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Paradise Lost: Book 09

Written by: John Milton | Biography
 | Quotes (101) |
 No more of talk where God or Angel guest 
With Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd, 
To sit indulgent, and with him partake 
Rural repast; permitting him the while 
Venial discourse unblam'd. I now must change 
Those notes to tragick; foul distrust, and breach 
Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt, 
And disobedience: on the part of Heaven 
Now 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 Misery 
Death's harbinger: Sad talk!yet argument 
Not less but more heroick than the wrath 
Of stern Achilles on his foe pursued 
Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage 
Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd; 
Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long 
Perplexed the Greek, and Cytherea's son: 

If answerable style I can obtain 
Of my celestial patroness, who deigns 
Her nightly visitation unimplor'd, 
And dictates to me slumbering; or inspires 
Easy my unpremeditated verse: 
Since first this subject for heroick song 
Pleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late; 
Not sedulous by nature to indite 
Wars, hitherto the only argument 
Heroick deem'd chief mastery to dissect 
With long and tedious havock fabled knights 
In battles feign'd; the better fortitude 
Of patience and heroick martyrdom 
Unsung; or to describe races and games, 
Or tilting furniture, imblazon'd shields, 
Impresses quaint, caparisons and steeds, 
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights 
At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast 
Serv'd up in hall with sewers and seneshals; 
The skill of artifice or office mean, 
Not that which justly gives heroick name 
To person, or to poem. Me, of these 
Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument 
Remains; sufficient of itself to raise 
That name, unless an age too late, or cold 
Climate, or years, damp my intended wing 
Depress'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 star 
Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring 
Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter 
"twixt day and night, and now from end to end 
Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round: 
When satan, who late fled before the threats 
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd 
In meditated fraud and malice, bent 
On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap 
Of heavier on himself, fearless returned 
From compassing the earth; cautious of day, 
Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descried 
His entrance, and foreworned the Cherubim 
That kept their watch; thence full of anguish driven, 
The space of seven continued nights he rode 
With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line 
He circled; four times crossed the car of night 
From pole to pole, traversing each colure; 
On the eighth returned; and, on the coast averse 
From entrance or Cherubick watch, by stealth 
Found 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 part 
Rose up a fountain by the tree of life: 
In with the river sunk, and with it rose 
Satan, involved in rising mist; then sought 
Where to lie hid; sea he had searched, and land, 
From Eden over Pontus and the pool 
Maeotis, up beyond the river Ob; 
Downward as far antarctick; and in length, 
West from Orontes to the ocean barred 
At Darien ; thence to the land where flows 
Ganges and Indus: Thus the orb he roamed 
With narrow search; and with inspection deep 
Considered every creature, which of all 
Most opportune might serve his wiles; and found 
The Serpent subtlest beast of all the field. 
Him after long debate, irresolute 
Of thoughts revolved, his final sentence chose 
Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom 
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide 
From sharpest sight: for, in the wily snake 
Whatever sleights, none would suspicious mark, 
As from his wit and native subtlety 
Proceeding; which, in other beasts observed, 
Doubt might beget of diabolick power 
Active within, beyond the sense of brute. 
Thus he resolved, but first from inward grief 
His bursting passion into plaints thus poured. 
More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built 
With second thoughts, reforming what was old! 
O Earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferred 
For what God, after better, worse would build? 
Terrestrial Heaven, danced 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 center, yet extends to all; so thou, 
Centring, receivest 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 summed up in Man. 
