Paradise Lost

John Milton (1674)

 

 

 

BOOK V

 

Now Morn, her rosy steps in the eastern clime
Advancing, sowed the earth with orient pearl,
When Adam waked, so customed; for his sleep
Was aery-light, from pure digestion bred,
And temperate vapours bland, which the only sound
Of leaves and fuming rills, Aurora's fan,
Lightly dispersed, and the shrill matin song
Of birds on every bough; so much the more
His wonder was to find unwakened Eve
10 With tresses discomposed, and glowing cheek,
As through unquiet rest: He, on his side
Leaning half raised, with looks of cordial love
Hung over her enamoured, and beheld
Beauty, which, whether waking or asleep,
Shot forth peculiar graces; then with voice
Mild, as when Zephyrus on Flora breathes,
Her hand soft touching, whispered thus. Awake,
My fairest, my espoused, my latest found,
Heaven's last best gift, my ever new delight!
20 Awake: The morning shines, and the fresh field
Calls us; we lose the prime, to mark how spring
Our tender plants, how blows the citron grove,
What drops the myrrh, and what the balmy reed,
How nature paints her colours, how the bee
Sits on the bloom extracting liquid sweet.
Such whispering waked her, but with startled eye
On Adam, whom embracing, thus she spake.
O sole in whom my thoughts find all repose,
My glory, my perfection! glad I see
30 Thy face, and morn returned; for I this night
(Such night till this I never passed) have dreamed,
If dreamed, not, as I oft am wont, of thee,
Works of day past, or morrow's next design,
But of offence and trouble, which my mind
Knew never till this irksome night: Methought,
Close at mine ear one called me forth to walk
With gentle voice; I thought it thine: It said,
'Why sleepest thou, Eve? now is the pleasant time,
'The cool, the silent, save where silence yields
40 'To the night-warbling bird, that now awake
'Tunes sweetest his love-laboured song; now reigns
'Full-orbed the moon, and with more pleasing light
'Shadowy sets off the face of things; in vain,
'If none regard; Heaven wakes with all his eyes,
'Whom to behold but thee, Nature's desire?
'In whose sight all things joy, with ravishment
'Attracted by thy beauty still to gaze.'
I rose as at thy call, but found thee not;
To find thee I directed then my walk;
50 And on, methought, alone I passed through ways
That brought me on a sudden to the tree
Of interdicted knowledge: fair it seemed,
Much fairer to my fancy than by day:
And, as I wondering looked, beside it stood
One shaped and winged like one of those from Heaven
By us oft seen; his dewy locks distilled
Ambrosia; on that tree he also gazed;
And 'O fair plant,' said he, 'with fruit surcharged,
'Deigns none to ease thy load, and taste thy sweet,
60 'Nor God, nor Man? Is knowledge so despised?
'Or envy, or what reserve forbids to taste?
'Forbid who will, none shall from me withhold
'Longer thy offered good; why else set here?
This said, he paused not, but with venturous arm
He plucked, he tasted; me damp horrour chilled
At such bold words vouched with a deed so bold:
But he thus, overjoyed; 'O fruit divine,
'Sweet of thyself, but much more sweet thus cropt,
'Forbidden here, it seems, as only fit
70 'For Gods, yet able to make Gods of Men:
'And why not Gods of Men; since good, the more
'Communicated, more abundant grows,
'The author not impaired, but honoured more?
'Here, happy creature, fair angelick Eve!
'Partake thou also; happy though thou art,
'Happier thou mayest be, worthier canst not be:
'Taste this, and be henceforth among the Gods
'Thyself a Goddess, not to earth confined,
'But sometimes in the air, as we, sometimes
80 'Ascend to Heaven, by merit thine, and see
'What life the Gods live there, and such live thou!'
So saying, he drew nigh, and to me held,
Even to my mouth of that same fruit held part
Which he had plucked; the pleasant savoury smell
So quickened appetite, that I, methought,
Could not but taste. Forthwith up to the clouds
With him I flew, and underneath beheld
The earth outstretched immense, a prospect wide
And various: Wondering at my flight and change
90 To this high exaltation; suddenly
My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,
And fell asleep; but O, how glad I waked
To find this but a dream! Thus Eve her night
Related, and thus Adam answered sad.
Best image of myself, and dearer half,
The trouble of thy thoughts this night in sleep
Affects me equally; nor can I like
This uncouth dream, of evil sprung, I fear;
Yet evil whence? in thee can harbour none,
100 Created pure. But know that in the soul
Are many lesser faculties, that serve
Reason as chief; among these Fancy next
Her office holds; of all external things
Which the five watchful senses represent,
She forms imaginations, aery shapes,
Which Reason, joining or disjoining, frames
All what we affirm or what deny, and call
Our knowledge or opinion; then retires
Into her private cell, when nature rests.
110 Oft in her absence mimick Fancy wakes
To imitate her; but, misjoining shapes,
Wild work produces oft, and most in dreams;
Ill matching words and deeds long past or late.
Some such resemblances, methinks, I find
Of our last evening's talk, in this thy dream,
But with addition strange; yet be not sad.
Evil into the mind of God or Man
May come and go, so unreproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind: Which gives me hope
120 That what in sleep thou didst abhor to dream,
Waking thou never will consent to do.
Be not disheartened then, nor cloud those looks,
That wont to be more cheerful and serene,
Than when fair morning first smiles on the world;
And let us to our fresh employments rise
Among the groves, the fountains, and the flowers
That open now their choisest bosomed smells,
Reserved from night, and kept for thee in store.
So cheered he his fair spouse, and she was cheered;
130 But silently a gentle tear let fall
From either eye, and wiped them with her hair;
Two other precious drops that ready stood,
Each in their crystal sluice, he ere they fell
Kissed, as the gracious signs of sweet remorse
And pious awe, that feared to have offended.
So all was cleared, and to the field they haste.
But first, from under shady arborous roof
Soon as they forth were come to open sight
Of day-spring, and the sun, who, scarce up-risen,
140 With wheels yet hovering o'er the ocean-brim,
Shot parallel to the earth his dewy ray,
Discovering in wide landskip all the east
Of Paradise and Eden's happy plains,
Lowly they bowed adoring, and began
Their orisons, each morning duly paid
In various style; for neither various style
Nor holy rapture wanted they to praise
Their Maker, in fit strains pronounced, or sung
Unmeditated; such prompt eloquence
150 Flowed from their lips, in prose or numerous verse,
More tuneable than needed lute or harp
To add more sweetness; and they thus began.
These are thy glorious works, Parent of good,
Almighty! Thine this universal frame,
Thus wonderous fair; Thyself how wonderous then!
Unspeakable, who sitst above these heavens
To us invisible, or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.
160 Speak, ye who best can tell, ye sons of light,
Angels; for ye behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, day without night,
Circle his throne rejoicing; ye in Heaven
On Earth join all ye Creatures to extol
Him first, him last, him midst, and without end.
Fairest of stars, last in the train of night,
If better thou belong not to the dawn,
Sure pledge of day, that crownest the smiling morn
With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere,
170 While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.
Thou Sun, of this great world both eye and soul,
Acknowledge him thy greater; sound his praise
In thy eternal course, both when thou climbest,
And when high noon hast gained, and when thou fallest.
