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As from the mine. Meanwhile at table Eve

Minister'd naked, and their flowing cups
445 With pleasant liquors crown'd. O innocence,

Deserving Paradise ! if ever, then-
Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
Enamour'd at that sight: but in those hearts

Love unlibidinous reign’d; nor jealousy 450 Was understood, the injur'd lover's hell.

Thus when with meats and drinks they had suffic'd,
Not burden'd nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam not to let the occasion pass,

Giv'n him by this great conference, to know 455 Of things above his world, and of their being

Who dwell in heaven, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far; whose radiant forms,
Divine effulgence—whose high power, so far

Exceeded human: and his wary speech 460 Thus to the empyreal minister he fram'd :

“ Inhabitant with God! now know I well
Thy favour, in this honour done to man;
“Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsaf'd

“ To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste; 465 “Food not of angels, yet accepted so,

As that more willingly thou couldst not seem
“ At heaven's high feasts to have fed: yet what compare!"

To whom the winged hierarch replied :

“O Adam! one Almighty is, from whom 470 “ All things proceed, and up to him return,

“ If not depraved from good, created all
“Such to perfection, one first matter all,
“Endued with various forms, various degrees

“Of substance, and, in things that live, of life; 475 “But more refin’d, more spirituous and pure,

As nearer to him plac'd, or nearer tending,
“ Each in their several active spheres assign'd;
“ Till body up to spirit work, in bounds

Proportion'd to each kind. So, from the root 480 “ Springs lighter the green stalk; from thence the leaves,

More aery; last, the bright consummate flower

Spirits odorous breathes; flowers, and their fruit, “ Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublim'd,

“ To vital spirits aspire, to animal,
485 “To intellectual-give both life and sense,

Fancy and understanding; whence the soul
“ Reason receives; and reason is her being,
“Discursive, or intuitive; discourse

“ Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours;
490 “ Differing but in degree, of kind the same.

“ Wonder not then, what God for you saw good
“ If I refuse not, but convert, as you,
“ To proper substance. Time may come, when men

“With angels may participate, and find
495 “No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare ;

“ And from these corporal nutriments, perhaps,
“ Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,

Improv'd by tract of time; and, wing'd, ascend

“Ethereäl, as we; or may, at choice,
500 “Here, or in heavenly Paradises, dwell;

If ye be found obedient, and retain,
“ Unalterably firm, his love entire,
“Whose progeny you are. Meanwhile, enjoy

“ Your fill what happiness this happy state 505 “ Can comprehend, incapable of more.”

To whom the patriarch of mankind replied: O favourable spirit, propitious guest ! “ Well hast thou taught the way that might direct

“Our knowledge, and the scale of nature set 510 " From centre to circumference; whereon,

“ In contemplation of created things,
By steps we may ascend to God. But say,
“What meant that caution join’d, 'If ye be found

“Obedient ? Can we want obedience then 515 “ To him? or possibly his love desert,

“ Who form'd us from the dust, and plac'd us here,
“ Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
“ Human desires can seek, or apprehend ?"

To whom the angel: “Son of heaven and earth! 520 “ Attend. That thou art happy, owe to God;

“ That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,
That is, to thy obedience; therein stand.
“ This was that caution given thee: be advis’d.

“God made thee perfect, not immutable; 525 “ And good he made thee; but to persevere

“He left it in thy power; ordain'd thy will
“ By nature free, not overruld by fate
“Inextricable, or strict necessity.

“Our voluntary service he requires, 530 “ Not our necessitated; such with him

“ Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how
“ Can hearts not free be tried, whether they serve,
“ Willing or no, who will but what they must

“By destiny, and can no other choose ? 535 «

Myself, and all the angelic host, that stand
“In sight of God enthron'd, our happy state
“ Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds ;
“ On other surety none: freely we serve,

“ Because we freely love, as in our will 540 “ To love or not; in this we stand or fall,

“ And some are fallen—to disobedience fallen;
“ And so from heaven to deepest hell: O fall,
“From what high state of bliss, into what woe!"

To whom our great progenitor : “ Thy words 345 “ Attentive, and with more delighted ear,

“ Divine instructor! I have heard, than when
“ Cherubic songs by night from neighbouring hills
Aërial music send. Nor knew I not

To be both will and deed created free; 550 “ Yet, that we never shall forget to love

“Our Maker, and obey him whose command

Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts Assur'd me, and still assure: though what thou tellist

“Hath pass'd in heaven, some doubt within me move, 555 “But more desire, to hear, if thou consent,

“ The full relation, which must needs be strange,

“Worthy of sacred silence to be heard;
“ And we have yet large day, for scarce the sun

“Hath finish'd half his journey, and scarce begins 560 “ His other half in the great zone of heaven.”

Thus Adam made request; and Raphaël,
After short pause assenting, thus began:

“ High matter thou enjoin'st me, O prime of men!

“ Sad task, and hard! for how shall I relate 565 “ To human sense the invisible exploits

“Of warring spirits ? how, without remorse,
“ The ruin of so many, glorious once,
And perfect, while they stood ? how, last, unfold

“ The secrets of another world, perhaps
570 “Not lawful to reveal ? Yet, for thy good

“ This is dispens'd: and what surmounts the reach
“Of human sense, I shall delineate so,

By lik’ning spiritual to corporal forms,
As may express them best: though what if earth
“Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein
“Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?

As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild
Reign'd where these heavens now roll, where earth now

575

" rests

“Upon her centre pois’d; when on a day, 580" (For time, though in eternity, applied

“ To motion, measures all things durable

By present, past, and future,) on such day
“ As heaven's great year brings forth, the empyreal host

“Of angels, by imperial summons call'd,
585 “ Innumerable before the Almighty's throne

“Forthwith, from all the ends of heaven, appear'd
“ Under their hierarchs in orders bright:
“ Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanc'd,

“ Standards and gonfalons 'twixt van and rear, 590

“ Stream in the air, and for distinction serve
“Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees;
“ Or in their glittering tissues bear imblaz'd
“ Holy memorials, acts of zeal, and love,

“ Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs 595 “Of circuit inexpressible they stood,

“Orb within orb, the Father Infinite,
“By whom in bliss imbosom'd sat the Son,

Amidst, as from a flaming mount whose top

Brightness had made invisible, thus spake: 600 “ Hear, all ye angels, progeny of light,

“Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers !
“Hear my decree, which unrevok'd shall stand.
". This day I have begot whom I declare

“My only Son, and on this holy hill
605 “Him have anointed, whom ye now behold

“At my right hand : your head I him appoint;
". And by myself have sworn, to him shall bow
"All knees in heaven, and shall confess him Lord:

“ Under his great vicegerent reign abide 610 « United, as one individual soul,

“For ever happy: him who disobeys,
". Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day,
“Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls

"Into utter darkness, deep ingulf'd, his place 615 “Ordain'd without redemption, without end.'

“ So spake th' Omnipotent, and with his words “ All seem'd well pleas'd—all seem'd, but were not all. “ That day, as other solemn days, they spent

“ In song and dance about the sacred hill;
620 Mystical dance! which yonder starry sphere

“Of planets, and of fix'd, in all her wheels,
“Resembles nearest; mazes intricate,
“Eccentric, intervolv'd, yet regular

“ Then most, when most irregular they seem; 625 “ And in their motions harmony divine

“ So smooths her charming tones, that God's own ear
“ Listens delighted. Ev'ning now approach'd ;
“ (For we have also ev'ning and our morn,

“ We ours for change delectable, not need :)
630 “ Forthwith from dance to sweet repast they turn

“ Desirous; all in circles as they stood,

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