صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Yield nectar; tho' from off the boughs each mora
We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground
Cover'd with pearly graio: yet God hain 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
Or sooty coal, th' empiric alchemist
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 injur'd lover's hell.

Thus when with meats and drinks they bad suffic'd,
Not burdeo'd nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam, not to let th' occasion pass,
Given him by this great conference, to know
Of things above this world, and of their being
Who dwell in heaven, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far, whose radiant forms,
Divine effulgence! whose bigh power so far
Exceeded buman; and his wary speech
Thus to th' empyreal minister he fram'd:

“ Inhabitant with God! now know I well Thy favour, in this honour done to man, Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsaf'd 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 com

pare ?"

To whom the winged hierarch replied : “ () Adam! one Almighty is, from whom All things proceed, and up to him return, If not depravid from good, created all Such to perfection, one first matter all, Endued with various forms, various degrees Of substance, and, in things that live, of life; But more refin’d, more spiritous, and pure, As nearer to him plac'd, or nearer tending, Each in their several active spheres assign'd Till body up to spirit work, in bounds Proportion'd to each kind. So from the root Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves More airy, last the bright consummate flower Spirits odorous breatbes: flowers and their fruit Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublim'd, The vital spirits aspire, to animal, To intellectual; give both life and sense, l'ancy and understanding; whence the soul Reason receives, and reason is her being, Discoursive, 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 coine, when men With angels may participate, and find No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare ; And from these corporal nutriments perhaps Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit, Improv'd 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 bappiness this happy slate Can comprehend, incapable of more.”

To whom the patriarch of mankind replied : “ ( 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,
Wbo form'd us from the dust, and plac'd 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 abou.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 advis'd.
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 overrul'd 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 th' angelic host that stand
In sight of God inthron'd, 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 helt; O fall
From what high state of bliss into what woe !"

To whom our great progenitor: “ Attentive, and with more delighted ear, Divine instructor, I have heard, than when Cherubic songs by night from neighb'ring bills Aeriel music send: nor knew I not To be both will and deed created free;

Thy words

Yet that we never shall forget to love
Our Maker, and obey him, whose command
Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts
Assur'd me', and still assure : tho' what thou tellist
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 beard;
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 pauss assenting thus began :
“ High matter thou enjoin'st me', O prime of men!
Sad task and hard : for how shall I relate
To human sense th’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 dispenséd; and what surmounts the reaeh
Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
By likening spiritual to corporeal 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 eartha

now rests

Upon her centre pois’d; 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, th'empyreal bost
Of angels, by imperial summons callid,
Innumerable before th’ Almighty's throne
Forth with from all the ends of beaven appear'd
Under their hierarcbs in orders bright:
Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanc'd,
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 emblaz’d
Holy memorials, aets 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 imbosom'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 unrevok'd shall stand.
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill
Him have anointed, wbom ye now behold
At my right band ; your head I bim appoint;
And by myself have sword, to him shall bow
All knées in heaven, and shall confess hin Lord :
Under his great vicegerent reign abide
United as one individual soul,
For ever happy. Him who disobeys,
Me disobeys, breaks uoion, 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 th' Omnipotent, and with his words All seem'd well pleas'd; 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, intervolv'd, yet regular Then most, when most irregular they seem ; And in their motions harmony divine So smooths 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

« السابقةمتابعة »