Is knowledge so despised ?
Or envy, or what reserve forbids to taste ?
Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
Longer thy offered good : why else set here?'
This said, he paused not, but with venturous arm
He plucked, he tasted: me damp horrour chilled
At such bold words, vouched with a deed so bold :
But he thus overjoyed; O fruit divine !
Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropt !
Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit
For Gods, yet able to make Gods of Men:
And why not Gods of men; since good, the more
Communicated, the more abundant grows,
The author not impaired, but honoured more?
Here, happy creature, fair angelick Eve!
Partake thou also; happy though thou art,
Happier thou may’st be, worthier canst not be :
Taste this, and be henceforth among the Gods
Thyself a Goddess, not to earth confined,
But sometimes in the air, as we, sometimes
Ascend to Heaven, by merit thine, and see
What life the Gods live there, and such live thou !'
So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,
Even to my mouth, of that same fruit held part
Which he had plucked; the pleasant savoury smell
So quickened appetite, that I, methought,
Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds
With him I few, and underneath beheld
The earth outstretched immense, a prospect wide
And various : wondering at my flight and change
To this high exaltation ; suddenly
My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,
And fell asleep ; but 0, how glad I waked
To find this but a dream! Thus Eve her night
Related, and thus Adam answered sad.
Best image of myself, and dearer half !
The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep
Affects me equally; nor can I like
This uncouth dream, of evil sprung, I fear :
Yet evil whence? in thee can harbour none,
Created pure. But know that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief; among these Fancy next
Her office holds; of all external things,
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imaginations, aery shapes,
Which Reason, joining or disjoining, frames
All what we affirm or what deny, and call
Our knowledge or opinion; then retires
Into her private cell, when nature rests.
Oft in her absence mimick Fancy. wakes
To imitate her ; but, misjoining shapes,
Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams;
Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.
Some such resemblances, methinks, I find
Of our last evening's talk, in this thy dream;
But with addition strange : yet be not sad ;
Evil into the mind of God or Man
May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind : which gives me hope
That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream,
Waking thou never wilt consent to do.
Be not disheartened then, nor cloud those looks,
That wont to be more cheerful and serene
Than when fair morning first smiles on the world;
And let us to our fresh employments rise
Among the groves, the fountains, and the flowers,
That open now their choicest bosomed smells,
Reserved from night, and kept for thee in store.
So cheered he his fair spouse, and she was cheered;
But silently a gentle tear let fall
From either eye, and wiped them with her hair :
Two other precious drops, that ready stood
Each in their crystal sluice, he ere they fell
Kissed, as the gracious signs of sweet remorse
And pious awe, that feared to have offended.
So all was cleared, and to the field they haste.
But first from under shady arborous roof
Soon as they forth were come to open sight
Of day-spring, and the sun, who, scarce up-risen,
With wheels yet hovering o'er the ocean-brim,
Shot parallel to the earth his dewy ray,
Discovering in wide landskip all the east
Of Paradise and Eden's happy plains,
Lowly they bowed, adoring, and began
Their orisons, each morning duly paid
In various style ; for neither various style
Nor holy rapture wanted they to praise
Their Maker, in fit strains pronounced, or sung
Unmeditated; such prompt eloquence
Flowed from their lips, in prose or numerous verse,
More tuneable than needed lute or harp
To add more sweetness; and they thus began.
These are thy glorious works, Parent of good!
Almighty! Thine this universal frame,
Thus wonderous fair! Thyself how wonderous then !
Unspeakable, who sitt’st above these heavens
To us invisible, or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.
Speak, ye who best can tell, ye sons of light,
Angels! for ye behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, day without night,
Circle his throne rejoicing; ye in Heaven:
On Earth join all ye creatures, to extol
Him first, him last, him midst, and without end !
Fairest of stars, last in the train of night,
If better thou belong not to the dawn,
Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling morn
With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere,
While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.
Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,
Acknowledge him thy greater ; sound his praise
In thy eternal course, both when thou climb'st,