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Invincible: abash'd the Devil stood,
And felt how awful goodness is, and saw
Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pin'd
His loss; but chiefly to find here observ'd
His lustre visibly impair'd; yet seem'd
Undaunted. "If I must contend," said he,
"Best with the best, the sender not the sent,
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 the wicked, and thence weak."
The fiend replied not, overcome with rage;
But, like a proud steed rein'd, went haughty on,
Champing his iron curb to strive or fly
He held it vain; awe from above had quell'd
His heart, not else dismay'd. Now drew they nigh
The western point, where those half-rounding guards
Just met, and closing stood in squadron join'd,
Awaiting next command. To whom their chief,
Gabriel, from the front thus call'd 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 splendor wan; who by his gait
And fierce demeanor seems the prince of Hell,
Not likely to part hence without contest;
Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours."
He scarce had ended, when those two approach'd,
And brief related whom they brought, where found,
How busied, in what form and posture couch'd.
To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake.
"Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds prescrib'd
To thy transgressions, and disturb'd the charge
Of others, who approve not to transgress
By thy example, but have power and right
To question thy bold entrance on this place;
Employ'd, it seems, to violate sleep, and those
Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss?”
To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow.
"Gabriel! thou hadst in Heaven the esteem of wise,
And such I held thee; but this question ask'd
Puts me in doubt. Lives there who loves his pain?
Who would not, finding way, break loose from Hell,
Though thither doom'd? Thou wouldst thyself, no
And boldly venture to whatever place
Sevenfold, and scourge that wisdom back to Hell,
Which taught thee yet no better, that no pain
Can equal anger infinite provok'd.
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
Less hardy to endure? courageous chief!
The first in flight from pain! hadst thou alleg'd
To thy deserted host this cause of flight,
Thou surely hadst not come sole fugitive."
To which the fiend thus answer'd, frowning stern.
"Not that I less endure or shrink from pain,
Insulting angel! well thou know'st I stood
Thy fiercest, 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 behoves
From hard assays and ill successes 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-created world, whereof in Hell
Fame is not silent, here in hope to find
Better abode, and my afflicted powers
To settle here on Earth, or in mid air;
Though for possession put to try once more
What thou and thy gay legions dare against;
Whose easier business were to serve their Lord
High up in Heaven, with songs to hymn his throne,
And practis'd 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 but a liar trac'd,
Satan, and couldst thou faithful add? O name,
O sacred name of faithfulness profan'd!
Faithful to whom? to thy rebellious crew?
Army of fiends, fit body to fit head.
Was this your discipline and faith engag'd,
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 fawn'd, and cring'd, and servilely ador'd
Heaven's awful Monarch? wherefore, but in hope
Farthest from pain, where thou mightst hope to To dispossess him, and thyself to reign?
Torment with ease, and soonest recompense
Dole with delight, which in this place I sought;
To thee no reason, who know'st only good,
But evil hast not tried: and wilt object
His will who bound us? Let him surer bar
His iron gates, if he intends our stay
In that dark durance: thus much what was ask'd.
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.
"O loss of one in Heaven to judge of wise
Since Satan fell, whom folly overthrew,
And now returns him from his prison scap'd,
Gravely in doubt whether to hold them wise
Or not, who ask what boldness brought him hither
Unlicens'd from his bounds in Hell prescrib'd;
So wise he judges it to fly from pain
However, and to 'scape his punishment!
So judge thou still, presumptuous! till the wrath,
Which thou incurr'st by flying, meet thy flight
But mark what I aread thee now: Avaunt!
Fly thither whence thou fledst! If from this hour
Within these hallow'd limits thou appear,
Back to the infernal pit I drag thee chain'd,
And seal thee so, as henceforth not to scorn
The facile gates of Hell too slightly barr'd."
So threaten'd he; but Satan to no threats
Gave heed, but waxing more in rage replied.
"Then when 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 King
Ride on thy wings, and thou with thy compeers,
Us'd to the yoke, draw'st his triumphant wheels
In progress through the road of Heaven star-pav'd."
While thus he spake, the angelic squadron bright
Turn'd 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
Her bearded grove of ears, which way the wind
Sways them; the careful plowman doubting stands,
Lest on the threshing-floor his hopeful sheaves
Prove chaff. On the other side, Satan, alarm'd,
Collecting all his might, dilated stood,
Like Teneriffe or Atlas, unremov'd:
His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest
Sat Horror plum'd; nor wanted in his grasp
What seem'd both spear and shield: now dreadful
Might have ensued, nor only Paradise
In this commotion, but the starry cope
Of Heaven perhaps, or all the elements
At least had gone to wrack, disturb'd and torn
With violence of this conflict, had not soon
The Eternal, to prevent such horrid fray,
Hung forth in Heaven his golden scales, yet seen
Betwixt Astrea and the Scorpion sign,
Wherein all things created first he weigh'd,
The pendulous round Earth with balanc'd air
In counterpoise, now ponders all events,
Battles and realms: in these he put two weights,
The sequel each of parting and of fight:
The latter quick up-flew, and kick'd the beam;
Which Gabriel spying, thus bespake the fiend.
"Satan, I know thy strength, and thou know'st
Neither our own, but given: what folly then
To boast what arms can do! since thine no more
Than Heaven permits, nor mine, though doubled
To trample thee as mire: for proof look up,
And read thy lot in yon celestial sign;
And temperate vapors bland, which the only sound
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan,
Lightly dispers'd, and the shrill matin song
Of birds on every bough; so much the more
His wonder was to find unwaken'd Eve
With tresses discompos'd, and glowing cheek,
As through unquiet rest: he, on his side,
Leaning half rais'd, with looks of cordial love
Hung over her enamor'd, and beheld
Beauty, which, whether waking or asleep,
Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice
Mild, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
Her hand soft touching, whisper'd thus: "Awake,
My fairest, my espous'd, my latest found,
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 colors, how the bee
Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet."
Such whispering wak'd 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 return'd; for I this night
(Such night till this I never pass'd) have dream'd,
If dream'd, 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
Where thou art weigh'd, and shown how light, how Close at mine ear one call'd me forth to walk
If thou resist." The fiend look'd up, and knew
His mounted scale aloft: nor more; but fled
Murmuring, and with him fled the shades of night.
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-labor'd song: now reigns Full-orb'd 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? Morning approached, Eve relates to Adam her In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment troublesome dream; he likes it not, yet comforts Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze.' her: they come forth to their day-labors: their I rose as at thy call, but found thee not; morning hymn at the door of their bower. God, To find thee I directed then my walk; to render man inexcusable, sends Raphael to And on, methought, alone I pass'd through ways admonish him of his obedience, of his free estate, That brought me on a sudden to the tree of his enemy near at hand, who he is, and why Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seem'd, his enemy, and whatever else may avail Adam to Much fairer to my fancy than by day:
know. Raphael comes down to Paradise; his And, as I wondering look'd, beside it stood appearance described; his coming discerned by One shap'd and wing'd like one of those from Adam afar off sitting at the door of his bower; Heaven
he goes out to meet him, brings him to his lodge, By us oft seen: his dewy locks distill'd
entertains him with the choicest fruits of Para- Ambrosia; on that tree he also gaz'd;
dise got together by Eve; their discourse at And 'O fair plant,' said he, with fruit surcharg'd, table: Raphael performs his message, minds Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet, Adam of his state and of his enemy; relates, at Nor God, nor Man? Is knowledge so despis'd? Adam's request, who that enemy is, and how he Or envy, or what reserve forbids to taste? came to be so, beginning from his first revolt in Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold Heaven, and the occasion thereof; how he drew Longer thy offer'd good; why else set here?' his legions after him to the parts of the north, This said, he paus'd not, but with venturous arm and there incited them to rebel with him, per- He pluck'd, he tasted; me damp horror chill'd suading all but only Abdiel a seraph, who in At such bold words vouch'd with a deed so bold: argument dissuades and opposes him, then for- But he thus, overjoy'd; 'O fruit divine, sakes him. Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropt Forbidden here, seems, as only fit For gods, yet able to make gods of men: And why not gods of men; since good, the more Communicated, more abundant grows, The author not impair'd, but honor'd more?
Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl,
When Adam wak'd, so custom'd; for his sleep
Was aery-light, from pure digestion bred,
Here, happy creature, fair angelic 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 confin'd,
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 pluck'd: the pleasant savory smell
So quicken'd appetite, that I, methought,
Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds
With him I flew, and underneath beheld
The Earth outstretch'd 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 O, how glad I wak'd
To find this but a dream!" Thus Eve her night
Related, and thus Adam answer'd 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 harbor 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 mimic 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 unapprov'd, 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 dishearten'd 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 bosom'd smells,
Reserv'd from night, and kept for thee in store."
So cheer'd he his fair spouse, and she was cheer'd;
But silently a gentle tear let fall
From either eye, and wip'd them with her hair; Two other precious drops that ready stood, Each in their crystal sluice, he ere they fell Kiss'd, as the gracious signs of sweet remorse And pious awe, that fear'd to have offended.
So all was clear'd, 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 landscape all the east Of Paradise and Eden's happy plains,
Lowly they bow'd 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 pronounc'd, or sung
Unmeditated; such prompt eloquence
Flow'd from their lips, in prose or numerous verse,
More tunable 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 wondrous fair! Thyself how wondrous then.
