Page images
[ocr errors]

They sat them down; and, after no more toil Not like these narrow limits, to receive
Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed Your numerons offspring; if no better place,
To recommend cool zephyr, and made ease Thank him who puts ine loth to this revenge
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite On you who wrong me not, for him who wronged.
More grateful, to their supper fruits they fell, And should I at your harmless innocence
Nectarine fruits which the compliant boughs Melt as I do, yet public reason just,
Yielded them, side-long as they sat recline, Honour and empire with revenge enlarged,
On the soft downy bank damasked with flowers: By conquering this new world, compels me now
'The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind To do what else, though damned, I should abhor."
Still as they thirsted scoop the brimming stream; So spake the fiend, and with necessity,
Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles The tyrant's plea, excused his devilish deeds.
Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems Then from his lofty stand on that high tree
Fair couple, linked in happy nuptial league, Down he alights among the sportful herd
Alone as they. About them frisking played Of those four-footed kinds, himself now one,
All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase, Now other, as their shape served best his end
In wood or wilderness, forest or den;

Nearer to view his prey, and unespied
Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw To mark what of their state he more might learn,
Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards, By word or action marked: about them round
Gambolled before them; the unwieldy elephant, A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;
To make them mirth, used all his might and Then as a tyger, who by chance bath spied

In some purlieu two gentle fawns at play, His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly, Straight couches close, then, rising, changes oft Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine,

His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground, His braided train, and of his fatal guile

Whence rushing he might surest seize them both, Gave proof unheeded; others on the grass Griped in each paw: when Adam, first of men, Couched, and, now filled with pasture, gazing sat, To first of women Eve, thus moving speech, Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,

Turned him, all ear to hear new utterance flow, Declined, was hasting now with prone career “Sole partner, and sole part, of all these joys, To the ocean isles, and in the ascending scale Dearer thyself than all: needs must the Power Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose : That made us, and for us this ample world When Satan, still in gaze, as first he stood, Be infinitely good, and of his good Scarce thus at length failed speech recovered sad. As liberal and free as infinite;

“ O hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold! That raised us from the dust, and placed us here Into our room of bliss thus high advanced In all this happiness, who at his hand Creatures of other mould, earthborn perhaps, Have nothing merited, nor can perform Not spirits, yet to heavenly spirits bright Aught whereof he hath need: he who requires Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue From us no other service than to keep With wonder, and could love, so lively shines This one, this easy charge, 'of all the trees In them divine resemblance, and such grace In Paradise that bear delicious fruit The hand that formed them on their shape hath So various, not to taste that only tree poured.

Of knowledge, planted by the tree of life;' Ah, gentle pair! ye little think how nigh So near grows death to life, whate'er death is, Your change approaches, when all these delights Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou knowWill vanish, and deliver ye to wo, More wo, the more your taste is now of joy; God hath pronounced it death to taste that tree, Happy, but for so happy ill secured

The only sign of our obedience left, Long to continue, and this high seat your Heaven Among so many signs of power and rule Il fenced for Heaven to keep out such a foe Conferred upon us, and dominion given As now is entered; yet no purposed foe

Over all other creatures that possess To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn, Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think hard Though I unpitied: league with you I seek, One easy prohibition, who enjoy And mutual arity, so straight, so close, Free leave so large to all things else, and choice That I with you must dwell, or you with me Unlimited of manifold delights: Henceforth; my dwelling haply may not please, But let us ever praise him, and extol Like this fair Paradise, your sense; yet such His bounty, following our delightful task, Accept your Maker's work; he gave it me, To prune these growing plants, and tend these Which I as freely give: hell shall unfold,

flowers, To entertain you two, her widest gates, Which, were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet." And send forth all her kings; there will be room, To whom thus Eve replied :-"Othou for whom



And from whom I was formed, flesh of thy flesh, Smiled with superior love, as Jupiter
And without whom am to no end, my guide On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clouds
And head! what thou hast said is just and right. That shed May flowers; and pressed her matron
For we to him indeed all praises owe,

And daily thanks; I chiefly, who enjoy With kisses pure: aside the devil turned
So far the happier lot, enjoying thee

For envy, yet with jealous leer malign Pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plained Like consort to thyself canst no where find. Both of her beauty and submissive charms, That day I oft remember, when from sleep “Sight hateful, sight tormenting! thus these two, I first awaked, and found myself reposed Imparadised in one another's arms, Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill And what I was, whence thither brought, and how, Of bliss on bliss; while I to hell am thrust, Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire, Of waters issued from a cave, and spread Among our other torments not the least, Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved Still unfulfilled, with pain of longing pines. Pure as the expanse of Heaven; I thither went Yet let me not forget what I have gained With unexperienced thought, and laid me down From their own mouths: all is not theirs, it seems; On the green bank to look into the clear One fatal tree there stands, of knowledge called, Smooth lake, that to me seemed another sky. Forbidden them to taste: knowledge forbidden ? As I bent down to look, just opposite

Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord A shape within the watery gleam appeared, Envy them that? can it be sin to know? Bending to look on me: I started back, Can it be death? and do they only stand It started back; but pleased I soon returned, By ignorance ? is that their happy state, Pleased it returned as soon with answering looks The proof of their obedience and their faith? Of sympathy and love: there I had fixed O fair foundation laid whereon to build Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire, Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds Had not a voice thus warned me: 'What thou With more desire to know, and to reject seest,

Envious commands, invented with design What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself; To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt With thee it came and goes: but follow me, Equal with gods: aspiring to be such, And I will bring thee where no shadow stays They taste and die; what likelier can ensue? Thy coming, and thy soft embraces, he But first with narrow search I must walk round Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy, This garden, and no corner leave unspied : Inseparably thine, to him shalt bear

A chance but chance may lead where I may meet Multitudes like thyself, and thence be called Some wandering spirit of Heaven by fountain Mother of human race.' What could I do, side, But follow straight, invisibly thus led ? Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw Till I espied thee, fair indeed and tall,

What further would be learned. Live while ye Under a plantain; yet methought less fair,

may Less winning soft, less amiably mild,

Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return, Than that smooth watery image: back I turned; Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed." Thou following criedst aloud, 'Return, fair Eve, So saying, his proud step he scornful turned, Whom fliest thou? whom thou fliest, of him thou But with sly circumspection, and began, art,

Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, His flesh, bis bone: to give thee being, I lent

his roam.
Out of my side to thee nearest my heart, Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven
Substantial life, to have thee by my side With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Henceforth an individual solace dear;

Slowly descended, and with right aspect
Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim Against the eastern gate of Paradise
My other half.' With that thy gentle hand Levelled his evening rays: it was a rock
Seized mine; I yielded, and from that time see Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,
How beauty is excelled by manly grace, Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.” Accessible from earth, one entrance high;

So spake our general mother, and with eyes The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
Of conjugal attraction, unreproved,

Still as it rose, impossible to climb. And meek surrender, half-embracing leaned Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat, On our first father; half her swelling breast Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night: Naked met his, under the flowing gold

About him exercised heroic games Of her loose tresses hid: he, in delight

The unarmed youth of Heaven, hut nigh at hand F

Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears, When Adam thus to Eve. “Fair consort, the
Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold. hour
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even Of night, and all things now retired to rest,
On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star,

Mind us of like repose, since God hath set
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired Labour and rest, as day and night, to men
Impress the air, and shows the mariner

Successive; and the timely dew of sleep, From what point of his compas to beware Now falling with soft slumb'rous weight, inclines Impetuous winds: he thus began in haste. Our eyelids: other creatures all day long

Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given Rove idle, unemployed, and less need rest;
Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place Man hath his daily work of body or mind
No evil thing approach or enter in.

Appointed, which declares his dignity,
This day at height of noon came to my sphere And the regard of Heaven on all his ways;
A spirit, zealous, as he seemed, to know

While other animals unactive range,
More of the Almighty's works, and chiefly man, And of their doings God takes no account.
God's latest image: I described his way Tomorrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
Bent all on speed, and marked his airy gait; With first approach of light, we must be risen,
But in the mount that lies from Eden north, And at our pleasant labour to reform
Where he first lighted, soon discerned his looks Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,
Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured: Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,
Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade That mock our scant manuring, and require
Lost sight of him: one of the banished crew, More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth •
I fear, hath ventured from the deep, to raise Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,
New troubles ; him thy care must be to find.” That bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth,

To whom the winged warrior thus returned. Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease: "Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,

Meanwhile, as Nature wills, night bids us rest." Amid the sun's bright circle where thou sittest, To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorned. See far and wide: in at this gate none pass “My author and disposer, what thou bid'st The vigilance here placed, but such as come Unargued I obey: so God ordains; Well known from Heaven; and since meridian God is thy law, thou mine: to know no more hour

Is woman's happiest knowledge and her praise No creature thence: if spirit of other sort, With thee conversing I forget all time; So minded, have o'crleaped these earthly bounds All seasons and their change, all please alike. On purpose, hard thou knowest it to exclude Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.

With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun, But if within the circuit of these walks,

When first on this delightful land he spreads In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom

His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower, Thou tellest, by morrow dawning I shall know.” Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth

So promised he; and Uriel to his charge After soft showers; and sweet the coming on Returned on that bright beam, whose point now Of grateful evening mild; then silent night, raised

With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon, Bore him slope downward to the sun now fallen And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train: Beneath the Azores; whether the prime orb, But neither breath of morn, when she ascends Incredible how swift, had thither rolled

With charm of earliest birds; nor rising sun Diurnal, or this less voluble earth,

On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower, By shorter flight to the east had left him there Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers, Arraying with reflected purple and gold Nor grateful evening mild; nor silent night, The clouds that on his western throne attend. With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon, Now came still evening on, and twilight gray Or glittering starlight, without thee is sweet. Had in her sober livery all things clad;

But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom Silence accompanied; for beast and bird, This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all They to their grassy couch, these to their nests Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale; To whom our general ancestor replied. She all night long her amorous descant sung; Daughter of God and man, accomplished Eve, Silence was pleased; now glowed the firmament These have their course to finish round the earth, With living sapphires; Hesperus, that led By morrow evening, and from land to land The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon, In order, though to nations yet unborn, Rising in clouded majesty, at length,

Ministering light prepared, they set and rise; Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light, Lest total darkness should by night regain And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw. Her old possession, and extinguish life

eyes ?"

[ocr errors]

In nature and all things, which these soft fires Both turned, and under open sky adored
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat The God that made both sky, air, earth, and
Of various influence foment and warm,

Temper or nourish, or in part shed down Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe,
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow And starry pole: “ Thou also mad'st the night,
On earth, made hereby apter to receive Maker omnipotent, and thou the day,
Perfection from the sun's more potent ray. Which we, in our appointed work employed
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night, Have finished, happy in our mutual help
Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss

Ordained by thee; and this delicious place That Heaven would want spectators, God want For us too large, where thy abundance wants praise;

Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground. Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth But thou hast promised from us two a race Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep; To fill the earth, who shall with us extol All these with ceaseless praise his works behold Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake, Both day and night: how often from the steep And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.” Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard

This said unanimous, and other rites Celestial voices to the midnight air,

Observing none, but adoration pure Sole, or responsive each to other's note, Which God likes best, into their inmost bower Singing their great Creator? oft in bands Handed they went; and, eased the putting off While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk, These troublesome disguises which we wear, With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds Straight side by side were laid ; nor turned, I ween, In full harmonic number joined, their songs Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven.” Mysterious of connubial love refused :

Thus talking, hand in hand alone they passed Whatever hypocrites austerely talk On to their blissful bower: it was a place Of purity, and place, and innocence, Chosen by the sovereign Planter, when he framed Defaming as impure what God declares All things to man's delightful use; the roof Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all Of thickest covert was interwoven shade Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew But our destroyer, foe to God and man? Of firm and fragrant leaf: on either side Hail, wedded love, mysterious law, true source Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub, Of human offspring, sole propriety Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous In Paradise of all things common else ! flower,

By thee adult'rous lust was driven from men Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine

Among the bestial herds to range; by thee, Reared high their flourishing heads between, and Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure, wrought

Relations dear, and all the charities Mosaic; under foot the violet,

Of father, son, and brother first were known. Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay

Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame, Broidered the ground, more coloured than with Or think thee unbefitting holiest place, stone

Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets, Of costliest emblem: other creature here, Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced, Beast, bird, insect, or worm durst enter none, Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs used! Such was their awe of man. In shadier bower, Here love his golden shafts employs, here lights More sacred and sequestered, though but feigned, His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings, Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor nymph Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile Nor fauns haunted. Here, in close recess, Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendeared, With flowers, garlands, and sweet swelling herbs, Casual fruition; nor in court amours, Espoused Eve decked first her nuptial bed, Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball, And heavenly choirs the hymenaan sung, Or serenade, which the starved lover sings What day the genial angel to our sire

