Page images

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 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,
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.”

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 obscrve
The rule of "Not too much,' by temperance 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 be quit,
Fairest and easiest, of this cumbrous charge,
Which I must keep till my appointed day
Of rendering up, and patiently attend
My dissolution.” Michael replied:
“Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou
Live well; how long, or short, permit to Heaven:
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 moved
Their stops and chords was seen; his volant touch,
Instinct through all proportions, low and high,
Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue.
In other part stood one who, at the forge
Labouring, 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 veins of earth, thence gliding hot
To some cave's mouth, or whether wash’d by
From under ground;) the liquid ore he drain’d
Into fit moulds prepared, from which he form’d,

First, his own tools; then, what might else be

wrought Fusil or graven in metal. After these, But on the hither side, a different sort, From the high neighbouring hills, which was their

seat, Down to the plain descended; 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 the harp they sung Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on: The men, though grave, eyed them; and let their

eyes Rove without rein; till, in the amorous net Fast caught, they liked; and each his liking chose. And now of love they treat, till the evening star, Love's harbinger, appear'd; tben, all in heat, They light the nuptial torch, and bid invoke Hymen, then first to marriage rites invoked : With feast and music all the tents resound. Such happy interview, and fair event Of love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flowers, And charming symphonies, attach'd the heart Of Adam, soon inclined to 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. Those tents thou saw'st so pleasant, were the tents Of wickedness, wherein shall dwell his race Who slew his brother; studious they appear Of arts that polish life, inventors rare; Unmindful of their Maker, though his Spirit Taught them: but they his gifts acknowledged none. Yet they a beauteous offspring shall beget; For that fair female troop thou saw'st, that seem'd Of goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay, Yet empty of all good, wherein consists Woman's domestic honour and chief praise ; Bred only and completed to the taste Of Justful appetence, to sing, to dance, To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye: To these that sober race of men, whose lives Religious titled them the sons of God, Shall yield up all their virtue, all their fame, Ignobly, to the trains and to the smiles Of these fair atheists; and now swim in joy, Ere long to swim at large: and laugh, for which The world ere long a world of tears must weep.'

To whom thus Adam, of short joy bereft: "O pity and shame, that they, who to live well Enter'd so fair, should turn aside to tread

Paths indirect, or in the midway faint!
But still I see the tenor of man's woe
Holds on the same, from woman to begin.”

“From man's effeminate slackness it begins,'
Said the angel, “who should better hold his place
By wisdom, and superior gifts received.
But now prepare thee for another scene."

He looked, and saw wide territory spread Before him, towns, and rural works between; Cities of men with lofty gates and towers, Concourse in arms, fierce faces threatening war, Giants of mighty bone and bold emprise : Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed, Single or in array of battle ranged, Both horse and foot, nor idly mustering stood; One way a band select from forage drives A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine, From a fat meadow-ground; or fleecy flock, Ewes and their bleating lambs over the plain, Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly, But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray; With cruel tournament the squadrons join; Where cattle pastured late, now scatter'd lies, With carcasses and arms, the ensanguined field Deserted : others to a city strong Lay siege, encamp’d; by battery, scale, and mine, Assaulting; others from the wall defend With dart and javelin, stones, and sulphurous fire On each hand slaughter, and gigantic deeds. In other part the sceptred heralds call To council, in the city gates; anon

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »