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The skill of artifice or office mean,
Active within, beyond the sense of brute. Not that which justly gives heroic name Thus he resolved, but first, from inward grief, To person or to poem. Me of these
His bursting passion into plaints thus poured. Nor skilled nor studious, higher argument
“O earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferred Remains, sufficient of itself to raise
More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built That name, unless an age too late, or cold With second thoughts, reforming what was old! Climate, or years, damp my intended wing For what God, after better, worse would build? Depressed; and much they may, if all be mine, Terrestrial Heaven, danced round by other Hea Not hers, who brings it nightly to my ear.
The sun was sunk, and after him the star That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps, Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems, Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter
In thee concent'ring all their precious beams 'Twixt day and night, and now from end to end Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven Night's hemisphere had veiled the horizon round Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou, When Satan, who late fled before the threats Centering, receivest from all those orbs; in thee, Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improved
Not in themselves, all their known virtue, appears In meditated fraud and malice, bent
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth On man's destruction, maugre what might hap Of creatures animate with gradual life Of heavier on himself, fearless returned. Of growth, sense, reason, all summed up in man. By night he fled, and at midnight returned With what delight could I have walked thee round, From compassing the earth, cautious of day, If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried
Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains, His entrance, and forewarned the cherubim Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crowned, That kept their watch; thence, full of anguish Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these driven,
Find place or refuge; and the more I see The space of seven continued nights he rode Pleasures about me, so much more I feel With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line Torment within me, as from the hateful siege He circled; four times crossed the car of night Of contraries; all good to me becomes From pole to pole, traversing each colure; Bane, and in Heaven much worse would be my On the eighth returned, and, on the coast averse state. From entrance or cherubic watch, by stealth But neither here seek I, no nor in Heaven Found unsuspected way. There was a place, Todwell, unless by mastering Heaven's Supreme; Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the Nor hope to be myself less miserable change,
By what I seek, but others to make such Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,
As I, though thereby worse to me redound: Into a gulf shot under ground, till part
For only in destroying I find ease Rose up a fountain by the tree of life;
To my relentless thoughts; and, him destroyed, In with the river sunk, and with it rose Or won to what may work his utter loss, Satan, involved in rising mist, then sought For whom all this was made, all this will soon Where to lie hid; sea he had searched and land, Follow, as to him linked in weal or wo; From Eden over Pontus, and the pool
In wo then; that destruction wide may rage: Mæotis , up beyond the river Ob;
To me shall be the glory sole among Downward as far antarctic; and in length The infernal powers, in one day to have marred West from Orontes to the ocean barred What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days At Darien; thence to the land where flows Continued making, and who knows how long Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roamed Before had been contriving? though perhaps With narrow search, and, with inspection deep, Not longer than since I, in one night, freed Considered every creature, which of all From servitude inglorious well nigh half Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found The angelic name, and thinner left the throng The serpent subtlest beast of all the field. Of his adorers: he, to be avenged, Him, after long debate, irresolute
And to repair his numbers thus impaired, Of thoughts resolved, his final sentence chose Whether such virtue spent of old now failed Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud in whom
More angels to create, if they at least To enter, and his dark suggestions hide
Are his created, or to spite us more, From sharpest sight: for, in the wily snake, Determined to advance into our room Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark, A creature formed of earth, and him endow, As from his wit and native subtlety
Exalted from so base original, Proceeding, which, in other beasts observed, With Heavenly spoils, our spoils: what he deDoubt might beget of diabolic power
He effected; man he made, and for him built Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, Magnificent this world, and earth his seat, One night or two with wanton growth derides, Him lord pronounced; and, O indignity! Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise, Subjected to his service angel wings,
Or bear what to my mind first thoughts present: And flaming ministers, to watch and tend Let us divide our labours; thou where choice Their earthly charge: of these the vigilance Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapt in mist The woodbine round this arbour, or direct Of midnight vapour, glide obscure, and pry The clasping ivy where to climb; while I, In every bush and brake, where hap may find In yonder spring of roses intermixed The serpent sleeping, in whose mazy folds With myrtle, find what to redress till noon; To hide me, and the dark intent I bring. For while so near each other thus all day Of foul descent! that I, who erst contended Our task we choose, what wonder if so near With gods to sit the highest, am now constrained Looks intervene and smiles, or object new Into a beast, and, mixed with bestial slime, Casual discourse draw on, which intermits This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
Our day's work, brought to little, though begun That to the height of Deity aspired!
Early, and the hour of supper comes unearned ?" But what will not ambition and revenge
To whom mild answer Adam thus returned: Descend to? who aspires, must down as low “Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond As high he soared, obnoxious first or last Compare above all living creatures dear, To basest things. Revenge, at first, though sweet, Well hast thou motioned, well thy thoughts emBitter ere long, back on itself recoils;
ployed, Let it; I reck not, so it light well aimed, How we might best fulfil the work which here Since higher I fall short, on him who next God hath assigned us, nor of me shalt pass Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Unpraised: for nothing lovelier can be found Of Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite, In woman, than to study household good, Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised And good works in her husband to promote. From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid." Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposed
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry, Labour, as to debar us when we need Like a black mist low creeping, he held on Refreshment, whether food, or talk between, His midnight search, where soonest he might find Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse The serpent: him fast sleeping soon he found Of looks and smiles: for smiles from reason flow, In labyrinth of many a round self-rolled, To brute denied, and are of love the food; His lead the midst, well stored with subtle wiles: Love, not the lowest end of human life. Nor yet in horrid shade or dismal den, For not to irksome toil, but to delight Nor nocent yet, but on the grassy herb He made us, and delight to reason joined. Fearless unfeared he slept; in at his mouth These paths and bowers doubt not but our joint The Devil entered, and his brutal sense,
hands In heart or head, possessing, soon inspired, Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide With act intelligential; but his sleep
As we need walk, till younger hands ere long Disturbed not, waiting close th' approach of morn. Assist us; but if much converse perhaps
Now when as sacred light began to dawn Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield;
But other doubt possesses me, lest harm
What hath been warned us, what malicious foe,
“Adam, well may we labour still to dress Our fealty from God, or to disturb
That gave thee being, still shades thee and protects
The wife, where danger or dishonour lurks, "If this be our condition thus to dwell
Single with light defence, wherever met,
Of our integrity; his foul esteem That such an enemy we have, who seeks Sticks no dishonour on our front, but turns Our ruin, both by thee informed I learn Foul on himself; then wherefore shunned or feared And from the parting angel overheard, By us? who rather double honour gain As in a shady nook I stood behind,
From his surmise proved false, find peace within, Just then returned at shut of evening flowers. Favour from Heaven, our witness, from th' event. But that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubt And what is faith, love, virtue, unassayed To God or thee, because we have a foe Alone, without exterior help sustained? May ternpt it, I expected not to hear.
Let us not then suspect our happy state His violence thou fearest not, being such Left so imperfect by the Maker wise, As we, not capable of death or pain,
As not secure to single or combined.
Frail is our happiness, if this be so,
Nothing imperfect or deficient left
To whom with healing words Adam replied. Or aught that might his happy state secure, “Daughter of God and man, immortal Eve! Secure from outward force; within himself For such thou art, from sin and blame entire; The danger lies, yet lies within his power; Not diffident of thee do I dissuade
Against his will he can receive no harm. Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid But God left free the will; for what obeys Th’ attempt itself intended by our foe.
Reason is free; and reason has made right, For he who tempts, tho' in vain, at least asperses But bid her well beware, and still erect, The tempted with dishonour foul, supposed Lest, by some fair-appearing good surprised, Not incorruptible of faith, not proof
She dictate false, and misinform the will Against temptation: thou thyself with scorn To do what God expressly hath forbid. And anger wouldst resent the offered wrong, Not then mistrust but tender love enjoins, Though ineffectual found; misdeem not then, That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou mo. If such affront I labour to avert
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve From thee alone, which on us both at once Since reason not impossibly may meet The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare, Some specious object by the foe suborned, Or daring, first on me the assault shall light. And fall into deception unaware, Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn; Not keeping strictest watch as she was warned. Subtle be needs must be, who could seduce Seek not temptation then, which to avoid Angels : nor think superfluous others' aid. Were better, and most likely if from me I from the influence of thy looks receive Thou sever not: trial will come unsought. Access in every virtue; in thy sight
Would'st thou approve thy constancy, approvo More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were First thy obedience; the other who can know, Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking Not seeing thee attempted, who attest ? on,
But if thou think trial unsought may find Shame to be overcome or overreached,
Us both securer than thus warned thou seem'st, Would utmost vigour raise, and raised unite. Go: for thy stay, not free, absents thee more; Why should'st not thou like sense within thee Go, in thy native innocence, rely feel
On what thou hast of virtue; summon all ! When I am present, and thy trial choose For God towards thee hath done his part, do With me, best witness of thy virtue tried ?"
thine.' So spake domestic Adam in his care
So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought Persisted, yet submiss, though last replied. Less attributed to her faith sincere,
“ With thy permission then, and thus foreThus her reply with accents sweet renewed.
Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,
Spot more delicious than those gardens feigned
Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand | Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king Soft she withdrew, and, like a wood-nymph light Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse. Oread or dryad, or of Delia's train,
Much he the place admired, the person more. Betook her to the groves; but Delia's self As one who, long in populous city pent, In gait surpassed, and goddess-like deport, Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air, Though not as she with bow and quiver armed, Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe But with such gardening tools as art, yet rude, Among the pleasant villages and farms Guiltless of fire, had formed, or angels brought. Adjoined, from each thing met conceives delight; To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorned,
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine, Likest she seemed Pomona, when she fled Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound; Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime,
If chance with nymph-like step fair virgin pass, Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.
What pleasing seemed, for her now pleases more; Her long with ardent look his eye pursued She most, and in her look sums all delight: Delighted, but desiring more her stay.
Such pleasure took the serpent to behold
Thus early, thus alone; her heavenly form
Her graceful innocence, her every air
Of gesture, or least action, overawed O much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve, His malice, and with rapine sweet bereaved Of thy presumed return! event perverse ! His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought; Thou never from that hour in Paradise
That space the evil-one abstracted stood Found'st either sweet repast, or sound repose; From his own evil, and for the time remained Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and Stupidly good, of enmity disarmed, shades,
Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge: Waited with hellish rancour imminent
But the hot hell that always in him burns, To intercept thy way, or send thee back Though in mid Heaven, soon ended his delight, Despoiled of innocenee, of faith, of bliss !
And tortures him now more, the more he sees For now, and since first break of dawn, the fiend, Of pleasure, not for him ordained: then soon Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come, Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts And on his quest, where likeliest he might find Of mischief gratulating, thus excites. The only two of mankind, but in them
Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what The whole included race, his purposed prey,
sweet In bower and field he sought, where any tuft Compulsion thus transported, to forget Of grove or garden-plot more plesant lay, What hither brought us; hate, not love, nor hope Their tendance, or plantation of delight; Of Paradise for hell, hope there to taste By fountain or by shady rivulet
Of pleasure, but, all pleasure to destroy, He sought them both, but wished his hap might Save what is in destroying: other joy find
To me is lost. Then let me not let pass Eve separate; he wished, but not with hope Occasion which now smiles; behold alone Of what so seldom chanced; when to his wish, The woman, opportune to all attempts, Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,
Her husband, for I view far round, not nigh, Veiled in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood, Whose higher intellectual more I shun, Half spied, so thick the roses blushing round And strength, of courage haughty, and of limb About her glowed, oft stooping to support Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould; Each flower of slender stalk, whose head, thoughgay Foe not informidable' exempt from wound, Carnation, purple, azure, or specked with gold, I not; so much hath hell debased, and pain Hung drooping unsustained; them she upstays Enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven. Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while She fair, divinely fair, fit love for gods! Herself, though fairest unsupported flower, Not terrible, though terror be in love From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh. And beauty, not approached by stronger hate, Nearer he drew, and many a walk traversed Hate stronger, under show of love well feigned; Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm; The way which to her ruin now I tend."
So spake the enemy of mankind, enclosed Though at the voice much marvelling; at length, In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake. Addressed his way: not with indented wave, “What may this mean? language of man proProne on the ground, as since: but on his reas, nounced Circular base of rising folds, that towered By tongue of brute, and human sense expressed? Fold above fold, a surging maze! his head The first, at least, of these I thought denied Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes;
To beasts, whom God, on their creation-day, With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect Created mute to all articulate sound; Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass The latter I demur; for in their looks Floated redundant; pleasing was his shape, Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears. And lovely; never since of serpent kind Thee, serpent, subtlest beast of all the field Lovelier; not those that in Illyria changed I knew, but not with human voice endued; Hermione and Cadmus, or the god
Redouble then this miracle, and say, In Epidaurus; nor to which transformed How cain'st thou speakable of mute, and now Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline was seen; To me so friendly grown above the rest He with Olympias, this with her who bore Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight? Scipio, the height of Rome. With tract oblique Say, for such wonder claims attention due." At first, as one who sought access, but feared To whom the guileful tempter thus replied. To interrupt, sidelong he works his way.
Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve! As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought, Easy to ine it is to tell thee all Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind What thou commandest, and right thou shouldst Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sails ;
be obeyed; So varied he, and of his tortuous train
I was at first as other beasts that graze Curled many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve, The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, To lure her eye; she, busied, heard the sound As was my food; nor aught but food discerned Of rustling leaves, but minded not, as used Or sex, and apprehended nothing high: To such disport before her through the field, Till, on a day roving the field, I chanced From every beast, more duteous at her call, A goodly tree far distant to behold, Than at Circean call the herd disguised. Loaden with fruit of fairest colours inixed, He, bolder now, uncalled before her stood, Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze; But as in gaze admiring: oft he bowed
When from the boughs a savoury odour blown, His turret crest, and sleek enamelled neck, Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense Fawning, and licked the ground whereon she trod. Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats His gentle dumb expression turned at length Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even, The eye of Eve to mark his play; he, glad Unsucked of lamb or kid, that tend their play. Of her attention gained, with serpent tongue To satisfy the sharp desire I had Organic, or impulse of vocal air.
Of tasting those fair apples, I resolved His fraudulent temptation thus began.
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once, "Wonder not, sovereign mistress, if perhaps Powerful persuaders, quickened at the scent Thou canst, who art sole wonder! much less arm Of that alluring fruit, urged me so keen. Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain, About the mossy trunk I wound me soon, Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze For, high from ground, the branches would reInsatiate ; I thus single, nor have feared
quire Thy awful brow, more awful thus retired. Thy utmost reach or Adam's: round the tree Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair,
All other beasts that saw, with like desire Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine Longing and envying stood, but could not reach. By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore
Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung With ravishment beheld, there best beheld Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill Where universally admired; but here
I spared not; for such pleasure till that hour, In this enclosure wild, these beasts among,
At feed or fountain never had I found.
Sated at length, ere long I might perceive
Wanted not long, though to this shape retained.
I turned my thoughts, and with capacious mind So glozed the tempter, and his proem tuned: Considered all things visible in Heaven, Into the heart of Eve his words made way i Or earth, or middle, all things fair and good :