Page images
PDF
EPUB

BOOK V.

THE ARGUMENT.

Morning approached, Eve relates to Adam ber troublesome dream; he likes it not, yet comforts ber: they come forth to their day-labours : their inorning hymn at the door of their bower. God, to render Man inexcusable, sends Raphael to admonish him of his obedience, of his free estate, of his enemy near at hand, who he is, and why his enemy, and whatever else may avail Adam to know. Raphael comes down to paradise : his appearance described, his coming discerned by Adam afar off, sitting at the door of his bower; he goes out to meet him, brings him to his lodge, entertains him with the choirest fruits of paradise got together by Eve; their discourse at table ; Rapbael performs his message, minds Adam of his state and of his enemy; relates, at Adam's request, who that enemy is, and how he came to be 80, beginning from his first revolt in heaven, and the occasion thereof : how he drew his legions after him to the parts of the north, and there incited them to rebel with him; persuading all but only Abdiel a seraph, who in argument dissuades d opposes him, then forsakes him.

Now morn, her rosy steps in th' eastern clime
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl,
When Adam waked, so custom'd, for his sleep
Was aery light, from pure digestion bred,
And temperate vapours bland, which th' only sound
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan
Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song
Of birds on every bough: so much the more
His wonder was to find unwaken'd Eve
With tresses discomposed and glowing cheek,
As through unquiet rest: he on his side
Leaning half-raised, with looks of cordial love
Hung over her enamour'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 espoused, my latest found,
Heav'n'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 tended plants, how blows the citron grove,
What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed,

N

How nature paints her colours, how the bee
Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet.

Such whisp’ring 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 return'd; for I this night,
Such night till this I never passd, have dream'd,
If dream'd, not as I oft am wont, of thee,
Works of day pass'd, 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 call'd me forth to walk
With gentle voice ; I thought it thine : it suid,
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-labour'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: heav'n 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 pass'd through ways
That brought me on a sudden to the tree
Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seen’d,
Much fairer to my fancy than by day:
And as I wond'ring look’d, beside it stood
One shaped and wing'd like one of those from heav'n
By us oft seen ; his dewy locks distillid
Ambrosia ; on that tree he also gazed;
And O fair plant, said he, with frit surcharged,
Deigns none to ease thy load and taste thy sweet,
Nor Gon, nor man ; is knowledge so despised ?
Or envy, or what reserve forbids to taste ?
Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
Longer thy offer'd good why else set here?

This said, he paused not, but with vent'rous arm
He pluck’d, he tasted; me damp horror chill'd
At such bold words vouch'd with a deed so bold.
But he thus overjoy'd: 0 fruit divine,
Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropp'd,
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, more abundant grows,
The author not impair'd, but honour'd more!
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 confined,
But sometimes in the air, as we, sometimes
Ascend to heav'n, 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 savoury smell
So quicken'd appetite, that I, methought,
Could not but taste. Forth with up to the clouds
With him I flew, and underneath beheld
The earth outstretch'd immense, a prospect wide
And various : wond'ring at my flight and change
To this high exaltation, snddenly
My guide was gone, and I, methought, surk down,
And fell asleep: but O how glad I waked
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 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 cals
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 inind 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 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 flow'rs,
That open now their choicest bosom'd smells,
Reserved 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 wiped 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 hasta
But first, from under shady arborous roof
Soon as they forth were come to open sight
Of dayspring and the sun, who, scarce uprisen
With wheels yet hov’ring 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 pronounced or sung
Unmeditated, such prompt eloquence
Flow'd from their lips, in prose or numerous verso
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 wondrous fair; thyself how wondrous 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,
And when high noon hast gain'd, and when thon fallisto
Moon, that now meet'st the orient sun, now fly'st,
With the fixed stars, fixed in their orb that flies,
And ye five other wand'ring fires that move
In mystic dance not without song,' rescund
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

1 Alluding to the Pythagorean idea of the music of the spheres.

« PreviousContinue »