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This day to be our guest. But go with speed,
And, what thy stores contain, bring forth, and pour
Abundance, fit to honor and receive
Our heavenly stranger; well we may afford
Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow
From large bestowed, where Nature multiplies
Her fertile growth, and by disburdening grows
More fruitful, which instructs us not to spare.

To whom thus Eve: Adam, earth, hallowed mold,
Of God inspired! small store will serve, where store,
All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk;
Save what by frugal storing firmness gains
To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes.
But I will haste, and from each bough and brake,
Each plant and juiciest gourd, will pluck such choice
To entertain our Angel-guest, as he
Beholding shall confess that here on earth
God hath dispensed his bounties as in Heaven.

So saying, with dispatchful looks, in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent
What choice to choose for delicacy best,
What order so contrived as not to mix
Tastes not well joined, inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change;
Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk
Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother, yields
In India East or West, or middle shore
In Pontus or the Punic coast, or where
Alcinöus reigned; fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough, or smooth rind, or bearded husk, or shell,
She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand. For drink the

She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths
From many a berry, and from sweet kernels pressed,
She tempers dulcet creams; nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure; then strews the ground


With rose and odors from the shrub unfumed.

Meanwhile our primitive great sire, to meet His godlike guest, walks forth without more train Accompanied than with his own complete Perfections. In himself was all his state, More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits On princes, when their rich retinue long Of horses led, and grooms besmeared with gold, Dazzles the crowd, and sets them all agape. Nearer his presence Adam, though not awed, Yet with submiss approach and reverence meek, As to a superior nature, bowing low, Thus said: Native of Heaven, for other place None can than Heaven such glorious shape contain; Since by descending from the thrones above, Those happy places thou hast deigned a while To want, and honor these; vouchsafe with us Two only, who yet by sovereign gift possess This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower To rest, and what the garden choicest bears To sit and taste, till this meridian heat Be over, and the sun more cool decline.

Whom thus the Angelic Virtue answered mild: Adam, I therefore came; nor art thou such Created, or such place hast here to dwell, As may not oft invite, though spirits of Heaven, To visit thee. Lead on then where thy bower O'ershades: for these mid hours, till evening rise, I have at will. So to the sylvan lodge They came, that like Pomona's arbor smiled, With flowrets decked, and fragrant smells. But Eve, Undecked save with herself, more lovely fair Than wood-nymph, or the fairest goddess feigned Of three that in Mount Ida naked strove, Stood to entertain her guest from Heaven; no 'veil She needed, virtue proof; no thought infirm


Altered her cheek. On whom the Angel “Hail!”
Bestowed, the holy salutation used
Long after to blest Mary, second Eve.

Hail, mother of mankind, whose fruitful womb
Shall fill the world more numerous with thy sons,
Than with these various fruits the trees of God
Have heaped this table. Raised of

Raised of grassy turf Their table was, and mossy seats had round, And on her ample square from side to side, All autumn piled, though spring and autumn here Danced hand in hand. A while discourse they hold, No fear lest dinner cool; when thus began Our author: Heavenly stranger, please to taste These bounties, which our Nourisher, from whom All perfect good, unmeasured out, descends, To us for food and for delight hath caused The Earth to yield; unsavory food perhaps To spiritual natures; only this I know, That one celestial Father gives to all.

To whom the Angel: Therefore what He gives – Whose praise be ever sung

- to man in part Spiritual, may of purest spirits be found No ungrateful food: and food alike those

pure Intelligential substances require, As doth your rational; and both contain Within them every lower faculty Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste, Tasting, concoct, digest, assimilate, And corporeal to incorporeal turn For know, whatever was created needs To be sustained and fed: of elements The grosser feeds the purer, earth to sea, Earth and the sea feed air, the air those fires Ethereal, and as lowest, first the moon; Whence in her visage round those spots, Vapors not yet into her substance turned.

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Nor doth the moon no nourishment exhale
From her moist continent to higher orbs.
The sun, that light imparts to all, receives
From all his alimental recompense
In humid exhalations, and at even
Sups with the ocean. Though in Heaven the trees
Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines
Yield nectar; though from off the boughs each morn,
We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground
Covered with pearly grain; yet God hath here
Varied His bounty so with new delights,
As may compare with Heaven; and to taste
Think not I shall be nice. So down they sat,
And to their viands fell; nor seemingly
The Angel, nor in mist — the common gloss
Of theologians — but with keen dispatch
Of real hunger and concoctive heat
To transubstantiate : what redounds, transpires
Through spirits with ease; nor wonder, if by fire
Of sooty coal the empiric alchymist
Can turn, and holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold,
As from the mine. Meanwhile at table Eve
Ministered naked, and their flowing cups
With pleasant liquors crowned. O innocence,
Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,
Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
Enamoured at that sight; but in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reigned, not jealousy
Was understood, the injured lover's hell.

Thus when with meats and drinks they had sufficed,
Not burdened nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam not to let the occasion pass,
Given him by his great conference, to know
Of things above his world, and of their being
Who dwell in Heaven, whose excellence he saw

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