« IndietroContinua »
Wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn
His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years;
This to attain, whether heaven move or earth,
Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest
From man or angel the great Architect
Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge
His secrets to be scann'd by them who ought
Rather admire; or if they list to try
Conjecture, be his fabric of the heavens
Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move
His laughter at their quaint opinions wide
Hereafter; when they come to model heaven
And calculate the stars, how they will wield
The mighty frame, how build, unbuild, contrive
To save appearances, how gird the sphere
With centric and eccentric scribbled o'er,
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb.
Already by thy reasoning this I guess,
Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest
That bodies bright and greater should not serve
The less not bright, nor heaven such journeys run,
Earth sitting still, when she alone receives
The benefit. Consider first, that great
Or bright infers not excellence: the earth
Though, in comparison of heaven, so small,
Nor glist'ring, may of solid good contain
More plenty than the sun that barren shines,
Whose virtue on itself works no effect,
But in the fruitful earth; there, first receiv'd,
His beams, unactive else, their vigour find.
Yet not to earth are those bright luminaries
Officious, but to thec, earth's habitant.
And for the heaven's wide circuit, let it speak
The Maker's high magnificence, who built
So spacious, and his line stretch'd out so far:
That man may know he dwells not in his own;
An edifice too large for him to fill,
Lodg'd in a small partition, and the rest
Ordain'd for uses to his Lord best known.
The swiftness of those circles attribute,
Though numberless, to his omnipotence
That to corporeal substances could add
Speed almost spiritual. Me thou think'st not slow,
Who since the morning hour set out from heaven
Where God resides, and ere mid-day arriv'd
In Eden; distance inexpressible
B: numbers that bave name. But this I urge,
Admitting motion in the heavens, to show
Invalid that which thee to doubt it mov'd;
Not that I so affirm, though so it seem
To thee who hast thy dwelling here on earth.
God to remove his ways from human sense,
Plac'd heaven from earth so far, that earthly sight,
If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain. What if the sun
Be centre to the world, and other stars,
By his attractive virtue and their own
Incited, dance about him various rounds?
Their wand'ring course now high, now low, then hid,
Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,
In six thou seest; and what if seventh to these
The planet earth, so steadfast though she seem,
Insensibly three different motions move?
Which else to several spheres thou must ascribe,
Mov'd contrary with thwart obliquities;
Or save the sun his labour, and that swift
Nocturnal and diurnal rhomb suppos'd,
Invisible else above all stars, the wheel
Of day and night; which needs not thy belief,
If earth, industrious of herself, fetch day
Travelling east, and with her part averse
From the sun's beam meet night, her other part
Still luminous by his ray. What if that light,
Sent from her through the wide transpicuous air,
To the terrestrial moon be as a star
Enlight'ning her day, as she by night
This earth? reciprocal, if land be there,
Fields and inhabitants. Her spots thou seest
As clouds, and clouds may rain, and rain produce
Fruits in her soften'd soil, for some to eat
Allotted there; and other suns perhaps,
With their attendant moons, thou wilt descry
Communicating male and female light.
Which two great sexes animate the world,
Stor'd in each orb perhaps with some that live:
For such vast room in Nature unpossess'd
By living soul, desert and desolate,
Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute
Each orb a glimpse of light, convey'd so far
Down to this habitable, which returns
Light back to them, is obvious to dispute.
But whither thus these things, or whether not;
Whether the sun predominant in heaven
Rise on the earth, or earth rise on the sun;
He from the east his flaming road begin,
Or she from west her silent course advance,
With inoffensive pace that spinning sleeps
On her soft axle, while she paces even,
And bears thee soft with the smooth air along;
Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid,
Leave them to God above, him serve and fear;
Of other creatures, as him pleases best,
Wherever plac'd, let him dispose: joy thou
In what he gives to thee, this Paradise
And thy fair Eve; heaven is for thee too high
To know what passes there; be lowly wise:
Think only what concerns thee and thy being;
Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there
Live, in what state, condition, or degree:
Contented that thus far hath been reveal'd,
Not of earth only, but of highest heaven."
To whom thus Adam, clear'd of doubt replied:
"How fully hast thou satisfied me, pure
Intelligence of heaven, angel serene!
And, freed from intricacies, taught to live
The easiest way, nor with perplexing thoughts
To interrupt the sweet of life, from which
God hath bid dwell far off all anxious cares,
And not molest us, unless we ourselves
Seek them with wand'ring thoughts, and notions vain,
But apt the mind or fancy is to rove
Uncheck'd, and of her roving is no end;
Till warn'd, or by experience taught, she learn,
That not to know at large of things remote,
From use obscure and subtle, but to know'
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom; what is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence,
And renders us in things that most concern
Unpractis'd, unprepar'd, and still to seek.
Therefore from this high pitch let us descend
A lower flight, and speak of things at hand
Useful, whence haply mention may arise
Of something not unseasonable to ask,
By sufferance, and thy wonted favour deign'd.
Thee I have beard relating what was done
Ere my remembrance; now hear me relate
My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard;
And day is yet not spent: till then thou seest
How subtly to detain thee I devise,
Inviting thee to hear while I relate,
Fond, were it not in hope of thy reply:
For while I sit with thee I seem in heaven,
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree, pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both, from labour, at the hour'
Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill
Though pleasant; but thy words, with grace divine
Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety.'
To whom thus Raphael answer'd heavenly meek. "Nor are thy lips ungraceful, sire of men! Nor tongue uneloquent; for God on thee Abundantly his gifts hath also pour❜d, Inward and outward both, his image fair: Speaking or mute, all comeliness and grace Attends thee, and each word each motion forms; Nor less think we in heaven of thee on earth Than of our fellow-servant, and inquire Gladly into the ways of God with man; For God we see hath honour'd thee, and set On man his equal love: say therefore on, For I that day was absent,' as befell, Bound on a voyage uncouth and obscure, Far on excursion toward the gates of hell;
Squar'd in full legion (such command we had)
To see that none thence issued forth a spy,
Or enemy, while God was in his work,
Lest he, incens'd at such eruption bold,
Destruction with creation might have mix'd.
Not that they durst without his leave attempt,
But us he sends upon his high behests
For state, as Sov'reign King, and to inure
Our prompt obedience. Fast we found, fast shut
The dismal gates, and barricado'd strong;
But, long ere our approaching, heard within
Noise, other than the sound of dance or song,
Torment, and loud lament, and furious rage.
Glad we return'd up to the coasts of light
Ere sabbath evening: so we had in charge.
But thy relation now; for I attend,
Pleas'd with thy words, no less than thou with mine." So spake the godlike power, and thus our sire: "For man to tell how human life began
Is hard; for who himself beginning knew?
Desire with thee still longer to converse
Induc'd me. As new wak'd from soundest sleep
Soft on the flowery herb I found me laid
In balmy sweat, which with his beams the sun
Soon dried, and on the reeking moisture fed.
Straight toward heaven my wond'ring eyes I turn'd,
And gaz'd awhile the ample sky; till rais'd
By quick instinctive motion up I sprung,
As thitherward endeavouring, and upright
Stood on my feet: about me round I saw
Hill, dale, and shady woods, and sunny plains,
And liquid lapse of murm'ring streams; by these,
Creatures that liv'd and moy'd, and walk'd, or flew ;
Birds on the branches warbling; all things smil'd;
With fragrance, and with joy my heart o'erflow'd.
Myself I then perus'd, and limb by limb
Survey'd, and sometimes went, and sometimes ran
With supple joints, as lively vigour led.
But who I was, or where, or from what cause, Knew not to speak I tried, and forthwith spake : My tongue obey'd, and readily could name