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"So Mayest Thou Live, Till Like Ripe Fruit, Thou Drop Into Thy Mother's Lap"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: Adam is given a series of visions by the archangel Michael before being expelled from Paradise. In the visions Adam sees the death of Abel at the hand of Cain, his brother. In this vision Adam also first sees the many ways death can come to mankind. Michael shows him the cave of death filled with people dying from all kinds and sorts of diseases. Such a description, as Milton well knew, had been a commonplace in medieval poetry. After seeing the vision of the cave of death, Adam asks Michael if there is no way to avoid the pains of illness before death. Michael replies to Adam:

"There is . . . if thou well observe
The rule of not too much, by temperance taught
In what thou eatest and drinkest, seeking from thence
Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight,
Till many years over thy head return:
So mayest thou live, till like ripe fruit, thou drop
Into thy mother's lap, or be with ease
Gathered, not harshly plucked, for death mature:
This is old age."