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“Where will this end? four times ten days I've pass’d Wandering this woody maze, and human food Nor tasted, nor had appetite: that fast To virtue I impute not, or count part Of what I suffer here; if nature need not, Or God support nature without repast,
250 Though needing, what praise is it to endure ? But now I feel I hunger, which declares Nature hath need of what she asks; yet God Can satisfy that need some other way, Though hunger still remain : so it remain Without this body's wasting, I content me, And from the sting of famine fear no harm; Nor mind it, fed with better thoughts, that feed Me, hungering, more to do my Father's will.” It was the hour of night, when thus the Son
260 Communed in silent walk, then laid him down Under the hospitable covert nigh Of trees thick interwoven; there he slept, And dream’d, as appetite is wont to dream, Of meats and drinks, nature's refreshment sweet: Him thought, he by the brook of Cherith stood, And saw the ravens with their horny beaks Food to Elijah bringing, even and morn ; Though ravenous, taught to abstain from what they He saw the prophet also, how he fled [brought. Into the desert, and how there he slept
Thus wore out night; and now the herald lark
But cottage, herd, or sheep-cote, none he saw;
determin'd there To rest at noon, and enter'd soon the shade High roof'd, and walks beneath, and alleys brown, That open’d in the midst a woody scene; Nature's own work it seem'd (nature taught art), And, to a superstitious eye, the haunt Of wood-gods and wood-nymphs : he view'd it round, When suddenly a man before him stood, Not rustic as before, but seemlier clad, As one in city, or court, or palace bred,
300 And with fair speech these words to him address’d:
“With granted leave officious I return, But much more wonder that the Son of God In this wild solitude so long should bide, Of all things destitute : and, well I know, Not without hunger. Others of some note, As story tells, have trod this wilderness; The fugitive bond-woman, with her son, Outcast Nebaioth, yet found here relief By a providing angel; all the race Of Israel here bad famish’d, had not God Rain'd from heaven manna; and that prophet bold, Native of Thebez, wandering here, was fed Twice by a voice inviting him to eat : Of thee these forty days none hath regard, Forty and more deserted here indeed."
To whom thus Jesus:“What concludest thou hence? They all had need; I, as thou seest, have none."
“How hast thou hunger then ?" Satan replied. “Tell me, if food were now before thee set, 320 Would'st thou not eat?” “Thereafter as I like
The giver," answer'd Jesus. “Why should that
He spake no dream : for, as his words had end,
Pontus, and Lucrine bay, and Afric coast.
Was that crude apple that diverted Eve!)
With fruits and flowers from Amalthea's horn,
“What doubts the Son of God to sit and eat?
To whom thus Jesus temperately replied: “Said’st thou not that to all things I had right? And who withholds my power that right to use ? 380 Shall I receive by gift, what of my own, When and where likes me best, I can command ? I can at will, doubt not, as soon as thou, Command a table in this wilderness, And call swift flights of angels ministrant, Array'd in glory, on my cup to attend : Why shouldst thou, then, obtrude this diligence, In vain, where no acceptance it can find ? And with my hunger what hast thou to do?