With what delight could I have walked thee round, 
If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange 
Of 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 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 mastering 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 destroyed, 
Or won to what may work his utter loss, 
For whom all this was made, all this will soon 
Follow, as to him linked in weal or woe; 
In woe then; that destruction wide may range: 
To me shall be the glory sole among 
The infernal Powers, in one day to have marred 
What he, Almighty styled, 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 
The angelick name, and thinner left the throng 
Of his adorers: He, to be avenged, 
And to repair his numbers thus impaired, 
Whether such virtue spent of old now failed 
More Angels to create, if they at least 
Are his created, or, to spite us more, 
Determined to advance into our room 
A 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 built 
Magnificent this world, and earth his seat, 
Him lord pronounced; 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 wrapt in mist 
Of midnight vapour glide obscure, and pry 
In every bush and brake, where hap may find 
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 now constrained 
Into 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 revenge 
Descend to? Who aspires, must down as low 
As 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 next 
Provokes my envy, this new favourite 
Of Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite, 
Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised 
From dust: Spite then with spite is best repaid. 
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry, 
Like a black mist low-creeping, he held on 
His midnight-search, where soonest he might find 
The serpent; him fast-sleeping soon he found 
In 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 mouth 
The Devil entered; and his brutal sense, 
In heart or head, possessing, soon inspired 
With act intelligential; but his sleep 
Disturbed not, waiting close the approach of morn. 
Now, when as sacred light began to dawn 
In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed 
Their morning incense, when all things, that breathe, 
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 joined their vocal worship to the quire 
Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake 
The season prime for sweetest scents and airs: 
Then commune, how that day they best may ply 
Their growing work: for much their work out-grew 
The hands' dispatch of two gardening so wide, 
And Eve first to her husband thus began. 
Adam, well may we labour still to dress 
This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower, 
Our pleasant task enjoined; 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 bear 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 intermixed 
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 the hour of supper comes unearned? 
To whom mild answer Adam thus returned. 
Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond 
Compare above all living creatures dear! 
Well hast thou motioned, well thy thoughts employed, 
How we might best fulfil the work which here 
God hath assigned us; nor of me shalt pass 
Unpraised: for nothing lovelier can be found 
In woman, than to study houshold good, 
And good works in her husband to promote. 
Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposed 
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 joined. 
These paths and bowers doubt not but our joint hands 
Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide 
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 severed from me; for thou knowest 
What hath been warned us, what malicious foe 
Envying our happiness, and of his own 
Despairing, seeks to work us woe 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 joined, where each 
To other speedy aid might lend at need: 
Whether his first design be to withdraw 
Our fealty from God, or to disturb 
Conjugal love, than which perhaps no bliss 
Enjoyed by us excites his envy more; 
Or this, or worse, leave not the faithful side 
That 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 seeks 
Our 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 doubt 
To God or thee, because we have a foe 
May tempt it, I expected not to hear. 
His violence thou fearest not, being such 
As we, not capable of death or pain, 
Can either not receive, or can repel. 
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 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 dissuade 
Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid 
The attempt itself, intended by our foe. 
For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses 
The tempted with dishonour foul; supposed 
Not incorruptible of faith, not proof 
Against temptation: Thou thyself with scorn 
And anger wouldst resent the offered 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 the assault shall light. 
Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn; 
Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce 
Angels; nor think superfluous other's aid. 
I, from the influence of thy looks, receive 
Access in every virtue; in thy sight 
More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were 
Of 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 feel 
When I am present, and thy trial choose 
With me, best witness of thy virtue tried? 
So spake domestick Adam in his care 
And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought 
Less attributed to her faith sincere, 
Thus her reply with accent sweet renewed. 
If this be our condition, thus to dwell 
In narrow circuit straitened 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 shunned or feared 
By us? who rather double honour gain 
From his surmise proved false; find peace within, 
Favour from Heaven, our witness, from the event. 
And what is faith, love, virtue, unassayed 
Alone, without exteriour help sustained? 
Let us not then suspect our happy state 
Left 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 will 
Of God ordained them: His creating hand 
Nothing imperfect or deficient left 
Of all that he created, much less Man, 
Or aught 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 
Reason, 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 will 
To 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 meet 
Some 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 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; the other who can know, 
Not seeing thee attempted, who attest? 
