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Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none,
That heaven would want spectators, GoD want praise:
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unseen, both when we wake, and when we sleep.
All these with ceaseless praise his works behold
Both day and night: how often from the steep 68C
Of echoing hill or thicket have we heard
Celestial voices to the midnight air,
Sole, or responsive each to other's note,
Singing their great Creator? oft in bands
While they keep watch, or nightly rounding walk,
With heavenly touch of instrumental sounds
In full harmonic number join'd, their songs
Divide the night, and lift our thoughts to heaven.
Thus talking hand in hand alone they pass'd
On to their blissful bower; it was a place
Chosen by the sov'reign Planter, when he fram'd
All things to man's delightful use: the roof
Of thickest covert was inwoven shade,
Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew
Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side
Acanthus and each odorous bushy shrub
Fenc'd up the verdant wall; each beauteous flow'r,
Iris all hues, roses, and jessamin
Rear'd high their flourish'd heads between, and
677 walk the earth] The same expression occurs in P. L. vii. 477. 'Creep the ground.' Cicero de Finibus, ii. c. 34. 'Maria ambulaVisset.' See Wakef. Lucret. ii. v. 206.
688 Divide] Sil. Ital. vii. 154.
Mosaic; under foot the violet,
Crocus, and hyacinth with rich inlay
Broider'd the ground, more colour'd than with stone
Of costliest emblem: other creature here,
Beast, bird, insect, or worm, durst enter none;
Such was their awe of man.
More sacred and sequester'd, though but feign'd,
Pan or Sylvanus never slept; nor Nymph,
Nor Faunus haunted. Here in close recess
With flowers, garlands, and sweet-smelling herbs,
Espoused Eve deck'd first her nuptial bed,
And heav'nly choirs the Hymenæan sung,
What day the genial angel to our sire
Brought her in naked beauty more adorn'd,
More lovely than Pandora, whom the gods
Endow'd with all their gifts, and O too like
In sad event, when to the unwiser son
Of Japhet brought by Hermes she ensnar'd
Mankind with her fair looks, to be aveng'd
On him who had stole Jove's authentic fire.
Thus at their shady lodge arriv'd, both stood 720 Both turn'd, and under open sky adored
The God that made both sky, air, earth, and heaven Which they beheld, the moon's resplendent globe,
703 emblem] Inlay. Arte pavimenti, atque emblemati vermiculato.' Bentley.
705 shadier] shadie, 2nd ed.
719 authentic fire]
'Or him who stole from Jove narthecal fire.'
723 moon] Virg. Æn. vi. 725. 'Lucentemque globum lunæ.'
And starry pole. Thou also mad'st the night,
Maker Omnipotent, and thou the day,
Which we in our appointed work employ'd
Have finish'd, happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss
Ordain'd by thee, and this delicious place
For us too large, where thy abundance wants
Partakers, and uncrop'd falls to the ground.
But thou hast promis'd from us two a race
To fill the earth, who shall with us extol
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake,
And when we seek, as now, thy gift of sleep.
This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which GOD likes best, into their inmost bower
Handed they went; and, eas'd the putting off
These troublesome disguises which we wear,
Straight side by side were laid; nor turn'd, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse; nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refus'd.
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity, and place, and innocence,
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all,
Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain
But our destroyer, foe to GoD and man?
Hail wedded love, mysterious law, true source 750
750 Hail wedded love] Mr. Dyce compares Middleton: 'Reverend and honourable matrimony,
Mother of lawfull sweetes, unshamed mornings,
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In paradise of all things common else!
By thee adulterous lust was driv'n from men
Among the bestial herds to range; by thee
Founded in reason, loyal, just, and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known.
Far be it, that I should write thee sin or blame,
Or think thee unbefitting holiest place,
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,
Whose bed is undefil'd and chaste pronounc'd,
Present, or past, as saints and patriarchs us'd.
Here Love his golden shafts employs, here lights
His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,
Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile 765
Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendeared,
Casual fruition; nor in court amours,
Mix'd dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,
Or serenate, which the starv'd lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.
These, lull'd by nightingales, embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flowery roof
Shower'd roses, which the morn repair'd. Sleep on,
Dangerlesse pleasures; thou that mak'st the bed
Both pleasant, and legitimately fruitful: without thee,
All the whole world were soyled bastardy:
Thou art the onely and the greatest forme,
That put'st a difference betweene our desires
And the disordered appetites of beastes.'
The Phoenix, 1607. Sig. D 4.
Blest pair, and O! yet happiest if ye seek
No happier state, and know to know no more. 775
Now had night measur'd with her shadowy cone
Half way up hill this vast sublunar vault,
And from their ivory port the cherubim
Forth issuing at th' accustom'd hour stood arm'd
To their night watches in warlike parade,
When Gabriel to his next in power thus spake.
Uzziel, half these draw off, and coast the south
With strictest watch; these other wheel the north;
Our circuit meets full west. As flame they part,
Half wheeling to the shield, half to the spear.
From these, two strong and subtle spirits he call'd
That near him stood, and gave them thus in charge.
Ithuriel and Zephon, with winged speed
Search through this garden, leave unsearch'd no nook;
But chiefly where those two fair creatures lodge, 790
Now laid perhaps asleep secure of harm.
This evening from the sun's decline arriv'd,
Who tells of some infernal spirit seen
Hitherward bent, (who could have thought?) escap'd
The bars of hell, on errand bad no doubt:
Such where ye find, seize fast, and hither bring.
So saying, on he led his radiant files,
Dazzling the moon; these to the bower direct
In search of whom they sought: him there they found, Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,
778 ivory] Ov. Met. iv. 185.
'Lemnius extemplo valuas patefecit eburnas.' Newton.
785 shield] Declinare ad hastam, vel ad scutum.' Livy. Hume.