To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain. Brought her, in naked beauty more adorned, These lulled by nightingales, embracing slept, More lovely than Pandora, whom the god And on their naked limbs the flowery roof Endowed with all their gifts, and 0 too like Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on, In sad event, when to the unwiser son

Blest pair ; and O yet happiest, if ye seek Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared No happier state, and know to know no more. Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged Now had night measured with her shadowy cone On him who had stole Jove's authentic fire. Half way up hill this vast sublunar vault,

Thus, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood, And from their ivory port the cherubim,


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Forth issuing at the accustomed hour, stood armed To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with
To their night watches in warlike parade,
When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake. “Think not, revolted spirit, thy shape the same,

“Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south Or undiminished brightness to be known,
With strictest watch; these other wheel the north; As when thou stood'st in Heaven upright and
Our circuit meets full west.” As flame they part, pure;
Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear. That glory then, when thou no more wast good,
From these, two strong and subtle spirits he called Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now
That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge. Thy sin and place of doom, obscure and foul.

“Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed But come, for thou, be sure, shall give account Search through this garden, leave unsearched no To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep nook :

This place inviolable, and these from harm.” But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, So spake the cherub; and this grave rebuke, Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm. Severe in youthful beauty, added grace This evening from the sun's decline arrived Invincible; abashed the devil stood, Who tells of some infernal spirit seen

And felt how awful goodness is, and saw Hitherward bent (who could have thought ?) es- Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pined caped

His loss; but chiefly to find her observed The bars of hell, on errand bad no doubt : His lustre visibly impaired; yet seemed Such where ye find, seize fast and hither bring.” Undaunted. "If I must contend," said he, So saying, on he led his radiant files,

“Best with the best, the sender not the sent, Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct Or all at once; more glory will be won, In search of whom they sought; him there they Or less be lost.” Thy fear," said Zephon bold, found

“ Will save us trial what the least can do Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve, Single against thee wicked, and thence weak." Assaying by his devilish art to reach

The fiend replied not, overcome with rage; The organs of her fancy, and with them forge But, like a proud steed reined, went haughty on, Illusions as he list, phantasms and dreams; Champing his iron curb: to strive or fly Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint

He held it vain; awe from above had quelled The animal spirits, that from pure blood arise His heart, not else dismayed. Now drew they Like gentle breathis from rivers pure, thence raisc nigh At least distempered, discontented thoughts, The western point, where those half-rounding Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,

guards Blown up with high conceits engendering pride. Just met, and closing stood in squadron joined, Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear Awaiting next command. To whom their chief, Touched lightly; for no falsehood can endure Gabriel, from the front thus called aloud. Touch of celestial temper, but returns

“O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet Of force to its own likeness: up he starts Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern Discovered and surprised. As when a spark Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade; Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid And with them comes a third of regal port, Fit for the tun some magazine to store

But faded splendour wan; who, by his gait Against a rumoured war, the smutty grain, And fierce demeanour, seems the prince of hell, With sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air : Not likely to part hence without contest ; So started up in his own shape the fiend. Stand firm, for in his look defiance lowers." Back step those two fair angels, half amazed He scarce had ended, when those two apSo sudden to behold the grisly king;

proached, Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon. And brief related whom they brought, where

“ Which of those rebel spirits adjudged to Hell found, Comest thou, escaped thy prison ? and, transformed How busied, in what form and posture couched. Why sat’st thou like an enemy in wait,

To whom with stern regard thus Gabriel spake. Here watching at the head of these that sleep?" Why hast thou, Satan, broke the bounds pre“Know ye not then,” said Satan, filled with scribed scorn,

To thy transgressions, and disturbed the charge “Know ye not me? ye knew me once no mate Of others, who approve not to transgress For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar; By thy example, but have power and right Not to know me argues yourselves unknown, To question thy bold entrance on this place; The lowest of your throng; or, if you know, Employed, it seems, to violate sleep, and those Why ask ye, and superfluous begin

Whose dwelling God hath planted here in bliss ?” Your message, like to end as much in vain ?" To whom thus Satan with contemptuous brow

« PreviousContinue »