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How first this world and face of things began,
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
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
A pomp of winning Graces waited still,
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,