« AnteriorContinua »
Speaking or mute, all comeliness and
Attends thee; and each word, each motion forms.
Nor less think we in heaven of thee on earth
1 han of our fellow-servant, and inquire
Gladly into the ways of God with man;
For God we see hath honour'd thee, and set
On man his equal love. Say therefore on;
For I that day was absent, as befell,
Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure,
Far on excursion toward the gates of hell,
Squared in full legion, such command we
To see that none thence issued forth a spy,
Or enemy, while God was in his work;
Lest he, incensed at such eruption bold,
Destruction with creation might have mix'd.
Not that they durst without his leave attempt,
But us he sends upon his high behests
For state, as sovereign King, and to inure
Our prompt obedience. Fast we found, fast shut
The dismal gates, and barricadoed strong;
But long ere our approaching heard within
Noise, other than the sound of dance or song,
Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage.
Glad we return'd up to the coasts of light
Ere Sabbath evening: so we had in charge.
But thy relation now; for I attend,
Pleased with thy words no less than thou with mine.
So spake the godlike power, and thus our sire:
For man to tell how human life began
Is hard; for who himself beginning knew?
Desire with thee still longer to converse
Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid,
As new waked from soundest sleep
In balmy sweat, which with his beams the sun
Soon dried, and on the reeking moisture fed.
Straight toward heaven my wondering eyes I turn'd,
And gazed awhile the ample sky, till, raised
By quick instinctive motion, up I sprung,
As thitherward endeavouring, and upright
Stood on my feet: about me round I saw
Hill, dale, and shady woods, and sunny plains,
And liquid lapse of murmuring streams; by these,
Creatures that lived, and moved, and walk'd, or flew ;
Birds on the branches warbling; all things smiled,
With fragrance and with joy my heart o'erflow'd.
Myself I then perused, and limb by limb
Survey'd, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran
With supple joints, as lively vigour led :
But who I was, or where, or from what cause,
Knew not to speak I tried, and forthwith spake ;
My tongue obey'd, and readily could name
Whate'er I saw. Thou sun, said I, fair light,
And thou enlighten'd earth, so fresh and gay, Ye hills and dales, ye rivers, woods, and plains, And ye that live and move, fair creatures, tell, Tell, if ye saw, how Not of myself, by some great Maker then, y came I thus, how here? In goodness and in Tell me, how may I know him, how adore, power pre-eminent: From whom I have that thus I move and live, And feel that I am happier than I know. While thus I call'd, and stray'd I knew not whither, From where I first drew air, and first beheld This happy light, when answer none return'd, On a green shady bank, profuse of flowers, Pensive I sat me down; there gentle sleep First found me, and with soft oppression seized My drowsed sense, untroubled, though I thought
I then was
s passing to my former state Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve: When suddenly stood at my head a dream, Whose inward apparition gently moved yet had being,
My fancy to believe I
And lived: one came, methought, of shape divine, And said, Thy mansion wants thee, Adam; rise, f men innumerable ordain'd
To the garden of bliss, thy seat prepared.
So saying, by the hand he took me raised,
And over fields and waters, as in air
Smooth sliding without step, last led me up
A circuit wide, enclosed, with goodliest trees
A woody mountain; whose high top was plain,
Of earth before scarce walks,
and bowers, that what I saw
pleasant seem'd. Each tree
Laden with fairest fruit, that hung to the eye
Tempting, stirr'd in me sudden appetite
To pluck and cat; whereat I waked, and found
Before mine eyes all real, as the dream
Had lively shadow'd.
Up hither, from among the trees appear'd,
My wandering, had not he, who was my guide
In adoration at his feet I fell
Presence Divine. Rejoicing, but with awe,
The pledge of thy obedience and thy faith
Amid the garden by the Tree of Life,
Remember what I warn thee, shun to taste,
And shun the bitter consequence: for know,
The day thou eatst thereof, my sole command
Transgress'd, inevitably thou shalt die ;
From that day mortal, and this happy state
Shalt lose, expell'd from hence into a world
Of woe and sorrow. Sternly he pronounced
The rigid interdiction, which resounds
Yet dreadful in mine ear, though in my choice
Not to incur; but soon his clear aspect
Return'd, and gracious purpose thus renew'd:
Not only these fair bounds, but all the earth
To thee and to thy race I give; as lords
Possess it, and all things that therein live,
Or live in sea, or air; beast, fish, and fowl.
In sign whereof each bird and beast behold
After their kinds; I bring them to receive
From thee their names, and pay thee fealty
With low subjection; understand the same
Of fish within their watery residence,
Not hither summon'd, since they cannot change
Their element to draw the thinner air.
As thus he spake, each bird and beast behold
Approaching two and two; these cowering low
With blandishment, each bird stoop'd on his wing.
I named them as they pass'd, and understood
Their nature, with such knowledge God endued
My sudden apprehension; but in these
I found not what me thought I wanted still;
And to the heavenly vision thus presumed :
Oh by what name, for thou above all these,
Above mankind, or aught than mankind higher,
Surpassest far my naming, how may I
Adore thee, Author of this universe,
And all this good to man, for whose well-being
So amply, and with hands so liberal,
Thou hast provided all things? but with me
I see not who partakes. In solitude
What happiness, who can enjoy alone,
Or, all enjoying, what contentment find?
Thus I presumptuous; and the vision bright,
As with a smile more brighten'd, thus replied:
What call'st thou solitude? Is not the earth
With various living creatures and the air
Replenish'd, and all these at thy command
To come and play before thee? Knowest thou not
Their language and their ways? They also know,
And reason not contemptibly; with these
Find pastime, and bear rule; thy realm is large.
So spake the Universal Lord, and seem'd
So ordering. I, with leave of speech implored,
And humble deprecation, thus replied :
Let not my words offend thee, heavenly Power,
My Maker, be propitious while I speak.
Hast thou not made me here thy substitute,
And these inferior far beneath me set ?
Among unequals what society
Can sort, what harmony, or true delight?
Which must be mutual, in proportion due
Given and received; but in disparity,
The one intense, the other still remiss,
Cannot well suit with either, but soon prove
Tedious alike; of fellowship I speak
Such as I seek, fit to participate
All rational delight, wherein the brute
Cannot be human consort: they rejoice
Each with their kind, lion with lioness ;
So fitly them in pairs thou hast combined ;
Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl,
So well converse, nor with the ox the ape;
Worse then can man with beast, and least of all.
Whereto the Almighty answer'd, not displeased :
A nice and subtle happiness I see
Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice
Of thy associates, Adam, and wilt taste
No pleasure, though in pleasure, solitary.
What thinkst thou then of me, and this my state?
Seem I to thee sufficiently possess'd
Of happiness, or not, who am alone
From all eternity ? for none I know
Second to me or like, equal much less.
then with whom to hold converse, Save with the creatures which I made, and those To me inferior, infinite descents Beneath what other creatures are to thee? He ceased; I lowly answer'd : To attain The height and depth of thy eternal ways All human thoughts come short, Supreme of things ! Thou in thyself art perfect, and in thee Is no deficience found : not so is man, But in degree, the cause of his desire, By conversation with his like, to help Or solace his defects. No need that thou Shouldst propagate, already infinite, And through all numbers absolute, though one; But man by number is to manifest His single imperfection, and beget Like of his like, his image multiplied, In unity defective, which requires Collateral love, and dearest amity. Thou in thy secrecy, although alone, Best with thyself accompanied, seekst not
Social communication ; yet so pleased
Canst raise thy creature to what height thou wilt
Of union or communion, deified ;
I by conversing cannot these erect
From prone, nor in their ways complacence find.
Thus I embolden'd spake, and freedom used
Permissive, and acceptance found ; which gain'd
This answer from the gracious Voice Divine :
Thus far to try thee, m, I was pleased,
And find thee knowing not of beasts alone,
Which thou hast rightly named, but of thyself,
Expressing well the spirit within thee free,
My image, not imparted to the brute ;
Whose fellowship therefore unmeet for thee
Good reason was thou freely shouldst dislike,
And be so minded still : I, ere thou spakest,
Knew it not good for man to be alone,
And no such company as then thou sawest
Intended thee, for trial only brought,
To see how thou couldst judge of fit and meet.
What next I bring shall please thee, be assured,
Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
Thy wish exactly to thy heart's desire.
He ehded, or I heard no more ; for now
My earthly by his heavenly overpower’d,
Which it had long stood under, strain'd to the height
In that celestial colloquy sublime,
As with an object that excels the sense,
Dazzled, and spent, sunk down, and sought repair
Of sleep, which instantly fell on me, callid
By nature as in aid, and closed mine eyes.
Mine eyes he closed, but open left the cell
Of fancy, my internal sight, by which
Abstract as in a trance methought I saw,
Ι Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape Still glorious before whom awake I stood ; Who stooping open'd my left side, and took From thence a rib, with cordial spirits warm, And life-blood streaming fresh ; wide was the wound, But suddenly with flesh fill'd up and heal’d. The rib he form’d and fashion'd with his hands; Under his forming hands a creature grew Man-like, but different sex, so lovely fair, That what seem'd fair in all the world, seem'd now Mean, or in her summ’d up, in her contain'd, And in her looks, which from that time infused Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before, And into all things from her air inspired The spirit of love and amorous delight. She disappear'd, and left me dark ; I waked To find her, or for ever to deplore Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure.