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So saying, through each thicket, dank or dry, Like a black mist low creeping, he held on 180 His midnight search, where soonest he might find The serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found In labyrinth of many a round self roll'd, His head the midst, well stor'd with subtle wiles. Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den, Nor nocent yet, but on the grassy herb, Fearless, unfear'd he slept: in at his mouth The Devil enter'd, and his brutal sense, In heart, or head, possessing, soon inspir'd With act intelligential; but his sleep Disturb'd not, waiting close th' approach of morn.
"O earth, how like to heaven, if not preferr'd More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built With second thoughts, reforming what was old! For what God after better worse would build? Terrestrial heaven, danc'd round by other heavens That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps, Light above light, for thee alone, as seems, In thee concentring all their precious beams Of sacred influence! As God in heaven Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou
Centring receiv'st from all those orbs; in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue' appears
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
Of creatures animate with gradual life
Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in man.
With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
If I could joy in ought, sweet interchange
Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! But I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me', as from the hateful siege
Of contraries; all good to me becomes
Bane, and in heaven much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no nor in heaven,
To dwell, unless by mast'ring heaven's Supreme;
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound:
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts; and him destroy'd, 130 Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him link'd in weal or wo;
In wo then; that destruction wide may range.
To me shall be the glory sole among
Th' infernal powers, in one day to have marr'd
What he Almighty styl'd, six nights and days
Continued making, and who knows how long
Before had been contriving? though perhaps
Not longer than since I in one night freed
From servitude inglorious well nigh half
Th' angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers: he to be aveng'd,
Now, when as sacred light began to dawn
In Eden on the humid flowers, that breath'd
Their morning incense, when all things that
From the earth's great altar send up silent praise
To the Creator, and his nostrils fill
With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,,
And join'd their vocal worship to the choir
Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake
The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs: 200
Then commune how that day they best may ply
Their growing work; for much their work outgrew
The hands despatch of two gard'ning so wide,
And Eve first to her husband thus began:
"Adam! well may we labour still to dress 205 This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,. Our pleasant task enjoin'd, but till more hands Aid us, the work under our labour grows, Luxurious by restraint; what we by day Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, One night or two with wanton growth derides, Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise, Or hear what to my mind first thoughts present; Let us divide our labours, thou where choice Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind The woodbine round this arbour, or direct The clasping ivy where to climb, while I, In yonder spring of roses intermix'd With myrtle, find what to redress till noon: For while so near each other thus all day Our task we choose, what wonder if so near Looks intervene and smiles, or object new Casual discourse draw on, which intermits Our day's work, brought to little, though begun Early, and th' hour of supper comes unearn'd:" 225
With heavenly spoils, our spoils. What he decreed
He' effected; man he made, and for him built
Magnificent this world, and earth his seat,
Him lord pronounc'd, and, O indignity!
Subjected to his service angel wings,
And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
Their earthly charge. Of these the vigilance
I dread, and to elude, thus wrapp'd in mist
Of midnight vapour glide obscure, and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find 160
The serpent sleeping, in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I who erst contended
With gods to sit the highest, am
Into a beast, and mix'd with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the height of Deity aspir'd;
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? who aspires, must down as low
As high he soar'd, obnoxious, first or last,
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils:
Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new fav'rite
Of heaven, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whom us the more to spite his Maker rais'd
From dust. Spite then with spite is best repaid."
To whom mild answer Adam thus return'd: "Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond Compare, above all living creatures dear! [ploy'd, Well hast thou motion'd, well thy thoughts emHow we might best fulfil the work which here 230 God hath assign'd us, nor of me shalt pass Unprais'd; for nothing lovelier can be found In woman, than to study household good, And good works in her husband to promote. Yet not so strictly hath our Lord impos'd Labour, as to debar us when we need Refreshment, whether food, or talk between, Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse Of looks and smiles; for smiles from reason flow, To brute denied, and are of love the food, Love not the lowest end of human life. For not to irksome toil, but to delight, He made us, and delight to reason join'd. These paths and bowers, doubt not but our joint Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide 245 As we need walk, till younger hands ere long Assist us: but if much converse perhaps Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield; For solitude sometimes is best society, And short retirement urges sweet return. But other doubt possesses me, lest harm Befall thee sever'd from me; for thou know'st What hath been warn'd us, what malicious foe, Envying our happiness, and of his own Despairing, seeks to work us wo and shame By sly assault; and somewhere nigh at hand Watches, no doubt, with greedy hope to find His wish and best advantage, us asunder, Hopeless to circumvent us join'd, where each To other speedy aid might lend at need; Whether his first design be to withdraw Our fealty from God, or to disturb
As we, not capable of death or pain,
Can either not receive, or can repel.
Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warn'd.
Seek not temptation then, which to avoid
Were better, and most likely if from me
Thou sever not: trial will come unsought.
Wouldst thou approve thy constancy? approve
First thy obedience; th' other who can know,
Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?
But if thou think trial unsought may find
Us both securer than thus warn'd thou seem'st,
Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more;
Go in thy native innocence, rely
More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were
Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking
Shame to be overcome or over-reach'd,
Would utmost vigour raise, and rais'd unite.
Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel
When I am present, and thy trial choose
With me, best witness of thy virtue tried ?"
His fraud is then thy fear, which plain infers
Thy equal fear, that my firm faith and love
Can by his fraud be shaken or seduc'd;
Thoughts! which how found they harbour in thy
Adam, misthought of her to thee so dear?"
To whom with healing words Adam replied: 290
"Daughter of God and man, immortal Eve!
For such thou art, from sin and blame entire;
Not diffident of thee do I dissuade
Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid
Th' attempt itself, intended by our foe.
For he who tempts, though' in vain, at least as
The tempted with dishonour foul, suppos'd
Not incorruptible of faith, not proof
Against temptation: thou thyself with scorn
And anger wouldst resent the offer'd wrong,
Though ineffectual found; misdeem not then,
If such affront. I labour to avert
From thee alone, which on us both at once
The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare,
Or daring, first on me th' assault shall light.
Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn;
Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce
Angels; nor think superfluous others aid.
I from the influence of thy looks receive
Access in every virtue, in thy sight
On what thou hast of virtue, summon all,
For God tow'rds thee hath done his part, de
So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve Persisted, yet submiss, though last, replied:
"With thy permission then, and thus fore-
Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words
Touch'd only, that our trial, when least sought, 380
May find us both perhaps far less prepar'd,
The willinger I go; nor much expect
A foe so proud will first the weaker seek;
So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse." 385
Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand
Soft she withdrew, and like a wood-nymph light,
Oread, or Dryad, or of Delia's train,
So spake domestic Adam in his care
And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought
Less attributed to her faith sincere,
Thus her reply with accent sweet renew'd:
"If this be our condition, thus to dwell
In narrow circuit straiten'd by a foe,
Subtle or violent, we not endued
Single with like defence, wherever met,
How are we happy, still in fear of harm?
But harm precedes not sin; only our foe
Tempting affronts us with his foul esteem
Of our integrity; his foul esteem
Sticks no dishonour on our front, but turns
Foul on himself: then wherefore shunn'd or fear'd
By us? who rather double honour gain
From his surmise prov'd false, find peace within,
Favour from heaven, our witness from th' event.
And what is faith, love, virtue, unassay'd?
Alone, without exterior help sustain'd?
Let us not then suspect our happy state
Left so imperfect by the Maker wise,
As not secure to single or combin'd.
Frail is our happiness, if this be so,
And Eden were no Eden thus expos'd."
To whom thus Adam fervently replied:
"O Woman, best are all things as the will
Of God ordain'd them; his creating hand
Nothing imperfect or deficient left"
Of all that he created, much less man,
Or ought that might his happy state secure,
Secure from outward force; within himself
The danger lies, yet lies within his power:
Against his will he can receive no harm.
But God left free the will; for what obeys
He sought them both, but wish'd his hap might
Eve separate; he wish'd, but not with hope [tind
Of what so seldom chanc'd, when to his wish,
Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,
Veil'd in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood, 425
340 Half spied, so thick the roses bushing round
About her glow'd; oft stooping to support
Each flower of slender stalk, whose head tho' gay
Carnation, purple', azure, or speck'd with gold,
Hung drooping unsustain'd; them she upstays 430
Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while
345 Herself, though fairest unsupported flower,
From her best prop so far, and storms so nigh.
Nearer he drew, and many a walk travers'd
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm ;
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,
350 Among thick-woven arborets and flowers
Imborder'd on each bank, the hand of Eve.
Betook her to the groves, but Delia's self
In gait surpass'd, and goddess-like deport;
Though not as she, with bow and quiver arm'd, 390
But with such gard'ning tools as Art yet rude,
Guiltless of fire, had form'd or angels brought.
To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorn'd,
Likest she seem'd Pomona when she fled
Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime,
Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.
Her long with ardent look his eye pursu'd
Delighted, but desiring more her stay.
Oft he to her his charge of quick return
Repeated, she to him as oft engag'd
To be return'd by noon amid the bower,
And all things in best order to invite
Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose.
O much deceiv'd, much failing, hapless Eve,
Of thy presum'd return! event perverse!
Thou never from that hour in Paradise
Found'st either sweet repast, or sound repose;
Such ambush hid among sweet flowers and shades
Waited with hellish rancour imminent
To intercept thy way, or send thee back
325 Despoil'd of innocence, of faith, of bliss.
Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.
Much he the place admir'd, the person more.
As one who long in populous city pent,
Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air,
Forth issuing on a summer's morn to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoin'd, from each thing met conceives delight,
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine, 450
Or dairy', each rural sight, each rural sound;
If chance with nymph-like step fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seem'd, for her now pleases more,
She most, and in her look sums all delight;
Such pleasure took the serpent to behold
This flowery plat, the sweet recess of Eve
Thus early, thus alone; her heavenly forin
Angelic, but more soft and feminine,
Her graceful innocence, her every air
Of gesture, or least action, overaw'd
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereav'd
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:
That space the evil one abstracted stood
From his own evil, and for the time remain'd
Stupidly good, of enmity disarm'd,
Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge;
But the hot hell that always in him burns,
Though in mid heaven, soon ended his delight,
And tortures him now more, the more he sees
Of pleasure not for him ordain'd: then soon
Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts
Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites:
"Thoughts, whither have ye led me? with what
Compulsion thus transported to forget
"Wonder not, sov'reign mistress, if perhaps
Thou canst, who art sole wonder; much less arm
Thy looks, the heaven of mildness, with disdain,
Displeas'd that I approach thee thus, and gaze 535
Insatiate, I thus single, nor have fear'd
Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir❜d.
Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair,
Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine
By gift, and thy celestial beauty' adore
With ravishment beheld, there best beheld i
Where universally admir'd; but here
In this enclosure wild, these beasts among,
Beholders rude, and shallow to discern
Half what in thee is fair, one man except,
Who sees thee'? (and what is one ?) who shouldst
A goddess among gods, ador'd and serv'd
By angels numberless, thy daily train."
By tongue of brute, and human sense express'd?
The first at least of these I thought denied
To beasts, whom God on their creation day
Created mute to all articulate sound;
The latter I demur, for in their looks
Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears.
Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field
I knew, but not with human voice endued;
Redouble then this miracle, and say,
How cam'st thou speakable of mute, and how
To me so friendly grown above the rest
Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight?
Say, for such wonder claims attention due."
What hither brought us! hate, not love, nor hope Of Paradise for hell, hope here to taste
Of pleasure, but all pleasure to destroy,
Save what is in destroying; other joy
To me is lost. Then let me not let pass
Occasion which now smiles; behold alone
The woman, opportune to all attempts,
Her husband, (for I view far round,) not nigh,
Whose higher intellectual more I shun,
And strength, of courage haughty, and of limb
Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould,
Foe not informidable, exempt from wound,
I not; so much hath hell debas'd, and pain;
Enfeebled me, to what I was in heaven.
She fair, divinely fair, fit love for gods,
Not terrible, though terror be in love
And beauty, not approach'd by stronger hate,
Hate stronger, under show of love well feign'd,
The way which to her ruin now I tend."
So spake the enemy' of mankind, enclos'd In serpent, inmate bad, and toward Eve Address'd his way, not with indented wave, Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear, Circular base of rising folds, that tower'd, Fold above fold, a surging maze, his head Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes; With burnish'd neck of verdant gold, erect Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass Floated redundant: pleasing was his shape, And lovely; never since of serpent kind Lovelier, not those that in Illyria chang'd Hermione and Cadmus, or the god In Epidaurus; nor to which transform'd Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline was seen, He with Olympias, this with her who bore Scipio, the height of Rome. With tract oblique At first, as one who sought access, but fear'd To interrupt, side-long he works his way. As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought, Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail : 515 So varied he, and of his tortuous train Curl'd many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve, To lure her eye; she busied heard the sound Of rustling leaves, but minded not, as us'd To such disport before her through the field, From every beast, more duteous at her call, Than at Circean call the herd disguis'd. He bolder now, uncall'd before her stood, But as in gaze admiring: oft he bow'd His turret crest, and sleek enamell'd neck, Fawning, and lick'd the ground whereon she trod. His gentle dumb expression turn'd at length
To whom the guileful tempter thus replied: "Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve! Easy to me it is to tell thee all
What thou command'st, and right thou shouldst be obey'd: 570
I was at first as other beasts that graze
The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low,
As was my food; nor ought but food discern'd
Or sex, and apprehended nothing high;
Till on a day, roving the field, I chanc'd
A goodly tree far distant to behold,
Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mix'd,
Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze;
When from the boughs a savoury odour blown,
Grateful to appetite, more pleas'd my sense
Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats
Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even,
Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play.
