STICHERA AT THE FIRST VESPERS OF CHEESE-SUNDAY.
The reader can hardly fail to be struck with the
beautiful idea in the third stanza, where the foliage of Paradise is asked to
make intercession for Adam’s recall. The last stanza, Milton, as an universal
scholar, doubtless had in his eye, in Eve’s lamentation.
“The LORD My Maker, forming me of clay,
By His own Breath, the breath of life conveyed:
O’er all the bright new world He gave me sway,
A little lower than the Angels made.
But Satan, using for his guile
The crafty serpent’s cruel wile,
Deceived me by the Tree;
And severed me from GOD and grace,
And wrought me death, and all my race,
As long as time shall be.
O Lover of the sons of men!
Forgive, and call me back again!
“In that same hour I lost the glorious stole
Of innocence, that GOD’s own Hands had made;
And now, the tempter poisoning all my soul,
I sit, in fig leaves and in skins arrayed:
I sit condemned, distressed, forsaken;
Must till the ground whence I was taken
By labour’s daily sweat.
But Thou, That shalt hereafter come,
The Offspring of a Virgin-womb,
Have pity on me yet!
O turn on me those gracious eyes,
And call me back to Paradise!
“O glorious Paradise! O lovely clime!
O GOD-built mansion! joy of every Saint!
Happy remembrance to all coming time!
Whisper, with all thy leaves, in cadence faint,
One prayer to Him Who made them all,
One prayer for Adam in his fall!—
That He, Who formed thy gates of yore,
Would bid those gates unfold once more
That I had closed by sin:
And let me taste that holy Tree
That giveth immortality
To them that dwell therein:
Or have I fallen so far from grace
That mercy hath for me no place?”
Adam sat right against the Eastern gate,
By many a storm of sad remembrance tossed;
“O me! so ruined by the serpent’s hate!
O me! so glorious once, and now so lost!
So mad that bitter lot to choose!
Beguiled of all I had to lose!
Must I then, gladness of my eyes,—
Must I then leave thee, Paradise,
And as an exile go?
And must I never cease to grieve
How once my GOD, at cool of eve,
Came down to walk below?
O Merciful! on Thee I call:
O Pitiful! forgive my fall!”