Page images

Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye, To the
In every gesture dignity and love.
I, overjoyed, could not forbear aloud:-



"This turn hath made amends; thou hast


Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign,
Giver of all things fair-but fairest this
Of all thy gifts!-nor enviest.
I now see
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, my
Before me. Woman is her name, of Man
Extracted; for this cause he shall forgo
Father and mother, and to his wife adhere,
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul."
She heard me thus; and, though divinely


Yet innocence and virgin modesty,

Her virtue, and the conscience of her worth,
That would be wooed, and not unsought be won,
Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retired,
The more desirable—or, to say all,

Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought-
Wrought in her so, that, seeing me, she turned.
I followed her; she what was honour knew,
And with obsequious majesty approved
My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower 510
I led her blushing like the Morn; all Heaven,
And happy constellations, on that hour
Shed their selectest influence; the Earth
Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill;
Joyous the birds; fresh gales and gentle airs
Whispered it to the woods, and from their wings
Flung rose, flung odours from the spicy shrub,
Disporting, till the amorous bird of night
Sung spousal, and bid haste the Evening-star

nuptial bower


The On his hill-top to light the bridal lamp. power of Thus have I told thee all my state, and passion brought

My story to the sum of earthly bliss
Which I enjoy, and must confess to find
In all things else delight indeed, but such
As, used or not, works in the mind no change,
Nor vehement desire-these delicacies

I mean of taste, sight, smell, herbs, fruits, and

Walks, and the melody of birds: but here,
Far otherwise, transported I behold,
Transported touch; here passion first I felt, 530
Commotion strange, in all enjoyments else
Superior and unmoved, here only weak
Against the charm of beauty's powerful glance.
Or Nature failed in me, and left some part
Not proof enough such object to sustain,
Or, from my side subducting, took perhaps
More than enough—at least on her bestowed
Too much of ornament, in outward show
Elaborate, of inward less exact.

For well I understand in the prime end
Of Nature her inferior, in the mind
And inward faculties, which most excel;
In outward also her resembling less


His image who made both, and less expressing
The character of that dominion given
O'er other creatures. Yet when I
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best. 550
All higher Knowledge in her presence falls


Degraded; Wisdom in discourse with her
Loses, discountenanced, and like Folly shows;
Authority and Reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind and nobleness their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic placed.'

To whom the Angel, with contracted brow:-
'Accuse not Nature! she hath done her part;
Do thou but thine! and be not diffident
Of Wisdom; she deserts thee not, if thou
Dismiss not her, when most thou need'st her nigh,
By attributing overmuch to things
Less excellent, as thou thyself perceiv'st.
For, what admir'st thou, what transports thee so?
An outside-fair, no doubt, and worthy well
Thy cherishing, thy honouring, and thy love;
Not thy subjection. Weigh with her thyself; 570
Then value. Oft-times nothing profits more
Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right
Well managed. Of that skill the more thou




The more she will acknowledge thee her head,
And to realities yield all her shows—
Made so adorn for thy delight the more,
So awful, that with honour thou may'st love
Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least

Let Wisdom rule over



But, if the sense of touch, whereby mankind
Is propagated, seem such dear delight
Beyond all other, think the same voutsafed
To cattle and each beast; which would not be
To them made common and divulged, if aught

Love refines


Love Therein enjoyed were worthy to subdue
leads The soul of Man, or passion in him move.
up to What higher in her society thou find❜st
Attractive, human, rational, love still:
In loving thou dost well; in passion not,
Wherein true Love consists not.
The thoughts, and heart enlarges hath his seas
In Reason, and is judicious, is the scale
By which to Heavenly Love thou may'st ascend,
Not sunk in carnal pleasure; for which cause
Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.'
To whom thus, half abashed, Adam replied:-
· Neither her outside formed so fair, nor aught
In procreation, common to all kinds
(Though higher of the genial bed by far,
And with mysterious reverence, I deem),
So much delights me as those graceful acts, 600
Those thousand decencies, that daily flow
From all her words and actions, mixed with love
And sweet compliance, which declare unfeigned
Union of mind, or in us both one soul-
Harmony to behold in wedded pair

More grateful than harmonious sound to the ear.
Yet these subject not; I to thee disclose
What inward thence I feel, not therefore foiled,
Who meet with various subjects, from the sense
Variously representing, yet, still free,
Approve the best, and follow what I approve.
To love thou blam'st me not-for Love, thou



Leads up to Heaven, is both the way and guide;
Bear with me, then, if lawful what I ask.
Love not the Heavenly Spirits, and how their

Express they-by looks only, or do they mix Love in Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?


To whom the Angel, with a smile that glowed Celestial rosy-red, Love's proper hue, Answered:-Let it suffice thee that thou 620


Us happy, and without Love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoy'st
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence, and obstacle find none
Of membrane, joint, or limb, exclusive bars.
Easier than air with air, if Spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring, nor restrained conveyance need
As flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.
But I can now no more: the parting Sun
Beyond the Earth's green Cape and verdant

Hesperean sets, my signal to depart.

Be strong, live happy, and love! but first of all

Him whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command; take heed lest passion

Thy judgment to do aught which else free-will
Would not admit; thine and of all thy sons
The weal or woe in thee is placed; beware!
I in thy persevering shall rejoice,

And all the Blest. Stand fast; to stand or

Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require;
And all temptation to transgress repel.'

So saying, he arose, whom Adam thus

« PreviousContinue »