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Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night;
About him exercis'd heroic games
Th' unarmed youth of heaven; but nigh at hand
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high with diamond flaming and with gold.
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even
On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fir'd
Impress the air, and show the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware
Impetuous winds: he thus began in haste.
Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given
Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place
No evil thing approach or enter in :
This day at highth of noon came to my sphere
A spirit, zealous, as he seem'd, to know
More of the Almighty's works, and chiefly man
God's latest image: I describ'd his way
Bent all on speed, and mark'd his aery gait:
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
554 with diamond] See Prose Works, 1. 232. (Apol. for Smectymnus.) Their zeal, whose substance is ethereal, arming in complete
556 as a shooting] See Dante Il Paradiso, c. xv. 16.
'E pare stella, che tramuti loco.'
561 to thee] It has been proposed to read these lines with the insertion of a parenthesis:
'Gabriel (to thee thy course by lot hath given
Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place
No evil thing approach or enter in)
This day at highth of noon,' &c.
567 describ'd] Some read 'descry'd,' Newton.
Where he first lighted, soon discern'd his looks
Alien from heaven, with passions foul obscur'd:
Mine eye pursu'd him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him; one of the banish'd crew,
I fear, hath ventur'd from the deep to raise
New troubles; him thy care must be to find.
To whom the winged warrior thus returned:
Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,
Amid the sun's bright circle where thou sitt❜st,
See far and wide: in at this gate none pass
The vigilance here plac'd, but such as come
Well known from heaven; and since meridian hour
No creature thence. If spirit of other sort,
So minded, have o'erleap'd these earthy bounds
On purpose, hard thou know'st it to exclude
Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.
But if within the circuit of these walks
In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom
Thou tell'st, by morrow dawning I shall know.
So promis'd he, and Uriel to his charge
Return'd on that bright beam, whose point now rais'd
Bore him slope downward to the sun, now fall'n
Beneath th' Azores; whether the prime orb,
Incredible how swift, had thither roll'd
Diurnal, or this less volubil earth,
576 winged] See Marino's Sl. of the Innocents, p. 33. (Transl.) Shining troops of winged armies ride.'
594 volubil] 'volúbil,' with the second syllable long, as in the Latin volúbilis; when it is short, Milton writes it 'voluble.' Newton.
By shorter flight to th' east, had left him there,
Arraying with reflected purple and gold
The clouds that on his western throne attend.
Now came still evening on, and twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompany'd; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests,
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale ;
She all night long her amorous descant sung;
Silence was pleas'd: now glow'd the firmament
With living saphirs; Hesperus that led
The starry host rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen unveil'd her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
When Adam thus to Eve: fair consort, th' hour 610
Of night and all things now retir❜d to rest
Mind us of like repose, since God hath set
Labour and rest, as day and night, to men
Successive, and the timely dew of sleep
Now falling with soft slumbrous weight inclines
Our eyelids: other creatures all day long
Rove idle, unemploy'd, and less need rest:
Man hath his daily work of body or mind
Appointed, which declares his dignity,
599 livery] Fletch. P. Isl. vi. st. 54.
'The world late clothed in night's black livery. Todd.
600 Silence] See this personification in Beaumont's Psyche, c. vi. st. 174. 'Silence for porter stood.' c. xix. st. 160. 'Whilst Silence sate upon his lips.'
602 all but] Not all. Owls. Bubones. Bentl. MS.
And the regard of heaven on all his ways;
While other animals unactive range,
And of their doings GoD takes no account.
To-morrow ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labour, to reform
Yon flowery arbours, yonder alleys green,
Our walk at noon, with branches overgrown,
That mock our scant manuring, and require
More hands than ours to lop their wanton growth:
Those blossoms also and those dropping gums,
That lie bestrown unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease:
Mean while, as nature wills, night bids us rest.
To whom thus Eve with perfect beauty adorn'd.
My author and disposer, what thou bidd'st
Unargu'd I obey, so GOD ordains;
God is thy law, thou mine; to know no more
Is woman's happiest knowledge and her praise.
With thee conversing I forget all time;
All seasons and their change, all please alike:
Sweet is the breath of morn, her rising sweet,
With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the sun,
When first on this delightful land he spreads
His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower,
Glistering with dew; fragrant the fertile earth
After soft showers; and sweet the coming on
627 walk] In the first ed. 'walks.' Newton.
628 manuring] This is to be understood as in the French manœu vre, or working with hands. Richardson.
Of grateful evening mild; then silent night
With this her solemn bird and this fair moon,
And these the gems of heaven, her starry train:
But neither breath of morn when she ascends
With charm of earliest birds, nor rising sun
On this delightful land, nor herb, fruit, flower,
Glistering with dew, nor fragrance after showers,
Nor grateful evening mild, nor silent night
With this her solemn bird, nor walk by moon,
Or glittering starlight, without thee is sweet.
But wherefore all night long shine these? for whom
This glorious sight, when sleep hath shut all eyes?
To whom our general ancestor reply'd.
Daughter of God and man, accomplish'd Eve,
Those have their course to finish, round the earth,
By morrow evening, and from land to land
In order, though to nations yet unborn,
Minist'ring light prepar'd, they set and rise;
Lest total darkness should by night regain
Her old possession, and extinguish life
In nature and all things, which these soft fires
Not only enlighten, but with kindly heat
Of various influence foment and warm,
Temper or nourish, or in part shed down
Their stellar virtue on all kinds that grow
On earth, made hereby apter to receive
Perfection from the sun's more potent ray.
These then, though unbeheld in deep of night,
661 Those] "These" is Tonson's and Newton's alteration. Milton's