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Oh, thou beautiful

And unimaginable ether! and

Ye multiplying masses of increased

And still-increasing lights! what are ye? what
Is this blue wilderness of interminable
Air, where ye roll along, as I have seen
The leaves along the limpid streams of Eden?
Is your course measured for ye? Or do ye
Sweep on in your unbounaed revelry
Through an aerial universe of endless
Expansion, at which my soul aches to think,
Intoxicated with eternity?

Oh God! Oh Gods! or whatsoe'er ye are !
How beautiful ye are how beautiful

CAIN.

How know I what

I dare behold? as yet, thou hast shown nought I dare not gaze on further.

LUCIFER.

On, then, with me. Wouldst thou behold things mortal or immortal?

LUCIFER.

CAIN.

Why, what are things?

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No more than life is: and that was ere thou
Or I were, or the things which seem to us
Greater than either: many things will have
No end; and some, which would pretend to have
Had no beginning, have had one as mean
As thou; and mightier things have been extinct
To make way for much meaner than we can
Surmise; for moments only and the space
Have been and must be all unchangeable.
But changes make not death, except to clay;
But thou art clay-and canst but comprehend
That which was clay, and such thou shalt behold.

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And yet thou seest.

LUCIFER.

CAIN.

"Tis a fearful light!

The very blue of the empurpled night
No sun, no moon, no lights innumerable.
Fades to a dreary twilight; yet I see
Huge dusky masses, but unlike the worlds
We were approaching, which, begirt with light,
Seem'd full of life even when their atmosphere
Of light gave way, and show'd them taking shapes
Unequal, of deep valleys and vast mountains;
And some emitting sparks, and some displaying
Enormous liquid plains, and some begirt

With luminous belts, and floating moons, which took
Like them the features of fair earth:-instead,
All here seems dark and dreadful.

LUCIFER.

But distinct.

Thou seekest to behold death, and dead things?

CAIN.

I seek it not; but as I know there are
Such, and that my sire's sin makes him and me,
And all that we inherit, liable

To such, I would behold at once what I
Must one day see perforce.

LUCIFER.

Behold!

CAIN.

'Tis darkness.

LUCIFER.

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And such they are.

CAIN.

LUCIFER.

It may be.

LUCIFER.

Advance!

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Had deem'd them rather the bright populace
Of some all unimaginable heaven
Than things to be inhabited themselves,
But that on drawing near them I beheld
Their swelling into palpable immensity

Of matter, which seem'd made for life to dwell on,
Rather than life itself. But here, all is
So shadowy and so full of twilight, that
at speaks of a day past.

LUCIFER.

It is the realm

Of death.-Wouldst have it present?

CAIN.

Till I know

That which it really is, I cannot answer.
But if it be as I have heard my father
Deal out in his long homilies, 't is a thing-
Oh God! I dare not think on't! Cursed be
He who invented life that leads to death!
Or the dull mass of life, that being life
Could not retain, but needs must forfeit it-
Even for the innocent!

LUCIFER.

Dost thou curse thy father?

CAIN.

Cursed he not me in giving me my birth?

Cursed he not me before my birth, in daring To pluck the fruit forbidden?

LUCIFER.

Thou say'st well: The curse is mutual 't wixt thy sire and theeBut for thy sons and brother?

CAIN.

Let them share it

With me, their sire and brother! What else is
Bequeath'd to me? I leave them my inheritance.
Oh ye interminable gloomy realms

Of swimming shadows and enormous shapes,
Some fully shown, some indistinct, and all
Mighty and melancholy-what are ye?
Live ye, or have ye lived?

Round our regretted and unenter'd Eden,
Nor wear the form of man as I have view'd it
In Adam's, and in Abel's, and in mine,
Nor in my sister-bride's nor in my children's;
And yet they have an aspect, which, though not
Of men nor angels, looks like something which,
If not the last, rose higher than the first,
Haughty, and high, and beautiful, and full
Of seeming strength, but of inexplicable
Shape; for I never saw such. They bear not
The wing of seraph, nor the face of man,
Nor form of mightiest brute, nor aught that is
Now breathing; mighty yet and beautiful
As the most beautiful and mighty which
Live, and yet so unlike them, that I scarce
Can call them living.

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But what were they?

Intelligent, good, great, and glorious things,
As much superior unto all thy sire,
Adam, could e'er have been in Eden, as
The sixty-thousandth generation shall be,
In its dull damp degeneracy, to

Thee and thy son;-and how weak they are, judge
By thy own flesh.

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Let Him who made thee answer that. I show thee what thy predecessors are, And what they were thou feelest, in degree Inferior as thy petty feelings, and Thy pettier portion of the immortal part Of high intelligence and earthly strength. What

ye in common have with what they had Is life, and what ye shall have-death; the rest Of your poor attributes is such as suits Reptiles engender'd out of the subsiding Slime of a mighty universe, crush'd into A scarcely-yet shaped planet, peopled with Things whose enjoyment was to be in blindness— A Paradise of Ignorance, from which Knowledge was barr'd as poison. But behold What these superior beings are or were: Or, if it irk thee, turn thee back and till

The earth, thy task-I'll waft thee there in safety.

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And these, too, can they ne'er repass To earth again?

LUCIFER.

Their earth is gone for ever

So changed by its convulsion, they would not Be conscious to a single present spot

Of its new scarcely-harden'd surface-'t wasOh, what a beautiful world it was!

CAIN.

And is;

It is not with the earth, though I must till it,
I feel at war, but that I may not profit
By what it bears of beautiful, untoiling,
Nor gratify my thousand swelling thoughts
With knowledge, nor allay my thousand fears
Of death and life.

LUCIFER.

What thy world is thou see'st, But canst not comprehend the shadow of That which it was.

CAIN.

And those enormous creatures,

Phantoms inferior in intelligence

(At least so seeming) to the things we have pass'd, Resembling somewhat the wild habitants

Of the deep woods of earth, the hugest which
Roar nightly in the forest, but ten-fold

In magnitude and terror; taller than

The cherub-guarded walls of Eden, with

Eyes flashing like the fiery swords which fence them,
And tusks projecting like the trees stripp'd of
Their bark and branches-what were they?

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LUCIFER.

But

No: for thy frail race to war With them would render the curse on it useless"T would be destroy'd so early.

CAIN.

But why war?

LUCIFER.

You have forgotten the denunciation
Which drove your race from Eden-war with all things
And death to all things, and disease to most things,
And pangs, and bitterness; these were the fruits
Of the forbidden tree.

CAIN. But animals

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