To satisfy the sharp desire I had
Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv'd
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,
Powerful persuaders, quicken'd at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen.
About the mossy trunk I wound me soon,
For high from ground the branches would require
Thy utmost reach, or Adam's: round the tree 591
All other beasts that saw, with like desire
Longing and envying stood, but could not reach.
Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung
Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill
I spar'd not, for such pleasure till that hour
At feed or fountain never had I found.
Sated at length, ere long I might perceive
Strange alteration in me, to degree
Of reason in my inward powers, and speech
Wanted not long, though to this shape retain❜d.
Thenceforth to speculations high or deep
I turn'd my thoughts, and with capacious mind
Consider'd all things visible in heaven,
Or earth, or middle, all things fair and good: 605
But all that fair and good in thy divine
Semblance, and in thy beauty's heavenly ray,
United I beheld; no fair to thine
Equivalent or second, which compell'd
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come 610 And gaze, and worship thee, of right declar'd Sov'reign of creatures, universal dame."
So talk'd the spirited sly snake; and Eve,
Yet more amaz'd, unwary thus replied:
"Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt 615
The virtue of that fruit, in thee first prov'd: [far?
But say, where grows the tree, from hence how
For many are the trees of God that grow
In Paradise, and various, yet unknown
To us; in such abundance lies our choice,
As leaves a greater store of fruit untouch'd,
Still hanging incorruptible, till men
Grow up to their provision, and more hands
Help to disburden Nature of her birth."
To whom the wily adder, blithe and glad:
Empress, the way is ready, and not long;
Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat,
Fast by a fountain, one small thicket pass'd
Of blowing myrrh and balm; if thou accept
My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon."
Of death denounc'd, whatever thing death be, 695
Deterr'd not from achieving what might lead
To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;
Of good, how just? of evil, if what is evil
Be real, why not known, since easier shunn'd?
God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;
Not just, not God; not fear'd then, nor obey'd:
Your fear itself of death removes the fear.
Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe;
Why but to keep you low and ignorant,
His worshippers; he knows that in the day
Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,
Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then
625 Open'd and clear'd, and ye shall be as gods,
Knowing both good and evil as they know.
That ye shall be as gods, since I as man,
Internal man, is but proportion meet;
I of brute human, ye of human gods.
So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off
Human, to put on gods; death to be wish'd,
Though threaten'd, which no worse than this can
And what are gods that man may not become
As they, participating godlike food?
The gods are first, and that advantage use
On our belief, that all from them proceeds:
I question it; for this fair earth I see,
Warm'd by the sun, producing every kind,
Them nothing: if they all things, who enclos'd
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains
Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies 725
Th' offence, that man should thus attain to know?
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree.
Impart against his will, if all he his ?
Or is it envy, and can envy dwell
"Lead then," said Eve. He leading, swiftly
In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,[roll'a
To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy
Brightens his crest; as when a wand'ring fire,
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night 635
Condenses, and the cold environs round,
Kindled through agitation to a flame,
Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends,
Hovering and blazing with delusive light,
Misleads th' amaz'd night-wand'rer from his way,
Thro' bogs and mires, and oft thro' pond or pool,
There swallow'd up and lost, from succour far,
So glister'd the dire snake, and into fraud
Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree
Of prohibition, root of all our wo;
Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake :
"Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming
Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to' excess,
The credit of whose virtue rest with thee,
Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects.
But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;
God so commanded, and left that command
Sole daughter of his voice; the rest, we live
Law to ourselves, our reason is our law."
To whom the tempter guilefully replied:
"Indeed! hath God then said that of the fruit
Of all these garden trees ye shall not eat,
Yet lords declar'd of all in earth or air ?"
To whom thus Eve, yet sinless: "Of the fruit
Of each tree in the garden we may eat,
But of the fruit of this fair tree, amidst
The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat
Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die.""
