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To proper substance : time may come, when Men
With Angels may participate, and find
No inconvenient di'et, 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 heav'nly 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.
305 To whom the patriarch of mankind reply'd. . O favourable Spi'rit, 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 plac'd us here
Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desires can seek or apprehend?
To whom the Angel. Son of Heav'n 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 giv’n thee; be advis’d.
God made thee perfect, not immutate;
And good he made thee, but to pe, ere 525
He left it in thy pow'r; ordain'd thy will
By nature free, not over-ruld by fate
Inextricable, or strict necessity :
Our voluntary service he requires,
Not our necessitated; such with him
Finds no acceptance, nor can we find; for how ..
Can hearts, not free, be try'd 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 enthron'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 fall’n, to disobedience fall'n,
And so from Heav'n 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, 545
Divine instructor, I have heard, than when
Cherubic songs by night from neighb’ring hills
Aereal music send : nor knew not
To be both will and deed created free ;
Yet that we never shall forget to love
550 Our Maker, and obey him whose command Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts
Assur'd me', and still assure: though what thou tell'st Hath past in Heav'n, some doubt within me move, But more desire to bear, if thou consent,
555 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 Raphaël After short pause assenting, thus began.
High matter thou injoin'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 dispens’d; 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 Heav'n, and things therein 575 Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?'
As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild Reign'd where these Heav'ns now roll, where Earth
now rests Upon her centre pois’d: when on a day (For time, though in eternity, apply'd
580 To motion, measures all things durable
By present, past, and future) on such day
As Heav'n’s great year brings forth, th’impyreal host
Of Angels by imperial summons callid,
Innumerable before th' Almighty's throne 585
Forthwith from all the ends of Heav'n appear'd
Under their Hierarchs 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 . 590
Of Hierarchies, of orders, and degrees :
Or in their glittering tissues bear imblaz’d
Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love
Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs
Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
595 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, 600 Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers, Hear my decree, which unrevok'd shall stana. This day I have begot whom I declare My only Son, and on this holy hill Him have anointed, whom ye now behold 605 At my right hand; your head I him appoint; And by myself have sworn to him shall bow All knees in Heav'n, and shall confess him Lord : Under his great vice-gerent reign abide United as one individual soul
610 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 ingulph'd, his place
Ordain'd without redemption, without end. 613
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
Resernbles 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 630
Desirous; all in circles as they stood,
Tables are set, and on a sudden pil'd
With Angels' food, and rubied nectar flows
In pearl, in diamond, and massy gold,
Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of Heaven. 635
On flow'rs repos’d and with fresh flow'rets crown'd
They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet
Quaff immortality and joy, secure
Of surfeit where full measure only bounds
Excess, before th' all-bounteous King, who show'r'd
With copious hand, rejoicing in their joy.