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Rough, or smooth rind, 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 345
From many a berry, and from sweet kernels pressed
She tempers dulcet creams; nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure; then strows the ground
With rose and odors 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

355 Of horses led, and grooms besmear'd 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 deign'd a while To want, and honor these, vouchsafe with us

365 Two only, who yet by sov’reign 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.

Whom thus the angelic Virtue answer'd mild; Adam, I herefore 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 375 O’ershades; for these midhours, till evening rise, I have at will. So to the silvan lodge

370

They came, that like Pomona's arbor smiled,
With flowerets deck’d, and fragrant smells; but Eve,
Undeck'd save with herself, more lovely fair 380
Than Woodnymph, or the fairest Goddess feign'd
Of three that in mount Ida naked strove,
Stood to entertain her guest from Heaven; no veil
She needed, virtue-proof; no thought infirm
Alter'd her cheek. On whom the Angel Hail 385
Bestow'd, the holy salutation used
Long after to bless’d 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 heap'd 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 hand in hand. A while discourse they hold; 395
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; unsavory 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 405 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 sustain'd and fed: of elements

415
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
Vapors not yet into her substance turn’d.

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

425 Sups with the ocean. Though in Heaven the trees Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines Yield nectar; though from off the boughs cach morn We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground Cover'd 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 435 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 Minister'd naked, and their flowing cups With pleasant liquors crown'd: 0 innocence 445 Deserving Paradise! If ever, then, Then had the sons of God excuse to have been Enamor'd at that sight; but in those hearts Love unlibidinous reign'd, nor jealousy

465

Was understood, the injured lover's hell.

450 Thus when with meats and drinks they had sufficed, Not burden'd 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 455 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:

460 Inhabitant with God, now know I well Thy favor, in this honor done to Man; Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsafed 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 compare?

To whom the winged Hierarch replied: 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 spirituous, and

pure, 475 As nearer to him placed, or nearer tending Each in their several active spheres assign'd, Till body up to spirit work, in bounds Proportion's to each kind. So from the root Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves More aery, last the bright consummate flower 481 Spirit 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,

485

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.

490
Wonder not then, what God for you saw good
If I refuse not, but convert, as you,
Tu proper substance. Time may come, when Men
With Angels may participate, and find
No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare;

495 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;

500 If

ye be found obedient, and retain
Unalterably firm his love entire,
Whose progeny you are. Meanwhile enjoy
Your fill what happiness this happy state
Can comprehend, incapable of more.

505
To whom the patriarch of mankind replied:
O favorable 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,

510 In contemplation of created things, By steps we may ascend to God. But say, What meant that caution join'd, If ye be found Obedient? Can we want obedience then To him, or possibly his love desert,

515 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; 520 That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,

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