« PreviousContinue »
For who can think submission? War, then, war, Open or understood, must be resolved.”
He spake: and, to confirm his words, out flew Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs Of mighty cherubim; the sudden blaze Far round illumined hell : highly they raged Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms Clashed on their sounding shields the din of war, Hurling defiance towards the vault of heaven.
Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heav'n first born,
Or of th' eternal coeternal beam,
May I express thee, umblamed? Since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather, pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell ? Before the sun,
Before the heav'ns thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to th' Orphean lyre
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night,
Taught by the heav'nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend,
Though hard and rare ; thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sov'reign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veild. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt,
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equallid with me in fate,
So were I equallid with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old :
Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers, as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev'n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine ;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature's works to me expunged and rased,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
Now morn her rosy steps in th' eastern clime
Advancing, sow'd the earth with orient pearl,
When Adam waked, so custom'd; for his sleep
Was airy light, from pure digestion bred,
And temp?rate vapours bland, which th' only sound
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan,
Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song
Of birds on every bough; so much the more
His wonder was to find unwaken'd Eve,
With tresses discomposed, and glowing cheek,
As through unquiet rest: he on his side
Leaning, half raised, with looks of cordial love
Hung over her enamour'd, and beheld
Beauty, which, whether waking or asleep,
Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice
Mild, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
Her hand soft touching, whisper'd thus : Awake,
My fairest, my espoused, my latest found,
Heav'n's last best gift, my ever new delight,
Awake; the morning shines, and the fresh field
Calls us; we lose the prime, to mark how spring
Our tended plants, how blows the citron grove,
What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed;
How Nature paints her colours, how the bee
Sits on the bloom, extracting liquid sweet.
Such whisp’ring waked her, but with startled eye On Adam, whom embracing, thus she spake.
Oh sole, in whom my thoughts find all repose, My glory, my perfection, glad I see Thy face, and morn return'd; for I this night (Such night till this I never pass'd) have dream'd, Ìf dream'd, not as I oft am wont, of thee, Works of day pass'd, or morrow's next design, But of offence and trouble, which my mind Knew never till this irksome night: Methought Close at mine ear one call'd me forth to walk With gentle voice, I thought it thine ; it said, Why sleep'st thou, Eve? Now is the pleasant time, The cool, the silent, save where silence yields To the night-warbling bird, that, now awake, Tunes sweetest his love-labour'd song ; now reigns Full orb'd the moon, and with more pleasing light Shadowy sets off the face of things; in vain,
If none regard ; Heav'n wakes with all his eyes,
Whom to behold but thee, Nature's desire ?
In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment
Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze.
I rose as at thy call, but found thee not;
To find thee I directed then my walk ;
And on, methought, alone I pass'd through ways
That brought me on a sudden to the tree
Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seem'd,
Much fairer to my fancy than by day:
And as I wond'ring look'd, beside it stood
One shaped and wing'd like one of those from heaven
By us oft seen; his dewy locks distillid
Ambrosia; on that tree he also gazed ;
And, Oh fair plant! said he, with fruit surcharged,
Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet,
Nor God, nor man? Is knowledge so despised ?
Or envy, or what reserve forbids to taste ?
Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
Longer thy offer'd good; why else set here?
Thus said, he paused not, but, with vent'rous arm,
He pluck'd, he tasted; me damp horror chill’d
At such bold words, vouch'd with a deed so bold:
But he thus, overjoy'd; Oh fruit divine !
Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropp'd,
Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit
For gods, yet able to make gods of men:
And why not gods of men, since good, the more
Communicated, more abundant grows,
The Author not impair’d, but honour'd more?
Here, happy creature, fair angelic Eve,
Partake thou also, happy though thou art,
Happier thou mayst be, worthier canst not be:
Taste this, and be henceforth among the gods,
Thyself a goddess, not to earth confined,
But sometimes in the air, as we sometimes
Ascend to heav'n, by merít thine, and see
What life the gods live there, and such live thou.
So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,
Ev'n to my mouth of that same fruit held part, Which he had pluck'd; the pleasant savoury smell So quicken'd appetite,
that I, methought, Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds With him I flew, and underneath beheld The earth outstretch'd immense, a prospect wide And.various : wond'ring at my flight and change To this high exaltation; suddenly My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down And fell asleep; but oh how glad I waked, To find this but a dream! Thus Eve her night Related, and thus Adam answer'd sad.
Best image of myself, and dearer half, The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep Affects me equally; nor can I like This uncouth dream, of evil sprung I fear; Yet evil whence? In thee can harbour none, Created pure. But know that in the soul Are many lesser faculties, that serve Reason as chief: among these fancy next Her office holds; of all external things Which the five watchful senses represent, She forms imaginations, airy shapes, Which reason joining or disjoining, frames All that we affirm or what deny, and call Our knowledge or opinion; then retires Into her private cell when Nature rests. Oft in her absence mimic fancy wakes To imitate her; but misjoining shapes, Wild works produces oft, and most in dreams, Ill matching words and deeds long past or late. Some such resemblances, methinks, I find Of our last evening's talk, in this thy dream, But with addition strange; yet be not sad. Evil into the mind of God or man May come and go, so unapproved, and leave No spot or blame behind : which gives me hope That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream, Waking thou never wilt consent to do.