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Carnation, purple', azure or speck'd with gold,
Hung drooping unsustain’d; them she upstays 430
Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while
Herself, though fairest unsupported flower,
From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.
Nearer he drew, and many a walk travérs'd
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm,
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen
Among thick-woven arborets and flowers
Imborder'd on each bank, the hand of Eve :
Spot more delicious than those gardens feign’d
Or of reviv'd Adonis, or renown'd
Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son,
Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king
Held dallianc: with his fair Egyptian spouse.
Much he the place admir'd, the person more.
As one who long in populous city pent,
445 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 nynıph-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 • 455 This flow'ry plat, the sweet recess of Eve Thus early, thus alone; her heav'nly form 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 ev'il, 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 Heav'n, 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 sweet
Compulsion thus transported to forget
What hither brought us! Hate, not love, nor hope 475
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 480
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, inclos'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 :
So varied he, and of his tortuous train
Curl'd many a wantor 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,
Bụt as in gaze admiring : oft he bow'd
His turret crest, and sleek enamel'd neck, 525
Fawning, and lick'd the ground whereon she trod.
His gentle dumb expression turn'd at length
The eye of Eve to mark his play; he glad
Of her attention gain’d, with serpent tongue
Organic, or impulse of vocal air,
530 His fraudulent temptation thus began.
Wonder not, sov'reign Mistress, if perhaps Thou canst, who art sole wonder; much less arm Thy looks, the Heav'n 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 thinc By gift, and thy celestial beauty' adore With ravishment beheld, there best beheld Where universally admir'd; but here In this inclosure 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 be seen A Goddess among Gods, ador'd and serv'd By Angels numberless, thy daily train.
So gloz’d the Tempter, and his proem tun'd; Into the heart of Eve his words made way, $50 Though at the voice much marvelling; at length Not unamaz'd she thus in answer spake.
What may this mean? Language of man pronounc'd By tongue of brute, and human sense express'd? The first at least of these I thought deny'd To beasts, whom God on their creation-day Created mute to all articulate sound; The latter I demur, for in their looks Much reas'on, and in their actions oft appears. Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field , 566 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,
To whom the guileful Tempter thus reply'd.
Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve,
Easy to me it is to tell thee all '
What thou command'st, and right thou should'st be
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,