But, if thou think, trial unsought may find 
Us both securer than thus warned thou seemest, 
Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more; 
Go in thy native innocence, rely 
On what thou hast of virtue; summon all! 
For God towards thee hath done his part, do thine. 
So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve 
Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied. 
With thy permission then, and thus forewarned 
Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words 
Touched only; that our trial, when least sought, 
May find us both perhaps far less prepared, 
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. 
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, 
Betook her to the groves; but Delia's self 
In 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 fled 
Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime, 
Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove. 
Her long with ardent look his eye pursued 
Delighted, but desiring more her stay. 
Oft he to her his charge of quick return 
Repeated; she to him as oft engaged 
To be returned by noon amid the bower, 
And all things in best order to invite 
Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose. 
O much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve, 
Of thy presumed return! event perverse! 
Thou never from that hour in Paradise 
Foundst 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 
Despoiled 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 find 
The only two of mankind, but in them 
The whole included race, his purposed prey. 
In bower and field he sought, where any tuft 
Of grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay, 
Their tendance, or plantation for delight; 
By fountain or by shady rivulet 
He sought them both, but wished his hap might find 
Eve separate; he wished, but not with hope 
Of 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 round 
About her glowed, oft stooping to support 
Each flower of slender stalk, whose head, though gay 
Carnation, purple, azure, or specked with gold, 
Hung drooping unsustained; them she upstays 
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 traversed 
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm; 
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen, 
Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers 
Imbordered on each bank, the hand of Eve: 
Spot more delicious than those gardens feigned 
Or of revived Adonis, or renowned 
Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son; 
Or that, not mystick, where the sapient king 
Held 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 breathe 
Among the pleasant villages and farms 
Adjoined, 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 behold 
This flowery plat, the sweet recess of Eve 
Thus early, thus alone: Her heavenly form 
Angelick, but more soft, and feminine, 
Her graceful innocence, her every air 
Of gesture, or least action, overawed 
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereaved 
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought: 
That space the Evil-one abstracted stood 
From his own evil, and for the time remained 
Stupidly 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 sees 
Of pleasure, not for him ordained: 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 
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 
Heroick built, though of terrestrial mould; 
Foe not informidable! exempt from wound, 
I not; so much hath Hell debased, and pain 
Enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven. 
She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods! 
Not terrible, though terrour be in love 
And 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, enclosed 
In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve 
Addressed his way: not with indented wave, 
Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear, 
Circular base of rising folds, that towered 
Fold above fold, a surging maze! his head 
Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes; 
With burnished 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 changed, 
Hermione and Cadmus, or the god 
In Epidaurus; nor to which transformed 
Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen; 
He with Olympias; this with her who bore 
Scipio, the highth of Rome. With tract oblique 
At first, as one who sought access, but feared 
To interrupt, side-long he works his way. 
As when a ship, by skilful steersmen 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 
Curled many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve, 
To lure her eye; she, busied, heard the sound 
Of rusling leaves, but minded not, as used 
To 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 bowed 
His turret crest, and sleek enamelled neck, 
Fawning; and licked the ground whereon she trod. 
His gentle dumb expression turned at length 
The eye of Eve to mark his play; he, glad 
Of her attention gained, with serpent-tongue 
Organick, or impulse of vocal air, 
His fraudulent temptation thus began. 
Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhaps 
Thou canst, who art sole wonder! much less arm 
Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain, 
Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze 
Insatiate; I thus single;nor have feared 
Thy awful brow, more awful thus retired. 
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, 
Where universally admired; 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 should be seen 
A Goddess among Gods, adored and served 
By 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 pronounced 
By tongue of brute, and human sense expressed? 
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 camest 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 replied. 
Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve! 
Easy to me it is to tell thee all 
What thou commandest; and right thou shouldst be obeyed: 
I was at first as other beasts that graze 
The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, 
As was my food; nor aught but food discerned 
Or sex, and apprehended nothing high: 
Till, on a day roving the field, I chanced 
A goodly tree far distant to behold 
Loaden 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 sense 
Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats 
Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even, 
Unsucked of lamb or kid, that tend their play. 
