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Greater so manifold, to this one use,
For ought appears, and on their orbs impose
Such restless revolution, day by day
Repeated; while the sedentary earth,
That better might with far less compass move,
Serv'd by more noble than herself, attains
Her end without least motion, and receives,
As tribute, such a sumless journey brought
Of incorporeal speed, her warmth and light;
Speed, to describe whose swiftness number fails."
So spake our sire, and by his count'nance seem'd
Ent'ring on studious thoughts abstruse; which Eve 40
Perceiving, where she sat retir'd in sight,
With lowliness majestic from her seat,
And grace that won who saw to wish her stay,
Rose, and went forth among her fruits and flowers,
To visit how they prosper'd, bud and bloom,
Her nursery; they at her coming sprung,
And, touch'd by her fair tendence, gladlier grew.
Yet went she not, as not with such discourse
Delighted, or not capable her ear
Of what was high: such pleasure she reserv'd,
Adam relating, she sole auditress;
Her husband the relator she perferr'd
Before the angel, and of him to ask
Chose rather; he, she knew, would intermix
Grateful digressions, and solve high dispute
With conjugal caresses; from his lip
Not words alone pleas'd her. O when meet now
Such pairs, in love and mutual honour join'd?
With goddess-like demeanour forth she went,
Not unattended, for on her, as queen,
A pomp of winning graces waited still,
And from about her shot darts of desire
Into all eyes to wish her still in sight.
And Raphael now, to Adam's doubt propos'd,
Benevolent and facile thus reply'd.
"To ask or search I blame thee not; for Heav'n Is as the book of God before thee set,
Wherein to read his wondrous works, and learn His seasons, hours, or days, or months, or years: This to attain, whether Heav'n move or Earth, Imports not, if thou reckon right; the rest From man or angel the great Architect Did wisely to conceal, and not divulge His secrets to be scann'd by them who ought Rather admire; or, if they list to try Conjecture, he his fabric of the Heav'ns Hath left to their disputes, perhaps to move His laughter at their quaint opinions wide Hereafter, when they come to model Heav'n And calculate the stars, how they will wield The mighty frame, how build, unbuild, contrive To save appearances, how gird the sphere With centric and eccentric scribbled o'er, Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb: Already by thy reasoning this I guess, Who art to lead thy offspring, and supposest That bodies bright and greater should not serve The less not bright, nor Heav'n such journeys run, Earth sitting still, when she alone receives The benefit: consider first, that great Or bright infers not excellence: the earth, Though, in comparison of Heav'n, so small, Nor glist'ring, may of solid good contain More plenty than the sun that barren shines, Whose virtue on itself works no effect, But in the fruitful earth; there first receiv'd, His beams, unactive else, their vigour find. Yet not to earth are those bright luminaries Officious, but to thee, earth's habitant.
And for the Heav'n's wide circuit, let it speak 100 The Maker's high magnificence, who built
So spacious, and his line stretch'd out so far;
That man may know he dwells not in his own;
An edifice too large for him to fill,
Lodg'd in a small partition, and the rest
Ordain'd for uses to his Lord best known.
The swiftness of those circles attribute,
Though numberless, to his omnipotence,
That to corporeal substances could add
Speed almost spiritual: me thou think'st not slow,
Who since the morning hour set out from Heav'n
Where God resides, and ere mid-day arriv'd
In Eden, distance inexpressible
By numbers that have name. But this I urge,
Admitting motion in the Heav'ns, to show
Invalid that which thee to doubt it mov❜ð:"
Not that I so affirm, though so it seem
To thee who hast thy dwelling here on earth.
God, to remove his ways from human sense,
Plac'd Heav'n from Earth so far, that earthly sight,
If it presume, might err in things too high,
And no advantage gain. What if the sun
Be centre to the world, and other stars,
By his attractive virtue and their own
Incited, dance about him various rounds?
