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The visual nerve for he had much to see;
And from the wel of life three drops instill'd.
So deep the pow'r of these ingredients pierc'd,
Ev'n to the inmost seat of mental sight,
That Adam now enforc'd to close his eyes,
Sunk down, and all his spirits became entranc'd;
But him the gentle angel by the hand
Soon rais'd, and his attention thus recall'd:
Adam, now ope thine eyes, and first behold Th' effects which thy original crime hath wrought In some to spring from thee, who never touch'd Th' excepted tree, nor with the snake conspir'd, Nor sinn'd thy sin, yet from that sin derive Corruption to bring forth more violent deeds.
His eyes he open'd, and beheld a field,
Part arable and tilth, whereon were sheaves
New reap'd, the other part sheep-walks and folds.
I' th' midst an altar as the land-mark stood,
Rustic, of grassy sord; thither anon
A sweaty reaper from his tillage brought
First fruits, the green ear, and the yellow sheaf
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 perform'd.
His offering soon propitious fire from heav'n
Consum'd with nimble glance, and grateful stream;
The other's not, for his was not sincere ;
Whereat he inly rag'd, and as they talk'd,
Smote him into the midrift with a stone
That beat out life; he fell, and deadly pale
Groan'd out his soul with gushing blood effus'd.
Much at that sight was Adam in his heart
Dismay'd, and thus in haste to th' angel cry'd:
O teacher, some great mischief hath befall'n
To that meek man, who well had sacrific'd:
Is piety thus and pure devotion paid?
T' whom Michael thus, he also mov'd reply'd: These two are brethren, Adam, and to come Out of thy loins; th' unjust the just hath slain. For envy that his brother's offering found From heav'n, acceptance; but the bloody fact Will be aveng'd, and the other's faith approv'd Lose no rewards; though here thou see him die, Rolling in dust and gore. To which our sire: Alas! both for the deed, and for the cause! But have I now seen Death? Is this the way I must return to native dust? O sight Of terror, foul and ugly to behold, Horrid to think, how horrible to feel!
To whom thus Michael: Death thou hast seen In his first shape on man; but many shapes Of Death, and many are the ways that lead To his grim cave, all dismal; yet to sense More terrible at th' entrance than within. Some as thou saw'st, by violent stroke shall die, By fire, flood, famine; by intemp'rance more In meats and drinks, which on the earth shall bring Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew Before thee shall appear; that thou mayst know What misery th' 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 diseas'd, all maladies, Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms, Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds, Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs, Intestine stone and ulcer. colick-pangs, Demoniac phrenzy, moping melancholy, And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy, Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence, Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rhuems Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; Despair Tended the sick, busiest from couch to couch: And over them triumphant Death his dart
Shook, but delay'd to strike, though cft invok'd
With vows, as their chief good, and final hope.
Sight so deform what heart of rock could long
Dry-ey'd behold? Adam could not, but wept,
Though not of woman born: compassion quell'd
His best of man, and gave him up to tears
A space, till firmer thoughts restrain'd excess;
And scarce recovering words his plaint renew'd
O miserable mankind, to what fall
Degraded, to what wretched state reserv'd?
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
Th' image of God in man created once
So goodly and erect, though faulty since,
To such unsightly sufferings be debas'd
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
Forsook them, when themselves they vilify'd
To serve ungovern'd appetite, and took
His image whom they serv'd, a brutish vice,
Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve.
Therefore so abject is their punishment,
Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own,
Or if his likeness, by themselves defac'd,
While they pervert pure nature's healthful rules
To loathsome sickness, worthily, since they
God's image did not reverence in themselves.
I yield it just, said Adam, and submit.
But is there yet no other way, besides
These painful passages how we may come
To death, and mix with our connatural dust?
There is, said Michael, if thou well observe
The rule of not too much, by temp'rance taught,
In what thou eat'st and drink'st, seeking from thence
Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,
Till many years over thy head return:
So may'st thou live, till like ripe fruit thou drop
Into thy mother's lap, or be with ease
Gather'd, not harshly pluck'd, for death mature:
This is old age: but then thou must outlive
Thy youth, thy strength, thy beauty, which will
To wither'd, weak and grey: thy senses then
Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forego,
To what thou hast; and for the air of youth,
Hopeful and cheerful, in thy blood will reign
A melancholy damp of cold and dry
To weigh thy spirits down, and last consume
The balm of life. To whom our ancestor :
Henceforth I fly not death, nor would prolong
Life much, bent rather how I may
Fairest and easiest of this cumbrous charge,
Which I must keep till my appointed day
Of rend'ring up, and patiently attend
My dissolution. Michael reply'd :
Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv'st
Live well, how long or short permit to heav'n :
And now prepare thee for another sight.
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 mov'd
Their stops and chords was seen; his volant touch
Instinct through all proportions low and high,
Fled and pursu'd transverse the resonant fugue.
In other part stood one who at the forge
Lab'ring two massy clods of iron and brass
Had melted, (whether found where casual fire
Had wasted woods on mountain, or in vale.
Down to the reing of earth, thence gliding hot
To some cave's mouth, or whether wash'd by stream
From unde ground,) the liquid ore he drain'd
Into fit moulds prepart; from which he form'd
First his own tools; then, what might else be wrougb
Fusi or grav'n in metal. After these,
But on the hither side, a different sort
From the high neighb'ring hills, which was their seat
Down to the plain descending: by their guise
Just men they seem'd, and all their study bent
To worship God aright, and know his works
Not hid, nor those things last which might preserve
Freedom and peace to men; they on the plain
Long had not walk'd, when from the tents behold
A bevy of fair women, richly gay
In gems and wanton dress; to th' harp they sung
Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on;
The men though grave, ey'd them, and let their eyes
Rove without rein, till in the amorous net
Fast caught, they lik'd, and each his liking chose ;
And now of love they treat, till th' evning star.
Love's harbinger, appear'd; then all in heat
They light the nuptial torch, and bid invoke
Hymen, then first to marriage rites invok'd:
With feast and music all the tents resound.
Such happy interview and fair event
Of love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flow'rs,
And charming symphonies attach'd the heart,
Of Adam, soon inclin'd t' admit delight,
The bent of nature; which he thus express'd.
True opener of mine eyes, prime angel blest, Much better seems this vision, and more hope Of peaceful days portends, than those two past; Those were of hate and death, or pain much worse. Here nature seems fulfill'd in all her ends.
To whom thus Michael: Judge not what is best
By pleasure, though to nature seeming meet,
Created, as thou art, to nobler end
Holy and pure conformity divine.