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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 bright'nd, thus repli'd :
""What call'st thou solitude ? is not the earth
With various living creatures, and the air
Replenisht, 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.”
So spake the universal Lord, and seem'd
So ordering; I with leave of speech implor'd,
And humble deprecation thus replid:
"Let not my words offend thee, Heav'nly 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, So well converse, nor with the ox the ape; Worse then can Man with beast, and least of all.” Whereto th’ Almighty answer'd, not displeas’d.
66A nice and subtle happiness I see Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice
Of thy associates, Adam, and will 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 answer'd. “To attain
The highth and depth of thy eternal ways
All human thoughts come short, Supreme of things;
Thou in thyself art perfect, and in thee
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
Shouldst 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 multipli'd,
In unity defective; which requires
Collateral love, and dearest amity.
Thou in thy secresy although alone,
Best with thyself accompanied, seek'st not
Social communication; yet so pleas'd,
Canst raise thy creature to what highth thou wilt
Of union or communion, deifi'd;
I by conversing cannot these erect
From prone, nor in their ways complacence find."
Thus I embolden'd spake, and freedom us’d
Permissive, and acceptance found, which gain'd
This answer from the gracious Voice Divine
""Thus far to try thee, Adam, I was pleas'd,
And find thee knowing not of beasts alone,
Which thou hast rightly nam'd, but of thyself,
Expressing well the spirit within thee free,
My image, not imparted to the brute,
Whose fellowship therefore unmeet for thee
Good reason was thou freely shouldst dislike,
And, be so minded still; I, ere thou spak’st,
Knew it not good for Man to be alone,
And no such company as then thou saw'st
Intended thee, for trial only brought,
To see how thou couldst judge of fit and meet:
What next I bring shall please thee, be assurd,
Thy likeness, thy fit help, thy other self,
Thy wish exactly to thy heart's desire."
'He ended, or I heard no more; for now
My earthly by his Heav'nly overpower'd,
Which it had long stood under, strain’d to the highth
In that celestial colloquy sublime,
As with an object that excels the sense,
Dazzld and spent, sunk down, and sought repair
Of sleep, which instantly fell on me, callid
By Nature as in aid, and clos'd mine eyes.
Mine eyes he clos'd, but op'n left the cell
Of Fancy my internal sight; by which
Abstract as in a trance methought I saw,
Though sleeping, where I lay, and saw the shape
Still glorious before whom awake I stood;
Who stooping op'nd my left side, and took
From thence a rib, with cordial spirits warm,
And life-blood streaming fresh; wide was the wound,
But suddenly with flesh filld up and heald:
The rib he form’d and fashion’d with his hands;
Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Manlike, but different sex, so lovely fair,
That what seem'd fair in all the world , seem'd now
Mean, or in her summ’d up, in her contain'd
And in her looks, which from that time infus’d
Sweetness into my heart, unfelt before,
And into all things from her air inspir'd
The spirit of love and amorous delight.
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 Heav'nly Maker, though unseen,
And guided by his voice; nor uninform'd
Of nuptial sanctity, and marriage rites:
Grace was in all her steps, Heav'n 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 retird, 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 bow'r I led her blushing like the morn: all Heav'n,
And happy constellations on that hour
Shed their selectest influence; the Earth
Gave sign of gratulation, and each hill;
Joyous the birds; fresh gales and gentle airs
Whisper'd it to the woods, and from their wings
Flung rose, flung odours from the spicy shrub,
Disporting, till the amorous bird of night
Sung spousal, and bid haste the ev'ning star
On his hill top, to light the bridal lamp.'
ALEXANDER'S FEAST; OR THE POWER OF MUSIC.
A SONG IN HONOUR OF ST. CECILIA'S DAY, 1697.
'Twas at the royal feast, for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son:
Aloft, in awful state,
The god-like hero sate
On his imperial throne:
His valiant peers were placed around,
Their brows with roses and with myrtle bound
So should desert in arms be crowned.
The lovely Thais by his side
Sat, like a blooming Eastern bride,
In flower of youth and beauty's pride.
Happy, happy, happy pair!
None but the brave deserves the fair.
Timotheus, placed on high
Amid the tuneful quire,
With flying finger touched the lyre:
The trembling notes ascend the sky,