Moon, that now meetest the orient sun, now flyest,
With the fixed Stars, fixed in their orb that flies;
And ye five other wandering Fires, that move
In mystick dance not without song, resound
His praise, who out of darkness called up light.
180 Air, and ye Elements, the eldest birth
Of Nature's womb, that in quaternion run
Perpetual circle, multiform; and mix
And nourish all things; let your ceaseless change
Vary to our great Maker still new praise.
Ye Mists and Exhalations, that now rise
From hill or steaming lake, dusky or gray,
Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honour to the world's great Author rise;
Whether to deck with clouds the uncoloured sky,
190 Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling still advance his praise.
His praise, ye Winds, that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud; and, wave your tops, ye Pines,
With every plant, in sign of worship wave.
Fountains, and ye that warble, as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.
Join voices, all ye living Souls: Ye Birds,
That singing up to Heaven-gate ascend,
Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.
200 Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep;
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill, or valley, fountain, or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.
Hail, universal Lord, be bounteous still
To give us only good; and if the night
Have gathered aught of evil, or concealed,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark!
So prayed they innocent, and to their thoughts
210 Firm peace recovered soon, and wonted calm.
On to their morning's rural work they haste,
Among sweet dews and flowers; where any row
Of fruit-trees over-woody reached too far
Their pampered boughs, and needed hands to check
Fruitless embraces: or they led the vine
To wed her elm; she, spoused, about him twines
Her marriageable arms, and with him brings
Her dower, the adopted clusters, to adorn
His barren leaves. Them thus employed beheld
220 With pity Heaven's high King, and to him called
Raphael, the sociable Spirit, that deigned
To travel with Tobias, and secured
His marriage with the seventimes-wedded maid.
Raphael, said he, thou hearest what stir on Earth
Satan, from Hell 'scaped through the darksome gulf,
Hath raised in Paradise; and how disturbed
This night the human pair; how he designs
In them at once to ruin all mankind.
Go therefore, half this day as friend with friend
230 Converse with Adam, in what bower or shade
Thou findest him from the heat of noon retired,
To respite his day-labour with repast,
Or with repose; and such discourse bring on,
As may advise him of his happy state,
Happiness in his power left free to will,
Left to his own free will, his will though free,
Yet mutable; whence warn him to beware
He swerve not, too secure: Tell him withal
His danger, and from whom; what enemy,
240 Late fallen himself from Heaven, is plotting now
The fall of others from like state of bliss;
By violence? no, for that shall be withstood;
But by deceit and lies: This let him know,
Lest, wilfully transgressing, he pretend
Surprisal, unadmonished, unforewarned.
So spake the Eternal Father, and fulfilled
All justice: Nor delayed the winged Saint
After his charge received; but from among
Thousand celestial Ardours, where he stood
250 Veiled with his gorgeous wings, up springing light,
Flew through the midst of Heaven; the angelick quires,
On each hand parting, to his speed gave way
Through all the empyreal road; till, at the gate
Of Heaven arrived, the gate self-opened wide
On golden hinges turning, as by work
Divine the sovran Architect had framed.
From hence no cloud, or, to obstruct his sight,
Star interposed, however small he sees,
Not unconformed to other shining globes,
260 Earth, and the garden of God, with cedars crowned
Above all hills. As when by night the glass
Of Galileo, less assured, observes
Imagined lands and regions in the moon:
Or pilot, from amidst the Cyclades
Delos or Samos first appearing, kens
A cloudy spot. Down thither prone in flight
He speeds, and through the vast ethereal sky
Sails between worlds and worlds, with steady wing
Now on the polar winds, then with quick fan
270 Winnows the buxom air; till, within soar
Of towering eagles, to all the fowls he seems
A phoenix, gazed by all as that sole bird,
When, to enshrine his reliques in the Sun's
Bright temple, to Egyptian Thebes he flies.
At once on the eastern cliff of Paradise
He lights, and to his proper shape returns
A Seraph winged: Six wings he wore, to shade
His lineaments divine; the pair that clad
Each shoulder broad, came mantling o'er his breast
280 With regal ornament; the middle pair
Girt like a starry zone his waist, and round
Skirted his loins and thighs with downy gold
And colours dipt in Heaven; the third his feet
Shadowed from either heel with feathered mail,
Sky-tinctured grain. Like Maia's son he stood,
And shook his plumes,  heavenly fragrance filled
The circuit wide. Straight knew him all the bands
Of Angels under watch; and to his state,
And to his message high, in honour rise;
290 For on some message high they guessed him bound.
Their glittering tents he passed, and now is come
Into the blissful field, through groves of myrrh,
And flowering odours, cassia, nard, and balm;
A wilderness of sweets; for Nature here
Wantoned as in her prime, and played at will
Her virgin fancies pouring forth more sweet,
Wild above rule or art, enormous bliss.
Him through the spicy forest onward come
Adam discerned, as in the door he sat
300 Of his cool bower, while now the mounted sun
Shot down direct his fervid rays to warm
Earth's inmost womb, more warmth than Adam needs:
And Eve within, due at her hour prepared
For dinner savoury fruits, of taste to please
True appetite, and not disrelish thirst
Of nectarous draughts between, from milky stream,
Berry or grape: To whom thus Adam called.
Haste hither, Eve, and worth thy sight behold
Eastward among those trees, what glorious shape
310 Comes this way moving; seems another morn
Risen on mid-noon; some great behest from Heaven
To us perhaps he brings, and will vouchsafe
This day to be our guest. But go with speed,
And, what thy stores contain, bring forth, and pour
Abundance, fit to honour and receive
Our heavenly stranger: Well we may afford
Our givers their own gifts, and large bestow
From large bestowed, where Nature multiplies
Her fertile growth, and by disburthening grows
320 More fruitful, which instructs us not to spare.
To whom thus Eve. Adam, earth's hallowed mould,
Of God inspired! small store will serve, where store,
All seasons, ripe for use hangs on the stalk;
Save what by frugal storing firmness gains
To nourish, and superfluous moist consumes:
But I will haste, and from each bough and brake,
Each plant and juciest gourd, will pluck such choice
To entertain our Angel-guest, as he
Beholding shall confess, that here on Earth
330 God hath dispensed his bounties as in Heaven.
So saying, with dispatchful looks in haste
She turns, on hospitable thoughts intent
What choice to choose for delicacy best,
What order, so contrived as not to mix
Tastes, not well joined, inelegant, but bring
Taste after taste upheld with kindliest change;
Bestirs her then, and from each tender stalk
Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother, yields
In India East or West, or middle shore
340 In Pontus or the Punick coast, or where
Alcinous reigned, fruit of all kinds, in coat
Rough, or smooth rind, or bearded husk, or shell,
She gathers, tribute large, and on the board
Heaps with unsparing hand; for drink the grape
She crushes, inoffensive must, and meaths
From many a berry, and from sweet kernels pressed
She tempers dulcet creams; nor these to hold
Wants her fit vessels pure; then strows the ground