Unspeakable, who sitst 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,
And when high noon hast gain'd, and when thou
Moon, that now meet'st the orient Sun, now fly'st,
With the fix'd stars, fix'd in their orb that flies;
And ye five other wandering fires, that move
In mystic dance not without song, resound
His praise, who out of darkness call'd up light.
Air, and ye elements, the eldest birth
Of Nature's womb, that in quaternion run
Perpetual circle, multiform; and mix
And nourish all things; let your ceaseless change
Vary to our great Maker still new praise.
Ye mists and exhalations, that now rise
From hill or streaming lake, dusky, or grey,
Till the Sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honor to the World's great Author rise;
Whether to deck with clouds the uncolor'd sky,
Or wet the thirsty Earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling still advance his praise.
His praise, ye winds, that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud; and wave your tops, ye pines.
With every plant, in sign of worship wave.
Fountains, and ye that warble, as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.
Join voices, all ye living souls: ye birds,
That singing up to Heaven-gate ascend,
Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep;
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill or valley, fountain, or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.
Hail, universal Lord, be bounteous still
To give us only good; and if the night
Have gather'd aught of evil or conceal'd,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark!"
So pray'd they innocent, and to their thoughts
Firm peace recover'd soon, and wonted calm.
On to their morning's rural work they haste,
Among sweet dews and flowers; where any row
Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round
of fruit-trees over-woody reach'd too far
Their pamper'd boughs, and needed hands to check Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold
Fruitless embraces: or they led the vine
To wed her elm; she, spous'd, about him twines
Her marriageable arms, and with her brings
Her dower, the adopted clusters, to adorn
His barren leaves. Them thus employ'd beheld
With pity Heaven's high King, and to him call'd
Raphael, the sociable spirit, that deign'd
To travel with Tobias, and secur'd
His marriage with the seventimes-wedded maid.
"Raphaël," said he, "thou hear'st what stir on
Satan, from Hell 'scap'd through the darksome gulf,
Hath rais'd in Paradise; and how disturb'd
This night the human pair; how he designs
In them at once to ruin all mankind.
Go therefore, half this day as friend with friend
Converse with Adam, in what bower or shade
Thou find'st him from the heat of noon retir'd,
To respite his day-labor with repast,
Or with repose: and such discourse bring on,
As may advise him of his happy state,
Happiness in his power left free to will,
Left to his own free will, his will though free,
Yet mutable; whence warn him to beware
He swerve not, too secure: tell him withal
His danger, and from whom; what enemy,
Late fall'n himself from Heaven, is plotting now
The fall of others from like state of bliss ;
By violence? no, for that shall be withstood;
But by deceit and lies: this let him know,
Lest, wilfully transgressing, he pretend
Surprisal, unadmonish'd, unforewarn'd."
So spake the Eternal Father, and fulfill'd
All justice: nor delay'd the winged saint
After his charge receiv'd; but from among
Thousand celestial ardors, where he stood
Veil'd with his gorgeous wings up springing light
Flew through the midst of Heaven; the angelic
On each hand parting, to his speed gave way
Through all the empyreal road; till, at the gate
Of Heaven arriv'd, the gate self-open'd wide
On golden hinges turning, as by work
Divine the sovran Architect had fram'd.
From hence, no cloud, or, to obstruct his sight,
Star interpos'd, however small, he sees,
Not unconform to other shining globes,
Earth, and the garden of God, with cedars crown'd
Above all hills. As when by night the glass
Of Galileo, less assur'd, observes
Imagin'd lands and regions in the Moon :
Or pilot, from amidst the Cyclades
Delos or Samos first appearing, kens
A cloudy spot. Down thither prone in flight
He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky
Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing,
Now on the polar winds, then with quick fan
Winnows the buxom air; till, within soar
Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems
A phoenix, gaz'd by all, as that sole bird,
When, to enshrine his relics in the Sun's
Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies.
At once on the eastern cliff of Paradise
He lights, and to his proper shape returns
A seraph wing'd: six wings he wore, to shade
His lineaments divine; the pair that clad
And colors dipt in Heaven, the third his feet
Shadow'd from either heel with feather'd mail,
Sky-tinctur'd grain. Like Maia's son he stood,
And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance fill'd
The circuit wide. Straight knew him all the bands
Of angels under watch; and to his state,
And to his message high, in honor rise;
For on some message high they guess'd him bound
Their glittering tents he pass'd, and now is come
Into the blissful field, through groves of myrrh,
And flowering odors, cassia, nard, and balm;
A wilderness of sweets; for Nature here
Wanton'd as in her prime, and play'd at will
Her virgin fancies, pouring forth more sweet,
Wild above rule or art, enormous bliss.