She scarce had said, though brief, when now
The tempter, but with show of zeal and love
To man, and indignation at his wrong,
New part puts on, and as to passion mov'd,
Fluctuates disturb'd, yet comely and in act
Rais'd, as of some great matter to begin.
As when of old some orator renown'd,
In Athens, or free Rome, where eloquence
Flourish'd, since mute, to some great cause ad-
Stood in himself collected, while each part,
Motion, each act, won audience ere the tongue,
Sometimes in height began, as no delay
Of preface brooking through his zeal of right;
So standing, moving, or to height up-grown,
The tempter, all impassion'd, thus began:
In heavenly breasts? These, these, and many more
Causes import your need of this fair fruit. 731
Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste."
He ended, and his words replete with guile,
Into her heart too easy entrance won.
Fix'd on the fruit she gaz'd, which to behold
Might tempt alone, and in her ears the sound
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregn'd
With reason, to her seeming, and with truth.
Meanwhile the hour of noon drew on, and wak'd
An eager appetite, rais'd by the smell
So savoury of that fruit, which with desire,
Inclinable now grown to touch or taste,
Solicited her longing eye; yet first,
"Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits,
Though kept from man, and worthy to' be admir'd,
Whose taste, too long forborne, at first essay
Gave elocution to the mute, and taught
The tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise:
Thy praise he also, who forbids thy use,
Conceals not from us, naming thee the tree
Of knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;
Forbids us then to taste, but his forbidding
Commends thee more, while it infers the good
By thee communicated, and our want:
For good unknown, sure is not had, or had
And yet unknown, is as not had at all.
In plain, then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?
Such prohibitions bind not. But if death
Bind us with after-bands, what profits then
Our inward freedom? In the day we eat
Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we shall die.
How dies the serpent? he hath eaten and lives,
And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns,
Irrational till then. For us alone
Was death invented? or to us denied
This intellectual food, for beasts reserv'd?
For beasts it seems: yet that one beast which first
Hath tasted, envies not, but brings with joy
The good befallen him, author unsuspect,
Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile.
What fear I then, rather what know to fear
Under this ignorance of good and evil,
Of God or death, of law or penalty?
Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine.
Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste,
Of virtue to make wise: what hinders then '
To reach, and feed at once both body' and mind ?"
"O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving plant,
Mother of science! now I feel thy power
Within me clear, not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest agents, deem'd however wise.
Queen of this universe, do not believe
Those rigid threats of death; ye shall not die; 685
How should ye? by the fruit? it gives you life
To knowledge; by the threat'ner? look on me,
Me who have touch'd and tasted, yet both live,
And life more perfect have attain'd than fate
Meant me, by vent'ring higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to man, which to the beast
Is open? or will God incense his ire
For such a petty trespass, and not praise
Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck'd, she eat!
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of wo
That all was lost. Back to the thicket slunk
The guilty serpent, and well might; for Eve, 785
Intent now wholly on her taste, nought else
Regarded, such delight till then, as seem'd,
In fruit she never tasted, whether true
Or fancied so, through expectation high
Of knowledge, nor was Godhead from her thought.
Greedily she ingorg'd without restraint,
And knew not eating death. Satiate at length,
And heighten'd as with wine, jocund and boon,
Thus to herself she pleasingly began:
Reasoning to admiration, and with me
Persuasively hath so prevail'd, that I
Have also tasted, and have also found
Th' effects to correspond; opener mine eyes, 875
Dim erst, dilated spirits, ampler heart,
And growing up to Godhead; which for thee
Chiefly I sought, without thee can despise.
For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss;
Tedious unshar'd with thee, and odious soon. 880
Thou therefore also taste, that equal lot
May join us, equal joy, as equal love;
Lest thou, not tasting, different degree
Disjoin us, and I then too late renounce
"O sovereign, virtuous, precious of all trees 795 Deity for thee, when fate will not permit." In Paradise, of operation bless'd
To sapience, hitherto obscur'd, infam'd,
And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no end
Created; but henceforth my early care,
Not without song, each morning and due praise,
Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease
Of thy full branches, offer'd free to all;
Till dieted by thee I grow mature
Thus Eve with count'nance blithe her story told;
But in her cheek distemper flushing glow'd.
On th' other side, Adam, soon as he heard
The fatal trespass done by Eve, amaz'd,
Astonied stood and blank, while horror chill
Ran through his veins, and all his joints relax'd;
From his slack hand the garland wreath'd for Eve
Down dropp'd, and all the faded roses shed:
Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length
First to himself he inward silence broke:
How can I live without thee, how forego
Thy sweet converse, and love so dearly join'd,
To live again in these wild woods forlorn!
