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With pleasant liquors crowned. O innocence
Deserving Paradise ! If ever, then,
Then had the Sons of God excuse to have been
Enamoured at that sight. But in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reigned, nor jealousy
Was understood, the injured lover's hell.
Thus when with meats and drinks they had sufficed,
Not burdened nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam not to let the occasion pass,
Given him by this great conference, to know
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
Thus to the empyreal minister he framed :-
“Inhabitant with God, now know I well Thy favour, in this honour done to Man ; Under whose lowly roof thou hast voutsafed To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste, 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 com
To whom the winged Hierarch replied :- [pare ?” O Adam, one Almighty is, from whom All things proceed, and up to him return
470 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 ; But more refined, more spiritous and pure, As nearer to him placed or nearer tending Each in their several active spheres assigned, Till body up to spirit work, in bounds Proportioned to each kind. So from the root 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 sublimed,
To vital spirits aspire, to animal,
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,
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
No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare ;
And from these corporal nutriments, perhaps,
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,
Improved by tract of time, and wing'd ascend
Ethereal, as we, or may at choice
Here or in heavenly paradises dwell,
If ye be found obedient, and retain
Unalterably firm his love entire
Whose progeny you are.
Your fill what happiness this happy state
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
From centre to circumference, whereon,
In contemplation of created things,
By steps we may ascend to God.
What meant that caution joined, If ye be found
Obedient ? Can we want obedience, then,
To him, or possibly his love desert,
Who formed us from the dust, and placed 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,
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 advised.
God made thee perfect, not immutable ;
And good he made thee; but to persevere
He left it in thy power—ordained thy will
By nature free, not over-ruled by fate
Inextricable, or strict necessity.
Our voluntary service he requires,
Not our necessitated. Such with him
Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how
Can hearts not free be tried whether they
Willing or no, who will but what they must
By destiny, and can no other choose ?
Myself, and all the Angelic Host, that stand
In sight of God enthroned, 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
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
Attentive, and with more delighted ear,
Divine instructor, I have heard, than when
Cherubic songs by night from neighbouring hills
Aerial music send. Nor knew I not
To be, both will and deed, created free.
Yet that we never shall forget to love
Our Maker, and obey him whose command
Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts
Assured me, and still assure ; though what thou tell'st
Hath passed in Heaven some doubt within me move
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 finished half his journey, and scarce begins
His other half in the great zone of heaven."
Thus Adam made request; and Raphael,
After short pause assenting, thus began :-
“High matter thou enjoin’st me, O prime of MenSad task and hard ; for how shall I relate 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 Not lawful to reveal ? Yet for thy good
570 This is dispensed; and what surmounts the reach Of human sense I shall delineate so, By likening 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 Reigned where these heavens now roll, where Earth now Upon her centre poised, when on a day [rests (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 called, Innumerable before the Almighty's throne Forthwith from all the ends of Heaven appeared Under their hierarchs in orders bright. Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanced
Standards and gonfalons, 'twixt van and rear
Stream in the air, and for distinction serve 590
Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees ;
Or in their glittering tissues bear emblazed
Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love
Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
Orb within orb, the Father Infinite,
By whom in bliss embosomed sat the Son,
Amidst, as from a flaming mount, whose top
Brightness had made invisible, thus spake :-
· Hear, all ye Angels, Progeny of Light, 600
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,
Hear my decree, which unrevoked shall stand !
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill
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,
United as one individual soul,
610 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 engulfed, his place Ordained without redemption, without end.'
“So spake the Omnipotent, and with his words All seemed well pleased ; all seemed, but were not all. That day, as other solemn days, they spent In song and dance, about the sacred hillMystical dance, which yonder starry sphere 620 Of planets and of fixed in all her wheels Resembles nearest ; mazes intricate, Eccentric, intervolved, yet regular Then most when most irregular they seem ;