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“Let not my words offend thee, Heavenly Power ; My Maker, be propitious while I speak, Hast thou not made me here thy substitute, And these inferior far beneath me set ? Among unequals what society Can sort, what harmony or true delight? Which must be mutual, in proportion due Given and received ; but, in disparity, The one intense, the other still remiss, Cannot well suit with either, but soon prove Tedious alike. Of fellowship I speak Such as I seek, fit to participate
390 All rational delight, wherein the brute Cannot be human consort. They rejoice Each with their kind, lion with lioness; So fitly them in pairs thou hast combined : Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl, So well converse, nor with the ox the ape ; Worse, then, can man with beast, and least of all.' “Whereto the Almighty answered, not dis
pleased :"A nice and subtle happiness, I see, Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice
400 Of thy associates, Adam, and wilt taste No pleasure, though in pleasure, solitary. What think'st thou, then, of me, and this my state ? Seem I to thee sufficiently possessed Of happiness, or not, who am alone From all eternity ? for none I know Second to me or like, equal much less. How have I, then, with whom to hold converse, Save with the creatures which I made, and those To me inferior infinite descents
410 Beneath what other creatures are to thee ?' “He ceased. I lowly answered :
-To attain The highth and depth of thy eternal ways
All human thoughts come short, Supreme of Things !
“Thus far to try thee, Adam, I was pleased, And find thee knowing not of beasts alone, Which thou hast rightly named, but of thyselfExpressing well the spirit within thee free,
440 My image, not imparted to the brute ; Whose fellowship, therefore, unmeet for thee, Good reason was thou freely shouldst dislike. And be so minded still. I, ere thou spakest, Knew it not good for man to be alone, And no such company as then thou saw'st Intended thee--for trial only brought, To see how thou couldst judge of fit and meet. What next I bring shall please thee, be assured,
Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
450 Thy wish exactly to thy heart's desire.'
“ He ended, or I heard no more ; for now
On she came,
And guided by his voice, nor uninformed
“ She heard me thus ; and, though divinely brought, Yet innocence and virgin modesty,
501 Her virtue, and the conscience of her worth, That would be wooed, and not unsought be won, Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retired, The more desirable—or, to say all, Nature herself, though pure of sinful thoughtWrought in her so, that, seeing me, she turned. I followed her ; she what was honour knew, And with obsequious majesty approved My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower
510 I led her blushing like the Morn; all Heaven, And happy constellations, on that hour Shed their selectest influence; the Earth Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill ; Joyous the birds ; fresh gales and gentle airs Whispered it to the woods, and from their wings Flung rose, flung odours from the spicy shrub, Disporting, till the amorous bird of night Sung spousal, and bid haste the Evening-star On his hill-top to light the bridal lamp.
520 “ Thus have I told thee all my state, and brought
My story to the sum of earthly bliss
540 Of Nature her the inferior, in the mind And inward faculties, which most excel ; In outward also her resembling less His image who made both, and less expressing The character of that dominion given O'er other creatures. Yet, when I approach Her loveliness, so absolute she seems And in herself complete, so well to know Her own, that what she wills to do or say Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best. 550 All higher Knowledge in her presence falls Degraded ; Wisdom in discourse with her Loses, discountenanced, and like Folly shows; Authority and Reason on her wait, As one intended first, not after made Occasionally ; and, to consummate all, Greatness of mind and nobleness their seat