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135

Spirit of happy sort : his gestures fierce
He mark'd and mad demeanour, then alone,
As he suppos'd, all unobserv'd, unseen.

139
So on he fares, and to the border comes
Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,
Now nearer, crowns with her inclosure green,
As with a rural mound, the champain head
Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,
Access deny'd; and over head up grew
Insuperable height of loftiest shade,
Cedar, and pine, and fir, and branching palm.
A sylvan scene, and as the ranks ascend

140 Shade above shade, a woody theatre Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops The verd'rous wall of Paradise up sprung : Which to our general sire gave prospect large Into his nether empire neighb’ring round.

145 And higher than that wall a circling row Of goodliest trees loaden with fairest fruit, Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue, Appear’d with gay enamel'd colours mix'd : On which the sun more glad impress'd his beams

150 Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow, When God hath show'r'd the earth; so lovely seem'd That landskip : and of pnre now purer air Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires Vernal delight and joy, able to drive

155 All sadness but despair : now gentle gales Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense

Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past 160
Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow
Sabean odours from the spicy shore
Of Araby the blest; with such delay
Well pleas’d they slack their course, and many a league
Cheer'd with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles: 165
So entertain'd those odorous sweets the Fiend
Who came their bane, though with them better pleas’a
Than Asmodëus with the fishy fume
That drove him, though enamour'd, from the spouse
Of Tobit's
son, and with a vengeance sent

170 From Media post to Egypt, there fast bound.

Now to th' ascent of that steep savage hill Satan had journey'd on, pensive and slow; But further way found none, so thick intwin'd As one continued brake, the undergrowth 175 Of shrubs and tangling bushes had perplex'd All path of man or beast that pass’d that way : One gate there only was, and that look'd east On th' other side: which, when th' arch-felon saw, Due entrance he disdain'd, and in contempt, 180 At one slight bound high overleap'd all bound Of hill or highest wall, and sheer within Lights on his feet. As when a prowling wolf, Whom hunger drives to seek new haunt for prey, Watching where shepherds pen their flocks at eve 185 In hurdled cotes amid the field secure, Leaps o'ert he fence with ease into the fold :

K

190

Or as a thief bent to unhoard the cash
Of some rich burgher, whose substantial doors,
Cross barr'd and bolted fast, fear no assault,
In at the window climbs, or o'er the tiles :
So clomb this first grand thief into God's fold:
So since into his church lewd hirelings climb.
Thence up he flew, and on the tree of life,
The middle tree and highest there that grew, 195
Sat like a cormorant; yet not true life
Thereby regain'd, but sat devising death
To them who liv'd; nor on the virtue thought
Of that life-giving plant, but only us’d
For prospect, what well us'd had been the pledge 200
Of immortality. So little knows
Any, but God alone, to value right
The good before him, but perverts best things
To worst abuse, or to their meanest use.
Beneath him with new wonder now he views

205
To all delight of human sense expos'd
In narrow room Nature's whole wealth, yea more,
A Heav'n on Earth: for blissful Paradise
Of God the garden was, by him in th’ east
Of Eden planted; Eden stretch'd her line
From Auran eastward to the royal towers
Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,
Or where the sons of Eden long before
Dwelt in Telassar : in this pleasant soil
His far more pleasant garden God ordain'd; 215
Out of the fertile ground he caus’d to grow
All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste ;

210

And all amid them stood the tree of life,
High, eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit
Of vegetable gold; and next to life,

220
Our death the tree of knowledge grew fast by,
Knowledge of good bought dear by knowing ill.
Southward through Eden went a river large,
Nor chang'd his course, but through the shaggy hill
Pass'd underneath ingulf'd; for God had thrown 225
That mountain as his garden mould high rais d
Upon the rapid current, which through veins
Of porous earth with kindly thirst up drawn,
Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill
Water'd the garden; thence united fell

230 Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood, Which from his darksome passage now appears, And now divided into four main streams, Runs diverse, wand'ring many a famous realm And country, whereof here needs no account; 235 But rather to tell how, if Art could tell, How from that saphire fount the crisped brooks, Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold, With mazy error under pendent shades Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed Flow'rs, worthy of Paradise, which not nice Art In beds and curious knots, but Nature boon Pour'd forth profuse on hill and dale and plain, Both where the morning sun first warmly smote The open field, and where the unpierc'd shade 245 Imbrown'd the noontide bow'rs : Thus was this place A happy rural seat of various view;

240 255

Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm,
Others whose fruit buruish'd with golden rind
Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true,

250
If true, here only', and of delicious taste:
Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks
Grazing the tender herb, were interpos’d,
Or palmy hillock; or the flow'ry lap
Of some irriguous valley spread her store,
Flow'rs of all hue, and without thorn the rose :
Another side, umbrageous grots and caves
Of cool recess, o'er which the mantling vine
Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps
Luxuriant; meanwhile murm’ring waters fall 260
Down the slope hills, dispers’d or in a lake,
That to the fringed bank with myrtle crown'd
Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams.
The birds their quire apply; airs, vernal airs,
Breathing the smell of field and grove, attune 265
The trembling leaves, while universal Pan
Knit with the Graces and the Hours in dance
Led on th’ eternal spring. Not that fair field
Of Enna, where Prosérpine gathering flowers
Herself a fairer flow'r by gloomy Vis

270 Was gather’d, which cost Ceres all that pain To seek her through the world; nor that sweet grove Of Daphne by Orontes, and th' inspir’d Castalian spring, might with this Paradise Of Eden strive; nor that Nyseian isle

275 Girt with the river Triton, where old Cham, Whom Gentiles Ammon call and Lybian Jove,

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