With rose and odours from the shrub unfumed.
350 Mean while our primitive great sire, to meet
His God-like guest, walks forth, without more train
Accompanied than with his own complete
Perfections; in himself was all his state,
More solemn than the tedious pomp that waits
On princes, when their rich retinue long
Of horses led, and grooms besmeared with gold,
Dazzles the croud, and sets them all agape.
Nearer his presence Adam, though not awed,
Yet with submiss approach and reverence meek,
360 As to a superiour nature bowing low,
Thus said. Native of Heaven, for other place
None can than Heaven such glorious shape contain;
Since, by descending from the thrones above,
Those happy places thou hast deigned a while
To want, and honour these, vouchsafe with us
Two only, who yet by sovran gift possess
This spacious ground, in yonder shady bower
To rest; and what the garden choicest bears
To sit and taste, till this meridian heat
370 Be over, and the sun more cool decline.
Whom thus the angelick Virtue answered mild.
Adam, I therefore came; nor art thou such
Created, or such place hast here to dwell,
As may not oft invite, though Spirits of Heaven,
To visit thee; lead on then where thy bower
O'ershades; for these mid-hours, till evening rise,
I have at will. So to the sylvan lodge
They came, that like Pomona's arbour smiled,
With flowerets decked, and fragrant smells; but Eve,
380 Undecked save with herself, more lovely fair
Than Wood-Nymph, or the fairest Goddess feigned
Of three that in mount Ida naked strove,
Stood to entertain her guest from Heaven; no veil
She needed, virtue-proof; no thought infirm
Altered her cheek. On whom the Angel Hail
Bestowed, the holy salutation used
Long after to blest Mary, second Eve.
Hail, Mother of Mankind, whose fruitful womb
Shall fill the world more numerous with thy sons,
390 Than with these various fruits the trees of God
Have heaped this table!--Raised of grassy turf
Their table was, and mossy seats had round,
And on her ample square from side to side
All autumn piled, though spring and autumn here
Danced hand in hand. A while discourse they hold;
No fear lest dinner cool; when thus began
Our author. Heavenly stranger, please to taste
These bounties, which our Nourisher, from whom
All perfect good, unmeasured out, descends,
400 To us for food and for delight hath caused
The earth to yield; unsavoury 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
Spiritual, may of purest Spirits be found
No ingrateful food: And food alike those pure
Intelligential substances require,
As doth your rational; and both contain
410 Within them every lower faculty
Of sense, whereby they hear, see, smell, touch, taste,
Tasting concoct, digest, assimilate,
And corporeal to incorporeal turn.
For know, whatever was created, needs
To be sustained 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, unpurged
420 Vapours not yet into her substance turned.
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 recompence
In humid exhalations, and at even
Sups with the ocean. Though in Heaven the trees
Of life ambrosial fruitage bear, and vines
Yield nectar; though from off the boughs each morn
We brush mellifluous dews, and find the ground
430 Covered with pearly grain: Yet God hath here
Varied his bounty so with new delights,
As may compare with Heaven; 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
Of Theologians; but with keen dispatch
Of real hunger, and concoctive heat
To transubstantiate: What redounds, transpires
Through Spirits with ease; nor wonder;if by fire
440 Of sooty coal the empirick 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
Ministered naked, and their flowing cups
With pleasant liquours crowned: O innocence
Deserving Paradise! if ever, then,
Then had the sons of God excuse to have been
Enamoured at that sight; but in those hearts
Love unlibidinous reigned, nor jealousy
450 Was understood, the injured lover's hell.
Thus when with meats and drinks they had sufficed,
Not burdened nature, sudden mind arose
In Adam, not to let the occasion pass
Given him by this great conference to know
Of things above his world, and of their being
Who dwell in Heaven, whose excellence he saw
Transcend his own so far; whose radiant forms,
Divine effulgence, whose high power, so far
Exceeded human; and his wary speech
460 Thus to the empyreal minister he framed.
Inhabitant with God, now know I well
Thy favour, in this honour done to Man;
Under whose lowly roof thou hast vouchsafed
To enter, and these earthly fruits to taste,
Food not of Angels, yet accepted so,
As that more willingly thou couldst not seem
At Heaven's high feasts to have fed: yet what compare
To whom the winged Hierarch replied.
O Adam, One Almighty is, from whom
470 All things proceed, and up to him return,
If not depraved from good, created all
Such to perfection, one first matter all,
Endued with various forms, various degrees
Of substance, and, in things that live, of life;
But more refined, more spiritous, and pure,
As nearer to him placed, or nearer tending
Each in their several active spheres assigned,
Till body up to spirit work, in bounds
Proportioned to each kind. So from the root
480 Springs lighter the green stalk, from thence the leaves
More aery, last the bright consummate flower
Spirits odorous breathes: flowers and their fruit,
Man's nourishment, by gradual scale sublimed,
To vital spirits 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
Is oftest yours, the latter most is ours,
490 Differing but in degree, of kind the same.
Wonder not then, what God for you saw good
If I refuse not, but convert, as you
To proper substance. Time may come, when Men
With Angels may participate, and find
No inconvenient diet, nor too light fare;
And from these corporal nutriments perhaps
Your bodies may at last turn all to spirit,
Improved by tract of time, and, winged, ascend
Ethereal, as we; or may, at choice,
500 Here or in heavenly 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.
To whom the patriarch of mankind replied.
O favourable Spirit, propitious guest,
Well hast thou taught the way that might direct
Our knowledge, and the scale of nature set
510From center to circumference; whereon,
In contemplation of created things,
By steps we may ascend to God. But say,
What meant that caution joined, If ye be found
Obedient? Can we want obedience then
515To him, or possibly his love desert,
Who formed us from the dust and placed us here
Full to the utmost measure of what bliss
Human desires can seek or apprehend?
To whom the Angel. Son of Heaven and Earth,
520Attend! That thou art happy, owe to God;
That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,
That is, to thy obedience; therein stand.
This was that caution given thee; be advised.
God made thee perfect, not immutable;
525And good he made thee, but to persevere
He left it in thy power; ordained thy will
By nature free, not over-ruled by fate
Inextricable, or strict necessity:
Our voluntary service he requires,
530Not our necessitated; such with him
Finds no acceptance, nor can find; for how
Can hearts, not free, be tried whether they serve
Willing or no, who will but what they must
By destiny, and can no other choose?
535Myself, and all the angelick host, that stand
In sight of God, enthroned, our happy state
Hold, as you yours, while our obedience holds;
On other surety none: Freely we serve,
Because we freely love, as in our will
540To love or not; in this we stand or fall:
And some are fallen, to disobedience fallen,
And so from Heaven to deepest Hell; O fall
From what high state of bliss, into what woe!
To whom our great progenitor. Thy words
545Attentive, and with more delighted ear,
Divine instructer, I have heard, than when
Cherubick songs by night from neighbouring hills
Aereal musick send: Nor knew I not
To be both will and deed created free;
