Imatges de pÓgina


[ocr errors]

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 :

“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 scanned 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 epicyle, 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, unactive 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 stretched 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
Ordained 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 think'st 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
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



130 140


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 softened 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 unpossessed
By living soul, desert and desolate,
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute
Each orb a glimpse of light, conveyed 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


170 180


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 revealed
Not of earth only, but of highest Heaven.”

To whom thus Adam, cleared 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
Unchecked ; and of her roving is no end,
Till, warned, 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 deigned.
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 yet not spent; till then thou seest
How subtly to detain thee I devise,
Inviting thee to hear while I relate-
Fond, were it not in hope of thy reply.

200 220

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 answered, heavenly meek:
“Nor are thy lips ungraceful, sire of men,
Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee
Abundantly His gifts hath also poured,
Inward and outward both, His image fair :
Speaking, or mute, all comeliness and grace
Attends thee, and each word, each motion, forms.
Nor less think we in Heaven of thee on earth
Than of our fellow-servant, and inquire
Gladly into the ways of God with Man;
For God, we see, hath honoured 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 had),
To see that none hence issued forth a spy
Or enemy, while God was in His work,
Lest He, incensed at such eruption bold,
Destruction with creation might have mixed.
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,

24C The dismal gates, and barricadoed strong, But, long ere our approaching, heard within Noise, other than the sound of dance or songTorment, and loud lament, and furious rage. Glad we returned up to the coasts of light Ere Sabbath evening ; so we had in charge.

« AnteriorContinua »