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Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise
That is address'd to unattending ears;
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my sever'd company,
Compell’d me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossy couch.
Com. What chance, good lady, hath bereft you thus ?
Lady. Dim darkness, and this leavie labyrinth.
Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering guides?
Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
Lady. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly spring.
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, lady?
Lady. They were but twain, and purposed quick return.
Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
Lady. No less than if I should my brothers lose.
Com. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?
Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips.
Com. Two such I saw, what time the labor’d ox
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swink'd 1 hedger at his supper sat;
I saw them under a green mantling vine,
That crawls along the side of yon small hill,
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots :
Their port was more than human as they stood :
I took it for a faery vision
Of some gay creatures of the element,
That in the colors of the rainbow live,
And play in the plighted clouds. I was awe-struck,
And, as I pass’d, I worshipp'd; if those you seek,
It were a journey like the path to heaven,
To help you find them.
What readiest way would bring me to that place?
Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
Lady. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose,
In such a scant allowance of star-light,
Would overtask the best land-pilot's art,
Without the sure guess of well-practised feet.
Com. I know each lane, and every alley green,
Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood,
And every bosky bourn from side to side,
My daily walks and ancient neighborhood;
And if your stray attendants be yet lodged,
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the luw-roosted lark
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise,
I can conduct you, lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
Till farther quest.
Shepherd, I take thy word, And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy, Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds With smoky rafters, than in tapestry halls And courts of princes, where it first was named, And yet is most pretended: in a place Less warranted than this, or less secure, I cannot be, that I should fear to change it.Eye me, bless'd Providence, and square my trial To my proportion'd strength !—Shepherd, lead on.
Hail, holy Light! offspring of heaven first-born,
Or of the Eternal co-eternal beam,
May I express thee unblamed ?2 since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,3
Whose fountain who shall tell ?4 Before the sun,
Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn; while in my flight,
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to the Orphean lyre,
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;
Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend,
Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou
Revisitst not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equall'd with me in fate,
So were I equallid with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides,"
And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair,
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expunged and rased,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes; all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
Paradise Lost, III. 1.
EVE'S ACCOUNT OF HER CREATION.
That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awaked, and found myself reposed,
Under a shade, on flowers, much wondering where
And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.
Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved,
Pure as the expanse of heaven: I thither went
With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to me seem'd another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the watery gleam appear'd,
Bending to look on me: I started back,
It started back; but pleased I soon return'd,
Pleased it return'd as soon, with answering looks
Of sympathy and love: there I had fix'd
Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
Had not a voice thus warn'd me: “What thou seest,
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;
With thee it came and goes; but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming and thy soft embraces; he
Whose image thou art: him thou shalt enjoy
1 Mæonides is Homer. Thamyris was a Thracian, and invented the Doric mood or measure. Tiresias and Phineus, the former a Theban, the latter a king of Arcadia, were famous blind bards of antiqnity. Milton uses the word "prophet” in the sense of the Latin vates, which unites the character of prophet and poet. Indeed, throughout Milton's poetry there are words and phrases perpetually occurring that are used in their pure Latin sense, the beauties of which none but a classical scholar can fully appreciate. This, of itself, is a sufficient answer, if there were not a dozen otheray to the senseless question so often asked, "What is the use of a girl's studying Latin ?"
Inseparably thine; to him shalt bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be callid
Mother of human race.” What could I do,
But follow straight, invisibly thus led ?
Till I espied thee, fair indeed, and tall,
Under a platane; yet, methought, less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Than that smooth watery image: back I turn'd;
Thou, following, criedst aloud, “Return, fair Eve;
Whom fliest thou? whom thou fliest, of him thou art,
His flesh, his bone; to give thee being I lent
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,
Substantial life, to have thee by my side
Henceforth an individual solace dear.
Part of my soul, I seek thee, and thee claim,
My other half.” With that, thy gentle hand
Seized mine: I yielded; and from that time see
How beauty is excell'd by manly grace,
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.
Paradise Lost, IV. 449.
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, unveild 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
Labor and rest, as day and night, to men
Successive; and the timely dew of sleep,
Now falling with soft slumbrous weight, inclines
Our eyelids; 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.
Tomorrow, ere fresh morning streak the east
With first approach of light, we must be risen,
And at our pleasant labor, to reform
Yon flowery arbors, 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 bidd'st
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 charm 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 starlight, 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: " Daughter of God and man, accomplish'd Eve, Those 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 prepared, 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 other's note, Singing their Great Creator! oft in bands