Page images
PDF
EPUB

This garden, and no corner leave unspy'd :
A chance but chance may lead where I may meet 530
Some wand'ring Spirit of Heav'n by fountain side,
Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw
What further would be learn’d. Live while ye mey,
Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,
Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed. 535

So saying, his proud step he scornful turn'd,
But with sly circumspection, and began
Thro' wood, thro' waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his roam.
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heav'n
With earth and ocean meets, the setting Sun 540
Slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise
Leveli'd his ev'ning rays: it was a rock
Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent 545
Accessible from earth, one entrance high;
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
Still as it rose, impossible to climb.
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,
Chief of th' angelic guards, awaiting night; 550
About him exercised heroic games
Th' unarmed youth of Heav'n, but nigh at hand
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold.
Thither came Uriel, gliding through th' even 555
On a sun-beam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired
Impress the air, and shews the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware
Impetuous winds. He thus began in haste :

Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath giv'n Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place No evil thing approach or enter in. This day at highth of noon came to my sphere A Spirit, zealous, as he seem'd, to know More of th' Almighty's works, and chiefly Man, 549. For mention of Gabriel, see Daniel vii. and ix. also Luke i.

his name signifies the mun or the power of God. 555. Through th' even, or that part of the heavens now becoming dark with the approaching evening.

361. This is in allusion to the courses of the priests in the temple service : see 1 Chron. xxiv. and Luke i. 8, 9.

560

565

God's latest image: I described his way
Bent all on speed, and mark'd his aery gait;
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted, soon discern'd his looks 6TO
Alien from Heav'n, with passions far obscured :
Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him. One of the banish'd crew,
I fear, hath ventured from the deep, to raise
New troubles : him thy care must be to find.

575
To whom the winged warrior thus return's :
Criel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,
Amid the Sun's bright circle, where thou sitt’st,
See far and wide : in at this gate none pass
The vigilance here placed, but such as come 580
Well known from Heav'n; and since meridian hour
No creature thence: if Spirit of other sort
So minded, have o'erleap'd these earthy bounds
On purpose, hard thou know'st it to exclude
Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.

585 But if within the circuit of these walks, In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom Thou tell'st, by morrow dawning I shall know, So promised he; and Uriel to his charge

589 Return'd on that bright beam, whose point now raised, Bore him slope downward to the Sun, now fallin Beneath th’ Azores; whether the prime orb, Incredible how swift, had thither roll'd Diurnal, or this less volúble earth, By shorter flight to th' east, had left him there 595 Arraying with reflected purple' and gold The clouds that on his western throne attend. Now came still ev'ning on, and twilight grey Had in her sober liv'ry all things clad; Silence accompanied : for beast and bird,

600 They to their grassy couch, these to their nests,

567. The first image of God was Christ; the second, Angels; the last, Man-Described, that is, observed attentively.

592. The Azores are islands in the Atlantic, off the coast of Portugal. The word is to be pronouncerl as three syllables.

394. Voluble, with the u pronounced long. 596. This is the first evening in the time of the poem, and it fur. nishes Milton with an opportunity of putting forth the splendour of his descriptive genius in one of its most magnificent efforts, One of the commentators on this passage absurdly remarks that it was the poet's weak eyes made him love to mention the evening twinyht.

Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale :
She all night long her am'rous descant Süng:
Silence was pleased. Now glow'd the firmament
With living sapphires : Hesperus, that led 005
The starry host, rode brightest, till the Moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.

When Adam thus to Eve: Fair Consort, th' hour Of night, and all things now retired to rest,

611 Mind us of like repose, since God hath set Labour and rest, as day and night, to men Successive ; and the timely dew of sleep Now falling, with soft slumb’rous weight inclines Our eye-lids. Other creatures all day long 616 Rove idle, unemploy'd, and less need rest; Man hath his daily work of body or mind Appointed, which declares bis dignity, And the regard of Heav'n on all his ways; 620 While other animals inactive range; And of their doings God takes no account. To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east With first approach of light, we must be ris'n, And at our pleasant labour, to reform

625 Yon flow'ry arbours, yonder alleys green, Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown, That mock our scant manuring, and require More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth : Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums, 630 That lie bestrown unsightly and unsmooth, Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease; Meanwhile, as Nature wills, Night bids us rest.

