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On a green shady bank profuse of flow'rs
Pensive I sat me down; there gentle sleep
First found me, and with soft oppression seiz'd
My droused sense, untroubled, though I thought
I then was passing to my former state
Insensible, and forthwith to dissolve:
When suddenly stood at my head a dream,
Whose inward apparition gently mov'd
My fancy to believe I
had being, And liv'd: one came, methought, of shape divine, 295 And said, Thy mansion wants thee, Adam; rise, First man, of men innumerable ordain'd First father! call’d by thee, I come thy guide To the garden of bliss, thy seat prepar'd. So saying, by the hand he took me rais’d, And over fields and waters, as in air Smooth sliding without step, last led me up A woody mountain ; whose high top was plain, A circuit wide, enclos’d, with goodliest trees Planted, with walks, and bowers, that what I saw Of earth before scarce pleasant seem'd. Each tree Loaden with fairest fruit, that hung to the eye Tempting, stirr’d in me sudden appetite To pluck and eat; whereat I wak’d, and found Before mine eyes all real, as the dream Had lively shadow'd: here had new begun My wand'ring, had not he, who was my guide Up hither, from among the trees appear'd, Presence Divine. Rejoicing, but with awe, In adoration at his feet I fell
Submiss : He rear’d me, and, Whom thou sought'st
Said mildly, author of all this thou seest
Above, or round about thee, or beneath.
This paradise I give thee, count it thine
To till and keep, and of the fruit to eat :
Of every tree that in the garden grows
Eat freely with glad heart; fear here no dearth :
But of the Tree whose operation brings
Knowledge of good and ill, which I have set
The pledge of thy obedience and thy faith
Amid the garden by the Tree of Life,
Remember what I warn thee, shun to taste,
And shun the bitter consequence: for know,
The day thou eat’st thereof, my sole command
Transgrest, inevitably thou shalt die;
From that day mortal, and this happy state
Shalt lose, expelld from hence into a world
Of woe and sorrow. Sternly he pronounc'd
The rigid interdiction, which resounds
Yet dreadful in mine ear, though in my choice
Not to incur; but soon his clear aspect
Return’d and gracious purpose thus renew'd.
Not only these fair bounds, but all the earth
To thee and to thy race I give; as lords
Possess it, and all things that therein live,
Or live in sea, or air, beast, fish, and fowl.
In sign whereof each bird and beast behold
332 world] See Chapman's Hom. Il. p. 215. “Brought us Worlds of Woe.'
After their kinds; I bring them to receive
From thee their names,
and pay thee fealty
With low subjection; understand the same
Of fish within their watery residence
Not hither summon'd since they cannot change
Their element to draw the thinner air.
As thus he spake, each bird and beast behold
Approaching two and two; these cowering low 350
With blandishment, each bird stoop'd on his wing.
I nam’d them, as they pass'd, and understood
Their nature, with such knowledge God indued
My sudden apprehension : but in these
I found not what me-thought I wanted still;
And to the heavenly vision thus presum’d.
O by what name, for thou above all these,
Above mankind, or aught than mankind higher,
Surpassest far my naming, how may I
Adore thee, Author of this universe,
And all this good to man, for whose well being
So amply, and with hands so liberal,
"Thou hast provided all things ? but with me
I see not who partakes. In solitude
What happiness, who can enjoy alone,
Or all enjoying what contentment find ?
Thus I presumptuous; and the vision bright,
As with a smile more brighten'd, thus reply'd.
What call'st thou solitude ? Is not the earth
With various living creatures and the air
Replenish’d, and all these at thy command
To come and play before thee? Know'st thou not
Their language and their ways ? They also know,
And reason not contemptibly; with these
Find pastime, and bear rule; thy realm is large. 375
So spake the universal Lord, and seem'd
So ordering. I, with leave of speech implor’d,
And humble deprecation, thus reply'd.
Let not my words offend thee, heavenly Power,
My Maker, be propitious while I speak.
Hast thou not made me here thy substitute,
And these inferior far beneath me set?
Among unequals what society
Can sort, what harmony, or true delight ?
Which must be mutual, in proportion due,
Giv'n and receiv'd; but in disparity,
The one intense, the other still remiss,
Cannot well suit with either, but soon prove
Tedious alike: of fellowship I speak
Such as I seek, fit to participate
All rational delight, wherein the brute
Cannot be human consort : they rejoice
Each with their kind, lion with lioness;
So fitly them in pairs thou hast combin’d;
Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl, 395
So well converse, nor with the ox the ape;
Worse then can man with beast, and least of all.
Whereto th’ Almighty answerd, not displeas’d. A nice and subtile happiness I see Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice 400 Of thy associates, Adam, and wilt taste No pleasure, though in pleasure, solitary.
What think'st thou then of me, and this my state ?
Seem I to thee sufficiently possest
Of happiness, or not, who am alone
From all eternity ? for none I know
Second to me or like, equal much less.
How have I then with whom to hold converse,
Save with the creatures which I made, and those
To me inferior, infinite descents
Beneath what other creatures are to thee?
He ceas’d, I lowly answerd. To attain
The highth and depth of thy eternal ways
All human thoughts come short, Supreme of things;
Thou in thy self art perfect, and in thee
415 Is no deficience found : not so is man, But in degree, the cause of his desire By conversation with his like to help, Or solace his defects. No need that thou Should’st propagate, already infinite, And through all numbers absolute, though one. But man by number is to manifest His single imperfection, and beget Like of his like, his image multiply'd, In unity defective, which requires Collateral love, and dearest amity. Thou in thy secrecy although alone, Best with thy self accompany'd, seek'st not Social communication ; yet so pleas'd
407 Second] Hor. Od. i. xii. 18.
• Nec viget quidquam simile, aut secundum.' Newton.