550Yet that we never shall forget to love
Our Maker, and obey him whose command
Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts
Assured me, and still assure: Though what thou tellest
Hath passed in Heaven, some doubt within me move,
555But more desire to hear, if thou consent,
The full relation, which must needs be strange,
Worthy of sacred silence to be heard;
And we have yet large day, for scarce the sun
Hath finished half his journey, and scarce begins
560His other half in the great zone of Heaven.
Thus Adam made request; and Raphael,
After short pause assenting, thus began.
High matter thou enjoinest me, O prime of men,
Sad task and hard: For how shall I relate
565To human sense the invisible exploits
Of warring Spirits? how, without remorse,
The ruin of so many glorious once
And perfect while they stood? how last unfold
The secrets of another world, perhaps
570Not lawful to reveal? yet for thy good
This is dispensed; and what surmounts the reach
Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
By likening spiritual to corporal forms,
As may express them best; though what if Earth
575Be but a shadow of Heaven, and things therein
Each to other like, more than on earth is thought?
As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild
Reigned where these Heavens now roll, where Earth now rests
Upon her center poised; when on a day
580(For time, though in eternity, applied
To motion, measures all things durable
By present, past, and future,) on such day
As Heaven's great year brings forth, the empyreal host
Of Angels by imperial summons called,
585Innumerable before the Almighty's throne
Forthwith, from all the ends of Heaven, appeared
Under their Hierarchs in orders bright:
Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanced,
Standards and gonfalons 'twixt van and rear
590Stream in the air, and for distinction serve
Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees;
Or in their glittering tissues bear imblazed
Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love
Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs
595Of circuit inexpressible they stood,
Orb within orb, the Father Infinite,
By whom in bliss imbosomed sat the Son,
Amidst as from a flaming mount, whose top
Brightness had made invisible, thus spake.
600Hear, all ye Angels, progeny of light,
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers;
Hear my decree, which unrevoked shall stand.
This day I have begot whom I declare
My only Son, and on this holy hill
605Him have anointed, whom ye now behold
At my right hand; your head I him appoint;
And by myself have sworn, to him shall bow
All knees in Heaven, and shall confess him Lord:
Under his great vice-gerent reign abide
610United, as one individual soul,
For ever happy: Him who disobeys,
Me disobeys, breaks union, and that day,
Cast out from God and blessed vision, falls
Into utter darkness, deep ingulfed, his place
615Ordained without redemption, without end.
So spake the Omnipotent, and with his words
All seemed well pleased; all seemed, but were not all.
That day, as other solemn days, they spent
In song and dance about the sacred hill;
620Mystical dance, which yonder starry sphere
Of planets, and of fixed, in all her wheels
Resembles nearest, mazes intricate,
Eccentrick, intervolved, yet regular
Then most, when most irregular they seem;
625And in their motions harmony divine
So smooths her charming tones, that God's own ear
Listens delighted. Evening now approached,
(For we have also our evening and our morn,
We ours for change delectable, not need;)
630Forthwith from dance to sweet repast they turn
Desirous; all in circles as they stood,
Tables are set, and on a sudden piled
With Angels food, and rubied nectar flows
In pearl, in diamond, and massy gold,
635Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of Heaven.
On flowers reposed, and with fresh flowerets crowned,
They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet
Quaff immortality and joy, secure
Of surfeit, where full measure only bounds
640Excess, before the all-bounteous King, who showered
With copious hand, rejoicing in their joy.
Now when ambrosial night with clouds exhaled
From that high mount of God, whence light and shade
Spring both, the face of brightest Heaven had changed
645To grateful twilight, (for night comes not there
In darker veil,) and roseat dews disposed
All but the unsleeping eyes of God to rest;
Wide over all the plain, and wider far
Than all this globous earth in plain outspread,
650(Such are the courts of God) the angelick throng,
Dispersed in bands and files, their camp extend
By living streams among the trees of life,
Pavilions numberless, and sudden reared,
Celestial tabernacles, where they slept
655Fanned with cool winds; save those, who, in their course,
Melodious hymns about the sovran throne
Alternate all night long: but not so waked
Satan; so call him now, his former name
Is heard no more in Heaven; he of the first,
660If not the first Arch-Angel, great in power,
In favour and pre-eminence, yet fraught
With envy against the Son of God, that day
Honoured by his great Father, and proclaimed
Messiah King anointed, could not bear
665Through pride that sight, and thought himself impaired.
Deep malice thence conceiving and disdain,
Soon as midnight brought on the dusky hour
Friendliest to sleep and silence, he resolved
With all his legions to dislodge, and leave
670Unworshipt, unobeyed, the throne supreme,
Contemptuous; and his next subordinate
Awakening, thus to him in secret spake.
Sleepest thou, Companion dear? What sleep can close
Thy eye-lids? and rememberest what decree
675Of yesterday, so late hath passed the lips
Of Heaven's Almighty. Thou to me thy thoughts
Wast wont, I mine to thee was wont to impart;
Both waking we were one; how then can now
Thy sleep dissent? New laws thou seest imposed;
680New laws from him who reigns, new minds may raise
In us who serve, new counsels to debate
What doubtful may ensue: More in this place
To utter is not safe. Assemble thou
Of all those myriads which we lead the chief;
685Tell them, that by command, ere yet dim night
Her shadowy cloud withdraws, I am to haste,
And all who under me their banners wave,
Homeward, with flying march, where we possess
The quarters of the north; there to prepare
690Fit entertainment to receive our King,
The great Messiah, and his new commands,
Who speedily through all the hierarchies
Intends to pass triumphant, and give laws.
So spake the false Arch-Angel, and infused
695Bad influence into the unwary breast
Of his associate: He together calls,
Or several one by one, the regent Powers,
Under him Regent; tells, as he was taught,
That the Most High commanding, now ere night,
700Now ere dim night had disincumbered Heaven,
The great hierarchal standard was to move;
Tells the suggested cause, and casts between
Ambiguous words and jealousies, to sound
Or taint integrity: But all obeyed
705The wonted signal, and superiour voice
Of their great Potentate; for great indeed
His name, and high was his degree in Heaven;
His countenance, as the morning-star that guides
The starry flock, allured them, and with lies
710Drew after him the third part of Heaven's host.
Mean while the Eternal eye, whose sight discerns
Abstrusest thoughts, from forth his holy mount,
And from within the golden lamps that burn
Nightly before him, saw without their light
715Rebellion rising; saw in whom, how spread
Among the sons of morn, what multitudes
Were banded to oppose his high decree;
And, smiling, to his only Son thus said.
Son, thou in whom my glory I behold
720In full resplendence, Heir of all my might,
Nearly it now concerns us to be sure
Of our Omnipotence, and with what arms
We mean to hold what anciently we claim
Of deity or empire: Such a foe
725Is rising, who intends to erect his throne
Equal to ours, throughout the spacious north;
Nor so content, hath in his thought to try
In battle, what our power is, or our right.
Let us advise, and to this hazard draw
730With speed what force is left, and all employ
In our defence; lest unawares we lose
This our high place, our sanctuary, our hill.
To whom the Son with calm aspect and clear,
Lightning divine, ineffable, serene,
735Made answer. Mighty Father, thou thy foes
Justly hast in derision, and, secure,
Laughest at their vain designs and tumults vain,
Matter to me of glory, whom their hate
Illustrates, when they see all regal power
740Given me to quell their pride, and in event
Know whether I be dextrous to subdue
Thy rebels, or be found the worst in Heaven.
So spake the Son; but Satan, with his Powers,
Far was advanced on winged speed; an host
745Innumerable as the stars of night,
Or stars of morning, dew-drops, which the sun
Impearls on every leaf and every flower.
Regions they passed, the mighty regencies
Of Seraphim, and Potentates, and Thrones,
750In their triple degrees; regions to which
All thy dominion, Adam, is no more
Than what this garden is to all the earth,
And all the sea, from one entire globose
Stretched into longitude; which having passed,
755At length into the limits of the north
They came; and Satan to his royal seat
High on a hill, far blazing, as a mount
Raised on a mount, with pyramids and towers
From diamond quarries hewn, and rocks of gold;
760The palace of great Lucifer, (so call
That structure in the dialect of men
Interpreted,) which not long after, he
Affecting all equality with God,
In imitation of that mount whereon
765Messiah was declared in sight of Heaven,
The Mountain of the Congregation called;
For thither he assembled all his train,
Pretending so commanded to consult
About the great reception of their King,
770Thither to come, and with calumnious art
Of counterfeited truth thus held their ears.
Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers;
If these magnifick titles yet remain
Not merely titular, since by decree
775Another now hath to himself engrossed
All power, and us eclipsed under the name
Of King anointed, for whom all this haste
Of midnight-march, and hurried meeting here,
This only to consult how we may best,
780With what may be devised of honours new,
Receive him coming to receive from us
Knee-tribute yet unpaid, prostration vile!
Too much to one! but double how endured,
To one, and to his image now proclaimed?
785But what if better counsels might erect
Our minds, and teach us to cast off this yoke?
Will ye submit your necks, and choose to bend
The supple knee? Ye will not, if I trust
To know ye right, or if ye know yourselves
790Natives and sons of Heaven possessed before
By none; and if not equal all, yet free,
Equally free; for orders and degrees
Jar not with liberty, but well consist.
Who can in reason then, or right, assume
795Monarchy over such as live by right
His equals, if in power and splendour less,
In freedom equal? or can introduce
Law and edict on us, who without law
Err not? much less for this to be our Lord,
800And look for adoration, to the abuse
Of those imperial titles, which assert
Our being ordained to govern, not to serve.
Thus far his bold discourse without controul
Had audience; when among the Seraphim
805Abdiel, than whom none with more zeal adored
The Deity, and divine commands obeyed,
Stood up, and in a flame of zeal severe
The current of his fury thus opposed.
O argument blasphemous, false, and proud!
810Words which no ear ever to hear in Heaven
Expected, least of all from thee, Ingrate,
In place thyself so high above thy peers.
Canst thou with impious obloquy condemn
The just decree of God, pronounced and sworn,
815That to his only Son, by right endued
With regal scepter, every soul in Heaven
Shall bend the knee, and in that honour due
Confess him rightful King? unjust, thou sayest,
Flatly unjust, to bind with laws the free,
820And equal over equals to let reign,
One over all with unsucceeded power.
Shalt thou give law to God? shalt thou dispute
With him the points of liberty, who made
Thee what thou art, and formed the Powers of Heaven
825Such as he pleased, and circumscribed their being?
Yet, by experience taught, we know how good,
And of our good and of our dignity
How provident he is; how far from thought
To make us less, bent rather to exalt
830Our happy state, under one head more near
United. But to grant it thee unjust,
That equal over equals monarch reign:
Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count,
Or all angelick nature joined in one,
835Equal to him begotten Son? by whom,
As by his Word, the Mighty Father made
All things, even thee; and all the Spirits of Heaven
By him created in their bright degrees,
Crowned them with glory, and to their glory named
840Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers,
Essential Powers; nor by his reign obscured,
But more illustrious made; since he the head
One of our number thus reduced becomes;
His laws our laws; all honour to him done
845Returns our own. Cease then this impious rage,
And tempt not these; but hasten to appease
The incensed Father, and the incensed Son,
While pardon may be found in time besought.
So spake the fervent Angel; but his zeal
850None seconded, as out of season judged,
Or singular and rash: Whereat rejoiced
The Apostate, and, more haughty, thus replied.
That we were formed then sayest thou? and the work
Of secondary hands, by task transferred
855From Father to his Son? strange point and new!
Doctrine which we would know whence learned: who saw
When this creation was? rememberest thou
Thy making, while the Maker gave thee being?
We know no time when we were not as now;
860Know none before us, self-begot, self-raised
By our own quickening power, when fatal course
Had circled his full orb, the birth mature
Of this our native Heaven, ethereal sons.
Our puissance is our own; our own right hand
865Shall teach us highest deeds, by proof to try
Who is our equal: Then thou shalt behold
Whether by supplication we intend
Address, and to begirt the almighty throne
Beseeching or besieging. This report,
870These tidings carry to the anointed King;
And fly, ere evil intercept thy flight.
He said; and, as the sound of waters deep,
Hoarse murmur echoed to his words applause
Through the infinite host; nor less for that
875The flaming Seraph fearless, though alone
Encompassed round with foes, thus answered bold.
O alienate from God, O Spirit accursed,
Forsaken of all good! I see thy fall
Determined, and thy hapless crew involved
880In this perfidious fraud, contagion spread
Both of thy crime and punishment: Henceforth
No more be troubled how to quit the yoke
Of God's Messiah; those indulgent laws
Will not be now vouchsafed; other decrees
885Against thee are gone forth without recall;
That golden scepter, which thou didst reject,
Is now an iron rod to bruise and break
Thy disobedience. Well thou didst advise;
Yet not for thy advice or threats I fly
890These wicked tents devoted, lest the wrath
Impendent, raging into sudden flame,
Distinguish not: For soon expect to feel
His thunder on thy head, devouring fire.
Then who created thee lamenting learn,
895When who can uncreate thee thou shalt know.
So spake the Seraph Abdiel, faithful found
Among the faithless, faithful only he;
Among innumerable false, unmoved,
Unshaken, unseduced, unterrified,
900His loyalty he kept, his love, his zeal;
Nor number, nor example, with him wrought
To swerve from truth, or change his constant mind,
Though single. From amidst them forth he passed,
Long way through hostile scorn, which he sustained
905Superiour, nor of violence feared aught;
And, with retorted scorn, his back he turned
On those proud towers to swift destruction doomed.

