« PreviousContinue »
More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
For what God, after better, worse would build?
Terrestrial heav'n, danc'd round by other heav'ns
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence. As GOD in heav'n
Is center, yet extends to all, so thou
Centring receiv'st from all those orbs: in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears 110
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
Of creatures animate with gradual life
Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in man. With what delight could I have walk'd thee round, If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange
Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
Of contraries; all good to me becomes
Bane, and in heav'n much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no nor in heav'n
To dwell, unless by mast'ring heav'n's Supreme;
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound:
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts; and him destroy'd, 130
Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him link'd in weal or woe;
In woe then; that destruction wide may range.
To me shall be the glory sole among
The infernal powers, in one day to have marr'd
What he, Almighty styl'd, six nights and days
Continu'd making, and who knows how long
Before had been contriving, though perhaps
Not longer than since I in one night freed
From servitude inglorious well nigh half
Th' angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers. He to be aveng'd,
And to repair his numbers thus impair'd,
Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd
More angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or to spite us more,
Determin'd to advance into our room
A creature form'd of earth, and him endow,
Exalted from so base original,
With heav'nly spoils, our spoils : what he decreed
He effected; man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this world, and earth his seat,
Him lord pronounc'd, and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings,
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
130 him] Milton sometimes uses the oblique case for the case absolute so b. vii. 142, 'us dispossessed:' Sams. Ag. 463, 'me overthrown:' and see Jortin's note, 312.
Their earthy charge. Of these the vigilance
I dread, and to elude, thus wrapp'd in mist
Of midnight vapour, glide obscure, and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find
The serpent sleeping, in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrain'd
Into a beast, and mix'd with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the highth of deity aspir'd;
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? who aspires must down as low
As high he soar'd, obnoxious first or last
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long back on itself recoils :
Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Of heav'n, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whom us the more to spite his maker rais'd
From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid.
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,
Like a black mist low creeping, he held on
His midnight search, where soonest he might find
The serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found,
In labyrinth of many a round self-roll'd,
157 charge] v. 1 Corinth. 15. Bentl. MS.
178 spite] Esch. Prom. 944.
Οὕτως ὑβρίζειν τους ὑβρίζοντας χρεών. Richardson.
His head the midst, well stor❜d with subtil wiles: in horrid shade or dismal den, Nor nocent yet, but on the grassy herb,
Fearless unfear'd he slept.
The devil enter'd, and his brutal sense,
In heart or head, possessing soon inspir'd
With act intelligential; but his sleep
Disturb'd not, waiting close th' approach of morn.
Now, when as sacred light began to dawn
In Eden on the humid flow'rs, that breath'd
Their morning incense, when all things that breathe
From th' earth's great altar send up silent praise 195
To the Creator, and his nostrils fill
With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,
And join'd their vocal worship to the quire
Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake
The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs: 200
Then commune, how that day they best may ply
Their growing work; for much their work outgrew
The hands despatch of two gard'ning so wide.
And Eve first to her husband thus began.
Adam, well may we labour still to dress
This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flow'r,
Our pleasant task enjoin'd; but till more hands
Aid us, the work under our labour grows,
Luxurious by restraint; what we by day
Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,
186 Nor nocent] So the second and subsequent editions. In the first it is 'Not nocent yet.' Newton.
186 grassy herb] Virg. Ecl. v. 26, 'graminis herbam.'
One night or two with wanton growth derides,
Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise,
Or hear what to my mind first thoughts present;
Let us divide our labours, thou where choice
Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind
The woodbine round this arbour, or direct
The clasping ivy where to climb, while I
In yonder spring of roses intermix'd
With myrtle find what to redress till noon :
For while so near each other thus all day
Our task we choose, what wonder if so near
Looks intervene and smiles, or object new
Casual discourse draw on; which intermits
Our day's work, brought to little, though begun
Early, and th' hour of supper comes unearn'd.
To whom mild answer Adam thus return'd.
Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond
Compare above all living creatures dear,
Well hast thou motion'd, well thy thoughts employ'd,
How we might best fulfill the work which here 230
God hath assign'd us, nor of me shall pass
Unprais'd; for nothing lovelier can be found
In woman, than to study household good,
And good works in her husband to promote.
Yet not so strictly hath our Lord impos'd
213 hear] Or bear' in the second ed. Or hear' in the first. No other editions vary.
218 spring of roses] See Herrick's Poems, p. 392,
Of roses have an endless flourishing.'
A spring is a small thicket or coppice."