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_Lucifer_. And heart to look on?
_Cain_. Be it proved.
_Lucifer_. Darest thou look on Death?
_Cain_. He has not yet 250 Been seen.
_Lucifer_. But must be undergone.
_Cain_. My father Says he is something dreadful, and my mother Weeps when he's named; and Abel lifts his eyes To Heaven, and Zillah casts hers to the earth, And sighs a prayer; and Adah looks on me, And speaks not.
_Lucifer_. And thou?
_Cain_. Thoughts unspeakable Crowd in my breast to burning, when I hear Of this almighty Death, who is, it seems, Inevitable. Could I wrestle with him?
I wrestled with the lion, when a boy, 260 In play, till he ran roaring from my gripe.
_Lucifer_. It has no shape; but will absorb all things That bear the form of earth-born being.
I thought it was a being: who could do Such evil things to beings save a being?
_Lucifer_. Ask the Destroyer.
_Lucifer_. The Maker--Call him Which name thou wilt: he makes but to destroy.
_Cain_. I knew not that, yet thought it, since I heard Of Death: although I know not what it is-- Yet it seems horrible. I have looked out 270 In the vast desolate night in search of him; And when I saw gigantic shadows in The umbrage of the walls of Eden, chequered By the far-flashing of the Cherubs' swords, I watched for what I thought his coming; for With fear rose longing in my heart to know What 'twas which shook us all--but nothing came.
And then I turned my weary eyes from off Our native and forbidden Paradise, Up to the lights above us, in the azure, 280 Which are so beautiful: shall they, too, die?
_Lucifer_. Perhaps--but long outlive both thine and thee.
_Cain_. I'm glad of that: I would not have them die-- They are so lovely. What is Death? I fear, I feel, it is a dreadful thing; but what, I cannot compa.s.s: 'tis denounced against us, Both them who sinned and sinned not, as an ill-- What ill?
_Lucifer_. To be resolved into the earth.
_Cain_. But shall I know it?
_Lucifer_. As I know not death, I cannot answer.
_Cain_. Were I quiet earth, 290 That were no evil: would I ne'er had been Aught else but dust!
_Lucifer_. That is a _grovelling_ wish, Less than thy father's--for he wished to know!
_Cain_. But not to live--or wherefore plucked he not The Life-tree?
_Lucifer_. He was hindered.
_Cain_. Deadly error!
Not to s.n.a.t.c.h first that fruit:--but ere he plucked The knowledge, he was ignorant of Death.
Alas! I scarcely now know what it is, And yet I fear it--fear I know not what!
_Lucifer_. And I, who know all things, fear nothing; see 300 What is true knowledge.
_Cain_. Wilt thou teach me all?
_Lucifer_. Aye, upon one condition.
_Cain_. Name it.
_Lucifer_. That Thou dost fall down and worship me--thy Lord.
_Cain_. Thou art not the Lord my father worships.
_Cain_. His equal?
_Lucifer_. No;--I have nought in common with him!
Nor would: I would be aught above--beneath-- Aught save a sharer or a servant of His power. I dwell apart; but I am great:-- Many there are who worship me, and more Who shall--be thou amongst the first.
_Cain_. I never 310 As yet have bowed unto my father's G.o.d.
Although my brother Abel oft implores That I would join with him in sacrifice:-- Why should I bow to thee?
_Lucifer_. Hast thou ne'er bowed To him?
_Cain_. Have I not said it?--need I say it?
Could not thy mighty knowledge teach thee that?
_Lucifer_. He who bows not to him has bowed to me.
_Cain_. But I will bend to neither.
_Lucifer_. Ne'er the less, Thou art my worshipper; not worshipping Him makes thee mine the same.
_Cain_. And what is that? 320
_Lucifer_. Thou'lt know here--and hereafter.
_Cain_. Let me but Be taught the mystery of my being.
_Lucifer_. Follow Where I will lead thee.
_Cain_. But I must retire To till the earth--for I had promised----
_Cain_. To cull some first-fruits.