« IndietroContinua »
She disappear'd, and left me dark; I wak'd
To find her, or for ever to deplore
Her loss, and other pleasures all abjure:
When out of hope, behold her, not far off,
Such as I saw her in my dream, adorn'd
With what all earth or heaven could bestow
To make her amiable. On she came
Led by her heavenly Maker, though unseen,
And guided by his voice; nor uninform'd
Of nuptial sanctity and marriage rites:
Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
I overjoy'd could not forbear aloud:
"This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfill'd Thy words, Creator bounteous and benign! Giver of all things fair! but fairest this
Of all thy gifts, nor enviest.
I now see
Bone of my bone, flesh of my flesh, myself
Before me: Woman is her name; of man
Extracted. For this cause he shall forego
Father and mother, and to' his wife adhere,
And they shall be one flesh, one heart, one soul.'
"She heard me thus, and though divinely brought
Yet innocence and virgin modesty,
Her virtue and the conscience of her worth,
That would be woo'd, and not unsought be won,
Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retir'd
The more desirable, or, to say all,
Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought,
Wrought in her so, that seeing me, she turn'd:
I follow'd her; she what was honour knew,
And with obsequious majesty approv'd
My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower
I led her blushing like the morn: all heaven,
And happy constellations, on that hour
Shed their selectest influence; the earth
Gaye sign of gratulation, and each hill;
Joyous the birds; fresh gales and gentle airs
Whisper'd it to the woods, and from their wings
Fung rose, flung odours from the spicy shrub,
Disporting, till the amorous bird of night
Sung spousal, and bid haste the evening star
On his hill top, to light the bridal lamp.
"Thus I have told thee all my state, and brought My story to the sum of earthly bliss
Which I enjoy; and must confess to find
In all things else delight indeed, but such
As, us'd or not, works in the mind no change,
Nor vehement desire: these delicacies
I mean of taste, sight, smell, herbs, fruits, and
Walks, and the melody of birds; but here
Far otherwise! transported I behold,
Transported touch; here passion first I felt
Commotion strange! in all enjoyments else
Superior and unmov'd; here only weak
Against the charm of beauty's powerful glance.
Or nature fail'd in me, and left some part
Not proof enough such object to sustain,
Or from my side subducting, took perhaps
More than enough; at least on her bestow'd
Too much of ornament, in outward show
Elaborate, of inward less exact.
For well I understand in the prime end
Of nature her the inferior, in the mind
And inward faculties, which most excel;
In outward also her resembling less
His image who made both, and less expressing
The character of that dominion given
O'er other creatures; yet when I approach
Her loveliness, so absolute she seems,
And in herself complete, so well to know
Her own, that what she wills to do or say
Seems wisest, virtuousest, discreetest, best;
All higher knowledge in her presence falls
Degraded, wisdom in discourse with her
Loses discount'nanc'd, and like folly shows;_
Authority and reason on her wait,
As one intended first, not after made
Occasionally; and, to consummate all,
Greatness of mind and nobleness their seat
Build in her loveliest, and create an awe
About her, as a guard angelic plac'd."
To whom the angel with contracted brow: "Accuse not nature, she hath done her part; Do thou but thine, and be notiffident Of wisdom; she deserts thee not, if thou Dismiss not her, when most thou need'st her nigh, By attributing overmuch to things
Less excellent, as thou thyself perceiv'st.
For what admir'st thou, what transports thee so?
An outside? fair, no doubt, and worthy well
Thy cherishing, thy honou:ing, and thy love,
Not thy subjection: weigh her with thyself;
Then value. Oft-times nothing profits more
Than self-esteem, grounded on just and right
Well manag'd; of that skill the more thou know'st
The more she will acknowledge thee her head,
And to realities yield all her shows:
Made so adorn, for thy delight the more,
So awful, that with honour thou may'st love
Thy mate, who sees when thou art seen least wise.
But if the sense of touch, whereby mankind
Is propagated, seem such dear delight
Beyond all other, think the same vouchsaf'd
To cattle and each beast; which would not be
To them made common and divulg'd, if ought
Therein enjoy'd were worthy to subdue
The soul of man, or passion in him move.
What higher in her society thou find'st
Attractive, human, rational, love still;
In loving thou dost well, in passion not,
Wherein true love consists not; love refines
The thoughts, and heart enlarges, hath his seat
In reason, and is judicious, is the scale
By which to heavenly love thou may'st ascend;
Not sunk in carnal pleasure: for which cause
Among the beasts no mate for thee was found.”
To whom thus half-abash'd, Adam replied:
"Neither her outside form'd so fair, nor ought
In procreation common to all kinds
(Though higher of the genial bed by far,
And with mysterious reverence I deem,)
So much delights me, as those graceful acts,
Those thousand decencies that daily flow
From all her words and actions mix'd with love
And sweet compliance, which declare unfeign'd
Union of mind, or in us both one soul;
Harmony to behold in wedded pair
More grateful than harmonious sound to th' ear.
Yet these subject not; I to thee disclose
What inward thence I feel, not therefore foil'd,
Who meet with various objects, from the sense
Variously representing; yet still free,
Approve the best, and follow what I approve.
To love thou blam'st me not, for love thou say'st
Leads up to heaven, is both the way and guide:
Bear with me then, if lawful what I ask;
Love not the heavenly spirits, and how their love
Express they? by looks only', or do they mix
Irradiance, virtual or immediate touch?"
To whom the angel, with a smile that glow'd Celestial rosy red, love's proper hue,
Answer'd: "Let it suffice thee that thou know'st
Us happy', and without love no happiness.
Whatever pure thou in the body enjoy'st
(And pure thou wert created) we enjoy
In eminence, and obstacle find none
Of membrane, joint or limb, exclusive bars:
Easier than air with air, if spirits embrace,
Total they mix, union of pure with pure
Desiring; nor restrain'd conveyance need,
Aз flesh to mix with flesh, or soul with soul.
But I can now no more; the parting sun
Beyond the earth's green cape and verdant isles
Hesperian sets, my signal to depart.
Be strong, live happy', and love; but first of all,
Him whom to love is to obey, and keep
His great command; take heed lest passion sway
Thy judgment to do ought, which else free will
Would not admit: thine, and of all thy sons,
The weal or woe in thee is plac'd; beware!
I in thy persevering shall rejoice,
And all the bless'd: stand fast; to stand or fall
Free in thine own arbitrement it lies.
Perfect within, no outward aid require;
And all temptation to transgress repel."
So saying, he arose; whom Adam thus
Follow'd with benediction: "Since to part,
Go, heavenly guest, ethereal messenger,
Sent from whose sovereign goodness I adore.
Gentle to me and affable hath been
Thy condescension, and shall be' honour'd ever
With grateful memory: thou to mankind
Be good and friendly still, and oft return."
So parted they; the angel up to heaven
From the thick shade, and Adam to his bowen