Het paradijs verloren

Nederlandse vertaling door Jules Grandgagnage (2021)

Boek I - Boek II - Boek III - Boek IV -Boek V -Boek VI
Boek VII - Boek VIII - Boek IX - Boek X - Boek XI - Boek XII

 

BOEK V

 

Nu zaait de nieuwe dageraad, in het oosten
naderend met roze tred, oriëntaalse
parels over de aarde wanneer Adam
als steeds ontwaakt uit luchtige sluimer (dankzij
licht verteerbare spijzen en zachte dampen),
gewekt door ruisend lover en klaterend water
(Aurora's waaier) en 't schrille ochtendlied
van vogels op elke tak; Temeer was hij
verbaasd Eva nog slapend te vinden, haar lokken
in de war, haar wangen blozend als in
onrustige slaap. Hij leunde half opgericht
over haar met liefdevolle blik
en aanschouwde vertederd haar schoonheid, 
die, wakend of slapend, sublieme gratie uitstraalde;
Dan, met een stem zo zacht als Zephyrus
op Flora ademt, fluisterde hij haar toe,
haar hand in de zijne: "Ontwaak, mijn mooiste,
mijn bruid, mijn laatste vondst en hemels laatste
en beste gift, mijn steeds hernieuwde vreugde!
Ontwaak, de morgen straalt en 't frisse veld
roept ons: laat ons de vroege oogst niet missen
van wat wij teelden, zien hoe 't citrusbos
bloeit, en mirte en balsemriet gaan druipen,
hoe de natuur haar kleuren spreidt en hoe
de bij uit bloesem zoete nectar zuigt.
Zijn fluisteren wekte haar; verschrikt keek zij
op naar hem die haar omhelsde, en zei:
"O enige in wie mijn denken rust 
kan vinden, mijn glorie en perfectie! Verheugd
aanschouw ik jou en de nieuwe morgen,
want vannacht (zo'n nacht beleefde ik nooit!)
droomde ik, indien ik droomde, niet naar
gewoonte van jou, het werk van die dag
of morgen, maar van smaad en onrust, mijn geest
voor deze nare nacht nog onbekend:
Ik dacht dat iemand mij met zachte stem
in mijn oor (jij, dacht ik) aanmaande
tot wandelen: 'Waarom slaap je, Eva?
Geniet van deze koele, stille tijd,
slechts verstoord door de nachtzanger
die waaks zijn zoete liefdesliedjes kweelt;
Nu heerst de volle maan en schaduwt zacht
de gedaante van de dingen; om niets
als niemand ziet; Waakt niet de hemel met al
zijn ogen om u, natuurs lust, te zien?
Jij, naar wie alle ogen verrukt
staren, aangetrokken door je schoonheid?'
Ik stond op, alsof door jou geroepen,
maar vond je niet; ik ging verder op zoek
naar jou en wandelde eenzaam langs wegen die me
plots tot bij de boom der verboden
kennis brachten, mooier in mijn verbeelding
dan bij klare dag; Terwijl ik hem
bewonderde, zag ik een gedaante
nabij, gevleugeld als de engelen
die wij soms zien, zijn lokken bedauwd met druppels ambrozijn. Ook hij keek naar  de boom:
'O, mooie plant, zei hij, 'beladen met fruit,
Verlicht noch mens noch God je last en proeft 
je zoete ooft? Is kennis dan zo versmaad?
Is 't nijd die proeven van uw vrucht verbiedt?
Verbiede wie wil, maar geen zal mij nog langer
jouw aangeboden goed ontzeggen; waarom
sta je hier anders?' Zonder dralen begon hij
stoutmoedig te plukken en te proeven; In kille
vrees zag ik hoe hij zijn boude woorden
waarmaakte, maar hij, verrukt, riep uit:
'O hemelse vrucht, zoet van jezelf, veel zoeter
nog geplukt; verboden hier naar 't schijnt
en slechts gegund aan goden, maar toch bekwaam
een mens tot god te maken. En waarom niet?
Gedeeld goed groeit weelderiger, waardoor
de Maker meer geëerd wordt dan geschaad!
'Kom hier, Eva, schoon engelachtig schepsel!
Neem ook je deel; Gelukkig ben je, maar
je waardigheid kan rijzen: Proef dit en wees
voortaan een godin onder de goden,
niet tot de aarde beperkt, maar zoals wij
soms in de lucht, en stijg door je verdienste
soms ten hemel: daar zul je aanschouwen
wat het betekent te leven onder de goden!'
Dit zeggende, naderde hij en hield een deel
van 't fruit door hem geplukt tegen mijn lippen;
De heerlijk zoete geur wekte zo
mijn appetijt dat ik, zo scheen 't me toe,
niet anders kon dan proeven. Opwaarts naar
de wolken vloog ik met hem, de aarde beneden
me bewonderend, immens uitgestrekt
in wisselende gezichten: Nog verbaasd
over mijn vlucht op deze verheven hoogte,
zag ik dat mijn gids me had verlaten
en zonk, zo denk ik, in diepe slaap weer neder. 
Hoe blij ontwaakte ik uit deze droom!"
Na Eva's verhaal antwoordde Adam bedroefd:
"Beeld naar mijn beeld, liefste wederhelft,
De onrust die vannacht je slaap verstoorde
kwelt mij evenzeer: die vreemde droom,
uit kwaad ontsproten, vrees ik, bevalt me niet.
Maar: vanwaar dat kwaad? In jou, zo zuiver
geschapen, kan het niet huizen. Weet wel dat
de ziel ook lagere vermogens heeft,
die de rede dienen. Daaronder, als tweede,
zetelt de verbeelding: Van alle uitwendige
dingen die de vijf zinnen voorstellen
vormt zij dromen en luchtige gestalten
die de rede bindt of scheidt, 't gekende
en ongekende bepaalt, het kennis of mening
noemt, waarna ze terugkeert naar haar eigen
eenzame cel als de natuur gaat rusten.
In haar afwezigheid bootst de verbeelding
haar graag na, maar zij baart wangestalten
en in warrig werk, vooral in dromen,
vermengt zij slecht gepaarde woorden en daden
van lang of kort geleden. Zo deed jouw droom
mij denken aan ons avondlijk gesprek,
hoewel met vreemde inlas. Maar wees niet triest:
Het kwaad komt en gaat in de geest
van God en van de mens, maar niet aanvaard
rest er geen vlek of blaam. Dit geeft me hoop,
dat wat je in je droom verafschuwde
je wakend nooit zal willen doen. Wees niet
mismoedig dus, en versomber niet
je blik, doorgaans nog blijer en serener
dan de dageraad die de wereld toelacht.
Laat ons nu opstaan voor ons nieuwe werk
tussen de bosjes, de bronnen en de bloemen,
die nu met geurige knoppen openbloeien,
's nachts gesloten en voor jou bewaard.
Zo troostte hij zijn schone gade die,
getroost, uit ieder oog een stille traan
liet vallen die zij met haar lokken wiste;
Twee andere kostbare druppels in hun kristallen
sluis, kuste hij nog voor ze vielen
als bevallige tekenen van zoete wroeging
en vrome vrees dat zij gezondigd had.
Zo goedgemaakt, spoedden zij zich naar 't veld.
Zodra ze van onder 't lommerdak kwamen,
wachtte hun in 't open veld 't gezicht
der ochtend en de zon, pas opgegaan,
die met raderen trillend boven de oceaan,
haar bedauwde licht naar d' aarde schoot
en zo het weidse landschap onthulde van oostelijk
Eden en de paradijselijke vlakten;
In diepe aanbidding gebogen zoals elke
ochtend, begonnen zij aan hun gebeden
in verschillende stijlen; want het ontbrak
hun niet aan nieuwe stijl noch aan vrome
vervoering om de Maker gepast te prijzen
in zang of woord, onvoorbereid met vloeiende
welsprekendheid die van hun lippen stroomde
in proza en dichtkunst, zo zoet van klank dat zij
geen luit of harp behoefden. Zo hieven zij aan:
"Dit zijn Uw heerlijke werken, Almachtige Ouder
van het goede! Zo wonderlijk als U
't heelal ontwierp, zo wonderlijk bent U!
Onnoemelijke, die hoog verheven onzichtbaar
in de hemelen troont, of vaag schijnt
in Uw laagste schepsels; Toch roemen zij
Uw onzegbare goedheid en goddelijke macht.
Spreek, engelen, zonen van het licht,
die Hem aanschouwen en beter loven met hymnen
en in een nachtloze dag Zijn troon
met vreugde omringen; Verenig uw hemels gezang
met aardse schepsels die hem verheerlijken
