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A heaven on earth: for blissful Paradise
Of God the garden was, by him in the east
Of Eden planted; Eden stretched her line
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 ordained :
Out of the fertile ground he caused 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 changed his course, but through the shaggy hill
Passed underneath ingulfed : for God had thrown
That mountain as his garden-mould, high raised
Upon the rapid current, which, through 3 veins
of porous earth with kindly thirst up-drawn,
Rose a fresh fountain, and, with many a rill
Watered 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 pendent shades
Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed
Flowers worthy of Paradise ; which not nice art
In beds and curious knots, but nature boon
Poured forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain ;
Both where the morning sun first warmly smote
The open field, and where the unpiercéd shade
(1) Auran-i.e. Haran or Charræ, in Mesopotamia.
(2) Telassar-See Isaiah xxxvii. 12.
(3) Which, through, &c.-i. e. the water of the river being absorbed, it rose up through the mound placed upon it, and gushed out in the garden as a fountaina feat of enchantment scarcely harmonizing with the general character of the scene, in which nature is elevated and adorned, but not violated.
Imbrowned the noon-tide bowers. Thus was this place
A happy rural seat of various view;
Groves, whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm;
Others whose fruit, burnished with golden rind,
Hung amiable (Hesperian fables a true,
If true, here only), and of delicious taste.
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,
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 mantlinge vine
Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps
Luxuriant : meanwhile, murmuring waters fall
Down the slope hills, dispersed, or in a lake,
That to the fringéd bank with myrtle crowned
Her crystal mirror holds, unite tñeir 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 the eternal Spring. Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Proserpine gathering flowers,
Herself a fairer flower, by gloomy Dis 6
Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
To seek her through the world; nor that sweet grove
Of Daphne 7 by Orontes, and the inspired
Castalian spring, might with this Paradise
Of Eden strive.
(1) Groves, &c.—" In the description of Paradise, the poet has observed Aristotle's rule of lavishing all the ornaments of diction on the weak, inactive parts of the fable, which are not supported by the beauty of sentiment and character.”-Addison.
(2) Hesperian fables, doc.—i.e. “What is said of the Hesperian gardens is true here only; if all is not pure invention, this garden was meant.”- Richardson.
(3) Irriguous-well-watered, full of springs and rills.
(4) Mantling-covering as with a mantle, spreading luxuriantly.
(5) While universal Pan, &c.—" The ancients personified everything. Pan is Nature, the Graces are the beautiful Seasons, and the Hours are the time for the production and perfection of things.”—Richardson.
(7) Daphne-“A grove near Antioch, in Syria, on the banks of the river Orontes; there also was the Castalian spring, of the same name with that in Greece, and extolled for its prophetic qualities."- Newton.
ADAM AND EVE IN PARADISE.
Two of far nobler shape, erect and tall
Godlike erect, with native honour clad,
In naked majesty seemed lords of all,
And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine
The image of their glorious Maker shone,
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure
(Severe, but in true filial freedom placed),
Whence3 true authority in men; though both
Not equal, as their sex not equal seemed ;
For contemplation he and valour formed;
For softness she, and sweet attractive grace ;
He for God only, she for God in him :
His fair large front and eye
Absolute rule; and hyacinthine* locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad :
She, as a veil, down to the slender waist
Her unadorned golden tresses wore
Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved
As the vine curls her tendrils ; which implied
Subjection, but required with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best received,
Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,
And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.
So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair
That ever since in love's embraces met;
(1) “ Paradise Lost,” book iv. “The description of Adam and Eve, as they first appeared to Satar, is exquisitely drawn, and sufficient to make the fallen angel gaze upon them with all that astonishment and those emotions of envy, in which he is represented."-Addison.
(2) Severe, &c.-i. e. strict, but yet consistent with the freedom of children “ denoting,” says Dr. Pearce, "a reverence rather than fear of the Deity.”
(3) Whence, &c.-i. e. from the truth, wisdom, and holiness, just mentioned, which, Dr. Pearce remarks “are qualities that give to magistrates true authority,' that proper authority which they may want who yet have legal authority."
(4) Hyacinthine-a classical epithet, denoting black or dark brown chestnut.
(5) Which implied subjection in reference to 1 Cor. xi. 10: "the woman ought to have power on her head,” where the word Eovoiav is interpreted in the margin, “a covering," a sign that she is under the power of her husband.
(6) Yielded, &c. i. e. when yielded by her, &c.
Adam the goodliest of men since born
His sons; the fairest of her daughters Eve.
Under a tuft of shade that on a green
Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain-side
They sat them down; and after no more toil
Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed
To recommend cool zephyr, and made ease
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite
More grateful, to their supper fruits they fell
Nectarine fruits, which the compliant boughs
Yielded them, side-long as they sat recline?
On the soft downy bank damasked with flowers.
The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind,
Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream.
About them frisking played
All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chace
In wood or wilderness, forest or den ;
Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw
Dandled the kid ; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,
Gamboled before them; the unwieldy elephant,
To make them mirth used all his might, and wreathed
His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly
Insinuating wove with Gordians twine
His braided train, and of his fatal guile
Gave proof unheeded; others on the grass
Couched, and now filled with pasture gazing sat,
Or bedward ruminating ;6 for the sun,
Declined, was hasting now with prone career
To the ocean isles, and in the ascending scale $.
Of heaven the stars that usher evening rose.
(1) Adain the goodliest, &c.—The superlative is here used for the comparative, as sometimes in Greek. The meaning of course is that Adam was a handsomer man than any of his sons, and Eve fairer than any of her daughters.
(2) Nectarine-as sweet as nectar. (3) Recline-reclining.
(4) Ramped—" Stood on his two hinder legs in the posture of climbing; from the French ramper, to climb. In heraldry, a lion in this attitude is said to be rampant."- Richardson.
(5) Wove with Gordian, &c.-Wove his twisted tail into a complicated braid, like the famous Gordian knot.
(6) Bedward ruminating Chewing the cud before they go to rest.”—Hume. (7) Ocean isles--the islands in the western ocean.
(8) The ascending scale, &c.-A metaphor for the changes of day and night, as if like a balance, the one ascended as the other sank.
Now came' still evening on, and twilight grey
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 descantsung.
Silence was pleased : now glowed the firmament
With living sapphires ; Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest; till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length
Apparent queen, unveiled her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw :
When Adam thus to Eve: “Fair consort! the 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,3.
Now falling with soft slumbrous weight, inclines
Our eyelids. Other creatures all day long
Rove idle, unemployed, 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 labour, 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 :
(1) Now came, dc.—"Words cannot furnish out a more lovely description. The greatest poets in all ages have, as it were, vied with one another in their descriptions of evening and night; but for the variety of numbers and pleasing images, I know of nothing parallel or comparable to this to be found among all the treasures of ancient or modern poetry.”-Newton.
(2) Descant—a song with various modulations.
(3) The timely dew of sleep—"Did not the beauty of the poetry keep the mind awake, the words would lull the reader insensibly.”—Richardson.
(4) Manuring-from the French manæuvrer, to work with the hands--manual labour;-a very unusual sense of the word.