Page images
PDF
EPUB

DESCRIPTION OF THE GARDEN OF EDEN.

-In this pleasant soil

His far more pleasant garden God ordain'd;
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,

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
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, wandering many a famous realm
And country, whereof here needs no account;
But rather to tell how, if Art could tell,
How from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,
Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold,
With mazy error under pendant shades
Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed
Flowers worthy' of Paradise, which not nice Art
In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon
Pour'd forth use, on hill, and dale, and plain,
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
The open field, and where the unpierc'd shade
Imbrown'd the noontide bowers: thus was this place
A happy rural seat of various view;

Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,
Others whose fruit, burnish'd with golden rind,
Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true,
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 hillock; or the flowery lap
Of some irriguous valley spread her store,
Flowers 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; meanwhile murmuring waters fall
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
The trembling leaves, while universal Pan,
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance,
Led on th' eternal Spring.

EVENING CONVERSATION BETWEEN ADAM AND EVE.

Now came still Evening on, and Twilight gray
Had in her sober livery all things clad ;
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale;
She all night long her amorous descant sung;
Silence was pleased: 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, th' hour Of night, and all things now retired to rest, 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 slumberous 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 unactive 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 risen, And at our pleasant labor, 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 bestrown, 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'd: My author and Disposer, what thou bid'st

[ocr errors]

Unargued I obey; so 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 charin 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:

<6

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 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 Perfection from the sun's more potent ray. These then, though unbeheld in deep of night, Shine not in vain; nor think, though men were none, That heaven would want spectators, God want praise: Millions of spiritual creatures walk the earth Unseen, 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 others note, Singing their great Creator! oft in bands

great

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
Chos'n by the sov'ran Planter, when he fram'd
All things to man's delightful use; the roof
Of thickest 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 flower,
Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine,

Rear'd high their flourish'd heads between, and wrought
Mosaic; under foot the violet,

Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay

Broider'd the ground, more color'd than with stone
Of costliest emblem: other creatures here,

Bird, beast, insect, or worm, durst enter none,
Such was their awe of man. In shadier bower
More sacred and sequester'd, though but feign'd,
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor Nymph
Nor Faunus haunted.

THE REBEL ANGELS DRIVEN OUT FROM HEAVEN BY MESSIAH.

"So said, he, o'er his sceptre bowing, rose From the right hand of glory where he sat; And the third sacred morn began to shine,

Dawning through heaven: forth rush'd with whirlwind round
The chariot of paternal Deity,

Flashing thick flames, wheel within wheel undrawn,
Itself instinct with spirit, but convoy'd

By four cherubic shapes; four faces cach

Had wondrous; as with stars their bodies all

And wings were set with eyes, with eyes the wheels
Of beryl, and careering fires between;
Over their heads a crystal firinament,
Whereon a sapphire throne inlaid with pure
Amber, and colours of the showery arch.
He in celestial panoply all arm'd
Of radiant Urim, work divinely wrought,
Ascended; at his right hand Victory
Sat eagle wing'd; beside him hung his bow
And quiver with three-bolted thunder stor'd,
And from about him fierce effusion rol'd
Of smoke and bickering flame and sparkles dire:

Attended with ten thousand thousand saints
He onward came, far off his coning shone;
And twenty thousand (I their number heard)
Chariots of God, half on each hand were seen:
He on the wings of cherub rode sublime
On the crystalline sky, in sapphire thron'd,
Illustrious far and wide, but by his own
First seen; them unexpected joy surpris'd,
When the great ensign of Messiah blaz'd
Aloft by angels borne, his sign in heaven;
Under whose conduct Michael soon reduc'd
His army, circumfus'd on either wing,
Under their head embodied all in one.
Before him power divine his way prepar'd:
At his command th' uprooted hills retir'd
Each to his place: they heard his voice, and went
Obsequious; heaven his wonted face renew'd,
And with fresh flowerets hill and valley smil'd.

* * * * * * *

"So spake the Son, and into terror chang'd His count'nance too severe to be beheld. And full of wrath bent on his enemies. At once the Four spread out their starry wings With dreadful shade contiguous, and the orbs Of his fierce chariot roll'd, as with the sound Of torrent floods, or of a numerous host. He on his impious foes right onward drove, Gloomy as night; under his burning wheels The steadfast empyrean shook throughout, All but the throne itself of God. Full soor Among them he arriv'd, in his right hand Grasping ten thousand thunders, which he sent Before him, such as in their souls infix'd Plagues; they, astonish'd, all resistance lost, All courage; down their idle weapons dropt; O'er shields and helms, and helmed heads he rode Of thrones and mighty Seraphim prostate, That wish'd the mountains now might be again Thrown on them as a shelter from his ire. Not less on either side tempestuous fell His arrows, from the four-fold visag'd Four Distinct with eyes, and from the living wheels Distinct alike with multitude of eyes; One spirit in them rul'd, and every eye Glar'd lightning, and shot forth pernicious fire Among the accurs'd, that wither'd all their strength, And of their wonted vigor left them drain'd, Exhausted, spiritless, afflicted, fall'n.

Yet half his strength he put not forth, but check'd His thunder in inid volley; for he meant

« PreviousContinue »