페이지 이미지

Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,
Among our other torments not the least,
Still unfulfill'd, with pain of longing pines.
Yet let me not forget what I have gain’d
From their own mouths : all is not theirs, it seems ,
One fatal tree there stands, of knowledge calPd,
Forbidden them to taste: knowledge forbidden ?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that ? Can it be sin to know?
Can it be death ? And do they only stand
By ignorance ? Is that their happy state,
The proof of their obedience and their faith?
O fair foundation laid whereon to build
Their ruin ! Hence I will excite their minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with design
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exal
Equal with gods : aspiring to be such,
They taste and die ; what likelier cân etisie ?
But first with nårrow search I must walk round
This garden, and no corner leave unspied ;
A chance but chance may lead where I may meet
Some wandering spirit of heaven by fountain side,
Or in thick shade retir'd, from him to draw
What farther would be learn'd. Live while ye may,
Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I returni,
Short pleasurer, for long woes are to succeed.”
So saying, his proud step he scornful turn'd,
But with sly circumspection, and began
Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale,

his roam.
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where heaven
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise
Levellid liis evening rays : it was a rock
Of alabaster, pild up to the clouds,
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent
Accessible from earth, one entrouers high ;

The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
Still as it rose, impossible to climb..
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,
Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night ;
About him exercis'd heroic games
The unarm'd youth of heaven, but nigh at haná
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high, with diamond flaming, and with goldo
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 shews the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware
Impetuous winds : he thus began in haste :

“ Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot bath givon
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 aëry gait :
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted, soon discern'd his looks
Alien from heaven, with passions foul obscur'd
Mine rye pursued 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 return'd “ Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight, Arnid 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'er-Jeap'd these earthly founds On purpose, hard thou kiwwixt it to exclude Spiritual substance with corporeal bar

But it within the circuit of these walks,
In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom
Thou tellist, by morrow dawning I shall know."

So promis'd he; and Uriel to his charge Return'd on that bright beam, whose point now

Bora bim slope downward to the sun, now fallen
Beneath the Azores ; whether the prime orb,
Incredible how swift, had thither rollid
Diurnal, or this less volubil earth,
By shorter Alight to the 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 grey
Had in her sober livery all things clad ;
Silence accompanied; for heast and bird,

They to their grassy couch, these to their nesta
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale,
She all night long her amorvus descunt sung ;
Silence was pleas'd: now glow'd the firmament
With living sapphires : 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, the
Of night, and all things now retir'd to rest, [hour
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 eye-lids : 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,
And the regard of Heaven on all his ways ;
While other animals inactive 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 rinens
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 bestrewn, unsightly and unsmooth,
Ask riddance, if we mean to tread with ease :
Meanwhile, as nature wills, night bids us rest.

To whom thus Eve, with perfect beauty adorn de

My author and disposer, what thou bidd'st Unargued I obey : 80 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 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 star-light, 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 replied : " Daughter of God and man, accomplish'd Eve, These have their course to finish round the earth, By morrow evening, and from land to land

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In order, though to nations yet unborn,
Ministering 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
Farfection from the sun's more potent ray.
These then, though anbeheld in deep of night,
Shine not in vain. Nor think, though man were

(praise :
That beaven would want spectators, God want
Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth
Unsoen, 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
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 Croator ! 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 Sovran Planter, when he fram'd All things to man's delightful use ; the roof Of thick est 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 Bower Iris all hués, roses, and jessamin, Rear'd high their flourish'd beads between and Mosaic; underfoot the violet, ( wrough

« 이전계속 »