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How first this world and face of things began,
And what before thy memory was done
From the beginning; that posterity
Inform’d by thee, might know: if else thou seek'st
Aught, not surpassing human measure, say. 640

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PARADISE LOST.

BOOK VIII.

Adam inquires concerning celestial motions; is doubtfully answered and

exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge: Adam assents: and, still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remembered since his own creation; his placing in Paradise; his talk with God concerning solitude and fit society; his first meeting and nuptials with Eve; his discourse with the Angel thereupon: who, after admonitions repeated, departs.

The Angel ended, and in Adam's ear
So charming left his voice, that he awhile
Thought him still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear;
Then, as new waked, thus gratefully replied:
What thanks sufficient, or what recompense

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Equal, have I to render thee, divine
Historian, who thus largely hast allay'd
The thirst I had of knowledge, and vouchsafed
This friendly condescension to relate
Things else by me unsearchable; now heard 10
With wonder, but delight, and as is due,
With glory attributed to the high
Creator! Something yet of doubt remains,
Which only thy solution can resolve.
When I behold this goodly frame, this world, 15
Of Heaven and earth consisting; and compute
Their magnitudes; this Earth, a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compared
And all her number'd stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible (for such

20 Their distance argues, and their swift return Diurnal,) merely to officiate light Round this opacous Earth, this punctual spot, One day and night; in all her vast survey

Useless besides; reasoning I oft admire

25 How Nature wise and frugal could commit Such disproportions, with superfluous hand So many nobler bodies to create, Greater so manifold, to this one use, For aught appears, and on their orbs impose 30 Such restless revolution day by day Repeated; while the sedentary Earth, That better might with far less compass move, Served by more noble than herself, attains Her end without least motion, and receives, 35 As tribute, such a sumless journey brought Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light; Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails.

So spake our sire, and by his countenance seem'd
Entering on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retired in sight,

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With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prospered, bud and bloom, 45
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And, touch'd by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high: such pleasure she reserved, 50
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferr'd
Before the Angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute 55
With conjugal caresses: from his lip
Not words alone pleased her. O! when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honor join'd?
With goddess-like demeanor forth she went,
Not unattended; for on her, as Queen,

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A pomp of winning Graces waited still,
And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes, to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now, to Adam's doubt proposed,
Benevolent and facile thus replied:

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To ask or search, I blame thee not; for Heaven
Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years:
This to attain, whether Heaven move or Earth, 70
Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest
For Man or Angel the great Architect
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge
His secrets to be scann'd by them who ought
Rather admire; or, if they list to try

75 Conjecture, he his fabric of the Heavens Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move His laughter at their quaint opinions wide Hereafter; when they come to model Heaven And calculate the stars, how they will wield 80 The mighty frame; how build, unbuild, contrive To save appearances; how gird the sphere With centric and eccentric scribbled o’er, Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb: Already by thy reasoning this I guess,

85 Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest That bodies bright and greater should not serve The less not bright, nor Heaven such journeys run Earth sitting still, when she alore receives The benefit: Consider first, that great Or bright infers not excellence: the Earth, Though in comparison of Heaven, so small, Nor glistering, may of solid good contain More plenty than the sun that barren shines; Whose virtues on itself works no effect.

95 But in the fruitful Earth; there first received,

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