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Flew through the midst of heaven: the angelic quires, On each hand parting, to his speed gave way Through all the empyreal road: till, at the gate Of heaven arriv'd, the gate self-open'd wide 255 On golden hinges turning, as, by work Divine, the Sov'ran Architect had fram'd. From hence (no cloud, or, to obstruct his sight, Star interpos'd,) however small, he sees

Not unconform to other shining globes

260 Earth, and the garden of God, with cedars crown'd
Above all hills. As when by night the glass
Of Galileo, less assur'd, observes
Imagin'd lands and regions in the moon:
Or pilot, from amidst the Cyclades,

265 Delos, or Samos, first appearing, kens

A cloudy spot. Down thither prone in flight
He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky
Sails between worlds and worlds; with steady wing
Now on the polar winds; then, with quick fan
270 Winnows the buxom air; till, within soar
Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems
A phoenix, gaz'd by all, as that sole bird,
When, to enshrine his relics in the sun's
Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies.
275 At once on the eastern cliff of Paradise

He lights, and to his proper shape returns,
A Seraph wing'd: six wings he wore to shade
His lineaments divine; the pair that clad

Each shoulder broad, came mantling o'er his breast

280 With regal ornament; the middle pair

Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round
Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold,
And colours dipt in heaven; the third his feet
Shadow'd from either heel with feather'd mail,
285 Sky-tinctur'd grain. Like Maia's son he stood,
And shook his plumes, that heavenly fragrance fill'd
The circuit wide. Straight knew him all the bands
Of angels under watch; and to his state,
And to his message high, in honour rise;

290 For on some message high they guess'd him bound.
Their glittering tents he pass'd, and now is come
Into the blissful field, through groves of myrrh,
And flowering odours, cassia, nard, and balm—
A wilderness of sweets! for Nature here
295 Wanton'd as in her prime, and play'd at will
Her virgin fancies-pouring forth more sweet,
Wild above rule, or art-enormous bliss!
Him, through the spicy forest onward come,
Adam discern'd, as in the door he sat

300 of his cool bower; while now the mounted sun
Shot down direct his fervid rays to warm

Earth's inmost womb;-more warmth than Adam needs:
And Eve within, due at her hour, prepar'd

For dinner savoury fruits, of taste to please

305 True appetite, and not disrelish thirst

Of nectarous draughts between, from milky stream,
Berry, or grape; to whom thus Adam call'd:

"Haste hither, Eve! and, worth thy sight, behold, "Eastward among those trees, what glorious shape 310 "Comes this way moving; (seems another morn "Ris'n on mid-noon :) some great behest from heaven "To us perhaps he brings, and will vouchsafe "This day to be our guest. But go with speed; "And, what thy stores contain, bring forth, and pour

315 "Abundance-fit to honour and receive

"Our heavenly stranger: well we may afford "Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow "From large bestow'd, where nature multiplies "Her fertile growth, and by disburd'ning grows 320"More fruitful, which instructs us not to spare."

To whom thus Eve: "Adam, earth's hallow'd mould, "Of God inspir'd! small store will serve, where store, "All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk; "Save what by frugal storing firmness gains 325" To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes: "But I will haste, and from each bough and brake, "Each plant and juiciest gourd, will pluck such choice To entertain our angel-guest, as he,

"Beholding, shall confess that here on earth
330 "God hath dispens'd his bounties as in heaven."
So saying, with dispatchful looks, in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent
What choice to choose for delicacy best-
What order so contriv'd as not to mix
335 Tastes not well join'd, inelegant, but bring

Taste after taste, upheld with kindliest change:
Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk
Whatever earth, all-bearing mother, yields
In India East, or West, or middle shore,
340 In Pontus, or the Punic coast, or where

Alcinous reign'd; fruit of all kinds, in coat Rough, or smooth rind, or bearded husk, or shell, She gathers, tribute large, and on the board Heaps with unsparing hand: for drink the grape 345 She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths


From many a berry; and, from sweet kernels press'd,
She tempers dulcet creams; nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure; then strews the ground
With rose, and odours from the shrub unfum'd.

Meanwhile our primitive great sire, to meet
His god-like guest walks forth, without more train
Accompanied than with his own complete
Perfections: in himself was all his state,

More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits 355 On princes, when their rich retinue long

Of horses led, and grooms besmear'd with gold,
Dazzles the crowd, and sets them all agape.
Nearer his presence Adam, though not aw'd,
Yet with submiss approach, and reverence meek,

360 As to a superior nature, bowing low,

Thus said: "Native of heaven! for other place "None can, than heaven, such glorious shape contain: "Since by descending from the thrones above, "Those happy places thou hast deign'd a while 365"To want, and honour these; vouchsafe with us "Two only, who yet by sov'ran gift possess

"This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower
"To rest, and what the garden choicest bears.
"To sit and taste, till this meridian heat


370 Be over,

and the sun more cool decline." Whom thus the angelic Virtue answer'd mild: "Adam! I therefore came; nor art thou such "Created, nor such place hast here to dwell, "As may not oft invite, though spirits of heaven, 375"To visit thee: lead on then where thy bower "O'ershades; for these mid-hours, till ev'ning rise, "I have at will." So to the sylvan lodge

They came, that like Pomona's arbour smil'd, With flow'rets deck'd, and fragrant smells; but Eve, 380 Undeck'd save with herself, more lovely fair

Than wood-nymph, or the fairest goddess feign'd
Of three that in mount Ida naked strove,

Stood to entertain her guest from heaven: no veil
She needed, virtue proof; no thought infirm
385 Alter'd her cheek. On whom the angel, Hail!'
Bestow'd, the holy salutation us'd

Long after to blest Mary, second Eve.

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"Hail, mother of mankind! whose fruitful womb "Shall fill the world more numerous with thy sons, 390 Than with these various fruits the trees of God "Have heap'd this table." Rais'd of grassy turf Their table was, and mossy seats had round; And on her ample square from side to side

All autumn pil'd, though spring and autumn here 395 Danc'd hand in hand. A while discourse they hold; No fear lest dinner cool; when thus began

Our author: "Heavenly stranger! please to taste "These bounties, which our Nourisher, from whom "All perfect good, unmeasur'd out, descends,400 "To us for food and for delight hath caus'd "The earth to yield; unsavoury food, perhaps, "To spiritual natures: only this I know, "That one celestial Father gives to all."

To whom the angel: "Therefore what he gives

405"(Whose praise be ever sung!) to man, in part


Spiritual, may of purest spirits be found

"No ingrateful food: and food alike those pure
"Intelligential substances require,

"As doth your rational; and both contain 410"Within them every lower faculty


"Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste;
"Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,
"And corporeal to incorporeal turn.

"For know, whatever was created needs
"To be sustain'd and fed: of elements

66 The grosser feeds the purer; earth the sea;
"Earth and the sea feed air; the air those fires
"Ethereal, and, as lowest, first the moon;

"Whence, in her visage round, those spots, unpurg'd 420 Vapours, not yet into her substance turn'd.

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"Nor doth the moon no nourishment exhale

"From her moist continent to higher orbs.
"The sun, that light imparts to all, receives
"From all his alimental recompense

425"In humid exhalations, and at even

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Sups with the ocean. Though in heaven the trees "Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines.

"Yield nectar-though from off the boughs each morn "We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground 430 "Cover'd with pearly grain; yet God hath here "Varied his bounty so with new delights,

66 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

435 The angel, nor in mist,-the common gloss
Of theologians;-but with keen dispatch
Of real hunger, and concoctive heat

To transubstantiate: what redounds transpires
Through spirits with ease; nor wonder, if by fire

440 Of sooty coal the empiric alchymist

Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold,

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