Page images

Whom to behold but thee, Nature's desire?
In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment
Attracted by thy beauty, still to gaze.'
I rose as at thy call, but found thee not:
To find thee I directed then my walk;
And on, methought, alone I pass'd through ways
That brought me on a sudden to the tree
Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seem'd,
Much fairer to my fancy than by day:
And, as I wondering look'd, beside it stood
One shaped and wing'd like one of those from

By us oft seen: his dewy locks distill'd
Ambrosia: on that tree he also gazed;
And O fair plant, (said he) with fruit surcharged,
Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet;
Nor God, nor man? Is knowledge so despised?
Or envy' or what reserve forbids to taste?
Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
Longer thy offer'd good; why else set here?'
This said; he paused not, but with venturous arm
He pluck'd, he tasted: me damp horror chill'd,
At such bold words vouch'd with a deed so bold:
But he thus, overjoy'd; ' O fruit divine!

Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropp'd,
Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit

For gods, yet able to make gods of men:

And why not gods of men; since good, the more
Communicated, more abundant grows,
The author not impair'd, but honor'd more?
Here, happy creature, fair angelic Eve!
Partake thou also: happy though thou art,
Happier thou may'st be, worthier canst not be:
Taste this, and be henceforth among the gods

Thyself a goddess, not to earth confined,
But sometimes in the air, as we, sometimes
Ascend to heaven, by merit thine, and see
What life the gods live there; and such live thou.'
So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,
Even to my mouth, of that same fruit, held part
Which he had pluck'd: the pleasant savory smell
So quicken'd appetite, that I methought,
Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds
With him I flew; and underneath beheld
The earth outstretch'd immense, a prospect wide
And various. Wondering at my flight and change
To this high exaltation; suddenly

My guide was gone; and I, methought, sunk down,
And fell asleep: but O, how glad I waked
To find this but a dream!" Thus Eve her night
Related, and thus Adam answer'd sad:

Best image of myself, and dearer half!
The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep
Affects me equally; nor can I like
This uncouth dream, of evil sprung, I fear:
Yet evil whence? in thee can harbour none,
Created pure. But know, that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief: among these Fancy next
Her office holds: of all external things,
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imaginations, aery shapes;
Which reason, joining or disjoining, frames
All what we' affirm or what deny, and call
Our knowledge or opinion; then retires
Into her private cell, when Nature rests.
Oft in her absence mimic Fancy wakes
To imitate her; but, misjoining shapes,

Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams;
Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.
Some such resemblances, methinks, I find
Of our last evening's talk, in this thy dream;
But with addition strange: yet be not sad.
Evil into the mind of God or man
May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind: which gives me hope
That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream,
Waking thou never wilt consent to do.

Be not dishearten'd thẹn, nor cloud those looks;
That wont to be more cheerful and serene,
Than when fair morning first smiles on the world:
And let us to our fresh employments rise
Among the groves, the fountains, and the flowers
That open now their choicest bosom'd smells,
Reserved from night, and kept for thee in store.”

So cheer'd he his fair spouse, and she was cheer'd;
But silently a gentle tear let fall
From either eye, and wiped them with her hair.
Two other precious drops that ready stood,
Each in their crystal sluice, he ere they fell
Kiss'd, as the gracious signs of sweet remorse
And pious awe, that fear'd to have offended.

So all was clear'd, and to the field they haste. But first, from under shady arborous roof Soon as they forth were come to open sight Of day-spring and the sun; who, scarce up-risen, With wheels yet hovering o'er the ocean-brim, Shot parallel to the' earth his dewy ray, Discovering in wide landscape all the east Of Paradise and Eden's happy plains; Lowly they bow'd adoring, and began Their orisons, each morning duly paid

In various style: for neither various style
Nor holy rapture wanted they to praise
Their Maker, in fit strains pronounced or sung
Unmeditated; such prompt eloquence


Flow'd from their lips, in prose or numerous verse,
More tuneable than needed lute or harp
To add more sweetness; and they thus began :
These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Almighty! Thine this universal frame,
Thus wondrous fair; Thyself how wondrous then;
Unspeakable, who sit'st above these heavens
To us invisible, or dimly seen

In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.
Speak, ye who best can tell, ye sons of light,
Angels! for ye behold Him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, day without night,
Circle his throne rejoicing; ye in heaven.
On earth join all ye Creatures to extol
Him first, Him last, Him midst, and without end.
Fairest of stars! last in the train of night,
If better thou belong not to the dawn,

Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling morn
With thy bright circlet, praise Him in thy sphere,
While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.
Thou Sun! of this great world both eye and soul,
Acknowledge Him thy greater; sound His praise
In thy eternal course, both when thou climb'st,
And when high noon hast gain'd, and when thou

Moon! that now meet'st the orient sun, now fliest, With the fix'd stars, fix'd in their orb that flies ; And ye five other wandering Fires! that move In mystic dance not without song, resound

His praise, who out of darkness call'd up light.
Air! and ye Elements! the eldest birth
Of Nature's womb, that in quaternion run
Perpetual circle, multiform; and mix

And nourish all things; let your ceaseless change
Vary to our great Maker still new praise.
Ye Mists and Exhalations! that now rise
From hill or streaming lake, dusky or grey,
Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honor to the world's great Author rise;
Whether to deck with clouds the' uncolor'd sky,
Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling, still advance His praise.
His praise, ye Winds! that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud; and, wave your tops, ye Pines!
With every plant, in sign of worship wave.
Fountains! and ye that warble, as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune His praise.
Join voices, all ye living Souls! ye Birds!
That singing up to heaven-gate ascend,
Bear on your wings and in your notes His praise.
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread or lowly creep;
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill or valley, fountain or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught His praise.
Hail, universal Lord! be bounteous still
To give us only good; and if the night
Have gather'd aught of evil or conceal'd,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark!"

So pray'd they innocent; and to their thoughts
peace recover'd soon, and wonted calm.
On to their morning's rural work they haste,
Among sweet dews and flowers; where any row

« PreviousContinue »