To satisfy the sharp desire I had 
Of tasting those fair apples, I resolved 
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once, 
Powerful persuaders, quickened at the scent 
Of that alluring fruit, urged 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 
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 spared 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 retained. 
Thenceforth to speculations high or deep 
I turned my thoughts, and with capacious mind 
Considered all things visible in Heaven, 
Or Earth, or Middle; all things fair and good: 
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 compelled 
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come 
And gaze, and worship thee of right declared 
Sovran of creatures, universal Dame! 
So talked the spirited sly Snake; and Eve, 
Yet more amazed, unwary thus replied. 
Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt 
The 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 grow 
In Paradise, and various, yet unknown 
To us; in such abundance lies our choice, 
As leaves a greater store of fruit untouched, 
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 past 
Of blowing myrrh and balm: if thou accept 
My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon 
Lead then, said Eve. He, leading, swiftly rolled 
In tangles, and made intricate seem straight, 
To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy 
Brightens his crest; as when a wandering fire, 
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night 
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 the amazed night-wanderer from his way 
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool; 
There swallowed up and lost, from succour far. 
So glistered the dire Snake, and into fraud 
Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree 
Of 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 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 declared 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 more bold 
The Tempter, but with show of zeal and love 
To Man, and indignation at his wrong, 
New part puts on; and, as to passion moved, 
Fluctuates disturbed, yet comely and in act 
Raised, as of some great matter to begin. 
As when of old some orator renowned, 
In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence 
Flourished, 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 delay 
Of 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 power 
Within me clear; not only to discern 
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways 
Of highest agents, deemed however wise. 
Queen of this universe! do not believe 
Those rigid threats of death: ye shall not die: 
How should you? by the fruit? it gives you life 
To knowledge; by the threatener? look on me, 
Me, who have touched and tasted; yet both live, 
And life more perfect have attained than Fate 
Meant me, by venturing 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 
Of death denounced, whatever thing death be, 
Deterred 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 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 day 
Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear, 
Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then 
Opened 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 off 
Human, 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 become 
As they, participating God-like 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, 
Warmed by the sun, producing every kind; 
Them, nothing: if they all things, who enclosed 
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree, 
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains 
Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies 
The offence, that Man should thus attain to know? 
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree 
Impart against his will, if all be his? 
Or is it envy? and can envy dwell 
In heavenly breasts? These, these, and many more 
Causes 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 behold 
Might tempt alone; and in her ears the sound 
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregned 
With reason, to her seeming, and with truth: 
Mean while the hour of noon drew on, and waked 
An eager appetite, raised by the smell 
So savoury of that fruit, which with desire, 
Inclinable now grown to touch or taste, 
Solicited her longing eye; yet first 
Pausing 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 assay 
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 reserved? 
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? 
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour 
Forth 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 slunk 
The guilty Serpent; and well might;for Eve, 
Intent now wholly on her taste, nought else 
Regarded; such delight till then, as seemed, 
In fruit she never tasted, whether true 
Or fancied so, through expectation high 
Of 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 trees 
In Paradise! of operation blest 
To sapience, hitherto obscured, infamed. 
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 offered free to all; 
Till, dieted by thee, I grow mature 
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 remained 
In 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 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 keeps 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 
Superiour; for, inferiour, who is free 
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! Confirmed then I resolve, 
Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe: 
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 turned; 
But first low reverence done, as to the Power 
That dwelt within, whose presence had infused 
Into the plant sciential sap, derived 
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 promised to his thoughts, and new 
Solace 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 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 smiled, 
New gathered, and ambrosial smell diffused. 
To him she hasted; in her face excuse 
Came 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, deprived 
Thy presence; agony of love till now 
Not felt, nor shall be twice; for never more 
Mean I to try, what rash untried I sought, 
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 restrained as we, or not obeying, 
Hath eaten of the fruit; and is become, 
Not dead, as we are threatened, but thenceforth 
Endued with human voice and human sense, 
Reasoning to admiration; and with me 
Persuasively hath so prevailed, that I 
Have also tasted, and have also found 
The effects to correspond; opener mine eyes, 
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, unshared with thee, and odious soon. 
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 
Deity 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 heard 
The fatal trespass done by Eve, amazed, 
Astonied stood and blank, while horrour chill 
Ran through his veins, and all his joints relaxed; 
From his slack hand the garland wreathed for Eve 
Down dropt, and all the faded roses shed: 
Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length 
First to himself he inward silence broke. 
O fairest of Creation, last and best 
Of all God's works, Creature in whom excelled 
Whatever 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 transgress 
The strict forbiddance, how to violate 
The sacred fruit forbidden! Some cursed fraud 
Of enemy hath beguiled thee, yet unknown, 
And me with thee hath ruined; for with thee 
Certain my resolution is to die: 
How can I live without thee! how forego 
Thy sweet converse, and love so dearly joined, 
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, 
Bone of my bone thou art, and from thy state 
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe. 
So having said, as one from sad dismay 
Recomforted, and after thoughts disturbed 
Submitting 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 eye 
That 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 so 
Perhaps thou shalt not die, perhaps the fact 
Is not so heinous now, foretasted fruit, 
Profaned first by the serpent, by him first 
Made 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 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 threatening, 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, 
Dependant made; so God shall uncreate, 
Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour lose; 
Not well conceived of God, who, though his power 
Creation could repeat, yet would be loth 
Us to abolish, lest the Adversary 
Triumph, 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 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 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, short 
Of 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 proof 
This 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 presented 
This happy trial of thy love, which else 
So eminently never had been known? 
Were it I thought death menaced would ensue 
This my attempt, I would sustain alone 
The worst, and not persuade thee, rather die 
Deserted, than oblige thee with a fact 
Pernicious to thy peace; chiefly assured 
Remarkably so late of thy so true, 
So faithful, love unequalled: but I feel 
Far otherwise the event; not death, but life 
Augmented, opened eyes, new hopes, new joys, 
Taste so divine, that what of sweet before 
Hath 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 joy 
Tenderly wept; much won, that he his love 
Had so ennobled, as of choice to incur 
Divine displeasure for her sake, or death. 
In recompence for such compliance bad 
Such recompence best merits from the bough 
She gave him of that fair enticing fruit 
With 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 again 
In pangs; and Nature gave a second groan; 
Sky loured; and, muttering thunder, some sad drops 
Wept at completing of the mortal sin 
Original: while Adam took no thought, 
Eating his fill; nor Eve to iterate 
Her former trespass feared, the more to sooth 
Him with her loved society; that now, 
As with new wine intoxicated both, 
They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel 
Divinity within them breeding wings, 
Wherewith to scorn the earth: But that false fruit 
Far other operation first displayed, 
Carnal desire inflaming; he on Eve 
Began to cast lascivious eyes; she him 
As 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 praise 
Yield thee, so well this day thou hast purveyed. 
Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstained 
From this delightful fruit, nor known till now 
True relish, tasting; if such pleasure be 
In 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 day 
I saw thee first and wedded thee, adorned 
With all perfections, so inflame my sense 
With ardour to enjoy thee, fairer now 
Than ever; bounty of this virtuous tree! 
