[ocr errors]

When God hath show'r'd the earth; so lovely
That landskip: and of pure now purer air (seem'd
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive 155
All sadness but despair: now gentle gales
Fanning their odoriferous wings dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past 160
Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow
Sabean odors from the spicy shore
Of Araby the Blest ; with such delay
Well pleas'd they slack their course, and many a

Cheer'd with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles :
So entertain'd those odorous sweets the Fiend
Who came their hane, though with them better
Than Asniodëus with the fishy fume (pleas'd
That drove him, though enamor’d, from the spouse
Of Tobit's son, and with a vengeance sent 170
From Media post to Egypt, there fast bound.

Now to th' ascent of that steep savage hill Satan had journey'd on, pensive and slow; But further way found none, so thick intwin'd, As one continued brake, the undergrowth 175 Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplex'd All path of man or beast that pass'd that way: One gate there only was, and that look'd east On the other side: which when the Arch-felon saw, Due entrance he disdain'd, and in contempt, 180

At one slight bound high overleap'd all bound
Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within
Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf,
Whom hunger drives to seek new haunts for prey,
Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve
In hurdled cotes amid the field secure, 186
Leaps o'er the fence with ease into the fold:
Or as a thief bent to unhoard the cash
Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,
Cross-barr'd and bolted fast, fear no assault, 190!
In at the window climbs, or o'er the tiles :
So clomb this first grand Thief into God's fold;
So since into his church lewd hirelings climb.
Thence up he flew, and on the tree of Life,
The middle tree and highest there that grew, 195
Sat like a cormorant; yet not true life
Thereby regain’d, but sat devising death
To them who liv’d; nor on the virtue thought
Of that life-giving plant, but only us'd
For prospect, what well us'd had been the pledge
Of immortality. So little knows
Any but God alone, to value right
The good before him, but perverts best things
To worse abuse, or to their meanest use.
Beneath him with new wonder now he views 205
To all delight of human sense expos'd
In narrow room Nature's whole wealth, yea more,
A heav'n on earth: for blissful Paradise
Of God the garden was, by him in th' east
Of Eden planted; Eden stretch'd her line 210


From Auran eastward to the royal towers
Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,
Or where the sons of Eden long before
Dwelt in Telassar: in this pleasant soil
His far more pleasant garden God ordain'd; 215
Out of the fertile ground he caus’d to grow
All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;
And all amid them stood the tree of Life,
High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit
Of vegetable gold; and next to Life, 220
Our death the tree of Knowledge grew fast by,
Knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill.
Southward through Eden went a river large,
Nor chang'd his course, but through the shaggy hill
Pass’d underneath ingulf'd; for God had thrown
That mountain as his garden mould high rais'd
Upon the rapid current, which through veins
Of porous earth with kindly thirst up drawn,
Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill
Water'd the garden; thence united fell 230
Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,
Which from his darksome passage now appears,
And now divided into four main streams,
Runs diverse, wand'ring many a famous realm
And country, whereof here needs no account; 235
But rather to tell how, if Art could tell,
How from that saphir fount the crisped brooks,
Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold,
With mazy error under pendent shades
Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed 240
Flow'rs, worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art
In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon
Pour'd forth profuse on hill and dale and plain,
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
The open field, and where the unpierc'd shade 245
Imbrown'd the noontide bow'rs: thus was this place
A happy rural seat of various view;
Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and

Others whose fruit burnish'd with golden rind
Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true, 250
If true, here only', and of delicious taste:
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interpos’d,
Or palmy hilloc; or the flow'ry lap
Of some irriguous valley spread her store, 235,
Flow'rs of all hue, and without thorn the rose :
Another side, umbrageous grots and caves
Of cool recess, o'er which the mantling vine
Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps
Luxuriant; mean while murm'ring waters fall 260
Down the slope hills, dispers'd, or in a lake,
That to the fringed bank with myrtle crown'd
Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams.
The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,
Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune 265
The trembling leaves, while universal Pan
Knit with the Graces and the Hours' in dance
Led on th' eternal Spring Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpin gath'ring flowers,

Herself a fairer flow'r by gloomy Dis 270 Was gather'd, which cost Ceres all that pain To seek her through the world; nor that sweet Of Daphne by Orontes, and th’ inspir'd [grove Castalian spring, might with this paradise Of Eden strive ; nor that Nyseian isle 275 Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham, Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Lybian Jove, Hid Amalthea and her florid son Young Bacchus from his stepdame Rhea's eye ; Nor where Abassin kings their issue guard, 280 Mount Amara, though this by some suppos'd True Paradise under the Ethiop line By Nilus' head, inclos’d with shining rock, A whole day's journey high, but wide remote From this Assyrian garden, where the Fiend 285 Saw undelighted all delight, all kind Of living creatures new to sight and strange. Two of far nobler shape erect and tall, . Godlike erect, with native honor clad In naked majesty seem'd lords of all, 290 And worthy seem'd; for in their looks divine The image of their giorious Maker shone, Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure, (Severe but in true filial freedom plac'd) Whence true authority in men; though both 295 Not equal, as their sex not equal seem'd; For contemplation he and valor formid, For softness she and sweet attractive grace; He for God only, she for God in him ;

« ElőzőTovább »