« AnteriorContinuar »
Appointed, which declares his dignity,
And the regard of Heav'n on all his ways;
While other animals unactive range,
And of their doings God takes no account.
To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labour, to reform
Yon flow'ry 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 bestrown, 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' adorn'd. "My author and disposer, what thou bidst Unargued I obey: so God ordains;
God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more
Is woman's happiest knowledge and her praise.
With thee conversing I forget all time,
All seasons and their change, all please alike.
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glist'ring with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft show'rs; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful evening mild; then silent night,
With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon,
And these the gems of Heav'n, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn, when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun
On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glist'ring with dew; nor fragrance after showers;
Nor grateful evening mild; nor silent night,
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon, 655
Or glittering star-light, without thee is sweet.
But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?"
To whom our general ancestor reply'd. "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, Minist'ring light prepar'd, they set and rise; Lest total darkness should by night regain Her old possession, and extinguish life 1 In nature and all things, which these soft fires Not only' enlighten, but with kindly heat Of yarious 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 Heav'n would want spectators, God want praise 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 the steep Of echoing hill or thicket bave 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 heav'nly touch of instrumental sounds In full harmonic number join'd, their songs Divide the night, avd lift our thoughts to Heav'n." Thus talking, hand in hand alone they pass'd On to their blissful bow'r: it was a place Chos'n by the sov'reign Planter, when he fram'd 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 Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub, Fenc'd up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower, Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine
Rear'd high their flourish'd heads between, and
Mosaic; under foot the violet,
Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay
Broider'd the ground, more colour'd than with stone Of costliest emblem: other creature here,
Beast, bird, insect, or worm dust enter none,
Such was their awe of man. In shadier bow'r,
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,
And heav'nly quires 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
In sad event, when to th' unwiser son
Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnar'd
Mankind with her fair looks, to be aveng'd
On him who had stole Jove's authentic fire.
Thus, at their shady lodge arriv'd, both stood, 720 Both turn'd, and under open sky ador'd The God that made both sky, air, Earth, and Heaven, Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe, And starry pole: "Thou also mad'st the night, Maker omnipotent, and thou the day, Which we, in our appointed work employ'd, Have finish'd, happy in our mutual help And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss Ordain'd by thee; and this delicious place For us too large, where thy abundance wants Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground. But thou hast promis'd 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,
Straight side by side were laid; nor turn'd, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refus'd:
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
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise of all things common else!
By thee adult'rous lust was driv'n 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 undefil'd and chaste pronoune'd,
Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs us'd!
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 serenade, which the starv'd lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.
These, lull'd by nightingales, embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flow'ry roof
which the morn repair'd. Sleep on,
Blest pair; and O yet happiest, if ye seek
No happier state, and know to know no more.
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 th' accustom'd hour, stood arm'd
To their night watches in warlike parade,
When Gabriel to his next in pow'r 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. From these, two strong and subtle spirits he called 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 arriv'd
Who tells of some infernal spirit seen
Hitherward bent (who could have thought?), escap'd
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 bow'r 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
Illusions as he list, phantasms and dreams;
Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
Th animal spirits, that from pure blood arise
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 engend'ring 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 surpris'd. 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 diffus'd, inflames the air: