Imatges de pÓgina
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And on her ample square from side to side
All autumn piled, though spring and autumn here
Danced hand in hand. A while discourse they hold
No fear lest dinner cool, when thus began

Our author: Heavenly stranger, please to taste
These bounties which our Nourisher, from whom
All perfect good unmeasured out descends,
To us for food and for delight hath caused
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 ungrateful 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, smell, touch, taste,
Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,

And corporeal to incorporeal turn.

For know, whatever was created needs

To be sustain'd and fed; of elements

The grosser feeds the purer; carth 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, unpurged
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 recompence

In humid exhalations, and at even

Sups with the ocean. Though in heaven 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 heaven; 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 the empyric alchymist

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 injured lover's hell.

Thus when with meats and drinks they had sufficed, Not burden'd nature, sudden mind arose In Adam, not to let the occasion pass, Given him by this great conference, to know Of things above his world, and of their being Who dwell in heaven, whose excellence he saw Transcend his own so far; whose radiant forms, Divine effulgence, whose high power so far Exceeded human; and his wary speech Thus to the empyreal minister he framed : Inhabitant with God, now know I well Thy favour, in this honour done to man, Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsafed To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste, Food not of angels, yet accepted so,

As that more willingly thou couldst not seem

At heaven's high feasts to have fed: yet what compare?
To whom the winged Hierarch replied:

O Adam, one Almighty is, from whom
All things proceed, and up to him return,
If not depraved from good, created all
Such to perfection, one first matter all,
Indued with various forms, various degrees
Of substance, and, in things that live, of life;
But more refined, more spirituous, and pure,
As nearer to him placed, or nearer tending,
Each in their several active spheres assign'd,
Till body up to spirit work, in bounds
Proportion'd to cach kind. So from the root
Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves
More aëry, last the bright consummate flower
Spirits odorous breathes; flowers and their fruit,
Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublimed,
To vital spirits aspire, to animal,

To intellectual, give both life and sense,
Fancy and understanding; whence the soul
Reason receives, and reason is her being,
Discursive or intuitive; discourse

Is 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 men
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,
Improved by tract of time, and wing'd ascend
Ethereal, as we, or may at choice

Here or in heavenly paradises 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 replied: 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 placed us here
Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desires can seek or apprehend?

:

To whom the angel: Son of heaven 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 power, ordain'd thy will By nature free, not overruled by fate Inextricable, or strict necessity: Our voluntary service he requires, Not our necessitated; such with him Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how Can hearts, not free, be tried whether they serve Willing or no, who will but what they must By destiny, and can no other choose? Myself and all the angelic host, that stand In sight of God enthroned, our happy state Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds; On other surety none; freely we serve, Because we freely love, as in our will To love or not; in this we stand or fall. And some are fallen, to disobedience fallen, And so from heaven to deepest hell: O fall From what high state of bliss into what woe!

To whom our great progenitor: Thy words Attentive, and with more delighted ear, Divine instructor, I have heard, than when Cherubic songs by night from neighbouring hills Aereal music send: nor knew I not

To be both will and deed created free;
Yet that we never shall forget to love
Our Maker, and obey him whose command
Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts
Assured me, and still assure; though what thou tell'st
Hath pass'd in heaven, some doubt within me move,
But more desire to hear, if thou consent,

The full relation, which must needs be strange,
Worthy of sacred silence to be heard ;

And we have yet large day, for scarce the sun
Hath finish'd half his journey, and scarce begins
His other half in the great zone of heaven.
Thus Adam made request, and Raphael,
After short pause, assenting thus began:

High matter thou enjoinest me, O prime of men,
Sad task and hard; for how shall I relate
To human sense the invisible exploits
Of warring spirits? how without remorse
The ruin of so many, glorious once

And perfect while they stood? how last unfold
The secrets of another world, perhaps
Not lawful to reveal? yet for thy good,

This is dispensed; and what surmounts the reach
Of human sense I shall delineate so,

By likening spiritual to corporal forms,

As may express them best; though what if earth
Be but the shadow of heaven, and things therein
Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?
As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild

Reign'd where these heavens now roll, where earth now

rests

Upon her centre poised; when on a day,

For time, though in eternity, applied

To motion, measures all things durable
By present, past, and future; on such day

As heaven's great year brings forth, the empyreal host
Of angels, by imperial summons call'd,
Innumerable before the Almighty's throne
Forthwith from all the ends of heaven appear'd;
Under their hierarchs in orders bright

Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanced,
Standards and gonfalons 'twixt van and rear
Stream in the air, and for distinction serve
Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees;
Or in their glittering tissues bear imblazed
Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love
Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
Orb within orb, the Father infinite,
By whom in bliss embosom'd sat the Son,
Amidst, as from a flaming mount, whose top
Brightness had made invisible, thus spake :

Hear, all ye angels, progeny of light,

Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers,
Hear my decree, which unrevoked shall stand.

This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill

Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
At my right hand; your head I him appoint;
And by myself have sworn to him shall bow
All knees in heaven, and shall confess him Lord.
Under his great vicegerent reign abide
United, as one individual soul,

For ever happy: him who disobeys
Me disobeys, breaks union, and, that day
Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls
Into utter darkness, deep ingulf'd, his place
Ordain'd without redemption, without end.

So spake the Omnipotent, and with his words
All seem'd well pleased; all seem'd, but were not all.
That day, as other solemn days, they spent
In song and dance about the sacred hill;
Mystical dance, which yonder starry sphere
Of planets and of fix'd in all her wheels
Resembles nearest, mazes intricate,
Eccentric, intervolved, yet regular

Then most, when most irregular they seem;
And in their motions harmony divine

So smoothes her charming tones, that God's own ear
Listens delighted. Evening now approach'd,

For we have also our evening and our morn,
We ours for change delectable, not need;
Forthwith from dance to sweet repast they turn
Desirous, all in circles as they stood,
Tables are set, and on a sudden piled
With angels' food, and rubied nectar flows,

In pearl, in diamond, and massy gold,

Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of heaven.

On flowers reposed and with fresh flowerets crown'd, They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet

Quaff immortality and joy, secure

Of surfeit where full measure only bounds

Excess, before the all-bounteous King, who shower'd With copious hand, rejoicing in their joy.

Now when ambrosial night with clouds exhaled

From that high mount of God, whence light and shade
Spring both, the face of brightest heaven had changed
To grateful twilight, for night comes not there
In darker veil, and roseate dews disposed
All but the unsleeping eyes of God to rest,
Wide over all the plain, and wider far
Than all this globous earth in plain outspread,
Such are the courts of God, the angelic throng,
Dispersed in bands and files, their camp extend

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