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And on her ample square, from side to side,
All autumn pil'd, tho' spring and autumn here
Danc'd hand in hand. A while discourse they
hold;

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No fear left dinner cool; when thus began
Our author: Heav'nly ftranger, please to taste
These bounties which our Nourisher, from whom
All perfect good, unmeasur'd out, descends
To us for food, and for delight hath caus'd 400
The earth to yield; unsav'ry food perhaps
To spiritual natures: only this I know,
That one celestial Father gives to all.

To whom the Angel: Therefore, what he gives (Whose praise be ever sung) to Man in part 405 Spiritual, may of purest Sp'rits be found

No' ingrateful food: and food alike those pure
Intelligential substances require,

As doth your rational; and both contain
Within them ev'ry lower faculty

410

Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch,

taste,

Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,

And corporeal to incorporeal turn.

415

For know, whatever was created, needs
To be sustain'd and fed: of elements
The grosser feeds the purer; earth the sea,
Earth and the sea feed air; the air those fires
Ethereal, and as lowest first the moon;
Whence in her visage round those spots, unpurg'd
Vapours not yet into her substance turn'd. 420

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Nor doth the moon no nourishment exhale
From her moist continent to higher orbs.
The Sun, that light imparts to all, receives
From all his alimental recompense
In humid exhalations, and at ev'n

425

Sups with the ocean. Tho' in Heav'n the trees
Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines
Yield nectar; tho' from off the boughs each morn
We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground
Cover'd with pearly grain, yet God hath here
Vary'd his bounty so with new delights, 43I
As may compare with Heav'n; and to taste
Think not I shall be nice. So down they sat,
And to their viands fell; nor seemingly
The Angel, nor in mist, the common gloss 435
Of Theologians; but with keen dispatch
Of real hunger and concoctive heat

To transubstantiate: what redounds, transpires
Thro' Sp'rits with ease; nor wonder, if by fire
Of sooty coal th' empyric alchemist

Can turn, or holds it possible to turn,
Metals of drossiest ore to perfect gold,

As from the mine. Mean while at table Eve
Minister'd naked, and their flowing cups

440

With pleasant liquors crown'd. O innocence 445
Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,

Then had the sons of God excuse to' have been
Enamour'd at that sight; but in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reign'd, nor jealousy
Was understood, the injur'd lover's Hell.

450

Thus, when with meats and drinks they had

suffic'd,

Not burden'd nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam, not to let th' occasion pass

460.

Giv'n him by this great conference, to know
Of things above his world, and of their being 455
Who dwell in Heav'n, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far, whose radiant forms
Divine effulgence, whose high pow'r so far
Exceeded human; and his wary speech
Thus to th' empyreal minister he fram'd:
Inhabitant with God, now know I well
Thy favour in this honour done to Man,
Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsaf'd
To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste,
Food not of Angels, yet accepted so,
As that more willingly thou couldst not seem
At Heav'n's high feasts to' have fed: yet what
compare?

465

470

To whom the winged Hierarch reply'd: O Adam, one Almighty is, from whom All things proceed, and up to him return, If not deprav'd from good, created all Such to perfection, one first matter all, Endu'd with various forms, various degrees Of substance, and in things that live, of life; But more refin'd, more spiritous, and pure, 475 As nearer to him plac'd, or nearer tending Each in their sev'ral active spheres assign'd, Till body up to spirit work, in bounds

Proportion'd to each kind. So from the root Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the

leaves

480

More airy, last the bright consummate flow'r
Spirits odorous breathes: flow'rs and their fruit,
Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublim'd,
To vital sp'rits aspire, to animal,

To intellectual; give both life and sense,
Fancy and understanding; whence the soul
Reason receives, and reason is her being,
Discursive or intuitive: discourse

485

Is oftest yours; the latter most is ours,
Diff'ring but in degree; of kind the same. 490
Wonder not then, what God for you saw good,
If I refuse not, but convert, as you,

495

To proper substance: time may come, when Men
With Angels may participate, and find
No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare;
And from these corp'ral nutriments, perhaps
Your bodies may at last turn all to sp'rit,
Improv'd by tract of time, and wing`d ascend
Ethereal, as we, or may at choice
Here or in heav'nly Paradises dwell;
If ye be found obedient, and retain
Unalterably firm his love entire,

Whose progeny you are.

Mean while enjoy

Your fill what happiness this happy state

Can comprehend, incapable of more.

500

505

To whom the patriarch of mankind reply'd:

O favourable Sp'rit, propitious guest,

Well hast thou taught the way that might direct
Our knowledge, and the scale of nature set
From centre to circumference, whereon
In contemplation of created things,

510

By steps we may ascend to God. But say,
What meant that caution join'd, If ye be found
Obedient? Can we want obedience then.
To him, or possibly his love desert,
Who form'd us from the dust, and plac'd us here
Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desires can seek or apprehend?

515

To whom the Angel: Son of Heav'n and Earth, Attend. That thou art happy, owe to God; 520 That thou continuest such, owe to thyself; That is, to thy obedience: therein stand. This was that caution giv'n thee; be advis'd. God made thee perfect, not immutable; And good he made thee; but to persevere 525 He left it in thy pow'r; ordain'd thy will By nature free, not over-rul'd by fate Inextricable, or strict necessity.

Our voluntary service he requires,

Not our necessitated: such with him

Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how

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Can hearts, not free, be try'd whether they serve
Willing or no, who will but what they must
By destiny, and can no other choose?
Myself and all th' angelic host, that stand
In sight of God enthron'd, our happy state b
Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds:

535

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