Page images
PDF
EPUB

Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,
Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower,
Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine,
Rear'd high their flourish'd heads between,and wrought
Mosaic; underfoot the violet,

700
Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay
Broider'd the ground, more color'd than with stone
Of costliest emblem: Other creature here,
Bird, beast, 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: 7.10
And heavenly 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 In sad event, when to the unwiser son Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged On him who had stole Jove's authentic fire.

Thus, at their shady lodge arrived, both stood, 720 Both turn'd, and under open sky adored The God that made both sky, air, earth, and Heaven, Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe And starry pole: Thou also mad'st the night, Maker Omnipotent, and thou the day

725 Which we, in our appointed work employ'd Have finishd, happy in our mutual help And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss Ordain’d by thee; and this delicious place For us too large, where thy abundance wants 730 Partakers, and uncropp'd falls to the ground.

But thou hast promised from us two a race
To fill the earth, who shall with us extol
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep. 735

This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower
Handed they went; and, eased the putting off
These troublesome disguises which we wear,

740
Straight side by side were laid; nor turn'd, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refused:
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity, and place, and innocence,

745 Defaming as impure what God declares Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all. Our maker bids increase; who bids abstain But our Destroyer, foe to God and Man? Hail wedded Love! mysterious law, true source 750 Of human offspring, sole propriety In Paradise of all things common else. By thee adulterous Lust was driven from men Among the bestial herds to range; by thee, Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,

755 Relations dear, and all the charities Of father, son, and brother, first were known. Far be it, that I should write thee sin or blame, Or think thee unbefitting holiest place, Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,

760 Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced, Present or past, as saints and patriarchs used. Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings, Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile 765 Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendear'd Casual fruition; nor in court amours,

Mix'd dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Or serenade, which the starved lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain. 770
These, lull'd by nightingales, embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flowery roof
Shower'd roses, which the morn repair’d. Sleep on
Bless'd pair! and O! yet happiest, if we seek
No happier state, and know to know no more. 775

Now had night measured with her shadowy cone
Half way up hill this vast sublunar vault,
And from their ivory port the Cherubim
Forth issuing at the accustom’d hour, stood arm’d
To their night watches in warlike parade;

780 When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake:

Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south With strictest watch; these other wheel the north; Our circuit meets full west. As flame they part, Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear. 785 From these two strong and subtle Spirits he callid That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge.

Ithuriel and Zephon, with wing'd speed Search through this garden, leave unsearch'd no nook; But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, 790 Now laid perhaps asleep, secure of harm. This evening from the sun's decline arrived, Who tells of some infernal Spirit seen Hitherward bent (who could have thought?) escapėd The bars of Hell, on errand bad no doubt;

795 Such, where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.

So saying, on he led his radiant files, Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct In search of whom they sought: Him there they found Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,

800 Assaying by his devilish art to reach The organs of her fancy, and with them forge Illusion, as he lists, phantasms and dreams;

Or if, inspiring venom, he might taint
The animal spirits that from pure blood arise 805
Like gentle breath from river pure, thence raise
At least distemper'd discontented thoughts,
Vain hopes, vain aims, inordinate desires,
Blown up with high conceits ingendering pride.
Him thus intent Ithuriel with his spear

810
Touch'd lightly; for no falsehood can endure
Touch of celestial temper, but returns
Of force to its own likeness: Up he starts
Discover'd and surprised. As when a spark
Lights on a heap of nitrous powder, laid

815 Fit for the tun some magazine to store Against a rumor'd war, the smutty grain, With'sudden blaze diffused, inflames the air; So started up in his own shape the Fiend. Back stepp'd those two fair Angels, half amazed 820 So sudden to behold the grisly king; Yet thus, unmoved with fear, accost him soon:

Which of those rebel Spirits adjudged to Hell Com'st thou, escaped thy prison? and, transformid, Why sat'st thou like an enemy in wait,

825 Here watching at the head of these that sleep?

Know ye not then, said Satan, fillid with scorn, Know ye not me? ye knew me once no mate For you, there sitting where ye durst not soar: Not to know me argues yourselves unknown, 830 The lowest of your throng; or if ye know, Why ask ye, and superfluous begin Your message, like to end as much in vain? To whom thus Zephon, answering scorn with scorn:

Think not, revolted Spirit, thy shape the same, 835 Or undiminish'd brightness to be known, As when thou stood'st in Heaven upright and pure; That glory then, when thou no more wast good Departed from thee; and thou resemblest now

Thy sin and place of doom, obscure and foul. 840
But come; for thou, be sure, shalt give account
To him who sent us, whose charge is to keep
This place inviolable, and these from harm.

So spake the Cherub: and his grave rebuke,
Severe in youthful beauty, added grace

845 Invincible: Abash'd the Devil stood, And felt how awful goodness is, and saw Virtue in her shape how lovely; saw, and pined His loss; but chiefly to find here observed His lustre visibly impair’d, yet seem'd

850 Undaunted. If I must contend, said he, Best with the best, the sender, not the sent, Or all at once; more glory will be won, Or less be lost. Thy fear, said Zephon bold, Will save us trial what the least can do

855 Single against thee, wicked, and thence weak.

The Fiend replied not, overcome with rage; But like a proud steed rein'd, went haughty on, Champing his iron curb: To strive or fly He held it vain; awe from above had quell’d 860 His heart, not else dismay'd. Now drew they nigh The western point, where those half-rounding guards Just met, and closing stood in squadron join'd Awaiting next command. To whom their Chief, Gabriel, from the front thus call'd aloud:

865 O friends! I hear the tread of nimble feet Hasting this way, and now by glimpse discern Ithuriel and Zephon through the shade; And with them comes a third of regal port, But faded splendor wan; who by his gait

870 And fierce demeanor seems the Prince of Hell, Not likely to part hence without contest; Stand firm, for in his look defiance lours. He scarce had ended, when those two approach'd, And brief related whom they brought, where found,

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »