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Tastes, not well jom'd inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change;
Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk
Whatever earth all-bearing mother yields
In India East or West, or middle shore
In Pontus or the Punic coast, or where
Alcinous reign'd fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough or smooth rin'd, 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
From many a berry, and from sweet kernels press'd
She tempers dulcet creams, nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure, then strows the ground
With rose and odours from the shrub unfun'd.

Meanwhile our primitive great sire, to meet 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 the rich retinue long Of horses led, and grooms besmear'd with gold, Dazzles the crowd, and sets them all agape. Nearer his presence Adam though not aw'd, Yet with submiss approach and reverence meet, As to a superior nature, bowing low, Thus said: Native of heav'n. for other place None can than heav'n such glorious shape contain Since by descending from the thrones above, Those happy places thou hast deign'd awhile To want, and honour these, vouchsafe with us Two only, who yet by sov'reign gift possess This spacious ground, ir 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 th' angelic virtue answer'd mild Adam I therefore came, nor art thou such Created, or such place hast here to dwell,

As may not oft invite, though spirits of heav'n
To visit thee; lead on then where thy bower
O'ershades; for these mid-hours, till evening rise,
I have at will. So to the sylvan lodge
They came, that like Pomona's arbour smil'd
With flow'rets deck'd, and fragrant smells: but Eve
Undeck'd save with herself, more lovely fair
Than wood-nymph, or the fairest goddess feign'd
Of three that in mount Ida naked strove,

Stood to entertain her guest from heav'n; no veil
She needed, virtue-proof; no thought infirm
Alter'd her cheek. On whom the angel, Hail,
Bestow'd, the holy salutation us'd
Long after to the blest Mary, second Eve.

rial mother of mankind, whose fruitful womb
Shall fill the world more numerous with thy sons,
Than with these various fruits the trees of God
Have heap'd this table. Rais'd of grassy turf
Their table was, and mossy seats had round,
And on her ample square from side to side
All autumn pil'd, though spring and autumn here
Danc'd hand in hand. Awhile discourse they held.
No fear lest dinner cool; when thus began
Our author: Heav'nly stranger, please to taste
These bounties, which our Nourisher, froin whom
All perfect good, unmeasur'd out, descends,
To us for food and for delight hath caus'd
The earth to yield; unsavoury 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
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

Of sense whereby they hear, see, ɛ.nell, touch, taste. Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,

And corporeal, to incorporeal turn.
For know, whatever was created. needs
To be sustain'd and fed; of element
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, unpurg'
Vapours not yet into her substance turn'd.
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

Sups with the ocean. Though in heav'n the trees Of life, ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines

Yield nectar, though from off the boughs each morn
We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground
Cover'd with pearly grain: yet God hath here
Varied his bounty so with new delights,
As may compare with heav'n; 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
Of theologians; but with keen despatch
Of real hunger, and concoctive heat
To transubstantiate: what redounds, transpires
Through spirits with ease nor wonder; if by fire
Of sooty coal th' empiric alchemist
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: O innocence
Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,

Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
Enamour'd at that sight; but in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reign'd, nor jealousy
Was understood, the injur'd lover's hell.

Thus when with meats and drinks they had suffe'd,

Not burden'd nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam, not to let th' occasion pass
Given him by this great conference to know
Of things above his world, and of their being
Who dwell in heav'n, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far, whose radiant forms
Divine effulgence, whose high pow'r so far
Exceeded human, and his wary speech
Thus to th' empyreal minister he fram'd:

Inhabitant with God, now know I well
Thy favour, in this honour done to man.
Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsaf'd
To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste,
Food not of angels, yet accepted so,

As that more willingly thou couldst not seem
At heav'n's high feast t' have fed: yet what compare }
To whom the winged hierarch reply'd:
O Adam, one Almighty is, from whom
All things proceed, and up to him return,
If not deprav'd from good, created all
Such to perfection, one first matter all,
Endued with various forms, various degrees
Of subtance, and in things that live, of life:
But more refin'd, more spiritous, and pure,
As nearer to him plac'd or nearer tending
Each in their several active spheres asign'd,
Till body up to spirit work, in bounds
Proportion'd to each kind. So from the root
Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the
leaves

More airy, last the bright consummate flower
Spirit odorous breathes: flow'rs and their fruit
Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublim'd
To vital spirits. aspire, to animal,
To intellectual; give both life and sense,
Fancy and understanding; whence the sou
Reason receives, and reason is her being,
Discursive, or intuitive; discourse
s oftest
yours, the latter most is ours

Differing but in degree, of kind the same.
Wonder not then, what God for you saw good
If I refuse not, but convert, as you

To proper substance; time may come, when mea
With angels may participate and find
No inconvenient diet. nor too light fare;
And from these corporeal nutriments perhaps
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,
Improv'd by tract of time, and wing'd ascend
Ethereal, as we, or may at choice
Here, or in heav'nly Paradise dwell;
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.

To whom the patriarch of mankind reply'd ·
O favourable 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
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,

Who form'd us from the dust, and plac'd us here
Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desires can seek or apprehend?

To whom the angel: Son of heav'n and earth,
Attend that thou art happy, owe to God;
That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,
That is to thy obedience; therein stand.
This was that caution given thee; be advised.
God made thee perfect not immutable;
And good he made thee, but to persevere
He left it in thy pow'r; ordain'd thy will
By nature free, not over-rul'd by fate
Inextricable, or strict necessity:

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