Page images
PDF
EPUB

Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?
Can it be death? And do they only stand
By ignorance? Is that their happy state,
The proof of their obedience and their faith? 520
O fair foundation laid whereon to build
Their ruin! hence I will excite their minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with design
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt 525
Equal with God: aspiring to be such,
They taste and die: What likelier can ensue?
But first with narrow search I must walk round
This garden, and no corner leave unspied;
A chance but chance may lead where I may meet 530
Some wandering Spirit of Heaven by fountain side,
Or in thick shade retired, from him to draw
What further would be learn'd. Live while ye may,
Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,
Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed! 535

So saying, his proud step he scornful turn'd,
But with sly circumspection, and began [roam.
Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun

540 Slowly descended, and with right aspect Against the eastern gate of paradise Levelled his evening rays: It was a rock Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent

545 Accessible from earth, one entrance high; The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung Still as it rose, impossible to climb. Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sát, Chief of the angelic guards awaiting night; 550 About him exercised heroic games

The unarmed youth of Heaven, but nigh at hand
Celestial armory, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high with diamond flaming and with gold.
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even 555
On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapors fired
Impress the air, and shows the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware
Impetuous winds: He thus began in haste: 560

Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given
Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place
No evil thing approach or enter in.
This day at height of noon came to my sphere
A Spirit, zealous, as he seem'd, to know

565
More of the Almighty's works, and chiefly Man,
God's latest image: I described his way
Bent all on speed, and mark'd his aery gait;
But on the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted soon discern'd his looks 570
Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured:
Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him: One of the banish'd crew,
I fear, hath ventured from the deep, to raise
New troubles; him thy care must be to find. 575

To whom the winged warrior thus return'd; Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight, Amid the sun's bright circle where thou sitt'st, See far and wide: In at this gate none pass The vigilance here placed, but such as come 580 Well known from Heaven; and since meridian hour No creature thence: If Spirit of other sort, So minded, has o’erleap'd these earthly bounds On purpose, hard thou know'st it to exclude Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.

585 But if within the circuit of these walks, In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom

Thou tell'st, by morrow dawning I shall know.

So promised he: and Uriel to his charge Return'd on that bright beam, whose point now raised Bore him slope downward to the sun now fallen 591 Beneath the Azores; whether the prime orb, Incredible how swift, had thither roll'd Diurnal; or this less voluble earth, By shorter flight to the east, had left him there, 595 Arraying with reflected purple and gold The clouds that on his western throne attend. Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray Had in her sober livery all things clad; Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,

600 They to their grassy couch, these to their nests, Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale; She all night long her amorous descant sung; Silence was pleased: Now glow'd the firmament With living sapphires: Hesperus, that led

605 The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon, Rising in clouded majesty, at length Apparent queen unveil'd her peerless light, And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.

When Adam thus to Eve: Fair Consort, the hour Of night, and all things now retired to rest, 611 Mind us of like repose; since God hath set Labor and rest, as day and night to men Successive; and the timely dew of sleep, Now falling with soft amb’rous weight, inclines 615 Our eyelids: Other creatures all day long Rove idle, unemployed, and less need rest; Man hath his daily work of body or mind Appointed, which declares his dignity, And the regard of Heaven on all his ways; 620 While other animals inactive range, And of their doings God takes no account. To-morrow, ere fresh morning streak the east

With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labor, to reform

625
Yon flowery arbors, yonder alleys green,
Our walk at noon with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant manuring, and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth.
Those blossoms also, and those dropping gums,

630 That lie bestrown, unsightly and unsmooth, Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease; Meanwhile, as Nature wills, night bids us rest.

To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorn’d: My Author and Disposer, what thou bidd'st 635 Unargued I obey: so God ordains: God is thy law, thou mine: To know no more Is woman's happiest knowledge, and her praise. With thee conversing, I forget all time; All seasons, and their change, all please alike. 640 Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet, With charm of earliest birds: pleasant the sun, When first on this delightful land he spreads His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth 645 After soft showers; and sweet the coming on Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night, With this her solemn bird, and this fair moon, And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train: But neither breath of Morn, when she ascends 650 With charm of earliest birds: nor rising sun On this delightful land; nor herb, fruit, flower, Glistering with dew; nor fragrance after showers; Nor grateful Evening mild; nor silent Night, With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,

655 Or glittering starlight, without thee, is sweet. But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes? To whom our general ancestor replied:

Daughter of God and Man, accomplish'd Eve, 660
These have their course to finish round the earth
By morrow evening, and from land to land
In order, though to nations yet unborn,
Ministering light prepared, they set and rise;
Lest total Darkness should by night regain 665
Her old possession, and extinguish life
In Nature and all things; which these soft fires
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat
Of various influence foment and warm,
Temper or nourish, or in part shed down

670
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun's more potent ray.
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night, 674
Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none,
That Heaven would want spectators, God want praise.
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake and when we sleep;
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night; How often from the steep 680
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to other's note,
Singing their great Creator? oft in bands
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,685
With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds
In full harmonic number join'd, their songs
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to Heaven.

Thus talking, hand in hand alone they pass'd On to their blissful bower: it was a place

690 Chosen by the sovoreign Planter, when he framed All things to Man's delightful use: the roof Of thickest covert was inwoven shade Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side

695

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »