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Paradise Lost: Book 09 Analysis

Author: Poetry of John Milton Type: Poetry Views: 475

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No more of talk where God or Angel guestWith Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd,To sit indulgent, and with him partakeRural repast; permitting him the whileVenial discourse unblam'd. I now must changeThose notes to tragick; foul distrust, and breachDisloyal on the part of Man, revolt,And disobedience: on the part of HeavenNow alienated, distance and distaste,Anger and just rebuke, and judgement given,That brought into this world a world of woe,Sin and her shadow Death, and MiseryDeath's harbinger: Sad talk!yet argumentNot less but more heroick than the wrathOf stern Achilles on his foe pursuedThrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rageOf Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd;Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so longPerplexed the Greek, and Cytherea's son:If answerable style I can obtainOf my celestial patroness, who deignsHer nightly visitation unimplor'd,And dictates to me slumbering; or inspiresEasy my unpremeditated verse:Since first this subject for heroick songPleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late;Not sedulous by nature to inditeWars, hitherto the only argumentHeroick deem'd chief mastery to dissectWith long and tedious havock fabled knightsIn battles feign'd; the better fortitudeOf patience and heroick martyrdomUnsung; or to describe races and games,Or tilting furniture, imblazon'd shields,Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds,Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knightsAt joust and tournament; then marshall'd feastServ'd up in hall with sewers and seneshals;The skill of artifice or office mean,Not that which justly gives heroick nameTo person, or to poem.Me, of theseNor skill'd nor studious, higher argumentRemains; sufficient of itself to raiseThat name, unless an age too late, or coldClimate, or years, damp my intended wingDepress'd; and much they may, if all be mine,Not hers, who brings it nightly to my ear.The sun was sunk, and after him the starOf Hesperus, whose office is to bringTwilight upon the earth, short arbiter"twixt day and night, and now from end to endNight's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round:When satan, who late fled before the threatsOf Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'dIn meditated fraud and malice, bentOn Man's destruction, maugre what might hapOf heavier on himself, fearless returnedFrom compassing the earth; cautious of day,Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descriedHis entrance, and foreworned the CherubimThat kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven,The space of seven continued nights he rodeWith darkness; thrice the equinoctial lineHe circled; four times crossed the car of nightFrom pole to pole, traversing each colure;On the eighth returned; and, on the coast averseFrom entrance or Cherubick watch, by stealthFound unsuspected way.There was a place,Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the change,Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,Into a gulf shot under ground, till partRose up a fountain by the tree of life:In with the river sunk, and with it roseSatan, involved in rising mist; then soughtWhere to lie hid; sea he had searched, and land,From Eden over Pontus and the poolMaeotis, up beyond the river Ob;Downward as far antarctick; and in length,West from Orontes to the ocean barredAt Darien ; thence to the land where flowsGanges and Indus: Thus the orb he roamedWith narrow search; and with inspection deepConsidered every creature, which of allMost opportune might serve his wiles; and foundThe Serpent subtlest beast of all the field.Him after long debate, irresoluteOf thoughts revolved, his final sentence choseFit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whomTo enter, and his dark suggestions hideFrom sharpest sight: for, in the wily snakeWhatever sleights, none would suspicious mark,As from his wit and native subtletyProceeding; which, in other beasts observed,Doubt might beget of diabolick powerActive within, beyond the sense of brute.Thus he resolved, but first from inward griefHis bursting passion into plaints thus poured.More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as builtWith second thoughts, reforming what was old!O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferredFor what God, after better, worse would build?Terrestrial Heaven, danced round by other HeavensThat shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,In thee concentring all their precious beamsOf sacred influence!As God in HeavenIs center, yet extends to all; so thou,Centring, receivest from all those orbs: in thee,Not in themselves, all their known virtue appearsProductive in herb, plant, and nobler birthOf creatures animate with gradual lifeOf growth, sense, reason, all summed up in Man.With what delight could I have walked thee round,If I could joy in aught, sweet interchangeOf hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,Now land, now sea and shores with forest crowned,Rocks, dens, and caves!But I in none of theseFind place or refuge; and the more I seePleasures about me, so much more I feelTorment within me, as from the hateful siegeOf contraries: all good to me becomesBane, and in Heaven much worse would be my state.But neither here seek I, no nor in HeavenTo dwell, unless by mastering Heaven's Supreme;Nor hope to be myself less miserableBy what I seek, but others to make suchAs I, though thereby worse to me redound:For only in destroying I find easeTo my relentless thoughts; and, him destroyed,Or won to what may work his utter loss,For whom all this was made, all this will soonFollow, as to him linked in weal or woe;In woe then; that destruction wide may range:To me shall be the glory sole amongThe infernal Powers, in one day to have marredWhat he, Almighty styled, six nights and daysContinued making; and who knows how longBefore had been contriving? though perhapsNot longer than since I, in one night, freedFrom servitude inglorious well nigh halfThe angelick name, and thinner left the throngOf his adorers: He, to be avenged,And to repair his numbers thus impaired,Whether such virtue spent of old now failedMore Angels to create, if they at leastAre his created, or, to spite us more,Determined to advance into our roomA creature formed of earth, and him endow,Exalted from so base original,With heavenly spoils, our spoils: What he decreed,He effected; Man he made, and for him builtMagnificent this world, and earth his seat,Him lord pronounced; and, O indignity!Subjected to his service angel-wings,And flaming ministers to watch and tendTheir earthly charge: Of these the vigilanceI dread; and, to elude, thus wrapt in mistOf midnight vapour glide obscure, and pryIn every bush and brake, where hap may findThe serpent sleeping; in whose mazy foldsTo hide me, and the dark intent I bring.O foul descent! that I, who erst contendedWith Gods to sit the highest, am now constrainedInto a beast; and, mixed with bestial slime,This essence to incarnate and imbrute,That to the highth of Deity aspired!But what will not ambition and revengeDescend to?Who aspires, must down as lowAs high he soared; 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 aimed,Since higher I fall short, on him who nextProvokes my envy, this new favouriteOf Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite,Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raisedFrom dust: Spite then with spite is best repaid.So saying, through each thicket dank or dry,Like a black mist low-creeping, he held onHis midnight-search, where soonest he might findThe serpent; him fast-sleeping soon he foundIn labyrinth of many a round self-rolled,His head the midst, well stored with subtile wiles:Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,Nor nocent yet; but, on the grassy herb,Fearless unfeared he slept: in at his mouthThe Devil entered; and his brutal sense,In heart or head, possessing, soon inspiredWith act intelligential; but his sleepDisturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn.Now, when as sacred light began to dawnIn Eden on the humid flowers, that breathedTheir morning incense, when all things, that breathe,From the Earth's great altar send up silent praiseTo the Creator, and his nostrils fillWith grateful smell, forth came the human pair,And joined their vocal worship to the quireOf creatures wanting voice; that done, partakeThe season prime for sweetest scents and airs:Then commune, how that day they best may plyTheir growing work: for much their work out-grewThe hands' dispatch of two gardening so wide,And Eve first to her husband thus began.Adam, well may we labour still to dressThis garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,Our pleasant task enjoined; but, till more handsAid us, the work under our labour grows,Luxurious by restraint; what we by dayLop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,One night or two with wanton growth deridesTending to wild.Thou therefore now advise,Or bear what to my mind first thoughts present:Let us divide our labours; thou, where choiceLeads thee, or where most needs, whether to windThe woodbine round this arbour, or directThe clasping ivy where to climb; while I,In yonder spring of roses intermixedWith myrtle, find what to redress till noon:For, while so near each other thus all dayOur task we choose, what wonder if so nearLooks intervene and smiles, or object newCasual discourse draw on; which intermitsOur day's work, brought to little, though begunEarly, and the hour of supper comes unearned?To whom mild answer Adam thus returned.Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyondCompare above all living creatures dear!Well hast thou motioned, well thy thoughts employed,How we might best fulfil the work which hereGod hath assigned us; nor of me shalt passUnpraised: for nothing lovelier can be foundIn woman, than to study houshold good,And good works in her husband to promote.Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposedLabour, as to debar us when we needRefreshment, whether food, or talk between,Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourseOf 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 joined.These paths and bowers doubt not but our joint handsWill keep from wilderness with ease, as wideAs we need walk, till younger hands ere longAssist us; But, if much converse perhapsThee 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 harmBefall thee severed from me; for thou knowestWhat hath been warned us, what malicious foeEnvying our happiness, and of his ownDespairing, seeks to work us woe and shameBy sly assault; and somewhere nigh at handWatches, no doubt, with greedy hope to findHis wish and best advantage, us asunder;Hopeless to circumvent us joined, where eachTo other speedy aid might lend at need:Whether his first design be to withdrawOur fealty from God, or to disturbConjugal love, than which perhaps no blissEnjoyed by us excites his envy more;Or this, or worse, leave not the faithful sideThat gave thee being, still shades thee, and protects.The wife, where danger or dishonour lurks,Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,Who guards her, or with her the worst endures.To whom the virgin majesty of Eve,As one who loves, and some unkindness meets,With sweet austere composure thus replied.Offspring of Heaven and Earth, and all Earth's Lord!That such an enemy we have, who seeksOur ruin, both by thee informed I learn,And from the parting Angel over-heard,As in a shady nook I stood behind,Just then returned at shut of evening flowers.But, that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubtTo God or thee, because we have a foeMay tempt it, I expected not to hear.His violence thou fearest not, being suchAs we, not capable of death or pain,Can either not receive, or can repel.His fraud is then thy fear; which plain infersThy equal fear, that my firm faith and loveCan by his fraud be shaken or seduced;Thoughts, which how found they harbour in thy breast,Adam, mis-thought of her to thee so dear?To whom with healing words Adam replied.Daughter of God and Man, immortal Eve!For such thou art; from sin and blame entire:Not diffident of thee do I dissuadeThy absence from my sight, but to avoidThe attempt itself, intended by our foe.For he who tempts, though in vain, at least aspersesThe tempted with dishonour foul; supposedNot incorruptible of faith, not proofAgainst temptation: Thou thyself with scornAnd anger wouldst resent the offered wrong,Though ineffectual found: misdeem not then,If such affront I labour to avertFrom thee alone, which on us both at onceThe enemy, though bold, will hardly dare;Or daring, first on me the assault shall light.Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn;Subtle he needs must be, who could seduceAngels; nor think superfluous other's aid.I, from the influence of thy looks, receiveAccess in every virtue; in thy sightMore wise, more watchful, stronger, if need wereOf outward strength; while shame, thou looking on,Shame to be overcome or over-reached,Would utmost vigour raise, and raised unite.Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feelWhen I am present, and thy trial chooseWith me, best witness of thy virtue tried?So spake domestick Adam in his careAnd matrimonial love; but Eve, who thoughtLess attributed to her faith sincere,Thus her reply with accent sweet renewed.If this be our condition, thus to dwellIn narrow circuit straitened by a foe,Subtle or violent, we not enduedSingle 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 esteemOf our integrity: his foul esteemSticks no dishonour on our front, but turnsFoul on himself; then wherefore shunned or fearedBy us? who rather double honour gainFrom his surmise proved false; find peace within,Favour from Heaven, our witness, from the event.And what is faith, love, virtue, unassayedAlone, without exteriour help sustained?Let us not then suspect our happy stateLeft so imperfect by the Maker wise,As not secure to single or combined.Frail is our happiness, if this be so,And Eden were no Eden, thus exposed.To whom thus Adam fervently replied.O Woman, best are all things as the willOf God ordained them: His creating handNothing imperfect or deficient leftOf all that he created, much less Man,Or aught that might his happy state secure,Secure from outward force; within himselfThe danger lies, yet lies within his power:Against his will he can receive no harm.But God left free the will; for what obeysReason, is free; and Reason he made right,But bid her well be ware, and still erect;Lest, by some fair-appearing good surprised,She dictate false; and mis-inform the willTo do what God expressly hath forbid.Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins,That I should mind thee oft; and mind thou me.Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve;Since Reason not impossibly may meetSome specious object by the foe suborned,And fall into deception unaware,Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warned.Seek not temptation then, which to avoidWere better, and most likely if from meThou sever not: Trial will come unsought.Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approveFirst thy obedience; the other who can know,Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?But, if thou think, trial unsought may findUs both securer than thus warned thou seemest,Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more;Go in thy native innocence, relyOn what thou hast of virtue; summon all!For God towards thee hath done his part, do thine.So spake the patriarch of mankind; but EvePersisted; yet submiss, though last, replied.With thy permission then, and thus forewarnedChiefly by what thy own last reasoning wordsTouched only; that our trial, when least sought,May find us both perhaps far less prepared,The willinger I go, nor much expectA foe so proud will first the weaker seek;So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.Thus saying, from her husband's hand her handSoft she withdrew; and, like a Wood-Nymph light,Oread or Dryad, or of Delia's train,Betook her to the groves; but Delia's selfIn gait surpassed, and Goddess-like deport,Though not as she with bow and quiver armed,But with such gardening tools as Art yet rude,Guiltless of fire, had formed, or Angels brought.To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorned,Likest she seemed, Pomona when she fledVertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime,Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.Her long with ardent look his eye pursuedDelighted, but desiring more her stay.Oft he to her his charge of quick returnRepeated; she to him as oft engagedTo be returned by noon amid the bower,And all things in best order to inviteNoontide repast, or afternoon's repose.O much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve,Of thy presumed return! event perverse!Thou never from that hour in ParadiseFoundst either sweet repast, or sound repose;Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades,Waited with hellish rancour imminentTo intercept thy way, or send thee backDespoiled of innocence, of faith, of bliss!For now, and since first break of dawn, the Fiend,Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come;And on his quest, where likeliest he might findThe only two of mankind, but in themThe whole included race, his purposed prey.In bower and field he sought, where any tuftOf grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay,Their tendance, or plantation for delight;By fountain or by shady rivuletHe sought them both, but wished his hap might findEve separate; he wished, but not with hopeOf what so seldom chanced; when to his wish,Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,Veiled in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,Half spied, so thick the roses blushing roundAbout her glowed, oft stooping to supportEach flower of slender stalk, whose head, though gayCarnation, purple, azure, or specked with gold,Hung drooping unsustained; them she upstaysGently with myrtle band, mindless the whileHerself, though fairest unsupported flower,From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.Nearer he drew, and many a walk traversedOf stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm;Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,Among thick-woven arborets, and flowersImbordered on each bank, the hand of Eve:Spot more delicious than those gardens feignedOr of revived Adonis, or renownedAlcinous, host of old Laertes' son;Or that, not mystick, where the sapient kingHeld dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.Much he the place admired, 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 breatheAmong the pleasant villages and farmsAdjoined, from each thing met conceives delight;The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound;If chance, with nymph-like step, fair virgin pass,What pleasing seemed, for her now pleases more;She most, and in her look sums all delight:Such pleasure took the Serpent to beholdThis flowery plat, the sweet recess of EveThus early, thus alone: Her heavenly formAngelick, but more soft, and feminine,Her graceful innocence, her every airOf gesture, or least action, overawedHis malice, and with rapine sweet bereavedHis fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:That space the Evil-one abstracted stoodFrom his own evil, and for the time remainedStupidly good; of enmity disarmed,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 seesOf pleasure, not for him ordained: then soonFierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughtsOf mischief, gratulating, thus excites.Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what sweetCompulsion thus transported, to forgetWhat hither brought us! hate, not love;nor hopeOf Paradise for Hell, hope here to tasteOf pleasure; but all pleasure to destroy,Save what is in destroying; other joyTo me is lost.Then, let me not let passOccasion which now smiles; behold aloneThe 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 limbHeroick built, though of terrestrial mould;Foe not informidable! exempt from wound,I not; so much hath Hell debased, and painEnfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven.She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods!Not terrible, though terrour be in loveAnd beauty, not approached by stronger hate,Hate stronger, under show of love well feigned;The way which to her ruin now I tend.So spake the enemy of mankind, enclosedIn serpent, inmate bad! and toward EveAddressed his way: not with indented wave,Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear,Circular base of rising folds, that toweredFold above fold, a surging maze! his headCrested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes;With burnished neck of verdant gold, erectAmidst his circling spires, that on the grassFloated redundant: pleasing was his shapeAnd lovely; never since of serpent-kindLovelier, not those that in Illyria changed,Hermione and Cadmus, or the godIn Epidaurus; nor to which transformedAmmonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen;He with Olympias; this with her who boreScipio, the highth of Rome.With tract obliqueAt first, as one who sought access, but fearedTo interrupt, side-long he works his way.As when a ship, by skilful steersmen wroughtNigh river's mouth or foreland, where the windVeers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail:So varied he, and of his tortuous trainCurled many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,To lure her eye; she, busied, heard the soundOf rusling leaves, but minded not, as usedTo such disport before her through the field,From every beast; more duteous at her call,Than at Circean call the herd disguised.He, bolder now, uncalled before her stood,But as in gaze admiring: oft he bowedHis turret crest, and sleek enamelled neck,Fawning; and licked the ground whereon she trod.His gentle dumb expression turned at lengthThe eye of Eve to mark his play; he, gladOf her attention gained, with serpent-tongueOrganick, or impulse of vocal air,His fraudulent temptation thus began.Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhapsThou canst, who art sole wonder! much less armThy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain,Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gazeInsatiate; I thus single;nor have fearedThy awful brow, more awful thus retired.Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair,Thee all things living gaze on, all things thineBy gift, and thy celestial beauty adoreWith ravishment beheld! there best beheld,Where universally admired; but hereIn this enclosure wild, these beasts among,Beholders rude, and shallow to discernHalf what in thee is fair, one man except,Who sees thee? and what is one? who should be seenA Goddess among Gods, adored and servedBy Angels numberless, thy daily train.So glozed the Tempter, and his proem tuned:Into the heart of Eve his words made way,Though at the voice much marvelling; at length,Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake.What may this mean? language of man pronouncedBy tongue of brute, and human sense expressed?The first, at least, of these I thought deniedTo beasts; whom God, on their creation-day,Created mute to all articulate sound:The latter I demur; for in their looksMuch reason, and in their actions, oft appears.Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the fieldI knew, but not with human voice endued;Redouble then this miracle, and say,How camest thou speakable of mute, and howTo me so friendly grown above the restOf brutal kind, that daily are in sight?Say, for such wonder claims attention due.To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied.Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve!Easy to me it is to tell thee allWhat thou commandest; and right thou shouldst be obeyed:I was at first as other beasts that grazeThe trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low,As was my food; nor aught but food discernedOr sex, and apprehended nothing high:Till, on a day roving the field, I chancedA goodly tree far distant to beholdLoaden with fruit of fairest colours mixed,Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze;When from the boughs a savoury odour blown,Grateful to appetite, more pleased my senseThan smell of sweetest fennel, or the teatsOf ewe or goat dropping with milk at even,Unsucked of lamb or kid, that tend their play.To satisfy the sharp desire I hadOf tasting those fair apples, I resolvedNot to defer; hunger and thirst at once,Powerful persuaders, quickened at the scentOf that alluring fruit, urged me so keen.About the mossy trunk I wound me soon;For, high from ground, the branches would requireThy utmost reach or Adam's: Round the treeAll other beasts that saw, with like desireLonging and envying stood, but could not reach.Amid the tree now got, where plenty hungTempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fillI spared not; for, such pleasure till that hour,At feed or fountain, never had I found.Sated at length, ere long I might perceiveStrange alteration in me, to degreeOf reason in my inward powers; and speechWanted not long; though to this shape retained.Thenceforth to speculations high or deepI turned my thoughts, and with capacious mindConsidered all things visible in Heaven,Or Earth, or Middle; all things fair and good:But all that fair and good in thy divineSemblance, and in thy beauty's heavenly ray,United I beheld; no fair to thineEquivalent or second! which compelledMe thus, though importune perhaps, to comeAnd gaze, and worship thee of right declaredSovran of creatures, universal Dame!So talked the spirited sly Snake; and Eve,Yet more amazed, unwary thus replied.Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubtThe virtue of that fruit, in thee first proved:But say, where grows the tree? from hence how far?For many are the trees of God that growIn Paradise, and various, yet unknownTo us; in such abundance lies our choice,As leaves a greater store of fruit untouched,Still hanging incorruptible, till menGrow up to their provision, and more handsHelp 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 pastOf blowing myrrh and balm: if thou acceptMy conduct, I can bring thee thither soonLead then, said Eve.He, leading, swiftly rolledIn tangles, and made intricate seem straight,To mischief swift.Hope elevates, and joyBrightens his crest; as when a wandering fire,Compact of unctuous vapour, which the nightCondenses, 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 the amazed night-wanderer from his wayTo bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool;There swallowed up and lost, from succour far.So glistered the dire Snake, and into fraudLed Eve, our credulous mother, to the treeOf prohibition, root of all our woe;Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake.Serpent, we might have spared our coming hither,Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess,The credit of whose virtue rest with thee;Wonderous indeed, if cause of such effects.But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;God so commanded, and left that commandSole daughter of his voice; the rest, we liveLaw to ourselves; our reason is our law.To whom the Tempter guilefully replied.Indeed! hath God then said that of the fruitOf all these garden-trees ye shall not eat,Yet Lords declared of all in earth or air$?To whom thus Eve, yet sinless.Of the fruitOf each tree in the garden we may eat;But of the fruit of this fair tree amidstThe garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eatThereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die.She scarce had said, though brief, when now more boldThe Tempter, but with show of zeal and loveTo Man, and indignation at his wrong,New part puts on; and, as to passion moved,Fluctuates disturbed, yet comely and in actRaised, as of some great matter to begin.As when of old some orator renowned,In Athens or free Rome, where eloquenceFlourished, since mute! to some great cause addressed,Stood in himself collected; while each part,Motion, each act, won audience ere the tongue;Sometimes in highth began, as no delayOf preface brooking, through his zeal of right:So standing, moving, or to highth up grown,The Tempter, all impassioned, thus began.O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving Plant,Mother of science! now I feel thy powerWithin me clear; not only to discernThings in their causes, but to trace the waysOf highest agents, deemed however wise.Queen of this universe! do not believeThose rigid threats of death: ye shall not die:How should you? by the fruit? it gives you lifeTo knowledge; by the threatener? look on me,Me, who have touched and tasted; yet both live,And life more perfect have attained than FateMeant me, by venturing higher than my lot.Shall that be shut to Man, which to the BeastIs open? or will God incense his ireFor such a petty trespass? and not praiseRather your dauntless virtue, whom the painOf death denounced, whatever thing death be,Deterred not from achieving what might leadTo happier life, knowledge of good and evil;Of good, how just? of evil, if what is evilBe real, why not known, since easier shunned?God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;Not just, not God; not feared then, nor obeyed:Your fear itself of death removes the fear.Why then was this forbid?Why, but to awe;Why, but to keep ye low and ignorant,His worshippers?He knows that in the dayYe eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be thenOpened and cleared, 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 offHuman, to put on Gods; death to be wished,Though threatened, which no worse than this can bring.And what are Gods, that Man may not becomeAs they, participating God-like food?The Gods are first, and that advantage useOn our belief, that all from them proceeds:I question it; for this fair earth I see,Warmed by the sun, producing every kind;Them, nothing: if they all things, who enclosedKnowledge of good and evil in this tree,That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attainsWisdom without their leave? and wherein liesThe offence, that Man should thus attain to know?What can your knowledge hurt him, or this treeImpart against his will, if all be his?Or is it envy? and can envy dwellIn heavenly breasts?These, these, and many moreCauses import your need of this fair fruit.Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste!He ended; and his words, replete with guile,Into her heart too easy entrance won:Fixed on the fruit she gazed, which to beholdMight tempt alone; and in her ears the soundYet rung of his persuasive words, impregnedWith reason, to her seeming, and with truth:Mean while the hour of noon drew on, and wakedAn eager appetite, raised by the smellSo savoury of that fruit, which with desire,Inclinable now grown to touch or taste,Solicited her longing eye; yet firstPausing a while, thus to herself she mused.Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits,Though kept from man, and worthy to be admired;Whose taste, too long forborn, at first assayGave elocution to the mute, and taughtThe tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise:Thy praise he also, who forbids thy use,Conceals not from us, naming thee the treeOf knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;Forbids us then to taste! but his forbiddingCommends thee more, while it infers the goodBy thee communicated, and our want:For good unknown sure is not had; or, hadAnd 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 deathBind us with after-bands, what profits thenOur inward freedom?In the day we eatOf 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 aloneWas death invented? or to us deniedThis intellectual food, for beasts reserved?For beasts it seems: yet that one beast which firstHath tasted envies not, but brings with joyThe good befallen him, author unsuspect,Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile.What fear I then? rather, what know to fearUnder 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 thenTo reach, and feed at once both body and mind?So saying, her rash hand in evil hourForth reaching to the fruit, she plucked, she eat!Earth felt the wound; and Nature from her seat,Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,That all was lost.Back to the thicket slunkThe guilty Serpent; and well might;for Eve,Intent now wholly on her taste, nought elseRegarded; such delight till then, as seemed,In fruit she never tasted, whether trueOr fancied so, through expectation highOf knowledge; not was Godhead from her thought.Greedily she ingorged without restraint,And knew not eating death:Satiate at length,And hightened as with wine, jocund and boon,Thus to herself she pleasingly began.O sovran, virtuous, precious of all treesIn Paradise! of operation blestTo sapience, hitherto obscured, infamed.And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no endCreated; but henceforth my early care,Not without song, each morning, and due praise,Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden easeOf thy full branches offered free to all;Till, dieted by thee, I grow matureIn knowledge, as the Gods, who all things know;Though others envy what they cannot give:For, had the gift been theirs, it had not hereThus grown.Experience, next, to thee I owe,Best guide; not following thee, I had remainedIn ignorance; thou openest 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 distinctEach thing on Earth; and other care perhapsMay have diverted from continual watchOur great Forbidder, safe with all his spiesAbout him.But to Adam in what sortShall I appear? shall I to him make knownAs yet my change, and give him to partakeFull happiness with me, or rather not,But keeps the odds of knowledge in my powerWithout copartner? so to add what wantsIn female sex, the more to draw his love,And render me more equal; and perhaps,A thing not undesirable, sometimeSuperiour; for, inferiour, who is freeThis 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!Confirmed then I resolve,Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe:So dear I love him, that with him all deathsI could endure, without him live no life.So saying, from the tree her step she turned;But first low reverence done, as to the PowerThat dwelt within, whose presence had infusedInto the plant sciential sap, derivedFrom nectar, drink of Gods.Adam the while,Waiting desirous her return, had woveOf choicest flowers a garland, to adornHer tresses, and her rural labours crown;As reapers oft are wont their harvest-queen.Great joy he promised to his thoughts, and newSolace in her return, so long delayed:Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill,Misgave him; he the faltering measure felt;And forth to meet her went, the way she tookThat morn when first they parted: by the treeOf knowledge he must pass; there he her met,Scarce from the tree returning; in her handA bough of fairest fruit, that downy smiled,New gathered, and ambrosial smell diffused.To him she hasted; in her face excuseCame prologue, and apology too prompt;Which, with bland words at will, she thus addressed.Hast thou not wondered, Adam, at my stay?Thee I have missed, and thought it long, deprivedThy presence; agony of love till nowNot felt, nor shall be twice; for never moreMean I to try, what rash untried I sought,The pain of absence from thy sight.But strangeHath been the cause, and wonderful to hear:This tree is not, as we are told, a treeOf danger tasted, nor to evil unknownOpening the way, but of divine effectTo open eyes, and make them Gods who taste;And hath been tasted such:The serpent wise,Or not restrained as we, or not obeying,Hath eaten of the fruit; and is become,Not dead, as we are threatened, but thenceforthEndued with human voice and human sense,Reasoning to admiration; and with mePersuasively hath so prevailed, that IHave also tasted, and have also foundThe effects to correspond; opener mine eyes,Dim erst, dilated spirits, ampler heart,And growing up to Godhead; which for theeChiefly I sought, without thee can despise.For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss;Tedious, unshared with thee, and odious soon.Thou therefore also taste, that equal lotMay join us, equal joy, as equal love;Lest, thou not tasting, different degreeDisjoin us, and I then too late renounceDeity for thee, when Fate will not permit.Thus Eve with countenance blithe her story told;But in her cheek distemper flushing glowed.On the other side Adam, soon as he heardThe fatal trespass done by Eve, amazed,Astonied stood and blank, while horrour chillRan through his veins, and all his joints relaxed;From his slack hand the garland wreathed for EveDown dropt, and all the faded roses shed:Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at lengthFirst to himself he inward silence broke.O fairest of Creation, last and bestOf all God's works, Creature in whom excelledWhatever can to sight or thought be formed,Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!How art thou lost! how on a sudden lost,Defaced, deflowered, and now to death devote!Rather, how hast thou yielded to transgressThe strict forbiddance, how to violateThe sacred fruit forbidden!Some cursed fraudOf enemy hath beguiled thee, yet unknown,And me with thee hath ruined; for with theeCertain my resolution is to die:How can I live without thee! how foregoThy sweet converse, and love so dearly joined,To live again in these wild woods forlorn!Should God create another Eve, and IAnother rib afford, yet loss of theeWould never from my heart: no, no!I feelThe link of Nature draw me: flesh of flesh,Bone of my bone thou art, and from thy stateMine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.So having said, as one from sad dismayRecomforted, and after thoughts disturbedSubmitting to what seemed remediless,Thus in calm mood his words to Eve he turned.Bold deed thou hast presumed, adventurous Eve,And peril great provoked, who thus hast dared,Had it been only coveting to eyeThat sacred fruit, sacred to abstinence,Much more to taste it under ban to touch.But past who can recall, or done undo?Not God Omnipotent, nor Fate; yet soPerhaps thou shalt not die, perhaps the factIs not so heinous now, foretasted fruit,Profaned first by the serpent, by him firstMade common, and unhallowed, ere our taste;Nor yet on him found deadly; yet he lives;Lives, as thou saidst, and gains to live, as Man,Higher degree of life; inducement strongTo us, as likely tasting to attainProportional ascent; which cannot beBut to be Gods, or Angels, demi-Gods.Nor can I think that God, Creator wise,Though threatening, will in earnest so destroyUs his prime creatures, dignified so high,Set over all his works; which in our fall,For us created, needs with us must fail,Dependant made; so God shall uncreate,Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour lose;Not well conceived of God, who, though his powerCreation could repeat, yet would be lothUs to abolish, lest the AdversaryTriumph, and say; "Fickle their state whom God"Most favours; who can please him long? Me first"He ruined, now Mankind; whom will he next?"Matter of scorn, not to be given the Foe.However I with thee have fixed my lot,Certain to undergo like doom:If deathConsort with thee, death is to me as life;So forcible within my heart I feelThe bond of Nature draw me to my own;My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;Our state cannot be severed; we are one,One flesh; to lose thee were to lose myself.So Adam; and thus Eve to him replied.O glorious trial of exceeding love,Illustrious evidence, example high!Engaging me to emulate; but, shortOf thy perfection, how shall I attain,Adam, from whose dear side I boast me sprung,And gladly of our union hear thee speak,One heart, one soul in both; whereof good proofThis day affords, declaring thee resolved,Rather than death, or aught than death more dread,Shall separate us, linked in love so dear,To undergo with me one guilt, one crime,If any be, of tasting this fair fruit;Whose virtue for of good still good proceeds,Direct, or by occasion, hath presentedThis happy trial of thy love, which elseSo eminently never had been known?Were it I thought death menaced would ensueThis my attempt, I would sustain aloneThe worst, and not persuade thee, rather dieDeserted, than oblige thee with a factPernicious to thy peace; chiefly assuredRemarkably so late of thy so true,So faithful, love unequalled: but I feelFar otherwise the event; not death, but lifeAugmented, opened eyes, new hopes, new joys,Taste so divine, that what of sweet beforeHath touched my sense, flat seems to this, and harsh.On my experience, Adam, freely taste,And fear of death deliver to the winds.So saying, she embraced him, and for joyTenderly wept; much won, that he his loveHad so ennobled, as of choice to incurDivine displeasure for her sake, or death.In recompence for such compliance badSuch recompence best merits from the boughShe gave him of that fair enticing fruitWith liberal hand: he scrupled not to eat,Against his better knowledge; not deceived,But fondly overcome with female charm.Earth trembled from her entrails, as againIn pangs; and Nature gave a second groan;Sky loured; and, muttering thunder, some sad dropsWept at completing of the mortal sinOriginal: while Adam took no thought,Eating his fill; nor Eve to iterateHer former trespass feared, the more to soothHim with her loved society; that now,As with new wine intoxicated both,They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feelDivinity within them breeding wings,Wherewith to scorn the earth:But that false fruitFar other operation first displayed,Carnal desire inflaming; he on EveBegan to cast lascivious eyes; she himAs wantonly repaid; in lust they burn:Till Adam thus 'gan Eve to dalliance move.Eve, now I see thou art exact of taste,And elegant, of sapience no small part;Since to each meaning savour we apply,And palate call judicious; I the praiseYield thee, so well this day thou hast purveyed.Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstainedFrom this delightful fruit, nor known till nowTrue relish, tasting; if such pleasure beIn things to us forbidden, it might be wished,For this one tree had been forbidden ten.But come, so well refreshed, now let us play,As meet is, after such delicious fare;For never did thy beauty, since the dayI saw thee first and wedded thee, adornedWith all perfections, so inflame my senseWith ardour to enjoy thee, fairer nowThan ever; bounty of this virtuous tree!So said he, and forbore not glance or toyOf amorous intent; well understoodOf Eve, whose eye darted contagious fire.Her hand he seised; and to a shady bank,Thick over-head with verdant roof imbowered,He led her nothing loth; flowers were the couch,Pansies, and violets, and asphodel,And hyacinth;Earth's freshest softest lap.There they their fill of love and love's disportTook largely, of their mutual guilt the seal,The solace of their sin; till dewy sleepOppressed them, wearied with their amorous play,Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,That with exhilarating vapour blandAbout their spirits had played, and inmost powersMade err, was now exhaled; and grosser sleep,Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreamsIncumbered, now had left them; up they roseAs from unrest; and, each the other viewing,Soon found their eyes how opened, and their mindsHow darkened; innocence, that as a veilHad shadowed them from knowing ill, was gone;Just confidence, and native righteousness,And honour, from about them, naked leftTo guilty Shame; he covered, but his robeUncovered more.So rose the Danite strong,Herculean Samson, from the harlot-lapOf Philistean Dalilah, and wakedShorn of his strength.They destitute and bareOf all their virtue:Silent, and in faceConfounded, long they sat, as strucken mute:Till Adam, though not less than Eve abashed,At length gave utterance to these words constrained.O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give earTo that false worm, of whomsoever taughtTo counterfeit Man's voice; true in our fall,False in our promised rising; since our eyesOpened we find indeed, and find we knowBoth good and evil; good lost, and evil got;Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know;Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void,Of innocence, of faith, of purity,Our wonted ornaments now soiled and stained,And in our faces evident the signsOf foul concupiscence; whence evil store;Even shame, the last of evils; of the firstBe sure then.--How shall I behold the faceHenceforth of God or Angel, erst with joyAnd rapture so oft beheld?Those heavenly shapesWill dazzle now this earthly with their blazeInsufferably bright.O! might I hereIn solitude live savage; in some gladeObscured, where highest woods, impenetrableTo star or sun-light, spread their umbrage broadAnd brown as evening:Cover me, ye Pines!Ye Cedars, with innumerable boughsHide me, where I may never see them more!--But let us now, as in bad plight, deviseWhat best may for the present serve to hideThe parts of each from other, that seem mostTo shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen;Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sewed,And girded on our loins, may cover roundThose middle parts; that this new comer, Shame,There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.So counselled he, and both together wentInto the thickest wood; there soon they choseThe fig-tree; not that kind for fruit renowned,But such as at this day, to Indians known,In Malabar or Decan spreads her armsBranching so broad and long, that in the groundThe bended twigs take root, and daughters growAbout the mother tree, a pillared shadeHigh over-arched, and echoing walks between:There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herdsAt loop-holes cut through thickest shade:Those leavesThey gathered, broad as Amazonian targe;And, with what skill they had, together sewed,To gird their waist; vain covering, if to hideTheir guilt and dreaded shame!O, how unlikeTo that first naked glory!Such of lateColumbus found the American, so girtWith feathered cincture; naked else, and wildAmong the trees on isles and woody shores.Thus fenced, and, as they thought, their shame in partCovered, but not at rest or ease of mind,They sat them down to weep; nor only tearsRained at their eyes, but high winds worse withinBegan to rise, high passions, anger, hate,Mistrust, suspicion, discord; and shook soreTheir inward state of mind, calm region onceAnd full of peace, now tost and turbulent:For Understanding ruled not, and the WillHeard not her lore; both in subjection nowTo sensual Appetite, who from beneathUsurping over sovran Reason claimedSuperiour sway: From thus distempered breast,Adam, estranged in look and altered style,Speech intermitted thus to Eve renewed.Would thou hadst hearkened to my words, and staidWith me, as I besought thee, when that strangeDesire of wandering, this unhappy morn,I know not whence possessed thee; we had thenRemained still happy; not, as now, despoiledOf all our good; shamed, naked, miserable!Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approveThe faith they owe; when earnestly they seekSuch proof, conclude, they then begin to fail.To whom, soon moved with touch of blame, thus Eve.What words have passed thy lips, Adam severe!Imputest thou that to my default, or willOf wandering, as thou callest it, which who knowsBut might as ill have happened thou being by,Or to thyself perhaps?Hadst thou been there,Or here the attempt, thou couldst not have discernedFraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake;No ground of enmity between us known,Why he should mean me ill, or seek to harm.Was I to have never parted from thy side?As good have grown there still a lifeless rib.Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head,Command me absolutely not to go,Going into such danger, as thou saidst?Too facile then, thou didst not much gainsay;Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.Hadst thou been firm and fixed in thy dissent,Neither had I transgressed, nor thou with me.To whom, then first incensed, Adam replied.Is this the love, is this the recompenceOf mine to thee, ingrateful Eve! expressedImmutable, when thou wert lost, not I;Who might have lived, and joyed immortal bliss,Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?And am I now upbraided as the causeOf thy transgressing?Not enough severe,It seems, in thy restraint:What could I moreI warned thee, I admonished thee, foretoldThe danger, and the lurking enemyThat lay in wait; beyond this, had been force;And force upon free will hath here no place.But confidence then bore thee on; secureEither to meet no danger, or to findMatter of glorious trial; and perhapsI also erred, in overmuch admiringWhat seemed in thee so perfect, that I thoughtNo evil durst attempt thee; but I rueThe errour now, which is become my crime,And thou the accuser.Thus it shall befallHim, who, to worth in women overtrusting,Lets her will rule: restraint she will not brook;And, left to herself, if evil thence ensue,She first his weak indulgence will accuse.Thus they in mutual accusation spentThe fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning;And of their vain contest appeared no end.


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