To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty' adorn'd: My Author and Disposer, what thou bidst, 635 Unargued, I obey; so God ordains ; God is thy law, thou mine; to know no more Is woman's happiest knowledge and her praise. With thee conversing I forget all time; All seasons and their change, all please alike. 610 Sweet is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet,

627. Walks in the first edition. 628. Mannring; in the sense of the French manæuvre, to maslage or cullivaie. 610. The seasons of the day, not of the year, are here meant

With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the Sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glist'ring with dew; fragrant the fertile earth 645
After soft show'rs; and sweet the coming on
Of grateful er’ning mild ; then silent Night,
With this her solemn bird, and this fair Moon,
And these the gems of Heav'n, her starry train ;
But neither breath of Nor, when she ascends 650
With charm of earliest birds; nor ri ing Sun
On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glist'ring with dew; nor fragrance after showers ;
Nor grateful ev'ning mild; nor silent Night
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by Moon,

655
Or glitt'ring star-light, without thee is sweet.
But wherefore all night long shine these ? For whom
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes ?

To whom our general ancestor reply'd : Daughter of God and Man, accomplish'd Eve, 660 These have their course to finish round the earth By morrow ev'ning, and from land to land In order, though to nations yet unborn, Minist'ring light prepared, they set and rise ; Lest total darkness should by night regain 665 Her old possession, and extinguish life In nature and all things, which these soft fires Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat Of various influence, foment and warm, Temper or nourish, or in part shed down 670 Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow On earth, made hereby apter to receive Perfection from the Sun's more potent ray. These then, though unbeheld in deep of night, 674 Shine not in vain ; nor think, tho' men were none, That Heav'n would want spectators, God want praise

648. A very ingenious essay has been written, by whom I forget, to shew that the ancients considered the nightingale's song cheer ful.

661. Those is read in some editions. 671. Milton's affectation of learning has been mentioned ani objected to. I venture, however, to observe, though he may seem to have erred when such passages in his poem are subjected to the severe and particularizing cye of a critic, that, taken as a whole, its grandeur and splendid effect upon the mind would have been considerably lees, had these appliances of a high knowledge been nemployed in it. illustration.

Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep.
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold,
Both day and night. How often from the steep 880
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to other's note,
Singing their great Creator! Oft in bands 681
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk
With heav'nly touch of instrumental sounds,
In full harmonic number join'd, their songs
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heav'n.

Thus talking hand in hand alone they pass'd
On to their blissful bow'r; it was a place

690 Chosen by the Sov’reign Planter, when he framed All things to Man's delightful use. The roof Of thickest covert was inwoven shade Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew Of firm and fragrant leaf : on either side 695 Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flow'r, Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine, Rear'd high their flourish'd heads between, and Mosaic: underfoot the violet,

[wrought Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay

701 Broider'd the ground, more colour'd than with stone Of costliest emblem. Other creature here, Beast, bird, insect, or worm, durst enter none : Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower 705 More sacred and sequester'd, though but feign'd, Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph Nor Faunus haunted. Here, in close recess, With flowers, garlands, and sweet-smelling herbs, Espoused Eve deck'd first her nuptial bed, 710 And heav'nly choirs the hymenean sung, What day the genial Angel to our sire Brought her in naked beauty more adorn’d, More lovely than Pandora, whom the Gods Endow'd with all their gifts; and 0 too like 715

700. Homer, Il. xiv. 347. 714. Pandora, the fable of Pandora's box needs no explanation, - Authentic fire, the original, and prototype, or the source of earthly fire, Unwiser is not a comparative here, but means ver unrise

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »