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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,
Greater so manifold, to this one use,
For aught appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution day by day
8 The thirst] See Dante Il Purgator. c. xviii. ver. 4.
'Ed io, cui nuova sete ancor frugava,
Di fuor taceva, e dentro dicea.'
9 condescension] Conversation, ver. 649. Bentl. MS.
14 solution] Decision. Bentl. MS.
15 goodly] Hamlet, act ii. scene ii.
'This goodly frame the Earth.'
Repeated, while the sedentary earth,
That better might with far less compass move,
Served 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 Entering 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 flow'rs, 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, 50 Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relater she preferr'd
Before the angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
sprung] So Marino Adon. c. iii. st. 65, and c. vi. st. 146.
"Tutto al venir d'Adon par che ridenti
Rivesta il bel giardin novi colori.' Thyer.
53 to ask] In accordance with St. Paul, Corinth. i. xiv. 35. if they (women) will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home.'
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 replied.
To ask or search I blame thee not, for heav'n
Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wondrous 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
55 solve] Sic ait, ac mediis interserit oscula verbis.'
and Epist. xiii. ver. 119, ed. Burm. vol. i. p. 180.
'Quæ mihi dum referes, quamvis audire juvabit;
Multa tamen capies oscula, multa dabis.
Semper in his apte narrantia verba resistunt.
Promtior est dulci lingua retenta mora,'
shot] See Greene's Never too late, P. act 2. (1616.)
'His bow of steele, darts of fire
He shot amongst them sweet desire.'
Conjecture, he his fabric of the heav'ns
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide
Hereafter, when they come to model heav'n
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,
Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest,
That bodies bright and greater should not serve
The less not bright, nor heav'n such journeys 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 glistering, 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
79 when] Manilii Astr. iv. 158.
'Inveniunt et in astra vias, numerisque modisque
83 eccentric] See Dekker's If this be not a good Play the Devil is in it, p. 43. In gibberish no man understands of quartiles, aspects, centricall, eccentrical, cosmial, acronicall,' &c.; and Lisle's Du Bartas, 174. Concentrike, excentricke, epicycle, apogee.' Sylvester's Du Bartas, p. 140-142.
Officious, but to thee earth's habitant.
And for the heav'ns wide circuit, let it speak
The Maker's high magnificence, who built
So spacious, and his line stretch'd out so far;
That man may know he dwells not in his own;
An edifice too large for him to fill,
Lodg'd in a small partition, and the rest
Ordain'd for uses to his Lord best known.
The swiftness of those circles attribute,
Though numberless, to his omnipotence,
That to corporeal substances could add
Speed almost spiritual: me thou think'st not slow, 110
Who since the morning hour set out from heav'n
Where God resides, and ere mid day arriv'd
In Eden, distance inexpressible
By numbers that have name.
But this I urge,
Admitting motion in the heav'ns, to show
Invalid that which thee to doubt it mov'd;
Not that I so affirm, though so it seem
To thee who hast thy dwelling here on earth.
GOD, to remove his ways from human sense,
Plac'd heav'n from earth so far, that earthly sight, 120
If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain. What if the sun
Be center to the world, and other stars,
By his attractive virtue and their own
Incited, dance about him various rounds?
Their wand'ring course now high, now low, then hid,
Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,
In six thou seest; and what if sev'nth to these