In the center the hast'ning angel [Michael] takes Adam and Eve-one in each hand and
conducts them down and out of Eden. They're looking back at what they are leaving
The serpent slivers under their feet. (In the later, Butts set they are looking down at
where they're going.)
Below their feet are thorns and thistles.
Milton refers to them as cherubim (stationed with a fiery sword to refuse any admittance to Eden.)
3:17 And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
3:18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
3:22 And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us, to know good and evil: and now, lest he put forth his hand, and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever:
3:23 Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken.
3:24 So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.
The text relating to this picture in found in Book XII of Milton's Paradise Lost:
To Their fixed Station, all in bright array
The Cherubim descended; on the ground
Gliding Madeiras, as Evening Mist
630Risen from a River o’er the Marisa glides,
And gathers ground fast at the Laborers heel
Homeward returning. High in Front advanced,
The brandished Sword of God before them blazed
Fierce as a Comet; which with torrid heat,
635And vapor as the Libyan Air adust,
In either hand the hamstring [??] Angel caught
Our lingering Parents, and to th' Eastern Gate
Led them direct, and down the Cliff as fast
640To the subjected Plains; then disappeared.
They looking back, all th' Eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late Their happier seat,
Waved over by that flaming Brand, the Gate
With dreadful Faces thronged and firey Arms:
645Som natural tears they draped, but wiped them soon;
The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence Their guide:
They hand in hand with wadding steps and slow,
Through Eden took Their solitaire way.