Page images
[ocr errors]


Those rare and solitary, these in flocks
Pasturing at once, and in broad herds upsprung.
The grassy clods now calved; now half appeared
The tawny lion, pawing to get free
His hinder parts, then springs, as broke from bonds,
And rampant shakes his brinded main; the ounce,
The libbard, and the tiger, as the mole,
Rising, the crumbled earth above them threw
In hillocks; the swift stag from underground
Bore up his branching head; scarce from his mold
Behemoth, biggest born of earth, upheaved
His vastness; fleeced the flocks and bleating rose,
As plants; ambiguous between sea and land,
The river-horse, and scaly crocodile.
At once came forth whatever creeps the ground,
Insect or worm.

Those waved their limber fans
For wings, and smallest lineaments exact
In all the liveries decked of summer's pride,
With spots of gold and purple, azure and green:
These, as a line, their long dimension drew,
Streaking the ground with sinuous trace: not all
Minims of nature; some of serpent kind,
Wondrous in length and corpulence, involved
Their snaky folds, and added wings. First crept
The parsimonious emmet, provident
Of future; in small room large heart enclosed;
Pattern of just equality, perhaps,
Hereafter joined in her popular tribes
Of commonalty. Swarming next appeared
The female bee, that feeds her husband drone
Deliciously, and builds her waxen cells
With honey stored. The rest are numberless,
And thou their natures know'st, and gavest them names,
Needless to thee repeated; nor unknown
The serpent, subtlest beast of all the field,
Of huge extent sometimes, with brazen eyes


And airy mane terrific, though to thee
Not noxious, but obedient at thy call.

Now Heaven in all her glory shone, and rolled
Her motions, as the great first Mover's hand ·
First wheeled their course ; Earth in her rich attire
Consummate lovely smiled; air, water, earth,
By fowl, fish, beast was flown, was swam, was walked,
Frequent; and of the sixth day yet remained.
There wanted yet the master-work, the end
Of all yet done; a creature, who, not prone
And brute, as other creatures, but endued
With sanctity of reason, might erect
His stature, and upright, with front serene,
Govern the rest, self-knowing; and from thence
Magnanimous, to correspond with Heaven;
But grateful to acknowledge whence his good
Descends; thither, with heart, and voice, and eyes,
Directed in devotion, to adore
And worship God supreme, who made him chief
Of all his works: therefore the Omnipotent
Eternal Father — for where is not He
Present?— thus to his Son audibly spake:

Let us now make Man in our image, man
In our similitude, and let them rule
Over the fish and fowl of sea and air,
Beast of the field, and over all the earth,
And every creeping thing that creeps the ground.
This said, He formed thee, Adam, thee, O man,
Dust of the ground, and in thy nostrils breathed
The breath of life; in his own image He
Created thee, in the image of God
Express, and thou becamest a living soul.
Male he created thee; but thy consort,
Female, for race; then blessed mankind, and said,
Be fruitful, multiply, and fill the Earth,
Subdue it, and throughout dominion hold

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

Over fish of the sea, and fowl of the air,
And every living thing that moves on the Earth.
Wherever thus created, for no place
Is yet distinct by name, thence, as thou know'st,
He brought thee into this delicious grove,
This garden planted with the trees of God,
Delectable both to behold and taste;
And freely all their pleasant fruit for food
Gave thee. All sorts are here that all the earth yields,
Variety without end. But of the tree,
Which, tasted, works knowledge of good and evil,
Thou mayest not; in the day thou eat'st thou diest,
Death is the penalty imposed. Beware, ,
And govern well thy appetite; lest Sin
Surprise thee, and her black attendant, Death.

Here finished He, and all that He had made
Viewed, and behold all was entirely good.
So even and morn accomplished the sixth day.
Yet not till the Creator, from his work
Desisting, though unwearied, up returned,
Up to the Heaven of Heavens, his high abode,
Thence to behold this new created world,
The addition of his empire, how it shewed
In prospect from his throne, how good, how fair,
Answering his great idea. Up He rode,
Followed with acclamation, and the sound
Symphonious of ten thousand harps, that tuned
Angelic harmonies. The earth, the air
Resounded — thou remember'st, for thou heardst - -
The heavens and all the constellations rung,
The planets in their station listening stood,
While the bright pomp ascended jubilant.
Open, ye everlasting gates! they sung,
Open, ye heavens! your living doors; let in
The great Creator, from his work returned
Magnificent, his six days' work, a world;

Open, and henceforth oft; for God will deign
To visit oft the dwellings of just men,
Delighted, and with frequent intercourse
Thither will send his winged messengers
On errands of supernal grace. So sung
The glorious train ascending. He, through Heaven,
That opened wide her blazing portals, led
To God's eternal house direct the way
A. broad and ample road, whose dust is gold,
And pavement stars, as stars to thee appear,
Seen in the galaxy, that milky way,
Which nightly, as a circling zone, thou seest
Powdered with stars. And now on earth the seventh
Evening arose in Eden, for the sun
Was set, and twilight from the east came on,
Forerunning night; when at the holy mount
Of Heaven's high-seated top, the imperial throne
Of Godhead fixed for ever firm and sure,
The Filial Power arrived, and sat him down
With his great Father, for He also went
Invisible, yet stayed — such privilege
Hath Omnipresence and the work ordained,
Author and end of ail things : and, from work
Now resting, blessed and hallowed the seventh day,
As resting on that day from all his work.
But not in silence holy kept: the harp
Had work, and rested not; the solemn pipe,
And dulcimer, all organs of sweet stop,
All sounds on fret by string or golden wire,
Tempered soft tunings, intermixed with voice
Choral or unison: of incense clouds,
Fuming from golden censers, hid the mount.
Creation and the six days' acts they sung:
Great are thy works, Jehovah! infinite
Thy power! what thought can measure Thee, or tongue
Relate Thee? Greater now in thy return

Than from the giant Angels. Thee that day
Thy thunders magnified; but to create
Is greater than, created, to destroy.
Who can impair Thee, Mighty King, or bound
Thy empire ? Easily the proud attempt
Of spirits apostate, and their counsels vain,
Thou hast repelled : while impiously they thought
Thee to diminish, and from Thee withdraw
The number of Thy worshipers. Who seeks
To lessen Thee, against his purpose serves
To manifest the more thy might: his evil
Thou usest, and from thence createst more good.
Witness this new-made world, another heaven,
From Heaven-gate not far, founded in view,
On the clear hyaline, the glassy sea;
Of amplitude almost immense, with stars
Numerous, and every star, perhaps, a world
Of destined habitation; but Thou know'st
Their seasons. Among these the seat of men,
Earth with her nether ocean circumfused;
Their pleasant dwelling-place. Thrice happy, men
And sons of men, whom God hath thus advanced !
Created in his image there to dwell
And worship Him: and in reward to rule
Over his works, on earth, in sea, or air,
And multiply a race of worshipers
Holy and just; thrice happy, if they know
Their happiness, and persevere upright!

So sung they, and the Empyrean rung
With hallelujahs : thus was Sabbath kept.
And thy request think now fulfilled, that asked
How first this world and face of things began,
And what before thy memory was done
From the beginning, that posterity,
Informed by thee might know — if else thou seek'st
Aught not surpassing human measure, say.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »