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Of every tree that in the garden grows
Eat freely with glad heart; fear here no dearth :
But of the tree whose operation brings
Knowledge of good and ill, which I have set
The pledge of thy obedience and thy faith,
Amid the garden by the tree of life,
Remember what I warn thee, shun to taste,
And shun the bitter consequence : for know,
The day thou eat'st thereof, my sole command
Transgress’d, inevitably thou shalt die,
From that day mortal; and this happy state
Shalt lose, expellid from hence into a world
Of woe and sorrow.” Sternly he pronounc'd
The rigid interdiction, which resounds
Yet dreadful in mine ear, though in my choice
Not to incur; but soon his clear aspect
Return'd, and gracious purpose thus renew'd.
“Not only these fair bounds, but all the Earth
To thee and to thy race I give; as lords
Possess it, and all things that therein live,
Or live in sea, or air ; beast, fish, and fowl.
In sign whereof, each bird and beast behold
After their kinds; I bring them to receive
From thee their names, and pay thee feälty
With low subjection; understand the same
Of fish within their watery residence,
Not hither summon'd, since they cannot change
Their element, to draw the thinner air."
As thus he spake, each bird and beast behold
Approaching two and two; these cowering low
With blandishment; each bird stoop'd on his wing-
I nam’d them, as they pass’d, and understood
Their nature, with such knowledge God endhed
My sudden apprehension : But in these
I found not what methought I wanted still;
And to the heavenly Vision thus presum’d.
O, by what name, for thou above all these,
Above mankind, or aught than mankind higher,
Surpassest far my naming; how may I
Adore thee, Author of this universe,
And all this good to man? for whose well being
So amply, and with hands so liberal,
Thou hast provided all things: But with me
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 brighten'd, thus replied.
What call'st thou solitude ? Is not the Earth
With various living creatures, and the air
Replenish'd, and all these at thy command
To come and play before thee? Know'st thou not 2
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 replied.
Let not my words offend thee, Heavenly Power; My Maker, be propitious while I speak. Hast thou not made me here thy substitute, And these inferiour far beneath me set ? Among unequals what society Can sort, what harmony, or true delight? Which must be mutual, in proportion due Given 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 the Almighty answer'd, not displeas'd. A nice and subtle happiness, I see, Thou to thyself proposest, in the choice Of thy associates, Adam! and wilt taste No pleasure, though in pleasure, solitary, What think'st thou then of me, and this my state ? Seem I to thee sufficiently possess'd. 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 inferiour, 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 multiplied
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, deified:
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 could'st judge of fit and meet:
What next I bring shall please thee, be assur'd,
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 heavenly 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
Dazzled and spent, sunk down; and sought repair
Of Sleep, which instantly fell on me, call'd
By Nature as in aid, and clos'd mine eyes.
eyes he clos’d, but open left the cell Of fancy, my internal sight; by which,