Page images

Whence rushing he might surest seize them both
Griped in each paw: when Adam, first of men
To first of women Eve, thus moving speech,
Turn'd him all ear to hear new utt'rance flow: 410
Sole partner, and sole part, of all these joys,
Dearer thyself than all; needs must the Pow'r
That made us, and for us this ample world,
Be infinitely good, and of his good

As liberal and free as infinite;


That raised us from the dust, and placed us here
In all this happiness, who at his hand
Have nothing merited, nor can perform

Aught whereof he hath need; he who requires
From us no other service than to keep


This one, this easy charge, of all the trees
In Paradise that bear delicious fruit

So various, not to taste that only tree

Of knowledge, planted by the tree of life;

So near grows death to life, whate'er death is,


Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know'st

God hath pronounced it death to taste that tree,

The only sign of our obedience left

Among so inany signs of pow'r and rule
Conferr'd upon us, and dominion giv'n
Over all other creatures that possess

Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think hard
One easy prohibition, who enjoy

Free leave so large to all things else, and choice
Unlimited of manifold delights:

But let us ever praise him, and extol

His bounty, following our delightful task



To prune these growing plants, and tend these flow'rs; 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 So far the happier lot, enjoying thee Pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou Like consort to thyself canst no where find.

421. Gen. ii. 16. also Gen. i. 28.


That day I oft remember, when from sleep



I first awaked, and found myself reposed
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 unmoved
Pure as th' expanse of Heav'n. I thither went
With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to me seem'd another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite


A shape within the wat'ry gleam appear'd,
Bending to look on me. I started back;
It started back: but pleased I soon return'd;
Pleased it return'd as soon with answ'ring looks
Of sympathy and love: there I had fix'd
Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
Had not 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
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
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 being I lent
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart
Substantial life, to have thee by my side
Henceforth an individual solace dear;
Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim
My other half: with that thy gentle hand


451. Milton's first edition read thus; the second, Under a shade of flow'rs, but they reposed not under, but on flowers. 483. Gen ii. 23.

Seized mine; I yielded, and from that time see
How beauty is excell'd by manly grace
And wisdem, which aione is truly fair.

So spake our gen'ral mother, and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreproved,
And meek surrender, half embracing lean'd
On our first father; half her swelling breast
Naked met his under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses hid: he in delight,
Both of her beauty and submissive charms,
Smiled with superior love, as Jupiter

On Juno smiles when he impregns the clouds




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

Eyed them askance, and to himself thus 'plain'd

Sight hateful! sight tormenting! thus these two, Imparadised in one another's arms,


The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill

Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust,
Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,
Among our other torments not the least,
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 heir faith?
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

499. Jupiter is here figurative of the Heaven, and Juno of the air 503. Imparadised this word had been used before, by Sir Philip Sidney in the Arcadia.

This garden, and no corner leave unspy'd:

A chance but chance may lead where I may meet 530 Some wand'ring Spirit of Heav'n by fountain side, Or in thick shade retired, 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.

So saying, his proud step he scornful turn'd, But with sly circumspection, and began


Thro' wood, thro' waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his roam.
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heav'n
With earth and ocean meets, the setting Sun
Slowly descended, and with right aspéct


Against the eastern gate of Paradise
Levell'd his ev'ning rays: it was a rock
Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent
Accessible from earth, one entrance high;
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
Still as it rose, impossible to climb.
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,
Chief of th' angelic guards, awaiting night;
About him exercised heroic games

Th' unarmed youth of Heav'n, but nigh at hand
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold.
Thither came Uriel, gliding through th' even
On a sun-beam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired
Impress the air, and shews the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware




Impetuous winds. He thus began in haste : 560
Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath giv'n
Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place
No evil thing approach or enter in.

This day at highth of noon came to my sphere
A Spirit, zealous, as he seem'd, to know
More of th' Almighty's works, and chiefly Man,


549. For mention of Gabriel, see Daniel vii. and ix. also Luke i. his name signifies the man or the power of God.

555. Through th' even, or that part of the heavens now becoming dark with the approaching evening.

561. This is in allusion to the courses of the priests in the tem ple service: see 1 Chron. xxiv. and Luke i. 8, 9.

God's latest image: I described his way



Bent all on speed, and mark'd his aery gait;
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted, soon discern'd his looks 570
Alien from Heav'n, with passions far obscured:
Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him. One of the banish'd crew,
I fear, hath ventured from the deep, to raise
New troubles: him thy care must be to find.
To whom the winged warrior thus return'd:
Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight,
Amid the Sun's bright circle, where thou sitt'st,
See far and wide: in at this gate none pass
The vigilance here placed, but such as come
Well known from Heav'n; and since meridian hour
No creature thence: if Spirit of other sort


So minded, have o'erleap'd these earthy bounds

On purpose, hard thou know'st it to exclude
Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.


But if within the circuit of these walks,

In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom

Thou tell'st, by morrow dawning I shall know,
So promised he; and Uriel to his charge


Return'd on that bright beam, whose point now raised,

Bore him slope downward to the Sun, now fall'n
Beneath th' Azores; whether the prime orb,
Incredible how swift, had thither roll'd
Diurnal, or this less volúble earth,

By shorter flight to th' east, had left him there
Arraying with reflected purple' and gold
The clouds that on his western throne attend.
Now came still ev'ning on, and twilight grey
Had in her sober liv'ry all things clad;
Silence accompanied: for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests,



567. The first image of God was Christ; the second, Angels; the last, Man-Described, that is, observed attentively. 592. The Azores are islands in the Atlantic, off the coast of Portugal. The word is to be pronounced as three syllables. 594. Voluble, with the u pronounced long.

596. This is the first evening in the time of the poem, and it furnishes Milton with an opportunity of putting forth the splendour of his descriptive genius in one of its most magnificent efforts. One of the commentators on this passage absurdly remarks that it was the poet's weak eyes made him love to mention the evening twilight.

« PreviousContinue »