Imatges de pÓgina
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To manifest the more thy might his evil
Thou usest, and from thence createst more good.
Witness this new-made world, another heaven,
From heaven-gate not far, founded in view
(on the clear hyaline, the glassy sea;
Of amplitude almost immense, with stars
Numerous, and every star perhaps a world
Of destined habitation; but thou knowest
Their seasons: among these the seat of men,
Farth, with her nether ocean circumfused,
Their pleasant dwelling-place. Thrice happy men,
And sons of men, whom God hath thus advanced,
Created in his image, there to dwell

;

and in reward to rule

And worship him
Over his works, on earth, in sea, or air,
And multiply a race of worshippers
Holy and just thrice happy, if they know
Their happiness, and persevere upright.

So sung they, and the empyrean rung
With hallelujahs: thus was Sabbath kept.
And thy request think now fulfill'd, that ask'd
How first this world and face of things began,

And what before thy memory was done
From the beginning, that posterity
Inform'd by thee might know. If else thou seek'st
Aught, not surpassing human measure, say.

BOOK VIII.

THE ARGUMENT.

Adam inquires concerning celestial motions, is doubtfully answered, and xhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge. Adam assents: cerning solitude and fit society; his first meeting and nuptials with Eve; since his own creation: his placing in Paradise; his talk with God conand, still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remembered his discourse with the angel thereupon; who, after admonitions repeated,

departs.

THE angel ended, and in Adam's ear

So charming left his voice, that he awhile

Thought him Then, as new

:

Still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear;

waked, thus gratefully replied:

What thanks sufficient, or what recompense
Equal, have I to render thee, divine
Historian, who thus largely hast allay'd
The thirst I had of knowledge, and vouchsafed
Things else by me unsearchable, now heard
This friendly condescension to relate

With wonder,

With glory Creator?

but delight, and, as is due, attributed to the high

S

omething yet of doubt remains,

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Which only thy solution can resolve.
When I behold this goodly frame, this world,
Of heaven and earth consisting, and compute
Their magnitudes; this earth, a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compared
And all her number'd stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible, for such
Their distance argues, and their swift return
Diurnal, merely to officiate light
Round this opacous earth, this punctual spot,
One day and night, in all their vast survey
Useless besides ; reasoning, I oft admire,
How nature wise and frugal could commit
Such disproportions, with superfluous hand
So many nobler bodies to create,
Greater, so manifold, to this one use,
For aught appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution day by day
Repeated, while the sedentary earth,
That better might with far less compass move,
Served by more noble than herself, attains
Her end without least motion, and receives,
As tribute, such a sumless journey brought
Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;
Speed, to describe whose swistness number fails.

So spake our sire, and by his countenance seem'd
Entering on studious thoughts abtruse ; which Eve
Perceiving where she sat retired in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prosper'd, bud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And, touch'd by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high : such pleasure she reserval,
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferr'd
Before the angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses, from his lip
Not words alone pleased her. Oh, when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honour join'd?
With goddess-like demeanour forth she went,
Not unattended, for on her as queen
A pomp of winning graces waited still,
And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes, to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now, to Adam's doubt proposed,
Benevolent and facile thus replied ;

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To ask or search I blame thee not, for heaven Is as the book of God before thee set, Wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years. This to attain, whether heaven move or earth, Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest From man or angel the great Architect Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge His secrets to be scann'd by them who ought Rather admire ; or, if they list to try Conjecture, he his fabric of the heavens Hath left to their disputes ; perhaps to move His laughter at their quaint opinions wide Hereafter, when they come to model heaven And calculate the stars ; how they will wield The mighty frame; how build, unbuild, contrive, To save appearances ; how gird the sphere With centric and eccentric scribbled o'er, Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb. Already by thy reasoning this I guess, Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest That bodies bright and greater should not serve The less not bright, nor heaven such journeys run, Earth sitting still, when she alone receives The benefit. Consider first, that great Or bright infers not excellence : the earth, Though, in comparison of heaven, so small, Nor glistering, may of solid good contain More plenty than the sun that barren shines, Whose virtue on itself works no effect, But in the fruitful earth; there first received, His beams, inactive else, their vigour find. Yet not to earth are those bright luminaries Officious, but to thee, earth's habitant. And for the heaven's wide circuit, let it speak The Maker's high magnificence, who built So spacious, and his line stretch'd out so far, That man may know he dwells not in his own; An edifice too large for him to fill, Lodged in a small partition, and the rest Ordain'd for uses to his Lord best known. The swiftness of those circles attribute, Though numberless, to his omnipotence, That to corporeal substances could add Speed almost spiritual : me thou thinkst not slow, Who since the morning hour set out from heaven Where God resides, and ere mid-day arrived In Eden, distance inexpressible By numbers that have name. But this I

urge, Admitting motion in the heavens, to show Invalid that which thee to doubt it moved ; Not that I so affirm, though so it seem

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To thee who hast thy dwelling here on earth.
God, to remove his ways from human sense,
Placed heaven from earth so far, that earthly sight,
If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain. What if the sun
Be centre to the world, and other stars,
By his attractive virtue and their own
Incited, dance about him various rounds?
Their wandering course now high, now low, then hid,
Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,
In six thou seest; and what if, seventh to these,
The planet earth, so steadfast though she seem,
Insensibly three different motions move?
Which else to several spheres thou must ascribe,
Moved contrary with thwart obliquities,
Or save the sun his labour, and that swift
Nocturnal and diurnal rhomb supposed,
Invisible else above all stars, the wheel
Of day and night ; which needs not thy belief,
If earth industrious of herself fetch day
Travelling east, and with her part averse
From the sun's beam meet night, her other part
Still luminous by his ray. What if that light,
Sent from her through the wide transpicuous air,
To the terrestrial moon be as a star
Enlightening her by day, as she by night
This earth?

reciprocal, if land be there,
Fields and inhabitants. Her spots thou seest
As clouds, and clouds may rain, and rain produce
Fruits in her soften'd soil, for some to eat
Allotted there ; and other suns perhaps
With their attendant moons thou wilt descry,
Communicating male and female light,
Which two great sexes animate the world,
Stored in each orb perhaps with some that live.
For such vast room in nature unpossess'd
By living soul, desert and desolate,
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute
Each orb a glimpse of light, convey'd so far
Down to this habitable, which returns
Light back to them, is obvious to dispute.
But whether thus these things, or whether not,
Whether the sun, predominant in heaven,
Rise on the earth, or earth rise on the sun,
He from the east his flaming road begin ;
Or she from west her silent course advance
With inoffensive pace, that spinning sleeps
On her soft axle, while she paces even,
And bears thee soft with the smooth air along,
Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid ;
Leave them to God above, him serve and fear.
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,

Wherever placed, let him dispose ; joy thou
In what he gives to thee, this Paradise
And thy fair Eve; heaven is for thee too high
To know what passes there ; be lowly wise :
Think only what concerns thee and thy being ;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition, or degree,
Contented that thus far hath been reveal'd
Not of earth only, but of highest heaven

To whom thus Adam, clear'd of doubt, replied !
How fully hast thou satisfied me, pure
Intelligence of heaven, angel serene,
And, freed from intricacies, taught to live
The easiest way, nor with perplexing thoughts
To interrupt the sweet of life, from which
God hath bid dwell far off all anxious cares,
And not molest us, unless we ourselves
Seek them with wandering thoughts, and notions vain.
But apt the mind or fancy is to rove
Uncheck’d, and of her roving is no end ;
Till warn’d, or by experience taught, she learn,
That not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and subtle, but to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom ; what is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence,
And renders us, in things that most concern,
Unpractised, unprepared, and still to seek.
Therefore from this high pitch let us descend
A lower flight, and speak of things at hand
Useful, whence haply mention may arise
Of something not unseasonable to ask
By sufferance, and thy wonted favour deign'd.
Thee I have heard relating what was done
Ere my remembrance : now, hear me relate
My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard ;
And day is not yet spent ; till then thou seest
Ilow subtly to detain thee I devise,
Inviting thee to hear while I relate,
Fond, were it not in hope of thy reply :
For while I sit with thee, I seem in heaven,
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both, from labour, at the hour
Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill,
Though pleasant; but thy words, with grace divine
Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety:

To whom thus Raphael answer'd heavenly meek : Nor are thy lips ungraceful, sire of men, Nor tongue ineloquent ; for God on thee Abundantly his gifts hath also pour'd, Inward and outward both, his image fair :

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