Paradise Lost "Hail, Wedded Love"

John Milton

"Hail, Wedded Love"

Context: Uriel, one of the heavenly guards, indicates to Adam that an alien spirit may have made his way from hell to earth, but promises to seek him out next morning; he then departs by sliding down a sunbeam to the sun, which has sunk beneath the world. Adam explains to Eve that all things must rest at night, especially man, who has specific duties to perform which distinguish him from the lower animals, which idle through the day with no ordained work to do. Adam and Eve have to keep the growth of the garden under control and keep their paths unencumbered. Eve says that whatever Adam commands is law to her, as God is law to Adam. Whenever she is with Adam, she forgets everything but him. She then praises the glories of the garden in which they live. Adam explains to her the stellar virtue that is shed alike on them and on the millions of unseen spirits that walk the earth. They then go to their bower, which is adorned with flowers; it is closed to the entrance of all the lower animals, which stand in awe of man. Adam praises God, Who made all things, and refers to the fact that a race is to come from them to fill the earth:

This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower
Handed they went; and eased the putting off
These troublesome disguises which we wear,
Straight side by side were laid, nor turned, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refused:
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity and place and innocence,
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
Our Maker bids increase, who bids abstain
But our destroyer, foe to God and man?
Hail, wedded love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety,
In paradise of all things common else.
. . .