« PreviousContinue »
His sentence beyond dust and nature's law,
By which all causes else according still
To the reception of their matter act,
Not to th' extent of their own sphere. But say
That death be not one stroke, as I suppos'd,
Bereaving sense, but endless misery
From this day onward, which I feel begun
Both in me, and without me, and so last
To perpetuity: Ay me, that fear
Comes thund'ring back with dreadful revolution
my defenceless head; both Death and I
Are found eternal, and incorporate both.
Nor I on my part single, in me all
Posterity stands curs'd: fair patrimony
That I must leave ye, Sons; O were I able
To waste it all myself, and leave ye none!
So disinherited, how would ye bless
Me, now your curse! Ay, why should all mankind
For one man's fault thus guiltless be condemn'd,
If guiltless? but from me what can proceed,
But all corrupt, both mind and will deprav'd,
Not to do only, but to will the same
With me? how can they then acquitted stand
In sight of GOD? Him after all disputes
Forc'd I absolve: all my evasions vain,
And reasonings, tho' through mazes, lead me still
But to my own conviction; first and last
On me, me only, as the source and spring
Of all corruption, all the blame lights due;
So might the wrath!
ADAM AND EVE EXPELLED
THE hour precise
Exacts our parting hence; and see the guards,
By me encamp'd on yonder hill, expect
Their motion, at whose front a flaming sword,
In single of remove, waves fiercely round:
We may no longer stay-go, waken Eve :
Her also I with gentle dreams have calm'd,
Portending good, and all her spirits compos'd
To meek submission: thou at season fit,
Let her with thee partake what thou hast heard,
Chiefly what may concern her faith to know,
The great deliverance by her seed to come
(For by the woman's seed) on all mankind:
That ye may live, which will be many days,
Both in one faith unanimous, though sad,
With cause for evils past, yet much more cheer'd
With meditation on the happy end.
He ended, and they both descend the hill; Descended, Adam to the bow'r, where Eve Lay sleeping, ran before, but found her wak'd; And thus with words not sad, she him receiv'd: "Whence thou return'st, and whither went'st, I know;
For GOD is also in sleep, and dreams advise,
Which he hath sent propitious, some great good
Presaging, since with sorrow and heart's distress
Wearied I fell asleep: but now lead on;
In me is no delay; with thee to go,
Is to stay here; without thee here to stay,
Is to go hence unwilling; thou with me
Art all things under Heav'n, all places thou,
my wilful crime art banish'd hence.
This further consolation yet secure
I carry hence; though all by me is lost,
Such favour I unworthy am vouchsaf'd,
By me the promis'd Seed shall all restore."
So spake our mother Eve, and Adam heard
Well pleas'd, but answer'd not; for now too nigh
Th' Arch-Angel stood, and from the other hill
To their fix'd station, all in bright array
The Cherubim descended; on the ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening mist
Ris'n from a river o'er the marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the lab'rer's heel
Homeward returning. High in front advanc'd
The brandish'd sword of GOD before them blaz'd
Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,
And vapour as the Libyan air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat
In either hand the hast'ning angel caught
Our ling'ring parents, and to th' eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappear'd.
They looking back, all th' eastern side beheld
Of paradise, so late their happy seat,
Wav'd over by that flaming brand, the gate
With dreadful faces throng'd, and fiery arms:
Some natural tears they dropt; but wip'd them soon.
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide:
They hand in hand, with wand'ring steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.
How is our reason to the future blind,
When vice enervates and enslaves the mind!
What sense suggests, how fondly we believe,
And with what subtility ourselves deceive!
Frail is our state, (th' ungodly cry) how few
The days of life, and yet how tedious too!
Death is our certain doom, in vain we strive
To stay the blow, and idly wish to live;
When once we to the grave descend, in vain
Hope ever to return, and breathe again.
Chance gave us birth, chance form'd our brittle
Nor know we how, or why, or whence we came:
Smoke is our breath, a spark our vital part,
That warms, and moves, and animates our heart,
Which once extinguish'd, we no more are seen;
Then shall we be, as if we ne'er had been.
Our works shall all in dark oblivion lie,
And with ourselves our very names shall die;
Silent, forgot, to nothing we repair,
To dust our bodies, and our souls to air.
We vanish like a cloud, that owes its birth To exhalations from the glowing earth, Drawn up, and painted by the solar rays, A beauteous being it awhile displays; But soon dissolv'd, its short-liv'd glory mourns, And to its parent earth in tears returns: View all the heavens around, nor can you find The path it pass'd, or mark its trace behind.