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The only sign of our obedience left
435 But let us ever praise him, and extol His bounty, following our delightful task To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers, Which were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.
To whom thus Eve reply'd. O thou for whom 440 And from whom I was form'd flesh of thy flesh, And without whom am to no end, my guide And head, what thou hast said is just and right. For we to him indeed all praises owe, And daily thanks; I chiefly who enjoy
445 So far the happier lot, enjoying thee Præ-eminent by so much odds, while thou Like consort to thyself canst no where find, That day I oft remember, 'when from sleep I first awak d, and found myself repos’d
45 Under a shade on flow'rs, much wond'ring where And what I was, whence thither brought, and how. Not distant far from thence a murm'ring sound Of waters issued from a cave, and spread Into a liquid plain, then stood unmov'd
455 Pure as th' expanse of Heav'n; I thither went With unexperienc'd thought, and laid mc down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
465 Mine eyes till now, and pin’d with vain desire, Had pot a voice thus warn'd me.
What thou seest, What there thou seest, fair Creature, is thyself; With thee it came and goes : but follow me, And I will bring thee where no shadow stays 470 Thy coming, and thy soft embraces, he Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy Inseparably thine, to him shalt bear Multitudes like thyself, and thence be call'd Mother of human race. What could I do, 475 But follow straight, invisibly thus led ? Till I espy'd thee, fair indeed and tall, Under a platan; yet methought less fair, Less winning soft, less amiably mild, Than that smooth wat’ry image: back I turn'd: 480 Thou following cry’dst aloud, Return fair Eve, Whom fly'st thou? whom thou fly'st, of him thou art, His flesh, his bone; to give thee be’ing I lent Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart Substantial life, to have thee by my side
485 Henceforth an individual solace dear; Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim
My other half: with that thy gentle hand
490 And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.
So spake our general mother, and with eyes Of conjugal attraction unreprov'd, And meek surrender, half embracing lean'd On our first father; half her swelling breast 495 Naked met his under the flowing gold Of her loose tresses hid : he in delight Both of her beauty and submissive charms Smild with superior love, as Jupiter On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clouds 500 That shed May flow'rs; and press’d her matron lip With kisses pure : aside the Devil turn'd For envy, yet with jealous leer malign Ey'd them askance, and to himself thus plain’d.
Sight hateful! sight tormenting ! thus these two Imparadis’d in one another's arms, The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fin Of bliss on bliss ; while I to Hell am thrust, Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire, Amongst our other torments not the least, 510 Still unfulfill’d with pain of longing pines. Yet let me not forget what I have gain'd From their own mouths : all is not theirs it seems; One fatal tree there stands of knowledge call’d, Forbidden them to taste : Knowledge forbidden ? 515 Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?
Can it be death ? And do they only stand By Ignorance? Is that their happy state, The proof of their obedience and their faith? 520 O fair foundation laid whereon to build Their ruin ! Hence I will excite their minds With more desire to know, and to reject Envious commands, invented with design To keep them low whom knowledge might exalt 525 * Equal with Gods : aspiring to be such, They taste and die : what likelier can ensue? But first with narrow search I must walk round This garden, and no corner leave unspy'd ; A chance but chance may lead where I may meet 530 Some wand'ring Spi'rit of Heav'n by fountain side, Or in thick shade retir’d, from him to draw What further would be learn'd. Live while ye may, Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return, Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed. 535
So saying, his proud step he scornful turn'd, But with sly circumspection, and began Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
GABRIEL, to thee thy course by lot hath given
To whom the winged warrior thus return'd.