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_Cain_. For crime, I know not; but for pain, I have felt much.
_Lucifer_. First-born of the first man!
Thy present state of sin--and thou art evil, 220 Of sorrow--and thou sufferest, are both Eden In all its innocence compared to what _Thou_ shortly may'st be; and that state again, In its redoubled wretchedness, a Paradise To what thy sons' sons' sons, acc.u.mulating In generations like to dust (which they In fact but add to), shall endure and do.-- Now let us back to earth!
_Cain_. And wherefore didst thou Lead me here only to inform me this?
_Lucifer_. Was not thy quest for knowledge?
_Cain_. Yes--as being 230 The road to happiness!
_Lucifer_. If truth be so, Thou hast it.
_Cain_. Then my father's G.o.d did well When he prohibited the fatal Tree.
_Lucifer_. But had done better in not planting it.
But ignorance of evil doth not save From evil; it must still roll on the same, A part of all things.
_Cain_. Not of all things. No-- I'll not believe it--for I thirst for good.
_Lucifer_. And who and what doth not? _Who_ covets evil For its own bitter sake?--_None_--nothing! 'tis 240 The leaven of all life, and lifelessness.
_Cain_. Within those glorious...o...b.. which we behold, Distant, and dazzling, and innumerable, Ere we came down into this phantom realm, Ill cannot come: they are too beautiful.
_Lucifer_. Thou hast seen them from afar.
_Cain_. And what of that?
Distance can but diminish glory--they, When nearer, must be more ineffable.
_Lucifer_. Approach the things of earth most beautiful, And judge their beauty near.
_Cain_. I have done this-- 250 The loveliest thing I know is loveliest nearest.
_Lucifer_. Then there must be delusion.--What is that Which being nearest to thine eyes is still More beautiful than beauteous things remote?
_Cain_. My sister Adah.--All the stars of heaven, The deep blue noon of night, lit by an orb Which looks a spirit, or a spirit's world-- The hues of twilight--the Sun's gorgeous coming-- His setting indescribable, which fills My eyes with pleasant tears as I behold 260 Him sink, and feel my heart float softly with him Along that western paradise of clouds-- The forest shade, the green bough, the bird's voice-- The vesper bird's, which seems to sing of love, And mingles with the song of Cherubim, As the day closes over Eden's walls;-- All these are nothing, to my eyes and heart, Like Adah's face: I turn from earth and heaven To gaze on it.
_Lucifer_. 'Tis fair as frail mortality, In the first dawn and bloom of young creation, 270 And earliest embraces of earth's parents, Can make its offspring; still it is delusion.
_Cain_. You think so, being not her brother.
My brotherhood's with those who have no children.
_Cain_. Then thou canst have no fellowship with us.
_Lucifer_. It may be that thine own shall be for me.
But if thou dost possess a beautiful Being beyond all beauty in thine eyes, Why art thou wretched?
_Cain_. Why do I exist?
Why art _thou_ wretched? why are all things so? 280 Ev'n he who made us must be, as the maker Of things unhappy! To produce destruction Can surely never be the task of joy, And yet my sire says he's omnipotent: Then why is Evil--he being Good? I asked This question of my father; and he said, Because this Evil only was the path To Good. Strange Good, that must arise from out Its deadly opposite. I lately saw A lamb stung by a reptile: the poor suckling 290 Lay foaming on the earth, beneath the vain And piteous bleating of its restless dam; My father plucked some herbs, and laid them to The wound; and by degrees the helpless wretch Resumed its careless life, and rose to drain The mother's milk, who o'er it tremulous Stood licking its reviving limbs with joy.
Behold, my son! said Adam, how from Evil Springs Good!
_Lucifer_. What didst thou answer?
_Cain_. Nothing; for He is my father: but I thought, that 'twere 300 A better portion for the animal Never to have been _stung at all_, than to Purchase renewal of its little life With agonies unutterable, though Dispelled by antidotes.
_Lucifer_. But as thou saidst Of all beloved things thou lovest her Who shared thy mother's milk, and giveth hers Unto thy children----
_Cain_. Most a.s.suredly: What should I be without her?
_Lucifer_. What am I?
_Cain_. Dost thou love nothing?
_Lucifer_. What does thy G.o.d love? 310
_Cain_. All things, my father says; but I confess I see it not in their allotment here.
_Lucifer_. And, therefore, thou canst not see if _I_ love Or no--except some vast and general purpose, To which particular things must melt like snows.
_Cain_. Snows! what are they?
_Lucifer_. Be happier in not knowing What thy remoter offspring must encounter; But bask beneath the clime which knows no winter.
_Cain_. But dost thou not love something like thyself?
_Lucifer_. And dost thou love _thyself_?
_Cain_. Yes, but love more 320 What makes my feelings more endurable, And is more than myself, because I love it!
_Lucifer_. Thou lovest it, because 'tis beautiful, As was the apple in thy mother's eye; And when it ceases to be so, thy love Will cease, like any other appet.i.te.
_Cain_. Cease to be beautiful! how can that be?
_Lucifer_. With time.
_Cain_. But time has pa.s.sed, and hitherto Even Adam and my mother both are fair: Not fair like Adah and the Seraphim-- 330 But very fair.
_Lucifer_. All that must pa.s.s away In them and her.
_Cain_. I'm sorry for it; but Cannot conceive my love for her the less: And when her beauty disappears, methinks He who creates all beauty will lose more Than me in seeing perish such a work.
_Lucifer_. I pity thee who lovest what must perish.
_Cain_. And I thee who lov'st nothing.
_Lucifer_. And thy brother-- Sits he not near thy heart?