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[p. 155]

The first canto gives somewhat of an outline of the whole poem, and introduces Egla, the bride of seven. Egla is reclining in a grove when her mother, Sephora, approaches her and begs her to choose a husband before her youth and beauty fade. Egla confesses to her mother that in a vision an old man had appeared to her and assured her that a bridegroom would one day come to her from the Euphrates. He emphasized his prophecy by revealing himself just before vanishing in the shape of the angel Raphael.

Sephora, however, discredits Egla's vision, and begs her not to waste her charms on a ‘thought-love.’

Egla yields a sad obedience to her mother's wishes, and Meles is named for her husband. ‘The Mede I'll wed,’ says Egla, ‘but yet, why will these tears gush forth thus—in thy presence, too?’ Sephora held her to her heart while grief had its way; then kissing her blue eyes, left her to slumber through the fervid noon.

While Egla was thus reclining in her bower—

It chanced that day, lured by the verdure, came
Zophiel, a spirit sometime ill, but, ere
He fell, a heavenly angel.
And now he wanders on from glade to glade
To where more precious shrubs diffuse their balms;
And gliding through the thickly-woven shade,
Where the soft captive lay in all her charms,
He caught a glimpse. The colors in her face,
Her bare, white arms, her lips, her shining hair,
Burst on his view. He would have flown the place,
Fearing some faithful angel rested there,
Who'd see him, reft of glory, lost to bliss,
Wandering, and miserably panting, fain
To glean a joy e'en from a place like this;
The thought of what he once had been was pain
Ineffable. But what assailed the ear?
A sigh? Surprised, another glance he took;
Then doubting, fearing, softly coming near,
He ventured to her side, and dared to look,
Whispering, Yes, 'tis of earth; so new-found life
Refreshing, looked sweet Eve, with purpose fell,
When first Sin's sovereign gazed on her.

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