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Abundance, fit to honour and receive
Our heav'nly stranger: well we may afford
Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow
From large bestow'd, where Nature multiplies
Her fertile growth, and by disburd'ning grows
More fruitful; which instructs us not to spare.



To whom thus Eve: Adam, earth's hallow'd mould, Of God inspired, small store will serve, where store, All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk, Save what by frugal storing firmness gains To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes: But I will haste, and from each bow and brake, Each plant and juciest gourd, will pluck such choice To entertain our Angel guest, as he

Beholding shall confess, that here on Earth



God hath dispensed his bounties as in Heav'n. 330
So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent
What choice to choose for delicacy best,
What order, so contrived as not to mix
Tastes, not well join'd, inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change;
Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk
Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother, yields
In India East or West, or middle shore
In Pontus or the Punic coast, or where
Alcinous reign'd, fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough or smooth rined, or bearded husk, or shell,
She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand. For drink, the grape
She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths
From many a berry, and from sweet kernels press'd
She tempers dulcet creams, nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure, then strews the ground
With rose and odours from the shrub unfumed.



Mean while our primitive great sire, to meet 350 His god-like guest, walks forth, without more train

333. Choice to choose: an alliteration not uncommon to Milton or the classics.

340. In Pontus, part of Asia; the Punic coast, Africa; the kingdom of Alcinous, Phoacia, an island in the Ionian Sea, near Corfu.

345. Meaths, sweet drinks.



352. With should be expunged according to Bentley, as it is superfluous. 378. Pomona, the goddess of fruit-trees. 382. In allusion to the judgment of Paris between Venus, Juno, and Minerva.

Have heap'd this table. Raised of grassy turf
Their table was, and mossy seats had round,
And on her ample square, from side to side,
All autumn piled, tho' spring and autumn here
Danced hand in hand. A while discourse they hold;
No fear lest dinner cool; when thus began
Our author: Heav'nly 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; unsav'ry 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' ingrateful food: and food alike those pure
Intelligential substances require,

As doth your rational; and both contain

Within them ev'ry 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; earth 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 recompense

In humid exhalations, and at even


Sups with the ocean. Though in Heav'n 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


421. A Latinism.

426. See Ps. cv. 40. Exodus xvi. 14. Matt. xxiv. 29. and Rev

xxii. 2.

Vary'd 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 dispatch


Of real hunger and concoctive heat

To transubstantiate: what redounds, transpires

Through Spirits with ease: nor wonder, if by fire Of sooty coal th' empyric alchemist


Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold,

As from the mine. Mean while 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 thy 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 th' occasion pass

Giv'n him by this great conference, to know
Of things above his world, and of their being
Who dwell in Heav'n, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far, whose radiant forms
Divine effulgence, whose high pow'r so far
Exceeded human; and his wary speech
Thus to th' 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

435. It was the opinion of most theologians that the angels did not eat, their opinion being founded on some metaphysical notions, and on a passage in Tobit iii. 19. But Milton seems to be justified by the canonical Scripture. See Gen. xviii. and xix. 438 This is a fine distinction between the processes of diges men and angels.


440. Empyric, making many experiments. 445. To crown the cup, is a classical expression. 447. Gen. vi. 2.




{pare !



At Heav'n's high feasts to' have fed: yet what com-
To whom the winged Hierarch reply'd:
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,
Endued with various forms, various degrees
Of substance, and in things that life, of life:
But more refined, more spirituous, and pure,
As nearer to him placed, or nearer tending
Each in their sev'ral 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 aery, last the bright consummate flow'r
Spirits odorous breathes: flow'rs 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,

Diff'ring 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 corp'ral 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 heav'nly Paradises dwell;

If ye be found obedient, and retain
Unalterably firm his love entire,

Whose progeny you are.

Mean while enjoy Your fill what happiness this happy state

478. The reader may very profitably consult a volume of ser mons lately published by Dr. A. Clarke, in which he will find some excellent observations on Milton's materialism. I am inclined, however, to believe that the poet meant to convey no other idea than that derived from 1 Cor. xv. 44.

503. Acts xvii. 28.

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