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That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes,
Adam, now open thine eyes; and first behold
His eyes he opened, and beheld a field, Part arable and tilth, whereon were sheaves
430 New reap’d; the other part sheep-walks and folds; I’ the midst an altar as the landmark stood, Rustic, of grassy sord: thither anon A sweaty reaper from his tillage brought First fruits, the green ear, and the yellow sheaf, 435 Uncull'd, as came to hand: a shepherd next, More meek, came with the firstlings of his flock, Choicest and best: then, sacrificing, laid The inwards and their fat, with incense strow'd, On the cleft wood, and all due rites performed. 440 His offering soon propitious fire from Heaven Consumed with nimble glance and grateful steam; The other's not, for his was not sincere; Whereat he inly raged, and, as they talk’d, Smote him into the midriff with a stone
445 That beat out life: he fell; and, deadly pale, Groan'd out his soul with gushing blood effused. Much at that sight was Adam in his heart Dismay’d, and thus in haste to the Angel cried:
O Teacher! some great mischief hath befallen 450 To that meek man, who well had sacrificed; Is piety thus and pure devotion paid?
To whom Michael thus, he also moved, replied: These two are brethren, Adam, and to come
Out of thy loins; the unjust the just hath slain, 455
Alas! both for the deed and for the cause;
470 Some, as thou saw'st, by violent stroke shall die; By fire, flood, famine, by intemperance more In meats and drinks, which on the earth shall bring Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew Before thee shall appear; that thou may’st know 475 What misery the inabstinence of Eve Shall bring on Men; Immediately a place Before his eyes appear’d, sad, noisome, dark; A lazar-house it seem'd; wherein were laid Numbers of all diseased; all maladies
480 Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms Of heartsick agony, all feverous kinds, Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs, Intestine stone and ulcer, colic-pangs, Demoniac frenzy, moping melancholy,
385 And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy, Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence, Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums. Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; Despair Tended the sick busiest from couch to couch; 490
And over them triumphant Death his dart
500 Degraded, to what wretched state reserved! Better end here unborn. Why is life given To be thus wrested from us? rather, why Obtruded on us thus? who, if we knew What we receive, would either not accept Life offer'd, or soon beg to lay it down; Glad to be so dismiss’d in peace. Can thus The image of God in Man, created once So goodly and erect, though faulty since, To such unsightly sufferings be debased
510 Under inhuman pains? Why should not Man, Retaining still divine similitude In part, from such deformities be free, And, for his Maker's image sake, exempt?
Their Maker's image, answer'd Michael, then 515 Forsook them, when themselves they vilified To serve ungovern’d Appetite; and took His image whom they served, a brutish vice Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve. Therefore so abject is their punishment,
520 Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own; Or if his likeness, by themselves defaced; While they pervert pure Nature's healthful rules To loathsome sickness; worthily since they God's image did not reverence in themselves. 525 I yield it just, said Adam, and submit.
But is there yet no other way, besides
There is, said Michael, if thou well observe 530
Henceforth I fly not death, nor would prolong Life much; bent rather, how I may be quit, Fairest and easiest, of this cumbrous charge; Which I must keep till my appointed day
550 Of rendering up, and patiently attend My dissolution. Michael replied:
Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest Live ell; how long, or short, permit to Heaven: And now prepare thee for another sight.
555 He look'd, and saw a spacious plain, whereon Were tents of various hue; by some were herds Of cattle grazing; others, whence the sound Of instruments, that made melodious chime, Was heard, of harp and organ; and, who moved 560 Their stops and chords, was seen; his volant touch Instinct through all proportions, low and high,
Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue.
True opener of mine eyes, prime Angel bless'd;