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The skill of artifice or office mean,
Not that which justly gives heroic name
To person or to poem. Me of these
Nor skilled 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
Depressed; 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 veiled the horizon round
When Satan, who late fled before the threats
Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improved
In meditated fraud and malice, bent
On man's destruction, maugre what might hap
Of heavier on himself, fearless returned.
By night he fled, and at midnight returned
From compassing the earth, cautious of day,
Since Uriel, regent of the
His entrance, and forewarned the cherubim
That kept their watch; thence, full of anguish
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 cherubic watch, by stealth
Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the
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
Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob;
Downward as far antarctic; 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 resolved, 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 diabolic power
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved, but first, from inward grief,
His bursting passion into plaints thus poured.
"O earth, how like to Heaven, if not preferred
More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
For what God, after better, worse would build?
Terrestrial Heaven, danced round by other Hea
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
Of sacred influence! As God in Heaven
In thee concent'ring all their precious beams
Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou,
Centering, 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,
| Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crowned,
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
But neither here seek I, no nor in Heaven
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven's Supreme;
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,
Follow, as to him linked in weal or wo;
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
In wo then; that destruction wide may rage:
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
The angelic name, and thinner left the throng
From servitude inglorious well nigh half
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 de-
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.
Of 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 height 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
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 em-
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 household good,
And good works in her husband to promote.
From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid."Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposed
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,
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;
His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles: Love, not the lowest end of human life.
Nor 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 th' 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
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
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
What hath been warned us, what malicious foe,
Envying our happiness, and of his own
Despairing, seeks to work us wo 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
From the earth's great altar send up silent praise Befall thee severed from me; for thou knowest
To the Creator, and his nostrils fill
With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,
And joined their vocal worship to the choir
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 outgrew
The hands' despatch of two gardening so wide,To other speedy aid might lend at need:
And Eve first to her husband thus began.
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
"If this be our condition thus to dwell
In narrow circuit straitened by a foe,
Subtle or violent, we not endued
Single with light 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
That such an enemy we have, who seeks
Our ruin, both by thee informed I learn
And from the parting angel overheard,
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 Of God ordained them; his creating hand
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 th' event.
And what is faith, love, virtue, unassayed
Alone, without exterior 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
Adam, misthought 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
Th' attempt itself intended by our foe.
For he who tempts, tho' 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 others' 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
Shame to be overcome or overreached,
Would utmost vigour raise, and raised unite.
Why should'st not thou like sense within thee
When I am present, and thy trial choose
With me, best witness of thy virtue tried?"
So spake domestic Adam in his care
And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought
Less attributed to her faith sincere,
Thus her reply with accents sweet renewed.
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 has made right,
But bid her well beware, and still erect,
Lest, by some fair-appearing good surprised,
She dictate false, and misinform 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.
Would'st thou approve thy constancy, approvo
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 seem'st,
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
So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve
Persisted, yet submiss, though last replied.
"With thy permission then, and thus fore-
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 mystic, 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,
Among the pleasant villages and farms
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,Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe
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
Found'st either sweet repast, or sound repose;
Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers
Waited with hellish rancour imminent
To intercept thy way, or send thee back
Despoiled of innocence, of faith, of bliss!
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
Angelic, 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
For now, and since first break of dawn, the fiend,Of pleasure, not for him ordained: then soon
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 plesant lay,
Their tendance, or plantation of delight;
By fountain or by shady rivulet
Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts
Of mischief gratulating, thus excites.
"Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what
Compulsion thus transported, to forget
What hither brought us; hate, not love, nor hope
Of Paradise for hell, hope there to taste
Of pleasure, but, all pleasure to destroy,
He sought them both, but wished his hap might Save what is in destroying: other joy
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;
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
Heroic 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 terror 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 height of Rome. With tract oblique At first, as one who sought access, but feared To interrupt, sidelong 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 sails; 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 rustling 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 Organic, or impulse of vocal air.
His fraudulent temptation thus began.
"Wonder not, sovereign 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'st
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 pro-
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 cam'st thou speakable of mute, and now
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 re-
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: