by William Cowper
SCENE I. -- The Flesh and Adam.
If in a bosom formed in lonely woods,
An amorous lure, the engine of deceit,
May wake a blazing spark,
And raise an inextinguishable fire;
This day to me shall shine a day of triumph,
When in desire's fierce flames
I shall behold that heart,
Which love's devouring flame yet has not touched.
And now if aught of potency resides
In golden tresses, or a breast of snow,
A radiant eye, a cheek of rose and lily,
And teeth of pearl, and lips that vie with coral,
In beauty, grace, allurements, arts, and gestures,
To make a wretched mortal heart their captive,
Such tresses, such a breast,
A cheek, and teeth, and lips,
And my intelligent engaging manners,
Will hold thee fettered in a thousand snares.
Behold, not distant far, the simple bird
I opportunely see,
Who for my tempting lure
His habitation quits, and his companion,
To fall at once by amorous deceit.
Oh, how to earth dejected,
He bends his watery eyes in deep affliction.
Thou art not yet transfixed
By my prevailing shaft, but now it seeks thee.
Dearest Adam, grieved and fainting,
Let my song thy spirit comfort!
And with thee,
O let me
Lead a life of true enjoyment!
Gentle Adam, son of glory,
Hearken, hearken! meek and humble
Sounds the artless song unpolished
That invites thee
But to kindness;
Give, Oh, give me ease and quiet,
Gentle Adam, son of glory!
But if thou with different feelings
Wish to wound this tender bosom,
See it naked!
Strike! Oh, cruel,
Wherefore pause you? Haste to kill me!
By your hand I fall contented.
Adam. O thou all-seeing Lord,
If real grief may touch thee,
Survey the contrite sinner,
Who through his eyes distils his heart in tears.
No! of thy mercy do not close the hand,
Since what sustains me now must fall and perish
Behold, behold, dread Lord! unhappy man,
Who from the fatal fruit
Has to encounter all the snares of hell.
Defend him: his is thine, thine thou hast called him,
And having once been thine, thou must have loved him.
Go, full of terror and desire! I must
With the impetuous be meek and coy,
And with the timid bold, and urge him on,
Till love's keen canker-worm
Prey on the simple heart,
That never yet has felt the sting of passion.
Adam. Who may this be? alas, both hope and fear
Urge me to seek, and bid me still be silent.
This lowliness, and this affected coyness
With an undaunted lover, this presumption
With one more soft and timid, are so prevailing,
They seem two strong incentives
To kindle the fierce flame of love's desire,
Whence I a skilful mistress
Brandish my tongue,
And give a mortal wound.
Say why art thou so pensive,
O my most gentle Adam?
Adam. Restrain, restrain thy step
Whoe'er thou art, nor with thy songs inveigle
Him, who has only cause for ceaseless tears.
Without thy strict injunction,
Creature of noble semblance,
To stand aloof from thee
Grieves me; I want the courage to approach
The flowery bloom of thy engaging face,
Fearing lest serpents in thy radiant eyes,
With stings devoid of pity, pierce my heart.
But every bitter root
That leads thee to suspicion,
I from my breast will pluck, for know, I am,
The very soul of love, yes! of that love
Which has induced thy Maker
From nothing to make all:
And since in that debased
Condition into which thy sorrows sunk thee,
This love alone can draw thee,
To the low world I took my flight from heaven.
Perchance thou mayest suppose, enjoying love,
That thou must therefore lead a savage life,
A lover of the brutes;
No, no, adorning all thy form with flowers,
And wearing on thy locks a wreath of palm,
Thou shalt enjoy a vest of gold and silver,
Such as I wear, and such as high in heaven
The radiant tissue shines, when sun and moon
Weave their united rays.
Thine eyes shall sparkle with resplendent fire,
On thy warm cheek a graceful blush shall glow,
And when in ecstasy thy lip is pressed,
Its richer hue shall make the coral pale.
Say at the very sound dost thou not feel
Thy heart dissolve in amorous joy? I see
Thou art delighted, Adam.
Adam. I love, in truth I love,
But only burn with love
For my almighty Maker.
The soul alone can love,
Can love this heavenly lord:
But in these sublunary woodland scenes,
Love has delights of a corporeal kind.
Adam. The love thou speakest of it is mine to prove
With my beloved consort.
Yes! that is true; yet only sons of death
Can spring from your affection.
Adam. Sad fruit of my offence!
Ah, but immortal children
From me shall spring, if thou wilt yield to me.
Amidst these herbs and flowers
Be ours sublimest love!
Simple! extend thy hand,
Behold, and touch my breast that thou wilt find
Far different from the breast of mortal Eve.
If thou wilt love, shall I not make thee worthy
Of the unbounded joy
To steal thee from thyself? Ah come, ah come,
To this pure bosom that I show thee, Adam!
Oh, say to me, I love thee!
Perchance thou mayest believe,
Each man to spring from thee
Ought to be happy with a single woman;
Each woman too contented
To love one man alone!
Simple, if such thy thought:
For all the sweets of love
Become more poignant by the change of lovers,
See how each animal, that dwells on earth,
Leads a delicious life,
By changing its affection;
And thou, sole sovereign of each living creature,
Shalt thou content thee with a single lover?
Adam. Let sorrow's flame convert my heart to ashes
Rather than it may burn with double love!
Hence then! depart! for a blind mole am I
To all thy proffered beauty;
And truly in thy presence
I feel no touch of love.
O thou most icy heart!
Now kindle with the flame of my affection.
Behold this ample cavern of the earth;
Lo, it was made for love; whate'er it holds
Within its spacious circuit,
Of love perceives the fire.
Love rules the earth, the sea, the air, and fire,
With endless love a hundred genial stars,
Not moving from their sphere,
Scatter their flames through heaven;
And other wandering planets
Through those exalted regions
Direct their golden steps.
What river, fount, or stream,
Unconscious flows and destitute of love?
What frozen sea does love not penetrate
With his imperious ardour?
What glowing ocean does not oft discover
A visage pale and wan,
As if infirm with love?
What flower, what plant, or stone,
Wishes for love in vain, of love deprived?
Whate'er inhabits heaven, or earth, or sea,
Burns in the flame of love.
Behold that sportive bird of painted wing,
That goes with fluttering joy from bough to bough,
And in his song declares he sings of love!
Behold the sweet and oft repeated kisses
Of those two doves, what dost thou think of them?
Of love they are the kisses.
The beauteous peacock see,
That gaily fondles his attractive mate;
He whirls the plume of love.
Hear you that nightingale, does she not mourn?
Now does she not exult? now 'tis her joy
With her melodious warble
To stun the valleys, and make glad the hills.
Simple, what dost thou think?
'Tis love that makes her tuneful.
Behold that river with its banks of flowers,
Its stream of purest silver,
And of fine gold its sand;
Behold, dost thou not see within its bosom
A thousand fishes glide?
They lead the dance of love.
Behold that sportive goat, that butting runs
Exulting o'er the plain,
His conflicts are from love.
Look there, and see amidst a thousand folds
Those close entwisted snakes,
That in a single being seem combined:
Coy Adam, even these
Weave the close web of love,
Behold, at length where yonder clustering vine
Her amorous arms around the elm extends,
She also burns with love.
Even that flower, that ever courts the sun,
Thus in its glances speaks,
I dart the glance of love!
And thou unmelting soul! wilt thou alone,
Wilt thou disdain to feel
That which all creatures prove?
Nought can resist my golden pungent dart,
Nor air, nor fire, nor sea, nor earth, nor heaven.
SCENE II. -- Lucifer, The Flesh, and Adam.
Now burn with love, and bless the fond desire
Of her, whom the Creator
Made blazing all with love.
Adam. And who art thou, whose thick and bushy locks
And beard of silver shade thy head and face?
Lucifer. Adam, I am a man; I am thy brother,
But of a higher rank;
Since I have drawn the vital air of heaven,
Thou in this lower world;
For well thou knowest, that station
Affords an airy grandeur to our birth.
In years too I surpass thee;
My voice too, and my language
Declare me old, as these my locks of silver:
Now if all elder things
Are deemed superior to their successors,
In this merit must be more than thine.
Adam. How I should answer thee, my tongue knows not,
Thou lofty Lord of Heaven!
Since my sad error with so thick a cloud
Of ever-during fear
O'ershades my eyes and heart.
Lucifer. Oh, Adam, do not fear!
Wait thou a little! soon
That shall be known to thee, which now is hid:
All for thy good alone,
And to save man from many griefs and pains.
Lucifer. Now, Adam, understand,
How having made me in his lofty heaven,
He next created thee;
For a new wish he formed
To make another man, and give the world
To be his grateful residence, and then
Clay he made flesh, and of that flesh made man:
Then from the side of man he woman drew,
And then ordained the law
Prohibiting the apple,
Which if he tasted, man
Must be deprived of his celestial home.
Hence is it thou hast felt,
Hence is it thou hast seen
Clouds rolling through the air,
And fiery scintillations in the sky.
Rebellowing thunder and its rattling bolts,
And the tempestuous crash.
These mournful pomps of horror,
Say, say, what canst thou think
That they portend below to new-made man?
All these appeared in heaven, because from heaven
Now the celestial Adam is dislodged.
As to terrestrial man,
(As if the world would drive him from the world,)
The earth itself grew barren,
And every fruit grew harsh,
The waters full of turbulence and gall,
And every creature sharpened
His beak, or tusk, or talon.
Behold at last, O heaven! a pair of brothers,
The citizens of earth.
O Adam, do not grieve,
That I by fault of thine have now lost heaven,
Since to have haply found
Thee, my beloved brother,
Now makes me not to feel the loss of heaven;
And happy we will live
In this, a sylvan, and a sunny scene.
Or emulous of heaven, in God's own heaven
Raised to a noble seat,
I will, that we ascend,
And underneath our feet
Joy to behold the congregated choirs,
Even like the blessed choirs,
The children of this man.
Now if we wish success to our desires,
And should delight to see
Springing like grass, and frequent as the flowers,
Our children rapidly arise to light,
Turn we our eyes and heart
To this fair goddess of delightful love
For easy 'tis to her
To form in sweet array the troops we wish.
A plant so sweetly fruitful
Is not; nor is the Earth herself so fertile;
Nor does it raise so soon
Its nutritive production,
As she will raise, if we are so disposed,
The fruit of lovely children.
Then to the lily whiteness
Of her enchanting cheek
Advance the living roses of the lip!
And of so sweet a flower
For this love's goddess let us form a garland!
Oh, to the living ruby,
Of this sweet fount of kisses,
If he for kisses thirst,
The hart of love shall run,
There bathe his thirsty lip,
And there on kisses quench his mighty ardour.
Why this delay, O Adam?
Approach, approach, my heart!
Satiate thy thirst of love!
Lucifer. What! dost thou fear, and tremble?
Now let the empty cloud
Of all thy vain suspicion
Disperse before the sun of heavenly truth!
Extend, extend thy arms
And in one dear embrace encircle both!
Happy who pants for thee! alas, what dost thou?
At once thou givest, and again drawest back
Thy blandishments, like lightning,
That in appearing flies and vanishes.
Adam. What fear assaults my heart I cannot tell,
But feel that like a timid deer I pant
At the dire barking of bloodthirsty hounds.
SCENE III. -- Cherubim, Guardian of Adam, Adam, The Flesh, and Lucifer.
Cherubim. 'Tis time to succour man: Alas! what dost thou,
Most miserable Adam!
Lucifer. Why dost thou silent stand? what are thy thoughts?
Adam. I seemed to hear a plaintive, pleasing voice,
That in this manner spoke: Alas! what dost thou,
Most miserable Adam?
A vain desire, and dread
Now lords it o'er thy heart.
Cherubim. Since thy heart trembles, evils must be nigh.
Adam. I tremble at deceit.
Lucifer. Thou must have lost thy reason,
If thou canst fear thy mistress, and thy brother.
Cherubim. Fear! for they are thy foes.
Adam. Thou sayest thou art my brother, and she my mistress?
But if ye were my foes? --
Cruel to treat us so!
What enemy can man now have on earth?
Cherubim. The enemy of Eve.
Adam. He, who occasioned misery to Eve,
And he, who was the cause, that from this brow
The painful sweat must now descend in streams.
Lucifer. So little wilt thou trust us?
So lightly dost thou love us?
Yet it is thy fault
Call forth the tears to flow into thy bosom.
With treachery 'tis fit to treat with man
In gesture, tears, and voice,
Only to plunge him in Tartarean fires.
Adam. They weep in such abundance,
That every tear they shed, strikes on my bosom;
And though like marble hard,
I fear, I fear, that if it does not split,
It may at least be softened.
Angel. These are the poisonous waters of Avernus,
(Incautious man!) that from their eyes distil.
Lucifer. Ah Heaven! why didst thou form me?
Why didst thou join my lot
With this ungrateful, misbelieving Adam,
That feels not his own good, or my affliction?
Adam. Restrain thy grief, thy tears! and suffer me,
(If it is true, thy soul desires my good,)
To speak to thee apart,
And I to thee will open all my thoughts.
Lucifer. Hast thou no other wish?
Adam. No! I require no more.
Lucifer. Behold us now apart! behold us far!
If any other wish
Strike thee, command! behold! we are obedient
Not to thy words alone, but to thy nod.
Adam. What wouldst thou, O my heart?
What is thy wish, my soul?
Now quiet thy desires! quiet thy pains!
Cherubim. Tell him, if he's thy brother,
And both descendents from the starry sphere,
They should with thee, in pure and perfect zeal,
Adore the Maker of the heaven and earth.
Adam. That which my heart suggests, I now will do.
O tempter! now I fear
Some singular mischance.
Cherubim. Now, now the fraud is known.
Adam. Now, brother, if you wish,
With this your pure celestial paramour,
Hailed as the soul of love,
That I should think the one a heavenly Adam,
And her the only love of your great Maker,
Now bend with me your humble knees to earth!
Lucifer. How in one instant can two opposites,
Humility and pride,
Together reign in me?
Adam. Can Adam so delay?
Lucifer. I'll tell thee; ah, it seems a thing unfit
That a celestial knee
Should bend to this vile earth.
Adam. Thou hast already told me,
That in the high celestial plains above
Thou must no longer dwell,
But here with me enjoy delightful days,
Amid these sunny spots;
Let it not then displease thee
With earthly habitudes
To have thy breast, O Adam! fraught like mine!
Well dost thou speak, O Adam! I am ready
To pay thee prompt obedience.
Lucifer. And I will also show,
This fair one's pleasure shall my pleasure be.
Adam. Behold I bow myself! behold me bend!
Now let united hands be raised to heaven.
Lucifer. To make palm meet with palm, in vain we strive.
Adam. In truth there seems much pain.
Lucifer. Perhaps you wish
Our hands united thus?
Adam. No! what,-- do you not see
That both united form a knot together,
Finger entwisting finger?
Perhaps you choose them thus?
Adam. Alas! the example,
That with my hands before your eyes I show you,
Serves it so little? heavens! what do I see?
So destitute of sense
Are heavenly creatures?
Lucifer. Now behold them joined.
In truth I cannot tell,
If Hell this day more tries the strength of Adam,
Or Adam more torments the powers of Hell.
Lucifer. Vigour, soul! animation!
For in proportion as our strife is bloody
So will our palm of conquest rise in glory.
Adam. Why do you thus apart
In such confusion speak?
Now raise your eyes to heaven,
And with delight contemplate
Of all those starry sapphires
The pure resplendent rays,
And those fair blessed seats!
Alas, thou shutt'st thine eyes,
That stream upon the ground.
Lucifer. O Adam, cease at length!
Those rays so splendid dazzle us too much.
Adam. This is my foe: I now discern him well.
The eagle of the sun
Is used with pleasure on the sun to gaze;
And tho, a heavenly eagle,
Accustomed to the brightest rays of heaven,
Dost thou disdain, or shun them
Dazzled, and in confusion?
Who knows what splendours in high heaven are kindled?
He, who surveys them oft,
Is satiated at last;
There's nought created so divine and dear,
That in long intercourse becomes not tiresome.
Adam. Celestial good ne'er satiates, but delights,
And magnifies itself in God's perfection;
As the fair landscape's beauty
(Though 'tis a low example)
Becomes more perfect, and more flowery seems,
When the sun gilds the valleys and the hills.
But as I wish what ye too both desire,
Now let your eyes be closed
And with your opening lips pronounce these words:
"Thee I adore."
Lucifer. Go on!
Adam. Say then, "Thee I adore."
Lucifer. Go on! for such a memory have I,
That by a single effort
I will repeat thy words.
Adam. I am contented;
Yet thou observe my words! Thee I adore,
Thus with my knees to earth, and streaming eyes,
Lord of the empyrean!
Great sovereign of the heavens, and only God!
Holy, firm, formidable, just, and pious!
And still dost thou delay?
Lucifer. I meditate thy speech,
Which to me seems so long,
I doubt my power to speak it.
Adam. Shall I again pronounce it?
Lucifer. This I cannot desire
But find a great defect
In this imploring speech.
Adam. Pray tell me what?
Lucifer. No humble worshipper, not the adorer,
But the adored, 'tis just that I should be.
Alas! I can no longer
Such outrages endure:
No! who I am, I must at length reveal.
Alas! the same thing even I must do.
Adam. Alas! what do I see?
What horrid form, amidst the clustering trees,
Does this false denizen of heaven assume?
And his immodest partner?
Alas! their winged feet
The false ones move to me,
And from their pomp and gold,
Breathe forth infuriate flame!
Succour me! help, O God!
Take pity on my failing!
Lucifer. Fly, as thou canst, from these my rapid
Thy flying must be vain.
Alas! to my great grief, this day I see
Who has the prize of conquest,
Who soonest yields, and from his rival flies.
So that I well can say
To the eternal gulf,
That in this hard and perilous contention,
The toil belongs to Hell; to man the glory.
I lose, alas! I lose: now with what face
Can this my foot be turned again to hell?
Ah! sad and dire event! ah strife! ah death!
Lucifer. Yes, yes, 'tis just, that my infernal rage
Should all now turn on me,
Since I have vainly tried
To work the condemnation of this man.
But can this be? ah! (hard is my belief,)
Cherubim. Thou canst not mount, fierce monster!
I affirm it,
By this high brandished dart of penal fire.
Lucifer. Ah, for the seats of hell
I spread my rapid wings.
Cherubim. And I these happier wings lucid and light,
Will exercise around
For man's protection, and in scorn of hell.
SCENE IV. The World.
How fine I now appear! no more I seem
A monster now of horror,
But a lofty spot
The blissful habitant, and called The World;
That so adorned and splendid,
Amidst thy prime delights,
Laughter, and songs, and amorous affections,
My snares of silver, and my nets of gold
I may extend for man,
That he may slide and fall, to rise no more;
And try in vain to heaven
Again to rise upon the wings of zeal.
And should he seem for ever
Bent to survey the lovely azure heaven,
The sun's bright lustre, and the lunar ray,
And trembling stellar fires,
I will delude him so
With other lovely skies, that from the first
Quick he shall turn his view.
I will, that my fair heaven
Shall be of living sapphire: there shall shine
A sun of bright pyropus, and a moon
Formed of the beamy diamond's spotless light.
A thousand and a thousand sparkling stars,
Of jewels rich and rare;
And if amidst this lightning it may thunder,
And burning bolts may seem to dart around,
My lightning be the ruby,
My thunder sounding silver,
With thunderbolts of gold, and storms of pearl!
As a proud sovereign of so rich a heaven,
The World shall still exult,
And this a new man shall bend to me in worship;
And thus of these my pomps,
My luxuries, and joys,
The numerous sons of man, become enamoured,
Shall never know repose;
But with destructive force
Each shall endeavour of his wretched brother
To gain the envied finery and wealth.
Man I behold already for this gold,
And for the world's delights,
In horrid mansion full of smoke and fire,
Tempering the deadly steel;
Now at the anvil, see!
How striking frequent with his iron mace,
He forms his coat of mail; makes it his vest,
And for destruction draws the blade of steel.
Another, see! converting
Cold iron into fire,
Tapers, and twists it round;
And now a hatchet forms; now see him eager
To level trees and woods,
And now, with numerous planks,
Behold him raise a work
Fit to sustain the fury of the sea.
Others I see toiling to pass o'er alps,
To pass o'er mountains, and the riven rock:
Leeches that prey on ore,
And from the earth's bosom suck great veins of gold.
Lo! others in the deep
Trying the fertile sea, plunge through the waves,
Fearless encountering its tempestuous pride,
If they from crusty shell, or craggy rock
May coral draw, or pearl.
Ah, labour as thou wilt, and sigh, or sweat
In this pursuit of gold,
Thy cares and woes shall gather in proportion
To all thy gathered wealth.
Lo! to preserve thy jewels and thy wealth,
And gold forbids thee to enjoy thy gold,
Hence treacherous we see
The servant to his lord,
And through the faithless sword,
Through eagerness of gold,
Hence on the table of a royal house
There stands the statue of a unicorn,
As if in scorn of man;
Since, giving safety to a mighty lord,
The beast exposes human cruelty.
Hence it is that the son,
Greedy of gold, becomes his father's foe,
Wishes him short existence,
Flies him, and steals his wealth,
So that to make him glad, his sire may pine.
Hence is it, that for gold,
Brothers, becoming frantic,
Brandish the hostile steel,
And deem this gold more precious than their blood.
Here by the blaze of gold
The eyes of woman dazzled
See not her husband, nor regard her children,
While on the wings of passion,
She with the adulterer flies, nor yet perceives
That for his gold (vile dust!)
She has resolved to quit her very flesh.
What more? what more? not only
By gold's possession thou shalt prove the foe
Of wife, of father, brother, and of friend,
But rebel even to God;
Since with intemperate zeal
Mere idols formed of gold,
Thou shalt proclaim the only powers of heaven.
But what do I behold? blest that I am!
I see fair Eve approach! on her soft back
Bearing a load of many leafy boughs;
What she now means to do
Here will I watch, concealed amidst this bower.
SCENE V. -- Eve and The World.
Eve. Canst thou presume, afflicted, wretched Eve,
To the bright sun to raise again thine eyes?
No! no! thou art unworthy well thou seest:
Thou couldst behold him once,
And gaze delighted on his golden splendour:
Now if thou darest to view him,
His radiance dazzles thee; rather thou seemest,
When thou hast dared to meet his potent beams,
To have thy fading eyes
Wrapt in a dusky veil.
Alas! it is too true,
That I in darkness dwell,
And in the formidable clouds of sin
I have o'erwhelmed the light of innocence.
Ah! wretched, mournful Eve!
If now thou turn'st thy foot,
Eager to taste the pure and limpid stream,
Alas, how troubled dost thou find the water,
Or else the fountain dry!
If with quick appetite thou chance to turn,
Anxious from lovely plants to pluck the fruit,
How dost thou find it crude,
Or made the dark recess of filthy worms!
Or weary, 'midst the flowers
Thou seek'st to close thine eyes,
Behold! with fluttering pinions at thy feet,
A serpent 'midst the flowers darts and hisses.
Now to avoid the heat
Of the fierce sun if thou wouldst seek the shade
Of the thick wood, or of the leafy grove,
Thou tear'st the rage of monsters, and must tremble
Like the light leaf that shakes at every breeze.
And hence it is thy wish
To fasten bough to bough, and trunk to trunk,
Raising some safe asylum
From serpents, monsters, tempests, and the sun.
To you then will I turn me, verdant boughs,
That hither on my back with toil I bore,
Do you defend me now! now rise you here,
Afford a safe retreat
To Eve so wretched! Lo! I thus begin.
It will suffice, if I with tender hand
Just shadow, what with far superior strength
And more enlightened sense,
The sinner, Adam, here may terminate.
Abode more firm and faithful,
Hell now prepares for thee, or rather Death.
Behold, behold, how she
Employs herself in placing these green boughs!
To Eve I will unveil me :-- Ah! what dost thou?
Why art thou raising thus,
Eve, gentle fair one, these thy leafy boughs?
Tell me, what wouldst thou do,
Why dost thou toil and sigh?
Eve. Alas! what do I see?
Do not approach me! no! from me be far!
What canst thou fear, O lovely,
Sweet angel of the earth?
Joy of all hearts, and honour of the world?
Eve. Thou Lord, who didst create me,
This stranger, who now rich in gold and gems
Courteous accosts me with a human face,
Do thou to me reveal;
Nor let our God consent,
That Eve again, or man,
Precipitately fall in fatal error!
Alas! with human face
An artful base deceiver
Let me to taste the interdicted apple;
And thence my heart must dread
Other infernal guile,
Since in the world one man alone exists.
Before my light, as at the radiant sun
Darkness itself is used to disappear,
Drive from thy heart this cloud,
That makes thy visage pale;
And from the lovely cave of glowing rubies,
Now closed to guard, as in the depth of Ganges,
The treasure of inestimable pearls,
Send forth thy tender sighs;
And if, thou fair one, 'tis thy wish to sigh,
Let all thy sighs be sweet!
Eve. And who art thou, so eager
To change the tears of woman into smiles?
Know, gentle fair one, you in me behold
As much as you can see,
Raising your eyes to heaven,
Or turning them to earth;
An indigested mass,
Chaos I once was called, now fair and fine,
Heaven, earth, and sea salute me as The World.
I too have had my residence amidst
The miracles above;
But oh! a fault of mine,
Which now to tell thee would be out of season,
Induced the sacred Resident above
From his eternal doom in wrath to drive me;
And from a bright and fine
Trophy of Paradise,
Into a shapeless mass
Of hideous matter he converted me,
At last my mighty Maker, having seen
That my condition balanced my offence,
Bestowed upon me soon another form,
Far from his highest heaven, and thus at once
Annihilated that tremendous prison,
Dreary and dark; he made me in exchange
The luminous gay World.
Eve. Alas! my first alarm
So deeply wounds, and lords it o'er my heart,
I know not what to credit, what to do.
Now, since there's nothing that to me affords
Such infinite disgust,
As to behold aught dirty and neglected,
I pray thee, lovely fair, be it thy study
With purple, gold, and robes adorned with pearl,
To grace thy gentle form, and cast to earth
Those skins of animals that shock the sight.
Observe how much more pleasing and majestic
Man may be rendered by graceful dress!
Compared to me, dost thou not seem a beast?
Rather among the beasts
Dost thou not seem the vilest animal?
Dost thou not see, that every abject creature,
Or of the foaming sea,
Or of the fields of the air,
Or of the woods and mountains,
Are decked with humid scales,
Gay feathers, shaggy skins, or painted bristles?
And if on earth thou wert created naked,
Yet well arrayed with reason
Appeared thy noble soul, by which thou mightest
(Made empress of the world)
Deck thee with radiant gems, and robes of gold.
Too vile a mansion are the woods for thee,
In nakedness surpassing even the beasts.
For what end dost thou think,
The great exalted hand
Created in a moment
Gold, silver, and rich gems?
Perchance, perchance thou thinkest
It may be right, that these
Bright wonders of the world
Rest ever buried in a blind oblivion.
No! no! thou simpleton, it is that man,
Sweating in their pursuit,
May decorate himself; and as the sun
Flames in full splendour in a sapphire sky,
Or 'mid the stars of gold
The bright and silvery moon,
He thus may glitter in this earthly heaven.
What more! behold what gems the sea conceals,
Or the rich earth embraces,
Which, tempting man to joy,
Display their rare endowments;
Whence it is just to say,
They were for man created; and if blind
Through ignorance he slights them,
Or shows himself ungrateful,
Why has such treasure been for man created?
Shall it be true, that you, the sovereign fair,
The gentle ruler of this worldly realm,
Can prove to God ungrateful? to the World
Like earth's vile offspring? Rise! assume this gold,
Like topaz, ruby, pearls, and splendid purple,
Bright robes of gold, and rich habiliments!
In worldly trophies like our lofty queen
Shine, Eve, and let all creatures worship thee:
Oh, how in viewing thee, thou radiant fair,
Covered with gems and gold,
I seem to joy! Oh, how,
While you majestically move along,
The flowers appear before your feet to weave
A sweet impediment!
Rather I seem to see the stars from heaven
Here for your feet to form a bright support.
What dost thou, pensive fair?
Now of thy radiant locks, that stream at length,
A string of jewels, of fine threads you weave,
For hearts a net of gold.
Now let a charming smile
Enliven thy sweet cheek!
Then shalt thou hear in accents of delight
The birds around miraculously say,
"Oh, what a lip of coral!
And what fair teeth of pearl,
Has Eve's sweet mouth, so delicately small!
How sweet is her discourse,
That seems to be below, what, in high heaven,
The voice of God is to the blessed host."
Arise, arise! be warm,
Thou spring of tenderness, and flame of souls!
Come! leave! Oh, leave the woods
To creatures of the forest;
And with resplendent brass,
And snowy shining marble,
Let a proud palace now be raised to heaven,
To form a worthy mansion for thy merit!
The World will find not difficult. That wood,
Which you have wished to join,
Fearing the fury of the savage beasts,
Let that now form a seat
With walls of silver, and a roof of gold,
Of emerald its pillars,
And hung on golden hinges, gates of pearl!
Eve. O heaven! what do I see? what's this, O God?
What hast thou more to say? Ah, simple, enter
With light and speedy foot, there, where alone
Thou findst a fit abode!
Then wilt thou truly be of thy great Maker,
The image and ingenious imitator,
Since he among so many
Legions in heaven, as much as he excels them
In majesty, so much himself he raised
On his exalted throne, in highest heaven.
Thus here below let man amid these tribes
Of fishes and of birds,
And of unnumbered beasts,
Possess a mansion worthy
Both of his name and empire!
Eve. In truth when I behold your mighty pomps,
That might so soon be counted as my own,
I will not say that my high heart feels not
The goading of ambition; but in turning
My eyes upon the precept of my Father,
Will disdain, and from your proffers fly,
As from vile dirt the snowy ermine flies.
And this poor skin alone
Shall be my golden robe adorned with pearl;
A cave my proud abode;
The troubled water and rude herbs to me,
Dear beverage and food.
No! no! I will not to my first dread fault
Now add a second like it; making thus
A path more recent to the gulf of ruin:
O simple fair, come forth!
Come forth, ye fair and gentle virgins all.
From this my golden palace!
Be you devoted handmaids
Around this fair, and 'midst your tuneful songs
Present to her rich robes, adorned with gold!
SCENE VI. -- Chorus of Nymphs, Eve, The World, and Adam.
Behold in dance, O joyful World,
See these maidens,
With their treasure bright and cheerful;
Hearken now how they are singing;
Eve alone invoke, and honour!
See their robes with gold inwoven;
See their vestments
From the treasure of their jewels!
Bright the crown, and rich the sceptre,
That to Eve is now presented.
If in heaven, nor sun nor planet
Shed its ardour
And its radiance,
Heaven would be a mass of horror;
But with light so pure and radiant
Heaven is termed the seat of splendour.
He, who made so many wonders,
Fair and beauteous,
All that's fair to have before him:
Deck thyself then, O thou coy one,
If thy God delights in beauty.
Adam. What dost thou, Eve, not see
That if uncautious to these charms thou yieldest,
We shall sink deeper in the snares of hell?
Eve. Alas! what do I hear?
Adam. Hence, ye rebellious crew!
By virtue of my God depart confounded,
To the infernal realms!
Chorus. Ah, thou must then avoid this light of day,
Thou sightless mole of hell!
Ah flesh infected!
Await, O yet await
Fit punishment to your presumptuous rage!
And hast thou dared so highly,
Thou creature of corruption,
That this bright palace which for Eve I raised,
Speaking thou hast engulfed,
And from the day has banished
A numerous group of fair and graceful nymphs.
Come forth, now all come forth,
Ye horrid monsters, from the caves of hell!
Let us this hour display
Our utmost fortitude, and force supreme.
Now let this man be chained;
Fix him a prisoner in the depths of hell,
And let his victor reap the glory due.
Eve. Succour, O God! O succour!
Lord, show thy mercy to my great offence!
Adam. Ah, do not fear, my love,
But hope, still hope in Heaven; hope, for at last
Celestial grace was never slow to save.
SCENE VII. -- Lucifer, Death, The World, and Chorus of Demons, armed with various Arms.
Lucifer. Thou fool, in vain thou toilest
To invocate high heaven; thy God may arm,
If he is not abased, and with him arm
His flying warriors all,
From our infernal chains
And these sharp talons, now to draw thee forth;
To his first loss, and first discomfiture,
A second like the first shall soon be joined.
Of his supernal loss has he not healed
The painful memory,
The ruin of his Angels?
That now, inflamed with anger,
He seeks in heaven another mightier ruin?
To arms! at length to arms,
Satanic warriors all!
And let his wretched residue of Angels,
All falling out of heaven,
Be all engulfed in hell!
Lo, meteors in the air and storms at sea
I kindle and I raise:
Lo, Tartarus his wings
Spreads for celestial seats:
Behold the stars of God
By Lucifer's proud foot crushed and extinguished;
And girt for war and glory,
Let Tartarus through heaven proclaim a triumph!
SCENE VIII. -- Archangel Michael, Chorus of Angels, Chorus of Demons.
Michael. Tremble, thou son of wrath,
At his sharp dart's inevitable glance,
At the dread stroke of the celestial leader;
Not against God, against thyself alone,
Thou raisest wrath, and wounding wound'st thyself.
Sink into shade, misguided, wretched spirit!
Utterly void of all angelic light,
Be blind in gazing on that heavenly lustre
To me imparted by the Lord of light,
The dazzler of the sun.
Fly, ye infected crew,
Ye enemies of God,
Nor let the breathing whirlwind,
With blast from hell, the yet unruined life
Of man o'erwhelm with deeper shades of darkness.
No more thy fatal hiss, thou snake of hell,
Shall by its discord stun;
Since pierced and panting now
Thou faintest, poisoned by thy own contagion.
Lucifer. Heaven's talking minister,
With rays more loaded than inspired with courage;
Soft creature of the sky,
Thou angel of repose,
In solemn indolence,
Humility's calm nest, a seat of peace,
A warrior but in name,
Whose countenance is fear, whose heart confusion;
Spread, spread thy pinions for the arms of God,
Take refuge there, and there be confident!
For too unequal would the combat be
'Twixt cowardice and valour,
The warrior of the slave,
Infirmity and strength, and let me say,
Betwixt vile Michael and brave Lucifer.
But if such daring can inflame thy heart,
As now to rescue from this warlike arm
That man, mere flesh and clay,
That animated dust, I warn thee well
Of mortal conflict sharp, where thou shalt see,
By this avenging hand
All the large family of God extinguished.
Michael. Such mournful victory,
O Belial, in thy frenzy desperate,
As once in heaven thou gain'st, now with mankind
Subduing the deceived,
And hence the conquered conquers,
Freed is the captive, and thyself ensnared.
Now be it manifest
What palms of victory 'tis thine to raise.
Behold against thee, thou unfaithful spirit,
Michael become compassionately cruel.
Lucifer. If at the early sound of war, the first
Encounter of our arms,
'Twas given a mighty warrior to destroy
A third part of the stars,
See in what brief assault
I can demolish the great seat of God!
Be dazzled now before this warlike blaze,
That from the brow of death I now diffuse,
Whirling in bloody circle
From my high front these death-denouncing comets!
Behold, behold at length
Heaven yields no more a refuge to its angels!
Since to a fate more joyous
A happy pass expands, and seems to say
Begone, at length begone,
Ye frightened angels, now relinquish heaven:
The warrior doomed to hell
Becomes the blessed lord of these bright seats.
Michael. Why longer pause to crush the proud loquacity
Of this presumptuous and insulting rebel?
Soon with a pen of adamant, with striking
Dread characters of blood,
Within the volume of eternal woe
The glory shall be blazoned
Of thy lost victory.
To arms! at length to arms,
To spread dismay through hell!
Joy, Man! smile, Heaven; and Tartarus, lament!
Lucifer. Seldom upon the vaunting
Of a proud tongue too bold
Boldness of hand attends. To arms! to arms!
Thou fight with me; and you, my followers, all
Transperse and put to flight this abject crew,
The timid partisans
Of an unwarlike leader!
Ah! him who favours brief and endless shame
Possessed in heaven, and now on earth displayed
Great fortitude but with unequal force,
Him a celestial stroke
Now drives confounded to the blind abyss;
And justice here decrees,
That he who lost the fight should lose the sun.
Angels and God, at length ye are triumphant!
Now, now is Lucifer
O'erwhelmed, and all his legion
Sinks from the light of day to endless night.
Michael. Fall thou at length, fall wounded and subdued,
Fierce monster of the shades,
To death's deep horrors, there be doomed to die
By an immortal death!
Nor hope thy wings to heaven
Ever to spread again, that wish, too bold
For thee, so desperate and unrepenting.
Thou'rt fallen, at length thou'rt fallen,
Most arrogant of monsters,
In pain thou sink'st as low,
As high in joy it was thy hope to soar.
Again thou learn'st to fall,
Transfixt with thunder, to the drear abyss.
Fool! thou hast wished to take this man thy captive,
And thou alone hast plunged
Within the deepest gulf:
Hence, pierced and overwhelmed,
Sinking to Tartarus
The flame of wrath eternal
Bore thee to hell, the hell of hottest fires.
A spotless angel, O thou prince of falsehood,
Thy folly hoped to put to flight and wound;
But thou, opposed to him
Hast yielded, plying thy winged feet in haste.
Thou too hast hoped to turn the spacious world,
In hostile flame, to ashes,
And at thy ardent blast and baleful breathing
Clouds, lightning, and tempestuous bursts of thunder,
With rattling deadly bolts of arrowy flame,
Rolled through the air, whence all the mountains shook,
And all the vales re-echoed in convulsion.
And yet, behold, in heaven
The spheres move round more musical than ever,
And all the azure sky
The lucid sun with brighter beam adorns;
Behold the ocean, tremulously placid,
And from his Persian gulf
In gay abundance scattering pearl and coral;
Nor weary are the sportive fish in gliding
Along the trembling sapphire.
Behold, what verdant and what flowery brows
These pleasant vales in exultation raise;
Hark, to the grateful accents
Of every flying songster,
Inhabitant of air,
That in his flight now gives
Voice to the woods and music to the vales.
Now, all rejoicing in a day so noble,
To the confusion of the shame of hell,
Let every spotless ensign rise to heaven,
And fluttering sport with the exulting winds;
Let all the instruments of heavenly glory
Sound through the sky the victories of heaven!
SCENE IX. -- Adam, Eve, Chorus of Angels.
O Sounds beloved, that call us now in joy,
To scenes we left in sorrow; ah! I fear
To taint the fragrance of the heavenly host,
Stained as I am with sin.
O thou, that haply of celestial ruby
Wearest the blazing mail,
Hallowed and brave Archangel,
Brave, yet compassionate, thy golden locks
Radiant as light, thy glittering helmet covers:
Thou in thy right hand shakest the spear of victory,
And raisest in thy left a golden balance;
Close, close thy painted plumes so rich in gold,
And cast a gentle look
On him who, prostrate, honours and adores thee.
Eve. O happy dawn of the eternal sun,
Thou courteous kind restorer,
To these my blinded eyes
With sorrow darkened, and bedewed with tears;
Now of thy rays, a fixt contemplator,
The mole of error stands;
Now on your voice depends
An asp, once deaf to heaven's most friendly dictates
I, wavering wanderer,
Who undissembling own
The fault in which I fell, to thee I bend,
Nor in my speech deny
That I am Eve, the cause
Of human-kind's perdition.
Now let thy guardian hand
(O in the deeds of God thou faithful servant!)
Relieve me from the depth
Of my so great offences.
Adam. Of heavenly mysteries
And secret will of God,
Thou hallowed blest revealer,
Angel of eloquence!
The fatal presages
Of mournful Eve and Adam
Now quiet with the breath
Of thy exalted converse;
So that this troubled flood
That strikes the heart, in issuing from the eyes,
No more may make me seem
A rock of sorrow in a sea of tears.
Michael. Arise, O both arise, you who of God
Are creatures so regarded,
Dismiss your fears of the infernal portent.
If your eternal Lord
Corrects you with one hand,
He with the other proffers your protection.
With happy auspices,
He who delivers souls,
On his light wings directs his flight to you,
In God's dread warfare harbinger of peace.
The mighty Fount of life,
The Artificer of souls,
The Architect of worlds,
The mighty Lord of heaven,
Maker of angels and of all things made,
The infinite Creator,
To safety summons you,
And to short war a lasting peace ordains.
Now from those double fountains
The warm and gushing streams
Of sorrow, Eve, restrain!
Thou hast been culpable
In rashly seizing the forbidden fruit;
To man thou hast occasioned
Anguish and grief; thou hast indeed converted
Peace into war, and life into perdition:
Now by the aid of Him,
Whose handmaid nature is, and servant fate,
Who can restrain the sun,
And motion give to this unmoving mass,
Even yet may Eve enjoy
In prison, liberty;
May be unbound, though fettered,
And triumph, while she is o'ercome, and vanquish.
Now, since there shines in heaven
The star of love and peace,
And to the shame of hell,
The victor to the vanquished yields his palm,
Ah, now let each, with humble eyes to heaven,
Incline the knee to earth,
And supplicant in prayer, give God the praise
Of goodness infinite;
For you shall find, to recompense your zeal,
That God your father is, your mansion heaven.
Adam. Thou mighty Lord, who resting high above,
With regulated errors
And with discordant union guidest heaven;
O of the fair eternal realms of light
Thou Lord immutable, resplendent power,
Thou dazzler and obscurer of the sun!
Now in these weeping eyes
And on this humid cheek
I dry my bitter tears, I cheer my heart.
Now, by thy zealous mercy,
Though spotted, I have safety;
Security in hazard, love in hate,
And sinking into hell,
And yet a citizen of highest heaven.
Eve. With dissolution life,
With strife and contest peace,
With ruin victory,
With deep offence salvation,
With powers of darkness heaven,
These to unite is not a human talent,
But of the eternal hand,
Omnipotence supreme; hence it is, Lord,
That wounded Eve is whole,
Triumphs in loss, and, though subdued, has glory.
My guide I will obey thee;
Since, O benignant Lord,
Thy service is dominion,
And to obey thee, glory
If pain allow not that I speak the pain
Which wounds my heart so deeply,
Thou most indulgent Father
Givest to the heart and soul a new existence:
Awakened by affliction,
Raising my voice to heaven,
I'll teach resounding echo
To carry to the sky my humble song,
Devoted to thy praise.
Michael. Ye victims cleansed by tears,
Ye martyrs in affliction,
Amidst your blessed pains,
Ye holocausts of life and of content!
Now call the stars no more
Vindictive; war is now
Converted into peace,
And death turned into life.
Hence mortal Adam is now made immortal,
And Eve, though dead in many parts, revives.
The potent fire of love,
In which the tender God of mercy blazes,
Inflames him with pure zeal to save the sinner.
Contend, resist, and bravely
Wage with the hostile Serpent constant war;
It is man's province now
To conquer Hell, and triumph over Death.
Creatures of grace! feel deeply now for ever,
That your most gracious Father
Would not direct towards the ground your face,
As he has made the brute, but up to heaven;
So that, for ever mindful of their source,
Your happy souls may point towards their home:
For your high realm of heaven
Is as a shining glass, in which of God
The glories ever blaze.
Inure yourselves to water, sun, and winds,
And in the stony caves,
In the most barren desert
That the sun visits when he blazes most,
There both exert your powers;
There many years and many,
United ye shall dwell in hallowed love;
And from your progeny henceforth the world
Exulting shall derive fertility.
And now to you, ye mortal pair, I promise,
As ye together sinned,
If ye in penitence have joined together,
Together e'en in Heaven,
In a corporeal veil
Contemplating the sacred face of God,
Ye shall enjoy the bliss of Paradise.
Adam. Greater than my offence I now acknowledge
Your mercy, O my God!
Since you, become the sovereign friend of man,
To him, though ruined, now extend your hand!
Eve. As I have known to sin,
So shall I know to weep;
For who in sinning knew forbidden joy,
Humble in punishment, should know to suffer.
Be mute, be mute, my tongue,
Speak thou within, my heart,
And say with words of love,
See how to mortals, even in perdition,
The hand of heavenly succour was extended!
Michael. At length, since now with joy
Man, being thus delivered
From hell's keen talon, feels unbounded transport,
And in his rapture deems
Earth turned to heaven, this world a paradise;
By these pure splendid dazzling rays of heaven,
By these delightful fires,
That in the light of God more lovely blaze.
Rich with new beams, and with new suns this day,
Day of festivity,
The day of paradise, rather a day
Blest in itself, and blessing every other!
Let all with festive joy
Of God's indulgence sing;
Of Adam and of Eve,
Now made on earth the denizens of heaven;
And let your tuneful songs
Become the wonder of futurity.
Move, let us move our feet
There, where this man shall now
Wash out his past offence
With humble, hallowed drops;
And of the mighty Maker
Praise we the love and mercy,
That in this day to man's envenomed wound
Suddenly gives his pity's healing aid;
Rejects him and receives,
Deeming his every wrong and error light;
And now at last with more beignant zeal,
And in despite of Satan,
Gives him, redeemed from Hell,
A seat amid the golden stars of Heaven.
Ye progeny of Adam,
Whose race we shall behold adorn the world,
Ye shall not pray in vain
To your high Lord, the fountain of all mercy.
Be leaves of that pure branch,
On which the Word Incarnate shall be grafted!
Thunder, infuriate Hell,
Be stormy! yet his leaf shall never fall:
To him a joyous offspring
Is promised by the Lord of heaven's great vineyard,
Stricken, transfixt, enkindled in a blaze,
And burning with eternal love for man.
Last updated January 14, 2019