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Adam enquires concerning celestial motions; is doubtfully answered, and exhorted to search rather things more worthy of knowledge: Adam assents, and, still desirous to detain Raphael, relates to him what he remembered since his own creation, his placing in Paradise, his talk with God concerning solitude and fit society, his first meeting and nuptials with Eve; his discourse with the Angel thereupon, who, after admonitions repeated, departs.



THE Angel ended, and in Adam's ear

So charming left his voice, that he a while

Thought him still speaking, still stood fix'd to hear;
Then, as new-wak'd, thus gratefully replied.
"What thanks sufficient, or what recompense
Equal have I to render thee, divine
Historian, who thus largely hast allay'd
The thirst I had of knowledge, and vouchsaf'd
This friendly condescension, to relate
Things else by me unsearchable, now heard
With wonder, but delight, and, as is due,
With glory attributed to the high
Creator? Something yet of doubt remains,
Which only thy solution can resolve.
When I behold this goodly frame, this world,
Of Heav'n and Earth consisting, and compute
Their magnitudes, this earth a spot, a grain,
An atom, with the firmament compar'd




And all her number'd stars, that seem to roll
Spaces incomprehensible (for such

Their distance argues and their swift return
Diurnal), merely to officiate light

Round this opacous earth, this punctual spot,
One day and night, in all their vast survey
Useless besides; reasoning, I oft admire,
How nature, wise and frugal, could commit
Such disproportions, with superfluous hand
So many nobler bodies to create,

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Greater so manifold, to this one use,

For ought appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution, day by day
Repeated, while the sedentary earth,

That better might with far less compass move,
Serv'd by more noble than herself, attains
Her end without least motion, and receives,
As tribute, such a sumless journey brought
Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;
Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails."
So spake our sire, and by his count'nance seem'd
Ent'ring on studious thoughts abstruse, which Eve
Perceiving, where she sat retir'd in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,




And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prosper'd, bud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,


And, touch'd by her fair tendance, gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse

Delighted, or not capable her ear

Of what was high: such pleasure she reserv'd,


Adam relating, she sole auditress;

Her husband the relator she preferr'd

Before the Angel, and of him to ask

Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix

Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute


With conjugal caresses; from his lip

Not words alone pleas'd her. O when meet now

Such pairs, in love and mutual honour join'd?

With Goddess-like demeanour forth she went,

Not unattended, for on her as queen


A pomp of winning graces waited still,

And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now, to Adam's doubt propos'd,
Benevolent and facile thus reply'd.


"To ask or search I blame thee not, for Heaven
Is as the book of God before thee set,

Wherein to read his wond'rous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years;
This to attain, whether Heav'n move or Earth,
Imports not, if thou reckon right: the rest
From Man or Angel the great Architect
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge
His secrets to be scann'd by them who ought
Rather admire: or if they list to try
Conjecture, he his fabric of the Heavens
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide
Hereafter, when they come to model Heaven
And calculate the stars, how they will wield
The mighty frame, how build, unbuild, contrive

To save appearances, how gird the sphere
With centric and eccentric scribbled o'er,
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb:

Already by thy reasoning this I guess,

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Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest

That bodies bright and greater should not serve

The less not bright, nor Heav'n such journies run,
Earth sitting still, when she alone receives


The benefit. Consider first, that great

Or bright infers not excellence: the earth
Though, in comparison of Heav'n, so small,
Nor glist'ring, may of solid good contain
More plenty than the sun that barren shines,
Whose virtue on itself works no effect,
But in the fruitful earth; there, first receiv'd,
His beams, unactive else, their vigour find.
Yet not to earth are those bright luminaries
Officious, but to thee earth's habitant.

And for the Heaven's wide circuit, let it speak
The Maker's high magnificence, who built
So spacious, and his line stretch'd out so far;



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