Page images
PDF
EPUB

355

She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand; for drink the grape
She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths

345
From many a berry', and from sweet kernels pressid
She tempers dulcet creams, nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure, then strcws the ground
With rose and odours from the shrub unfum'd.

MEANWHILE our primitive great sire, to meet 350 His God-like 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 besmear'd with gold, Dazzles the crowd, and sets them all agape. Nearer his presence Adam though not aw'd, Yes with submiss approach and reverence meek, As to' a superior nature, bowing low, Thus said. Native of Heav'n, for other place None can than Heav'n such glorious shape contain; Since by descending from the thrones above, Those happy places thou hast deign'd awhile To want, and honour these, vouchsafe with us 365 Two' only, who yet by sov'reign 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.

370 Whom thus th' angelic Virtue answer'd mild. Adam, I therefore came, nor art thou such

360 380

Created, or such place hast here to dwell,
As may not oft invite, though Spi'rits of Heav'n,
To visit thee; lead on then where thy bower 375
O'ershades; for these mid-hours, till evening rise,
I have at will. So to the sylvan lodge
They came, that like Pomona's arbour smil'd
With flow'rets deck'd and fragrant smells; but Eve
Undeck'd save with herself, more lovely fair
Than Wood-Nymph, or the fairest Goddess feign'd
Of three that in mount Sda naked strove,
Stood to entertain her guest from Heav'n; no veil
She needed, virtue proof; no thought infirm
Alter'd her cheek. On whom the Angel Hail 385
Bestow'd, the holy salutation us'd
Long after to bless 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 390
Have heap'd this table. Rais'd. of grassy turf
Their table was, and mossy seats had round,
And on her ample square from side to side
All autumn pild, though spring and autumn here
Danc'd hand in hand. A while discourse they hold;
No fear lest dinner cool; when thus began
Our author. Heav'nly stranger, please to taste
'l hese bounties, which our Nourisher, from whom
All perfect good, unmeasur'd out, descends,
To us for food and for delight hath caus'd 400
The earth to yield; unsavoury food perhaps
To spiritual natures; only this I know,

396 410

That one celestial Father gives to all.
To whom the Angel Therefore what he gives
(Whose praise be ever sung) to Man in part 405
Spiritual, may of purest Spi'rits be found
No' ingrateful 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 sustain'd and fed ; of elements

415
The grosser feeds the purer, earth the sea,
Earth and the sea feed air, the air those fires
Ethereal, and as lowest first the moon;
Whence in her visage round chose spots, unpurg'd
Vapours not yet into her substance turn’d.
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 recompence
In humid exhalations, and at even

425 Sups with the ocean. Though in Heav'n 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 Cover'd with pearly grain : yet God hath here Varied his bounty so with new delights, As may compare with Heaven ; and to taste

420

430 440

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 435
Of Theologians; but with keen dispatch
Of real hunger, and concoctive heat
To transubstantiate : what redounds, transpires
Through Spi'rits with ease; nor wonder; if by fire
Of sooty coal th' empyric alchemist
Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold
As from the mine. Meanwhile at table Eve
Minister'd naked, and their flowing cups
With pleasant liquors crown'd: O innocence 445
Deserving Paradise ! if ever, then,
Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
Enamour'd at that sight; but in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reign'd, nor jealousy
Was understood, the injur'd lover's Hell.

450
'Thus when with meats and drinks they had suffic'd,
Not burden'd nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam, not to let th' occasion pass
Giv'n him by this great conference to know
Of things above his world, and of their being 455
Who dwell in Heav'n, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far, whose radiant forms
Divine effulgence, whose high pow'r so far
Exceeded human, and his wary speech
Thus to th' empyreal minister he fram'd.

INHABITANT with God, now know I well 'Thy favour, in this honour done to Man,

460

Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsaf'd
To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste,
Food not of Angels, yet accepted so,

465 As that more willingly thou couldst not seem At Heav'n's high feasts to' have fed: yet what compare?

To whom the winged Hierarch reply'd. O Adam, one Almighty is, from whom All things proceed, and up to him return, 470 If not deprav'd from good, created all Such to perfection, one first matter all, Endued with various forms, various degrees Of substance, and in things that live, of life; But more refin'd, more spiritous, and pure, 475 As nearer to him plac'd or nearer tending Each in their several active spheres assign'd, Till body up to spirit work, in bounds Proportion'd to each kind. So from the root Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves More airy, last the bright consummate flower 481 Spirits odorous breathes : flow'rs and their fruit, Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublim'd, To vital spi'rits aspire, to animal, To intellectual; give both life and sense, 485 Fancy and understanding ; whence the soul Reason receives, and reason is her being, Discursive, or intuitive ; discourse Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours, Differing but in degree, of kind the same. 490 Wonder not then, what God for you saw good If I refuse not, but convert, as you,

« PreviousContinue »