Their wand'ring course now high, now low, then Hid,
Progressive, retrograde, or standing still,
In six thou seest; and what if sev❜nth to these
The planet earth, so stedfast though she seem,
Insensibly three different motions move?
Which else to several spheres thou must ascribe,
Mov'd contrary with thwart obliquities;
Or save the sun his labour, and that swift
Nocturnal and diurnal rhomb suppos'd,
Invisible else above all stars, the wheel
Of day and night; which needs not thy belief,
If earth, industrious of herself, fetch day
Travelling east, and with her part averse
From the sun's beam meet night, her other part
Still luminous by his ray. What if that light,
Sent from her through the wide transpicuous air,
To the terrestrial moon be as a star
Enlight'ning her by day, as she by night
This earth? reciprocal, if land be there,
Fields and inhabitants: her spots thou seest
As clouds, and clouds may rain, and rain produce Fruits in her soften'd soil, for some to eat Allotted there; and other suns perhaps, With their attendant moons, thou wilt descry, Communicating male and female light, Which two great sexes animate the world, Stor'd in each orb perhaps with some that live. For such vast room in nature unpossess'd By living soul, desert and desolate, Only to shine, yet scarce to contribute Each orb a glimpse of light, convey'd so far Down to this habitable, which returns Light back to them, is obvious to dispute. But whether thus these things, or whether not; Whether the sun, predominant in Heav'n, Rise on the earth; or earth rise on the sun; He from the east his flaming road begin; Or she from west her silent course advance With inoffensive pace that spinning sleeps On her soft axle, while she paces even, And bears thee soft with the smooth air along; Solicit not thy thoughts with matters hid; Leave them to God above; him serve and fear; Of other creatures, as him pleases best, Wherever plac'd, let him dispose: joy thou In what he gives to thee, this Paradise And thy fair Eve; Heav'n is for thee too high To know what passes there; be lowly wise: Think only what concerns thee and thy being; Dream not of other worlds, what creatures there 175 Live, in what state, condition, or degree; Contented that thus far hath been reveal'd,
Not of Earth only, but of highest Heav'n."
To whom thus Adam, clear'd of doubt, reply'd.
"How fully hast thou satisfy'd me, pure
Intelligence of Heav'n, angel serene!
And, freed from intricacies, taught to live
The easiest way, nor with perplexing thoughts
To interrupt the sweet of life, from which
God hath bid dwell far off all anxious cares,
And not molest us, unless we ourselves
Seek them with wand'ring thoughts, and notions vain.
But apt the mind or fancy is to rove
Uncheck'd, and of her roving is no end;
Till warn'd, or by experience taught, she learn,
That not to know at large of things remote
From use, obscure and subtle, but to know
That which before us lies in daily life,
Is the prime wisdom: what is more, is fume,
Or emptiness, or fond impertinence,
And renders us, in things that most concern,
Unpractis'd, unprepar'd, and still to seek.
Therefore from this high pitch let us descend
A lower flight, and speak of things at hand
Useful; whence haply mention may arise
Of something not unseasonable to ask,
By sufferance, and thy wonted favour, deign'd.
Thee I have heard relating what was done
Ere my remembrance: now hear me relate
My story, which perhaps thou hast not heard;
And day is not yet spent; till then thou seest
How subtly to detain thee I devise,
Inviting thee to hear while I relate,
Fond, were it not in hope of thy reply:
For while I sit with thee, I seem in Heav'n;
And sweeter thy discourse is to my ear
Than fruits of palm-tree pleasantest to thirst
And hunger both, from labour, at the hour
Of sweet repast; they satiate, and soon fill,
Though pleasant; but thy words, with grace
Imbued, bring to their sweetness no satiety."
To whom thus Raphael answer'd heav'nly meek.
"Nor are thy lips ungraceful, sire of men,
Nor tongue ineloquent; for God on thee
Abundantly his gifts hath also pour'd
Inward and outward both, his image fair:
Speaking or mute, all comeliness and grace
Attends thee, and each word, each motion forms;