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And nobler, than the vaunting myrmidons 120 Who lightly forfeited their heaven-born right.
Then Holy God resolved, beneath the vast,
Celestial firmament (tho' still within
His boundless realms), to form a beauteous World
With overarching skies and waters wide
And earthly creatures filled, in place of those
Whom headlong He had hurled from His abode.
As yet, was naught beneath God's radiant Throne
But gloom as dark as in the cavern reigns,
And this wide-spread Abyss stood deep and dim 130 In idle uselessness, distasteful sight To Him the source of all-creative power.
The mighty King, in mind resolved, beheld
The joyless shade and saw the lowering cloud
Lie swart and waste, like an eternal sea
Of blackest Night, beneath the effulgent glow
Of Light ineffable ; till by the Word
And fiat of the King this World appeared.
Here the eternal Lord, Head of creation,
In the beginning shaped the Universe, 140 The sky upreared, and this fair spacious Earth
By His strong might was stablished evermore.
As yet, no verdure decked the new-born World ;
The Ocean far and wide, in deepest Night,
Concealed the Universe. Then o'er the Deep
Was swiftly borne, on bright and radiant wing,
The Spirit of the Lord. The mighty King
Bade Light come forth far o'er the spacious Deep,
And instantly His high behest was done,
And holy Light shone brightly o'er the waste
Fulfilling His command.
In triumph then
He severed Light from Darkness and to both
The Lord of Life gave name ; and holy Light,
First born of all created things, beauteous
And bright, above all creatures fair
He called the Day. Then was the Lord well-pleased
With this beginning of creative force,
For now He saw the black and swarthy Shade
Subsiding o'er the deep and wide abyss.
Then time passed o'er the quivering face of Earth, 160
And Even first, at God's command, dispelled
The radiant Day, till onward rolled the dark
And murky cloud which God Himself called Night,
Chasing away the Even's twilight gleam.
Thus, sundered by Almighty power, they stand
Subject to Heaven's decree, and evermore
Have done their Maker's will.
Pale, heavenly Light, Succeeding Earth's first Darkness, ushered in The second Day. Then bade the Almighty King, 170 Forth from the bosom of the ocean flood,
Rise the bright framework of the glistening stars.
On every side the waters backward rolled,
And instantly, obeying God's command,
The mighty concave o'er the Earth rose high
A solid Firmament; and the dark waves
Beneath the lofty vault of Heaven were reft
From those above, that all might dwell secure
Beneath God's wide, far-stretching canopy.
180 Then came the third great morn swift journeying
Athwart the Earth. As yet the fruitful Land
And mighty Oceans had no settled bounds,
But all were covered with the common flood.
Swift went the fiat forth and straightway flowed
The surging waters where the Almighty willed,
And Land and Water parted as ordained.
Soon as the great Creator saw dry land
Rise from the mere, He called the dry land Earth,
Set to the waves and swelling flood their bounds 190 And fettered
Then to the Guardian of the skies it seemed
Unfitting that the first-born of Mankind,
The trusted Keeper of the new-formed World,
Should longer dwell alone in Paradise.
To primal Man, God's well-beloved son,
Was given a helpmate by his Sovereign Lord
As aid and comfort in his mortal life ;
For as he softly slept, the Almighty took
A rib from Adam's side, nor caused him pain
Since from the wound there flowed no drop of blood, 200
And therewith fashioned He a woman fair,
Inspired the form with life and placed within
A soul immortal, that at last, they seemed
Like to the Angels in their sinless youth
And peerless beauty clad.
No evil thought,
No evil deed or sin-bred pain they knew,
But burning love, a love divine, possessed
Their spotless souls. Then the Creator blessed
His latest triumph of creative might
With blessings large, and words full fraught with
He blessed and said: “Teem now and multiply,
Fill with your heaven-born kin the verdant Earth ;
To you I give dominion o'er the Flood,
O'er all this vast creation sole control,
And in perpetual joy your days shall pass.
Hear, then, the mandate of Omnipotence;
Whate'er the Ocean holds, whate'er the Earth
Brings forth of fowl or cattle or wild beast,
Whatever treads the Land or is endued
With mystic life, e'en whatsoever moves
Throughout the whale-path of the mighty Deep
All shall pay homage and obey your will.”
Then the Creator gazed with blissful joy
Upon the grandeur of His new domain.
There stood, with beauty girt and filled with gifts,
Resplendent in the golden Light, Man's home
Of Paradise. The running stream watered
The fruitful Land; since wind and lowering cloud 230 With rain and tempest charged were yet unborn.
The kindly Earth, adorned with fragrant fruit,
Drank of the spring-fed brook. For at the first
One stream alone of sparkling water flowed
Through Paradise ; whence issuing it formed
Four noble rivers spreading through the world.
All other trees enjoy, but from that one
Strictly abstain and evermore beware
Its luring fruit, lest it become erelong
Unholy source of still unholier lust.”
240 They bowed their heads in deepest reverence
Before their Heavenly King and praised His name
In sweetest melody, for all that Love
Divine had wrought or Wisdom had prescribed.
Forthwith departed Heaven's eternal King
Leaving to Man the Garden as his home.
And evermore, performing Heaven's behests
They dwelt in holy joy, nor sorrow knew ;-
Dear to the Lord their Maker while they kept
Inviolate His high decree.