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We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground
Cover'd with pearly grain: yet God hath here 430
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

433
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' empiric alchemist

440 Can turn, or holds it possible to turn, Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold As from the mine. Mean while 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 Enamor'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 sufNor burden’d nature, sudden mind arose

(ficid, 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 power so far

Exceeded human, and his wary speech
Thus to th' empyreal minister he fram'd. 460

Inhabitant with God, now know I well
Thy favor, in this honor done to man,
Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsaf'd
To enter, and these carthly 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 com

To whom the winged hierarch reply'd. [pare? 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, Indued 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

480 More aëry, last the bright consummate flower Spirits odórous breathes: flowers 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,
To proper substance: time may come, when

men

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With angels may participate, and find
No inconvenient di'et, nor too light fare ; 493
And from these corporal nutriments perhaps
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,
Improv'd by tract of time, and wing'd ascend
Ethereal, as we, or may at choice
Here or in heav'nly paradises dwell ; 500
If

ye be found obedient, and retain Unalterably firm his love entire, Whose progeny you are.

Mean while enjoy Your fill what happiness this happy state Can comprehend, incapable of more. 505

To whom the Patriarch of Mankind reply'd: O favorable Spi'rit! propitious Guest ! Well hast thou taught the way that might direct Our knowledge, and the scale of Nature set From centre to circumference whereon 510 In contemplation of created things By steps we may ascend to God. But say, What meant that caution join'd, If ye be found Obedient ? Can we want obedience then To him, or possibly his love desert, Who form'd us from the dust, and plac'd us here

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515

Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desires can seek or apprehend ?

To whom the angel : Son of Heav'n and Earth,
Attend; That thou art happy, owe to God; 520
That thou continueśt such, owe to thyself,
That is, to thy obedience; therein stand.
This was that caution giv'n thee; be advis'd.
God made thee perfect, not immutable;
And good he made thee, but to persevere

525 He left it in thy power; ordain’d thy will By nature free, not over-ruld by fate Inextricable, or strict necessity : Our voluntary service he requires, Not our necessitated; such with him 530 Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how Can hearts, not free, be try'd whether they serve Willing or no, who will but what they must By destiny, and can no other chuse ? Myself and all th' angelic host, that stand 535 In sight of God enthron'd, our happy state Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds : On other surety none ; freely we serve, Because we freely love, as in our will To love or not; in this we stand or fall : 540 And some are fall’n, to disobedience fall’n, And so from Heav'n to deepest Hell; O fall From what high state of bliss into what woe!

To whom our great Progenitor. Thy words Attentive, and with more delighted ear, 545 Divine Instructor, I have heard, that when

Cherubic songs by night from neighb'ring hills
Aërial music send: nor knew I not
To be both will and deed created free;
Yet that we never shall forget to love 550
Our Maker, and obey him whose command
Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts
Assur'd me', and still assure : though what thou

tell'st
Hath pass’d in Heav'n, some doubt within me move,
But more desire to hear, if thou consent, 555
The full relation, which must needs be strange,
Worthy of sacred Silence to be heard ;
And we have yet large day, for scarce the Sun
Hath finish'd half his journey', and scarce begins
His other half in the great zone of Heav'n. 560

Thus Adam made request; and Raphaël
After short pause assenting, thus began.
High matter thou injoin'st me', O Prime of

Men,
Sad task and hard : for how shall I relate
To human sense th' invisible exploits

565
Of warring spirits ? how without remorse
The ruin of so many glorious once
And perfect while they stood ? how last unfold
The secrets of another world, perhaps
Not lawful to reveal ? yet for thy good 570
This is dispens’d; and what surmounts the reach
Of human sense,

I shall delineate so, By likening spiritual to corporal forms, As may express them best ; though what if Earth

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