Page images

But first low rey'rence done, as to the Pow's 838
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 flow'rs 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 delay'd ;
Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill, 845
Misgave him: he the falt'ring measure felt;
And forth to meet her went, the way she took
That morn wben first they parted. By the tree
Of knowledge he must pass : there he her met,
Scarce from the tree returning: in her hand 850
A bough of fairest fruit, that downy smiled,
New gather'd, 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 address'd:

Hast thou not wonder'd, Adam, at my stay? 856 Thee I have miss'd, and thought it long, deprived Thy presence ; agony of love till now Not felt! nor shall be twice; for never more Mean J to try, what rash untry'd I sought,

860 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

865 To open eyes, and make them Gods who taste! And hath been tasted such. The serpent wise, Or not restrain'd as we, or not obeying,

835. This first sign of idolatry in man is well introduced as an Immediate consequence of the fall. The remaining portion of this book may be considered, I think, as in some respects superior to any other part of the poem. The mention of Adam, unconscious of the coming wce, weaving flowers for Eve is exquisitely pathetic; the misgivings of his heart on meeting

her, the descripo tion of her agitated appearance, and the discourse, deep and pas. sionate, which follows, are all conceived in the finest vein o. tragic genius. In no other part of his poem had Milton an op portunity of displaying his power in the delineation of human passion,

but he has here proved, that had his subject admitted ite a would have possessed not less pathos than sublimity.

Hath eaten of the fruit, and is become,
Not dead, as we are threaten'd, but thenceforth 870
Endued with human voice and human sense,
Reasoning to admiration; and with me
Persuasively hath so prevaild, that I
Have also tasted, and have also found
Th' effects to correspond; opener mine eyes, 875
Dim erst, dilated spirits, ampler heart,
And growing up to Godhead; wnioh for thee
Chiefly I sought; without thee can despise :
Por bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss ;
Tedious, unshared with thee, and odious soon. 880
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. 884

Thus Eve, with count'nance blithe, her story told;
But in her cheek distemper flushing glow'd.
On th' other side, Adam, soon as he heard
The fatal trespass done by Eve, amazed,
Astonied stood and blank, while horror chill 890
Ran through his veins, and all his joints relax'd ;
From his slack hand the garland, wreath'd 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: 895

O fairest of creation, last and best of all God's works, Creature in whom excell'd Whatever can to sight or thought be formid, Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet! How art thou lost! how on a sudden lost! 900 Defaced, deflow'rd, 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, 905 And me with thee hath ruin'd! for with thee Certain my resolution is to die. How can I live without thee! how forego Thy sweet converse and love so dearly join'd, To live again in these wild woods forlorn ! 910 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 915
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.

So having said, as one from sad dismay
Recomforted, and after thoughts disturb’d
Submitting to what seero'd remediless,
Thus in calm mood his words to Eve he turn'd: 920

Bold deed thou hast presumed, advent'ruus 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. 928 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 hainous now, foretasted fruit, Profaned first by the serpent, by him first 930 Made common and unhallow'd ere our taste; Nor yet on him found deadly, he yet lives ; Lives, as thou saidst, and gains to live as Man Higher degree of life: inducement strong To us, as likely tasting, to attain

935 Proportional ascent, which cannot be But to be Gods, or Angels Demi-Gods. Nor can I think that God, Creator wise, Though threat'ning, will in earnest so destroy Us his prime creatures, dignify'd so high, 940 Set over all his works, which in our fall, For us created, needs with us must fail, Dependent made: so God shall uncreate, Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour lose, Not well conceived of God, who tho' his pow'r 945 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 ruin'd, now Mankind. Whom will he next ? 950 Matter of scorn, not to be giv'n the Foe. However, I with thee have fix'd my lot, Certain to undergo like doom. If death 929. Hainous ; so spelt by Milton, from the French hainenz.

Consort with thee, death is to me as life :
So forcible within my heart I fee!

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 tảee were to lose myself,

So Adam; and thus Eve to him reply'd: 080 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, 965 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, link'd in love so dear,

970 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

975 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

980 Pernicious to thy peace, chiefly assured Remarkably so late of thy so true, So faithful love, unequal'd; but I feel Far otherwise th' event; not death, but life Augmented, open'd eyes, new hopes, new joys, 985 Taste so divine, that what of sweet before Hath touch'd 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 990 990. There is great beauty and the truest passion in this picture of Eve. It well prepares the mind for the fall of Adam, who is represented as sin ning more through the intoxication of love and fondness than any ignorance of his danger. What a magnificent scene has the poet for the first act of the fearful tragedy! The great theatre of the universe filled with darkness and horror, and the earth and elements suffering with a mysterious conscious wess of ruin.

Tenderly wept; much won that he his love
Had so ennobled, as of choice t'incur
Divine displeasure for her sake, or death.
In recompense (for such compliance bad
Such recompense best merits) from the bough 995
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 charın.
Eartb trembled from her entrails, as again 1000
In pangs; and Nature gave a second groan;
Sky lourd, 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 fear'd, 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

1010 Wherewith to scorn the earth : but that false fruit Far other operation first display'd ; Carnal desire inflaming : he on Eve Began to cast lascivious eyes ; she him As wantonly repaid. In lust they burn : 1015 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

1020 Yield thee, so well this day thou hast purvey'd. Much pleasure we have lost while we abstain'd From this delightful fruit, nor known till now True relish, tasting. If such pleasure be In things to us forbidd'n, it might be wish'd, 1025 For this one tree had been forbidden ten.

1000. A commentator has expressed his wonder that Adam shewed no astonishment at these convulsions.-Had he been ignorant of his guilt he would have done so, but he was aware of the crime he was committing, and the same fascination which made him break the known command of his Creator, prevented his regarding these signs of his wrath. It may also be conjectured inat, awful as they were, the confusion of thought and passion with which he was agitated might hinder his giving them their proper and terrible interpretation.

« PreviousContinue »