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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 eas'd 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 pronounc'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. 770
These lull’d by nightingales embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flow'ry roof
Show'r'd roses, 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. 775
Now had night measur'd 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. 785
From these, two strong and subtle Spi'rits he callid
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 errạnd 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,
800 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,
up with high conceits ingend'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 :
So started up in his own shape the Fiend.
Back stept those two fair Angels half amaz'd
820 So sudden to behold the grisly king ; Yet thus, unmov'd with fear, accost him soon.
Which of those rebel Spi'rits adjudg'd to Hell
Com’st thou, escap'd thy prison ? and transform’d,
Why sat'st thou like an enemy in wait,
Here watching at the head of these that sleep?
Know ye not then, said Satan fill'd with scorn,
Know ye not me? Ye knew me once no mate
For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar :
Not to know me argues yourselves unknown, 830
The lowest of your throng; or if ye know,
Why ask ye, and superfluous begin
Your message, like to end as much in vain ?
To whom thus Zephon, answ'ring scorn with scorn. Think not, revolted Spi'rit, thy shape the same, Or undiminish'd brightness to be known, As when thou stood'st in Heav'n upright and pure ; That glory then, when thou no more wast good, Departed from thee'; and thou resemblest now Thy sin and place of doom obscure and foul. 840 But come, for thou, be sure, shalt give account To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep This place inviolable, and these from harm.
So spake the Cherub; and his grave rebuke, Severe in youthful beauty, added grace 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 thee wicked, and thence weak.
The Fiend reply'd 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 quellid
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 splendour wan ; who by his gait
And fierce demeanour seems the prince of Hell,
Not likely to part hence without contest;
Stand firm, for in his look defiance low'rs.
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, 876