Him through the spicy forest onward come
Adam discern'd, as in the door he sat
Of his cool bower, while now the mounted Sun
Shot down direct his fervid rays to warm
Earth's inmost womb, more warmth than Adam
And Eve within, due at her hour prepar'd
For dinner savory fruits, of taste to please
True appetite, and not disrelish thirst
Of nectarous draughts between, from milky stream,
Berry or grape: to whom thus Adam call'd.
"Haste hither, Eve, and worth thy sight behold
Eastward among those trees, what glorious shape
Comes this way moving; seems another morn
Ris'n on mid-noon; some great behest from Heaven
To us perhaps he brings, and will vouchsafe
This day to be our guest. But go with speed,
And, what thy stores contain, bring forth and pour
Abundance, fit to honor and receive
Our heavenly stranger; well we may afford
Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow
From large bestow'd, where Nature multiplies
Her fertile growth, and by disburdening grows
More fruitful, which instructs us not to spare."
To whom thus Eve. "Adam, Earth's hallow'd
Of God inspir'd! small store will serve, where store,
All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk;
Save what by frugal storing firmness gains
To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes:
But I will haste, and from each bough and brake,
Each plant and juiciest gourd, will pluck such
To entertain our angel-guest, as he
Beholding shall confess, that here on Earth
God hath dispens'd his bounties as in Heaven."
So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent
What choice to choose for delicacy best,
What order so contriv'd as not to mix
Tastes, not well join'd, inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change;
Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk
Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother, yields
In India East or West, or middle shore
In Pontus or the Punic coast, or where
Alcinous reign'd, fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough, or smooth rind, or bearded husk, or shell
She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand; for drink the grape
She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths
Each shoulder broad, came mantling o'er his breast From many a berry, and from sweet kernels press'd With regal ornament; the middle pair
She tempers dulcet creams; nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure; then strows the ground
With rose and odors from the shrub unfum'd.
Meanwhile our primitive great sire, to meet
His godlike guest, walks forth, without more train
Accompanied than with his own complete
Perfections; in himself was all his state,
More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits
On princes, when their rich retinue long
Of horses led, and grooms besmear'd with gold,
Dazzles the crowd, and sets them all agape.
Nearer his presence Adam, though not aw'd,
Yet with submiss approach and reverence meek,
As to a superior nature, bowing low,
Thus said. "Native of Heaven, for other place
None can than Heaven such glorious shape contain;
Since, by descending from the thrones above,
Those happy places thou hast deign'd awhile
To want, and honor these, vouchsafe with us
Two only, who yet by sovran 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 more cool decline."
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
O'ershades; for these mid-hours, till evening rise,
I have at will." So to the sylvan lodge
They came, that like Pomona's arbor smil'd,
With flowerets deck'd, and fragrant smells; but
Undeck'd save with herself more lovely fair
Than wood-nymph, or the fairest goddess feign'd
Of three that in mount Ida naked strove,
Earth and the sea feed air, the air those fires
Ethereal, and as lowest first the Moon;
Whence in her visage round those spots, unpurg'd
Vapors 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
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
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
Of theologians; but with keen dispatch
Of real hunger, and concoctive heat
To transubstantiate what redounds, transpires
Through spirits with ease; nor wonder; if by fire
Of sooty coal the empiric alchymist
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: O innocence
Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,
Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
Enamor'd at that sight; but in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reign'd, nor jealousy
Was understood, the injur'd lover's Hell.
Thus when with meats and drinks they had suffic'd,
Not burthen'd nature, sudden mind arose
Stood to entertain her guest from Heaven; no veil In Adam, not to let the occasion pass
She needed, virtue-proof; no thought infirm
Alter'd her cheek. On whom the angel Hail
Bestow'd, the holy salutation us'd
Long after to blest 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
Have heap'd this table."-Rais'd of grassy turf
Their table was, and mossy seats had round,
And on her ample square from side to side
All autumn, pil'd, though Spring and Autumn here
Danc'd hand in hand. Awhile discourse they hold;
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, unmeasur'd out, descends,
To us for food and for delight hath caus'd
The Earth to yield; unsavory food perhaps
To spiritual natures; 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
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
Given him by this great conference to know
Of things above his world, and of their being
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 fram'd.
"Inhabitant with God, now know I well
Thy favor, in this honor done to man;
Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsaf'd
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 wha
To whom the winged hierarch replied.
"O Adam, one Almighty is, from whom
All things proceed, and up to him return,
If not deprav'd from good, created all
Such to perfection, one first matter all,
Endued with various forms, various degree
Of substance, and, in things that live, of life;
But more refin'd, more spirituous, and pure,
As nearer to him plac'd, 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
Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste, Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the
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,
More aery, last the bright consummate flower
Spirits odórous breathes: flowers and their fruit,
Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublim'd,
To vital spirits aspire, to animal,