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How little weight my words with thee can find,
Found so erroneous, thence by just event
Found so unfortunate! nevertheless,
Restored by thee, vile as I am, to place
Of new acceptance, hopeful to regain
Thy love, the sole contentment of my heart
Living or dying, from thee I will not hide
What thoughts in my unquiet breast are risen,
Tending to some relief of our extremes,
Or end, though sharp and sad, yet tolerable,
As in our evils, and of easier choice.
If care of our descent perplex us most,

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Which must be born to certain woe, devour'd

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By Death at last; and miserable it is
To be to others cause of misery,

Our own begotten, and of our loins to bring

Into this cursed world a woeful race!

That after wretched life, must be at last

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Food for so foul a monster! In thy pow'r

It lies, yet ere conception, to prevent

The race unblest, to being yet unbegot.

Childless thou art, childless remain; so Death

Shall be deceived his glut, and with us two

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Be forced to satisfy his rav'nous maw.

But if thou judge it hard and difficult,

Conversing, looking, loving, to abstain

From love's due rites, nuptial embraces sweet,

And with desire to languish without hope,
Before the present object languishing

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With like desire, which would be misery
And torment less than none of what we dread,
Then both ourselves and seed at once to free
From what we fear for both let us make short;
Let us seek Death, or he not found, supply
With our own hands his office on ourselves.
Why stand we longer shivering under fears,

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That show no end but death, and have the pow'r
Of many ways to die, the shortest choosing,
Destruction with destruction to destroy?
She ended here, or vehement despair
Broke off the rest; so much of death her thoughts
Had entertain'd, as dyed her cheeks with pale.
But Adam with such counsel nothing sway'd:
To better hopes his more attentive mind
Labouring had raised, and thus to Eve replied:
Eve, thy contempt of life and pleasure seems
To argue in thee something more sublime
And excellent than what thy mind contemns;
But self-destruction therefore sought, refutes
That excellence thought in thee, and implies,
Not thy contempt, but anguish and regret
For loss of life and pleasure overloved.
Or if thou covet death, as utmost end
Of misery, so thinking to evade

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The penalty pronounced, doubt not but God
Hath wiselier arm'd his vengeful ire than so

To be forestall'd: much more I fear lest death
So snatch'd will not exempt us from the pain
We are by doom to pay: rather such acts
Of contumacy will provoke the Highest
To make death in us live. Then let us seek
Some safer resolution, which methinks
I have in view, calling to mind with heed
Part of our sentence, that thy seed shall bruise
The Serpent's head. Piteous amends! unless
Be meant, whom I conjecture, our grand foe
Satan, who in the serpent hath contrived
Against us this deceit. To crush his head
Would be revenge indeed: which will be lost
By death brought on ourselves, or childless days
Resolved, as thou proposest; so our foe
Shall 'scape his punishment ordain'd, and we
Instead, shall double ours upon our heads.

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No more be mention'd then of violence
Against ourselves, and wilful barrenness,
That cuts us off from hope, and savours only
Rancour and pride, impatience and despite,
Reluctance against God and his just yoke
Laid on our necks. Remember with what mild
And gracious temper he both heard and judged,
Without wrath or reviling! We expected
Immediate dissolution, which we thought
Was meant by death that day; when lo! to thee
Pains only in child-bearing were foretold,
And bringing forth; soon recompensed with joy,
Fruit of thy womb. On me the curse aslope

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Glanced on the ground. With labour I must earn

My bread. What harm? Idleness had been worse:
My labour will sustain me. And lest cold
Or heat should injure us, his timely care
Hath unbesought provided, and his hands
Cloth'd us, unworthy, pitying while he judged;
How much more, if we pray him, will his ear
Be open, and his heart to pity incline,
And teach us farther by what means to shun

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Th' inclement seasons, rain, ice, hail, and snow!
Which now the sky with various face begins
To show us in this mountain, while the winds
Blow moist and keen, shatt'ring the graceful locks
Of these fair spreading trees; which bids us seek
Some better shroud, some better warmth to cherish
Our limbs benumb'd, ere this diurnal star

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Leave cold the night, how we his gather'd beams
Reflected, may with matter sere foment,
Or, by collision of two bodies, grind

The air attrite to fire, as late the clouds

Justling, or push'd with winds, rude in their shock,

Tine the slant lightning, whose thwart flame driv'n down
Kindles the gummy bark of fir or pine,

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And sends a comfortable heat from far,

Such fire to use,

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Which might supply the sun.

And what may else be remedy or cure

To evils which our own misdeeds have wrought,
He will instruct us praying, and of grace
Beseeching him, so as we need not fear
To pass commodiously this life, sustain'd
By him with many comforts, till we end
In dust: our final rest and native home.
What better can we do, than to the place
Repairing where he judged us, prostrate fall
Before him, reverent, and there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg, with tears
Watering the ground, and with our sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeign'd, and humiliation meek?
Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn
From his displeasure; in whose look serene,
When angry most he seem'd, and most severe,
What else but favour, grace, and mercy shone?
So spake our father penitent: nor Eve
Felt less remorse. They forthwith to the place
Repairing where he judged them, prostrate fell
Before him, reverent, and both confess'd
Humbly their faults, and pardon begg'd, with tears
Watering the ground, and with their sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeign'd, and humiliation meek.

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BOOK XI.

THE ARGUMENT.

The Son of God presents to his Father the prayers of our first parents, now repenting, and intercedes for them: God accepts them, but declares that they must no longer abide in Paradise; sends Michael with a band of Cherubim to dispossess them; but first to reveal to Adam future things: Michael's coming down. Adam shows to Eve certain ominous signs; he discerns Michael's approach; goes out to meet him: the Angel denounces their departure. Eve's lamentation. Adam pleads, but submits: The Angel leads him up to a high hill; sets before him in vision what shall happen till the flood.

THUS they in lowliest plight, repentant, stood
Praying; for from the mercy seat above
Prevenient grace descending, had removed
The stony from their hearts, and made new flesh
Regenerate grow instead, that sighs now breathed
Unutterable, which the Spirit of prayer

Inspired, and wing'd for Heav'n with speedier flight
Than loudest oratory: yet their port

Not of mean suitors, nor important less

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Seem'd their petition, than when th' ancient pair
In fables old, less ancient yet than these,
Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha, to restore

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The race of mankind drown'd, before the shrine

Of Themis stood devout. To Heav'n their pray'rs
Flew up; nor miss'd the way, by envious winds
Blown vagabond or frustrate. In they pass'd
Dimensionless, through heav'nly doors; then clad
With incense, where the golden altar fumed,
By their great Intercessor, came in sight
Before the Father's throne: them the glad Son
Presenting, thus to intercede began:

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