So said he, and forbore not glance or toy 
Of amorous intent; well understood 
Of 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 disport 
Took largely, of their mutual guilt the seal, 
The solace of their sin; till dewy sleep 
Oppressed them, wearied with their amorous play, 
Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit, 
That with exhilarating vapour bland 
About their spirits had played, and inmost powers 
Made err, was now exhaled; and grosser sleep, 
Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams 
Incumbered, now had left them; up they rose 
As from unrest; and, each the other viewing, 
Soon found their eyes how opened, and their minds 
How darkened; innocence, that as a veil 
Had shadowed them from knowing ill, was gone; 
Just confidence, and native righteousness, 
And honour, from about them, naked left 
To guilty Shame; he covered, but his robe 
Uncovered more. So rose the Danite strong, 
Herculean Samson, from the harlot-lap 
Of Philistean Dalilah, and waked 
Shorn of his strength. They destitute and bare 
Of all their virtue: Silent, and in face 
Confounded, 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 ear 
To that false worm, of whomsoever taught 
To counterfeit Man's voice; true in our fall, 
False in our promised rising; since our eyes 
Opened we find indeed, and find we know 
Both 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 signs 
Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store; 
Even shame, the last of evils; of the first 
Be sure then.--How shall I behold the face 
Henceforth of God or Angel, erst with joy 
And rapture so oft beheld? Those heavenly shapes 
Will dazzle now this earthly with their blaze 
Insufferably bright. O! might I here 
In solitude live savage; in some glade 
Obscured, where highest woods, impenetrable 
To star or sun-light, spread their umbrage broad 
And brown as evening: Cover me, ye Pines! 
Ye Cedars, with innumerable boughs 
Hide me, where I may never see them more!-- 
But let us now, as in bad plight, devise 
What best may for the present serve to hide 
The parts of each from other, that seem most 
To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen; 
Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sewed, 
And girded on our loins, may cover round 
Those middle parts; that this new comer, Shame, 
There sit not, and reproach us as unclean. 
So counselled he, and both together went 
Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose 
The fig-tree; not that kind for fruit renowned, 
But such as at this day, to Indians known, 
In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms 
Branching so broad and long, that in the ground 
The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow 
About the mother tree, a pillared shade 
High over-arched, and echoing walks between: 
There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat, 
Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds 
At loop-holes cut through thickest shade: Those leaves 
They gathered, broad as Amazonian targe; 
And, with what skill they had, together sewed, 
To gird their waist; vain covering, if to hide 
Their guilt and dreaded shame! O, how unlike 
To that first naked glory! Such of late 
Columbus found the American, so girt 
With feathered cincture; naked else, and wild 
Among the trees on isles and woody shores. 
Thus fenced, and, as they thought, their shame in part 
Covered, but not at rest or ease of mind, 
They sat them down to weep; nor only tears 
Rained at their eyes, but high winds worse within 
Began to rise, high passions, anger, hate, 
Mistrust, suspicion, discord; and shook sore 
Their inward state of mind, calm region once 
And full of peace, now tost and turbulent: 
For Understanding ruled not, and the Will 
Heard not her lore; both in subjection now 
To sensual Appetite, who from beneath 
Usurping over sovran Reason claimed 
Superiour 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 staid 
With me, as I besought thee, when that strange 
Desire of wandering, this unhappy morn, 
I know not whence possessed thee; we had then 
Remained still happy; not, as now, despoiled 
Of all our good; shamed, naked, miserable! 
Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve 
The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek 
Such 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 will 
Of wandering, as thou callest it, which who knows 
But might as ill have happened thou being by, 
Or to thyself perhaps? Hadst thou been there, 
Or here the attempt, thou couldst not have discerned 
Fraud 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 recompence 
Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve! expressed 
Immutable, 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 cause 
Of thy transgressing? Not enough severe, 
It seems, in thy restraint: What could I more 
I warned thee, I admonished thee, foretold 
The danger, and the lurking enemy 
That lay in wait; beyond this, had been force; 
And force upon free will hath here no place. 
But confidence then bore thee on; secure 
Either to meet no danger, or to find 
Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps 
I also erred, in overmuch admiring 
What seemed in thee so perfect, that I thought 
No evil durst attempt thee; but I rue 
The errour now, which is become my crime, 
And thou the accuser. Thus it shall befall 
Him, 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 spent 
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning; 
And of their vain contest appeared no end.



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