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A cloudy spot.

Down thither prone in flight He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing Now on the polar winds; then with quick fan Winnows the buxom air, till, within soar

270 Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems A phenix, gazed by all, as that sole bird, When, to enshrine his relics in the Sun's Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies. At once on the eastern cliff of Paradise He lights, and to his proper shape returns, A Seraph winged. Six wings he wore, to shade His lineaments divine : the pair that clad Each shoulder broad came mantling o'er his breast With regal ornament; the middle pair

280 Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold And colours dipt in heaven; the third his feet Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail, Sky-tinctured grain. Like Maia's son he stood, And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance filled The circuit wide. Straight knew him all the bands Of Angels under watch, and to his state And to his message high in honour rise ; For on some message high they guessed him bound. Their glittering tents he passed, and now is come 291 Into the blissful field, through groves of myrrh, And flowering odours, cassia, nard, and balm, A wilderness of sweets; for Nature here Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will Her virgin fancies, pouring forth more sweet, Wild above rule or art, enormous bliss. Him, through the spicy forest onward come, Adam discerned, as in the door he sat Of his cool bower, while now the mounted Sun 300 Shot down direct his fervid rays, to warm

Earth’s inmost womb, more warmth than Adam needs;
And Eve, within, due at her hour, prepared
For dinner savoury fruits, of taste to please
True appetite, and not disrelish thirst
Of nectarous draughts between, from milky stream,
Berry or grape: to whom thus Adam called :-

“Haste hither, Eve, and, worth thy sight, behold
Eastward among those trees what glorious Shape
Comes this way moving ; seems another morn 310
Risen on mid-noon. Some great behest from Heaven
To us perhaps he brings, and will voutsafe
This day to be our guest. But go with speed,
And what thy stores contain bring forth, and pour
Abundance fit to honour and receive
Our heavenly stranger ; well we may afford
Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow
From large bestowed, where Nature multiplies
Her fertile growth, and by disburdening grows
More fruitful; which instructs us not to spare." 320
To whom thus Eve :—“Adam, Earth's hallowed

mould,
Of God inspired, small store will serve where store,
All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk ;
Save what, by frugal storing, firmness gains
To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes.
But I will haste, and from each bough and brake,
Each plant and juiciest gourd, will pluck such choice
To entertain our Angel-guest as he,
Beholding, shall confess that here on Earth
God hath dispensed his bounties as in Heaven.” 330

So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent
What choice to choose for delicacy best,
What order so contrived as not to mix
Tastes, not well joined, inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change :

340

Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk
Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother, yields
In India East or West, or middle shore
In Pontus or the Punic coast, or where
Alcinöus reigned, fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough or smooth rined, or bearded husk, or shell,
She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand.

For drink the grape
She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths
From many a berry, and from sweet kernels pressed
She tempers dulcet creams - nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure; then strews the ground
With rose and odours from the shrub unfumed.

Meanwhile our primitive great Sire, to meet 350 His godlike guest, walks forth, without more train Accompanied than with his own complete Perfections ; in himself was all his state, More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits On princes, when their rich retinue long Of horses led and grooms besmeared with gold Dazzles the crowd and sets them all agape. Nearer his presence, Adam, though not awed, Yet with submiss approach and reverence meek, As to a superior nature, bowing low,

360 Thus said :—“Native of Heaven (for other place None can than Heaven such glorious Shape contain), Since, by descending from the Thrones above, Those happy places thou hast deigned a while To want, and honour these, voutsafe with us, Two only, who yet by sovran gift possess This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower To rest, and what the Garden choicest bears To sit and taste, till this meridian heat Be over, and the sun more cool decline."

370 Whom thus the angelic Virtue answered mild :« Adam, I therefore came ; nor art thou such

Created, or such place hast here to dwell,
As may not oft invite, though Spirits of Heaven,
To visit thee. Lead on, then, where thy bower
O'ershades"; for these mid-hours, till evening rise,
I have at will.” So to the sylvan lodge
They came, that like Pomona's arbour smiled,
With flowerets decked and fragrant smells. But Eve,
Undecked, save with herself, more lovely fair 380
Than wood-nymph, or the fairest goddess feigned
Of three that in Mount Ida naked strove,
Stood to entertain her guest from Heaven ; no veil
She needed, virtue-proof; no thought infirm
Altered her cheek. On whom the Angel “ Hail !”
Bestowed—the holy salutation used
Long after to blest Mary, second Eve :-

“ Hail! Mother of mankind, whose fruitful womb Shall fill the world more numerous with thy sons Than with these various fruits the trees of God

390 Have heaped this table !” Raised of grassy turf Their table was, and mossy seats had round, And on her ample square, from side to side, All Autumn piled, though Spring and Autumn here Danced hard-in-hand. A while discourse they hold -No fear lest dinner cool — when thus began Our Author :—“Heavenly Stranger, please to taste These bounties, which our Nourisher, from whom All perfect good, unmeasured-out, descends, To us for food and for delight hath caused

400 The Earth to yield : unsavoury food, perhaps, To Spiritual Natures ; only this I know, That one Celestial Father gives to all."

To whom the Angel :-“Therefore, what he gives (Whose praise be ever sung) to Man, in part Spiritual, may of purest Spirits be found No ingrateful food : and food alike those pure Intelligential substances require

As doth your Rational ; and both contain
Within them every lower faculty

410
Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste,
Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,
And corporeal to incorporeal turn.
For know, whatever was created needs
To be sustained and fed. Of Elements
The grosser feeds the purer : Earth the Sea ;
Earth and the Sea feed Air ; the Air those Fires
Ethereal, and, as lowest, first the Moon ;
Whence in her visage round those spots, unpurged
Vapours not yet into her substance turned.

420 Nor doth the Moon no nourishment exhale From her moist continent to higher Orbs. The Sun, that light imparts to all, receives From all his alimental recompense In humid exhalations, and at even Sups with the Ocean. Though in Heaven the trees Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines Yield nectar—though from off the boughs each morn We brush mellifluous dews and find the ground Covered with pearly grain—yet God hath here 430 Varied his bounty so with new delights As may compare with Heaven; and to taste Think not I shall be nice.” So down they sat, And to their viands fell ; nor seemingly The Angel, nor in mist—the common gloss Of theologians—but with keen dispatch Of real hunger, and concoctive heat To transubstantiate : what redounds transpires Through Spirits with ease ; nor wonder, if by fire Of sooty coal the empiric alchemist

440 Can turn, or holds it possible to turn, Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold, As from the mine. Meanwhile at table Eve Ministered naked, and their flowing cups

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