Should God create another Eve, and I
Another rib afford, yet loss of thee
Would never from my heart; no, no, I feel
The link of nature draw me: flesh of flesh,
In knowledge, as the gods who all things know;
Though others envy what they cannot give;
For had the gift been theirs, it had not here
Thus grown. Experience, next to thee I owe,
Best guide; not following thee I had remain'd
In ignorance; thou open'st wisdom's way,
And givest access, though secret she retire.
And I perhaps am secret; heaven is high,
High, and remote to see from thence distinct
Each thing on earth; and other care perhaps
May have diverted from continual watch
Our great forbidder, safe with all his spies
About him. But to Adam in what sort
Shall I appear? shall I to him make known
As yet my change, and give him to partake
Full happiness with me, or rather not,
But keep the odds of knowledge in my power
Without copartner? so to add what wants
In female sex, the more to draw his love,
And render me more equal, and perhaps,
A thing not undesirable, sometime
This may be well: but what if God have seen,
And death ensue? then I shall be no more,
And Adam, wedded to another Eve,
Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct;
A death to think. Confirm'd then I resolve, 830
Adam shall share with me in bliss or wo:
So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life."
So saying, from the tree her step she turn'd,
But first low reverence done, as to the power 835
That dwelt within, whose presence had infus'd
Into the plant sciential sap, deriv'd
From nectar, drink of gods. Adam the while
Waiting desirous her return, had wove
Of choicest flowers a garland to adorn
Her tresses, and her rural labours crown,
As reapers oft are wont their harvest queen.
Great joy he promis'd to his thoughts, and new
Solace in her return, so long delay'd;
Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill,
Misgave him; he the falt'ring measure felt;
And forth to meet her went, the way she took
That morn when first they parted; by the tree
Of knowledge he must pass, there he her met,
Scarce from the tree returning; in her hand
A bough of fairest fruit, that downy smil'd,
New gather'd, and ambrosial smell diffus'd.
To him she hasted; in her face excuse
Came prologue, and apology too prompt,
Which with bland words at will she thus address'd:
Bone of my bone thou art, and from thy state 915
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or wo."
So having said, as one from sad dismay
Recomforted, and after thoughts disturb'd,
Submitting to what seem'd remediless,
Thus in calm mood his words to Eve he turn'd:
"Bold deed thou hast presum'd, advent'rous Eve, And peril great provok'd, who thus hath dar'd, Had it been only coveting to eye
That sacred fruit, sacred to abstinence,
Much more to taste it under ban to touch. 925
But past who can recall, or done undo?
Not God omnipotent, nor Fate; yet so
Perhaps thou shalt not die, perhaps the fact
Is not so heinous now, foretasted fruit,
Profan'd first by the serpent, by him first
Made common and unhallow'd ere our taste;
Nor yet on him found deadly, he yet lives,
Lives as thou said'st, and gains to live as man,
Higher degree of life; inducement strong
To us, as likely tasting to attain
Proportional ascent, which cannot be
But to be gods, or angels demi-gods.
Nor can I think that God, Creator wise,
Though threat'ning, will in earnest so destroy
Us his prime creatures, dignified so high,
Set over all his works, which in our fall,
For us created, needs with us must fail,
Dependent made; so God shall uncreate,
Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour lose,
Not well conceiv'd of God, who though his power
Creation could repeat, yet would be loath
Us to abolish, lest the adversary
The pain of absence from thy sight. But strange
Hath been the cause, and wonderful to hear.
This tree is not, as we are told, a tree
Of danger tasted, nor to' evil unknown
Opening the way, but of divine effect
To open eyes, and make them gods who taste;
And hath been tasted such: the serpent wise,
Or not restrain'd as we, or not obeying,
Hath eaten of the fruit, and is become,
Not dead, as we are threaten'd, but henceforth 870
Endued with human voice and human sense,
Triumph and say, Fickle their state whom God
Most favours; who can please him long? Me first
He ruin'd, now mankind; whom will he next?' 950
Matter of scorn, not to be given the foe.
However I with thee have fix'd my lot,
Certain to undergo like doom; if death
Consort with thee, death is to me as life;
So forcible within my heart I feel
The bond of nature draw me to my own,
My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;
Our state cannot be sever'd, we are one,
One flesh to lose thee were to lose myself."