als Eerste, Laatste, Middelste en voor altijd.
Schoonste der sterren, laatste der nachtstoet,
als u meer aan dageraad behoort,
belofte van de dag, door uw schittering
bekroond, prijs Hem dan in uw sfeer.
Nu 't licht wordt in dit zoete ochtenduur,
erken Hem, Zon, oog en ziel der wereld,
als uw meerdere en loof Hem, klimmend
tot uw grootste hoogte op de noen
en dalend in uw eeuwigdurende loop; 
Gij, maan, die nu de ochtendzon ontmoet,
dan vliedt met vaste sterren in draaiende sfeer;
En U, vijf andere zwerfvuren, niet zonder
zang bewegend in mystieke dans,
prijs Hem die licht schiep uit de duisternis.
Gij, Lucht en Elementen, eerstgeborenen
uit de Natuur, die in viervoudige cirkel
de meest verscheiden vormen mengt en voedt,
laat uw gestage wisseling voortdurend
nieuwe lof verwekken voor de Maker.
Misten en nevelen, van heuvel en stromend
meer opstijgend, eerst schemerig en grauw
tot de zon uw zachte zoom verguldt:
Rijs ter ere van 's werelds grootste Maker
't zij om de klare lucht met wolken te dekken
of om de dorstige aarde met regen te drenken,
uw neervallen en rijzen verhoogt zijn lof.
Blaas Zijn lof, Gij winden uit de vier hoeken,
zacht of luid; en wieg uw toppen, Gij pijnen,
buig als elke plant van verering.
Laat 't zangerig geruis van elke bron 
en al wat kabbelend vloeit en zingt Hem prijzen.
Laat al wat leeft worden tot één stem:
Gij vogels die zingend hemelwaarts stijgen, draag
op uw vleugels en in uw lied Zijn lof.
Gij schepsels der wateren en Gij die de aarde
begaat, en statig schrijdt of nederig kruipt:
Getuig of ik zwijg, 's morgens of 's avonds,
of heuvel, dal, bron of koel lommer
mijn lovende stem voor Hem hebben gehoord.
Geloofd zijt Gij, ons aller Heer die ons
met milde hand slechts 't goede schenkt; En zo
de nacht iets kwaads bracht of verborg, verstrooi het
zoals het licht de duisternis verdrijft!"
Zo baden zij in onschuld; dra kwam kalmte
over hun denken, en gewone rust.
Zij haastten zich naar 't ochtendwerk op 't veld,
tussen gebloemte en zoete dauw, daar waar
fruitbomen met te weelderige takken
handen behoefden om hen in te tomen
en onvruchtbaar dood hout was.
Of ze huwden de wijnrank met de olm
door hem met haar armen te omwikkelen,
en zijn kale kruin te sieren met trossen,
haar bruidsschat. Meedogend sloeg hemels hoogste
vorst hen gade, en wenkte goedige Raphaël,
die zich verwaardigd had Tobias op zijn
reis te begeleiden en zijn huwelijk
had verzekerd met de zevenmaal
gehuwde maagd. "Raphaël", zei Hij,
"Je hoorde welke onrust Satan, uit de 
duistere kloof ontsnapt, heeft aangericht
in 't paradijs, en hoe hij deze nacht
het mensenpaar verstoorde om in hen
de hele mensheid te verderven. Ga dus
en verkeer een halve dag als vriend
met Adam; Je vindt hem verscholen voor
de middaggloed in 't lommer, na zijn dagelijks
werk rustend of etend. Geef hem raad
en wijs hem op zijn zalige staat en dat
zijn vrije wil zijn eigen geluk bepaalt;
Een vrije wil die toch veranderlijk is:
waarschuw hem dus, voorzichtig te zijn,
opdat hij niet gaat dwalen. Wijs hem vanwaar
het gevaar komt, en van wie, de vijand
die onlangs uit de vloog vanuit hemel viel, en nu
de val van andere zaligen beraamt;
Door geweld? Neen, want dat weersta ik,
maar door bedrog en leugens. Vertel hem dat,
opdat hij bij bewuste zonde niet
beweert verrast te zijn en niet gewaarschuwd.
Zo sprak de Eeuwige Vader, die in alles
rechtvaardig is. De gevleugelde heilige
draalde niet toen hij zijn taak ontving,
maar vloog, gesluierd door zijn prachtige vleugels,
vanuit het duizendtal serafijnen
begeesterd op, door het midden van
't Empyreum. Tot aan de hemelpoort
weken engelkoren aan weerszij
de hemelbaan voor zijn snelle doortocht.
Bij de hemelpoort gekomen, draaide die 
naar Zijn ontwerp op gouden hengsels open.
Van daaruit ziet hij, omdat geen wolk of ster
zijn zicht belemmert, de aarde (hoe klein ook
lijkt ze toch op andere lichtende bollen)
en Gods tuin, boven alle heuvels
met ceders gekroond. Zoals 's nachts Galileo's
glas al dan niet verbeelde landen
en streken ziet in de maan; of als
de zeeman die in de kring der Cycladen
Delos of Samos eerst als een nevelige
vlek waarneemt. Daarheen spoedt hij zich
in dalende vlucht, door 't eeuwig uitspansel
zwevend tussen de werelden, met vaste
vleugelslag nu drijvend op de poolwind,
dan in zachtere lucht met snelle wiek
stijgend tot bij de hoogste arenden,
waar alle vogels hem als de feniks aanstaren,
die, om zijn resten in de zonnetempel
te bewaren, naar 't Egyptische Thebe vloog.
Opeens strijkt hij neer op d' oostelijke klip
van 't paradijs en neemt zijn eigen vorm
als serafijn weer aan: zes vleugels heeft hij,
die zijn goddelijke gedaante beschaduwen;
één paar aan zijn brede schouders bedekt
zijn borst als met een koninklijke mantel;
het tweede omvat zijn middel als een sterrengordel,
lenden en dijen omzoomd met donzig goud
en verven uit de hemel; het derde beschaduwt
zijn voeten vanaf elke hiel met
azuurblauw getinte veren. Als Maia's zoon
stond hij en schudde zijn veren en spreidde een hemelse
geur in 't rond. Alle wakende engelen
herkenden hem terstond en rezen eerbiedig
voor zijn waardigheid en hoge boodschap,
vermoedend dat hij een hoge missie had.
Hun schitterende tenten voorbij, kwam hij
aan het gezegend veld door bosjes van mirre
en bloesemgeur van cassia, nardus en balsem,
een wildernis van zoet; Hier dartelt natuur
als in haar jeugd en leeft haar fantasie
zich uit in wilde, zoete maaksels, zo zalig
dat zij de regels der kunst te boven gaan.
Door 't woud van kruidgeur naderde hij Adam, 
die in de deur van zijn koel prieel zat
nu de vurige stralen van de middagzon
diep in aardes innerlijke schoot
doordrongen, meer warmte dan Adam behoefde.
't Was etenstijd en binnen bereidde Eva
een maal van hartige vruchten om echte eetlust
te behagen, en die de dorst niet hindert
naar nectardrank tussendoor uit melkstroom
van bessen of druiven. Haar riep Adam aan.
"Kom, spoed u hierheen, Eva, en aanschouw
deze sublieme gedaante tussen de bomen
naderend uit het oosten als een nieuwe
ochtend tijdens 't middaguur; Misschien
brengt hij een hoog bevel uit de hemel
en mogen wij hem vandaag als gast ontvangen.
Breng snel onze beste voorraad vruchten
in grote overvloed om onze hemelse
vreemdeling te eren: 't is ons gegund
onze gevers te schenken wat zij ons eerst
gegeven hebben, door de vruchtbare
natuur vermeerderd die bij 't oogsten vruchtbaarder
wordt, wat ons spaarzaamheid verbiedt."
Eva antwoordde: "Adam, aardes geheiligde,
door God bezielde vorm! Een kleine voorraad
volstaat als elk seizoen volgeladen
takken levert, behalve wat bij bewaring
vocht verliest en vaster voedsel vormt.
Maar 'k haast me om van elke tak en twijg,
van elke plant en sappige pompoen
de beste te plukken voor onze gast, zodat hij
zal erkennen dat hier op aarde God
zo mild zijn giften schonk als in de hemel."
Dan wendde zij zich met gehaaste blik,
vol gastvrije gedachten over wat
het best te kiezen, in welke volgorde
op te dienen, geen smaken te combineren
die elkaar niet dulden, maar smaak na smaak
opdissen als zoete, elegante wisseling.
Van elke tere steel verzamelt zij
