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As with a smile more brightened, thus replied:
"What call'st thou solitude? Is not the Earth With various living creatures, and the Air, Replenished, 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 seemed So ordering. I, with leave of speech implored, 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 inferior far beneath me set? Among unequals what society Can sort, what harmony or true delight? Which must be mutual, in proportion due Given and received; 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 combined: Much less can bird with beast, or fish with fowl, So well converse, nor with the ape; Worse, then, can man with beast, and least of all.'
“Whereto the Almighty answered, not displeased :: '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 possessed
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 ceased. I lowly answered: - '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,
Should’st 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 secrecy although alone,
Best with thyself accompanied, seek'st not
Social communication — yet, so pleased,
Canst raise thy creature to what highth thou wilt 430
Of union or communion, deified;
I, by conversing, cannot these erect
From prone, nor in their ways complacence find.'
Thus I emboldened spake, and freedom used
Permissive, and acceptance found; which gained
This answer from the gracious Voice Divine: -
“Thus far to try thee, Adam, I was pleased,
And find thee knowing not of beasts alone,
Which thou hast rightly named, 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 assured,
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 overpowered,
Which it had long stood under, strained 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, called
By Nature as in aid, and closed mine eyes. :
Mine eyes he closed, but open 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, opened 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 filled up and healed.
The rib he formed and fashioned with his hands;
Under his forming hands a creature grew,
Man-like, but different sex, so lovely fair,
That what seemed fair in all the world seemed now
Mean, or in her summed up, in her contained
And in her looks, which from that time infused
Sweetness into my heart unfelt before,
And into all things from her air inspired
The spirit of love and amorous delight.
She disappeared, and left me dark; I waked
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, adorned
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 uninformed
Of nuptial sanctity and marriage rites.
Grace was in all her steps, heaven in her eye,
In every gesture dignity and love.
I, overjoyed, could not forbear aloud:-
“This turn hath made amends; thou hast fulfilled
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, my Self Before me.
Woman is her name, of Man
Extracted; for this cause he shall forgo
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,
501 Her virtue, and the conscience of her worth, That would be wooed, and not unsought be won, Not obvious, not obtrusive, but retired, The more desirable or, to say all, Nature herself, though pure of sinful thought Wrought in her so, that, seeing me, she turned.
I followed her; she what was honour knew,
And with obsequious majesty approved
My pleaded reason. To the nuptial bower 510
I led her blushing like the Morn; all Heaven,
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
Whispered 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 Evening-star
On his hill-top to light the bridal lamp.
"Thus have I 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, used or not, works in the mind no change,
Nor vehement desire — these delicacies
I mean of taste, sight, smell, herbs, fruits, and flowers,
Walks, and the melody of birds: but here,
Far otherwise, transported I behold,
Transported touch; here passion first I felt, 530
Commotion strange, in all enjoyments else
Superior and unmoved, here only weak
Against the charm of beauty's powerful glance.
Or Nature failed 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 bestowed
Too much of ornament, in outward show
Elaborate, of inward less exact.
For well I understand in the prime end
540 Of Nature her the inferior, in the mind And inward faculties, which most excel;