gehaast wat moeder aarde schenkt – in India,
Oost of West, aan d' oever van de Middelzee,
Pontus of 't Carthaagse strand, of waar 
Alcinous heerste fruit van elke soort,
glad, bebaard, met ruwe schil of bolster;
Dit alles stapelt zij met gulle hand
op 't bord; voor drank perst zij de druiventros
tot reine most en mede uit allerlei bessen,
en zoete zaden perst zij tot zachte room;
Het ontbreekt haar niet aan passend vaatwerk
om alles op te bergen; dan bestrooit zij
de grond met rozen en ongebrande kruiden.
Intussen wandelt onze stamvader 
zijn hemelse gast tegemoet, slechts vergezeld
door zijn eigen stralende perfectie;
in zichzelf besloten lag zijn waardigheid,
plechtstatiger dan de pompeuze pronk van prinsen,
met hun schitterend gevolg van paarden
en met goud bedekte koetsbedienden  
die de menigte met hun praal verblinden.
Adam, naderbij gekomen, boog zich
onderdanig maar zonder schroom uit eerbied
voor dit superieure wezen, en zei:
"Hemelgeborene, geen andere plaats
dan d' hemel kan zo'n verheven gedaante bevatten;
Neergedaald van die hoge tronen
hebt Gij gewild dat zalig oord t' ontberen
om het onze te vereren; Verleen ons
deze gunst om met ons tweeën, die door
Zijn gift deze grond bezitten, in ginds
prieel te rusten, te proeven van het beste
dat de tuin voor vruchten draagt, te wachten
tot de zon na middaghitte koelt."
Hem antwoordde op milde toon de engel:
"Adam, daarom kwam ik; zo geschapen
bent u en zo de plaats die u bewoont,
dat een hemelgeest graag uw gast wil zijn;
Leid mij dus naar uw beschaduwd vertrek,
want deze middaguren, tot 't avond is,
heb ik tot mijn beschikking." Zo gaan ze naar
de loofhut die hun toelacht als Pomona's
prieel, met bloemen en heerlijke geuren verfraaid;
Eva stond naakt, mooier dan een bosnimf
of als de schoonste der drie fabelgodinnen
die naakt op de berg Ida wedijverden;
Daar stond ze om haar hemelse gast te dienen;
zo deugdzaam was ze dat ze geen sluier behoefde;
geen perverse gedachte kleurde haar wangen.
Haar bracht de engel de heilsgroet, die lang nadien
gezegende Maria toekwam, de tweede Eva.
"Gegroet, Moeder der mensheid, wier vruchtbare schoot
de wereld meer zonen zal baren dan alle vruchten
die op deze tafel gestapeld zijn
van de bomen Gods! -- Hun tafel was opgebouwd
uit zoden van gras, met rondom zetels van mos,
en op 't ruim vierkant lag van rand tot rand
de hele herfst ten toon, al dansten lente
en herfst hier hand in hand. Zo spraken zij
een tijd, gerust dat 't voedsel niet koud zou worden;
Dan sprak Adam: "Hemelse vreemdeling,
proef eens van deze gulle gaven, zo mild
geschonken door onze Voeder, van wie al 't goede
nederdaalt, volmaakt en ongemeten,
en maakt dat d' aarde ons vreugde en spijs bezorgt,
onsmakelijk wellicht voor hemelgeesten,
ik weet alleen dat Hij aan ieder schenkt."
Daarop zei de engel: "Wat Hij (eeuwig
zij Zijn lof!) de mens schenkt, die
ten dele geestelijk is, is voor een zuivere
geest wellicht geen kwade spijs. Want voedsel
hebben ook deze ideële wezens nodig,
zowel als jullie, rationele wezens.
Beiden bezitten de lagere vermogens
der zintuigen: gehoor, zicht, reuk,
tast en smaak. Eens 't gesmaakte verteerd,
wordt 't stoffelijke in onstoffelijk verkeerd.
Weet ook dat al wat geschapen is voeding
behoeft en onderhoud: wat grof is, voedt
het zuivere: aarde de zee, die samen
voeden de lucht, en de lucht de eeuwige
vuren waarvan de maan de laagste is
(vandaar die vlekken in haar rond gelaat: 
onzuivere dampen, nog niet in haar verwerkt.)
Ook wasemt de maan vanuit haar vochtig wezen
voedsel uit naar hogere sferen. De zon,
die alles met licht bedeelt, ontvangt van alles
voedsel in vochtige dampen als beloning, 
en soupeert 's avonds met de zee.
Ofschoon de bomen des levens in de hemel
ambrozijnen vruchten dragen en de wijnstok
nectar schenkt; ofschoon wij elke morgen
de zoete dauw van de takken strijken
en de bodem bedekt is met parelig zaad,
toch bracht God hier wisseling in Zijn overdaad
met nieuwe geneugten, net als in de hemel;
denk dus niet dat ik kies proeven zal."
Samen genoten zij zittend van de spijzen;
de engel niet in schijn als godgeleerden
doen, maar met gretigheid en appetijt
van echte honger, en de verteringsgloed
van transsubstantiatie: het overtollige
wordt licht uitgewasemd. Geen wonder is het
dat de alchemist met kool en vuur 
grove metalen omzet tot 't puurste goud
als uit de mijn gehaald. Intussen bediende
Eva aan tafel naakt en vulde hun bekers
overvloeiend van verfrissend sap.
O, Onschuld, het paradijs waardig! Zo ooit
te verontschuldigen, dan waren het 
de zonen Gods, die verliefd werden
op dat gezicht; in deze harten heerste
echter liefde zonder drift of jaloezie
(deze hel voor de gegriefde minnaar).
Na spijs en drank was hun natuur voldaan,
niet overladen, en kwam plots bij Adam
't idee op deze kans niet te verzuimen
door dit hoog bezoek gegeven, om meer
te weten over dingen voorbij zijn wereld,
en over hemelingen wier voortreffelijkheid
de zijne overstegen; in wier stralende
gedaanten God zelf scheen, wier macht
die van de mens ver overtrof; Omzichtig
sprak hij zo de hemelbode aan:
"Gij, die bij God woont, uw goedheid blijkt
voor mij uit d' eer die u de mens bewijst
door onder zijn nederig dak te willen staan
en deze aardse vruchten te proeven, ofschoon
geen voedsel voor engelen, nochtans door u aanvaard,
ervan genietend als van een hemels feest,
hoewel geen vergelijking mogelijk is."
Waarop de gevleugelde gezant antwoordde:
"O Adam, Er is maar één Almachtige, 
als oorsprong van alles, tot wie alles terugkeert
indien het niet verdorven is door 't kwade;
Hij schiep alles tot perfectie. Eerst als
één materie die hij bedeelde met diverse
vormen en niveaus van zijn en leven;
Verfijnder en etherisch zuiver zijn zij
geplaatst in Zijn nabijheid: ieder in zijn
eigen sfeer met eigen taak bedeeld,
totdat het lichaam zich tot geest verheft,
begrensd door eigen aard. Zoals de groene
steel licht ontspringt uit de wortel,
rijst luchtiger nog het loof, op 't laatst de bloem
die geurige geest uitademt. Zo ook streeft 't voedsel
van de mens, steeds meer verfijnd, van dierlijke
naar verstandelijke levensgeesten;
Ze geven zowel leven als gevoel, 
verbeelding en verstand, waardoor de ziel
ontvankelijk wordt voor rede, die haar wezen is,
't zij afwegend of vanzelf begrijpend:
afwegend oordelen door jou, het laatste door ons,
in graad verschillend, maar van dezelfde soort.
Verwonder u dus niet dat wat God
goed voor u achtte, ik niet weiger,
maar net als u omzet in eigen substantie.
Wellicht komt eens de tijd dat de mens
het lot der engelen deelt, en hun spijzen
niet ongeschikt of licht bevindt, en na
verloop van tijd dit stoffelijk voedsel zijn lichaam
veredelt, zodat hij gewiekt ten hemel stijgt
als wij, om naar keuze hier of in het
hemels paradijs te vertoeven,
als Gij, gehoorzaam bevonden, Zijn volle Liefde
standvastig behoudt wiens nageslacht Gij zijt.
Geniet in tussentijd van al 't geluk
dat deze zalige toestand u bieden kan,






  




































   







 


 
 




 

 

 

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