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Short poem

John Milton (1608-1674)

Paradise Lost: Book IX

              1No more of talk where God or Angel guest
              2With Man, as with his friend, familiar us'd
              3To sit indulgent, and with him partake
              4Rural repast, permitting him the while
              5Venial discourse unblam'd. I now must change
              6Those notes to tragic--foul distrust, and breach
              7Disloyal on the part of Man, revolt
              8And disobedience; on the part of Heav'n,
              9Now alienated, distance and distaste,
            10Anger and just rebuke, and judgment giv'n,
            11That brought into this World a world of woe,
            12Sin and her shadow Death, and Misery,
            13Death's harbinger. Sad task! yet argument
            14Not less but more heroic than the wrath
            15Of stern Achilles on his foe pursu'd
            16Thrice fugitive about Troy wall; or rage
            17Of Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd;
            18Or Neptune's ire, or Juno's, that so long
            19Perplex'd the Greek, and Cytherea's son:
            20If answerable style I can obtain
            21Of my celestial patroness, who deigns
            22Her nightly visitation unimplor'd,
            23And dictates to me slumb'ring, or inspires
            24Easy my unpremeditated verse:
            25Since first this subject for heroic song
            26Pleas'd me, long choosing and beginning late,
            27Not sedulous by nature to indite
            28Wars, hitherto the only argument
            29Heroic deem'd, chief maistry to dissect
            30With long and tedious havoc fabl'd knights
            31In battles feign'd--the better fortitude
            32Of patience and heroic martyrdom
            33Unsung; or to describe races and games,
            34Or tilting furniture, emblazon'd shields,
            35Impreses quaint, caparisons and steeds,
            36Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
            37At joust and tournament; then marshall'd feast
            38Serv'd up in hall with sewers and seneschals,
            39The skill of artifice or office mean:
            40Not that which justly gives heroic name
            41To person or to poem. Me, of these
            42Nor skill'd nor studious, higher argument
            43Remains, sufficient of itself to raise
            44That name, unless an age too late, or cold
            45Climate, or years, damp my intended wing
            46Depress'd; and much they may if all be mine,
            47Not hers who brings it nightly to my ear.

            48The sun was sunk, and after him the star
            49Of Hesperus, whose office is to bring
            50Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter
            51'Twixt day and night, and now from end to end
            52Night's hemisphere had veil'd the horizon round,
            53When Satan, who late fled before the threats
            54Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'd
            55In meditated fraud and malice, bent
            56On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap
            57Of heavier on himself, fearless return'd.
            58By night he fled, and at midnight return'd
            59From compassing the earth, cautious of day
            60Since Uriel, Regent of the Sun, descried
            61His entrance and forewarn'd the Cherubim
            62That kept their watch. Thence, full of anguish, driv'n,
            63The space of seven continu'd nights he rode
            64With darkness--thrice the equinoctial line
            65He circl'd, four times cross'd the car of Night
            66From pole to pole, traversing each colure--
            67On the eighth return'd and, on the coast averse
            68From entrance or cherubic watch, by stealth
            69Found unsuspected way. There was a place
            70(Now not, though Sin, not Time, first wrought the change)
            71Where Tigris, at the foot of Paradise,
            72Into a gulf shot under ground, till part
            73Rose up a fountain by the Tree of Life.
            74In with the river sunk and with it rose
            75Satan, involv'd in rising mist; then sought
            76Where to lie hid. Sea he had search'd and land
            77From Eden over Pontus, and the pool
            78Maeotis, up beyond the river Ob;
            79Downward as far antarctic; and, in length,
            80West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd
            81At Darien; thence to the land where flows
            82Ganges and Indus. Thus the orb he roam'd
            83With narrow search, and with inspection deep
            84Consider'd every creature, which of all
            85Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found
            86The serpent subtlest beast of all the field.
            87Him, after long debate, irresolute
            88Of thoughts revolv'd, his final sentence chose
            89Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom
            90To enter, and his dark suggestions hide
            91From sharpest sight; for in the wily snake,
            92Whatever sleights, none would suspicious mark
            93As from his wit and native subtlety
            94Proceeding, which, in other beasts observ'd,
            95Doubt might beget of diabolic pow'r
            96Active within beyond the sense of brute.
            97Thus he resolv'd, but first from inward grief
            98His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd:

            99"O Earth, how like to Heav'n, if not preferr'd
          100More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built
          101With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
          102For what God after better worse would build?
          103Terrestrial Heav'n, danc'd round by other heav'ns
          104That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps
          105Light above light, for thee alone as seems,
          106In thee concentring all their precious beams
          107Of sacred influence! As God in Heav'n
          108Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou
          109Centring receiv'st from all those orbs; in thee,
          110Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears,
          111Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
          112Of creatures animate with gradual life
          113Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in Man.
          114With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
          115If I could joy in aught--sweet interchange
          116Of hill and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
          117Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
          118Rocks, dens, and caves! But I in none of these
          119Find place or refuge; and the more I see
          120Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
          121Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
          122Of contraries: all good to me becomes
          123Bane, and in Heav'n much worse would be my state.
          124But neither here seek I, no, nor in Heav'n,
          125To dwell, unless by mast'ring Heav'n's Supreme;
          126Nor hope to be myself less miserable
          127By what I seek, but others to make such
          128As I, though thereby worse to me redound--
          129For only in destroying I find ease
          130To my relentless thoughts; and him destroy'd,
          131Or won to what may work his utter loss,
          132For whom all this was made, all this will soon
          133Follow, as to him link'd in weal or woe:
          134In woe then, that destruction wide may range!
          135To me shall be the glory sole among
          136The infernal Powers, in one day to have marr'd
          137What he, Almighty styl'd, six nights and days
          138Continu'd making, and who knows how long
          139Before had been contriving? though perhaps
          140Not longer than since I in one night freed
          141From servitude inglorious well-nigh half
          142Th' angelic name, and thinner left the throng
          143Of his adorers. He, to be aveng'd,
          144And to repair his numbers thus impair'd--
          145Whether such virtue, spent of old, now fail'd
          146More Angels to create (if they at least
          147Are his created), or to spite us more--
          148Determin'd to advance into our room
          149A creature form'd of earth, and him endow,
          150Exalted from so base original,
          151With heav'nly spoils, our spoils. What he decreed
          152He effected: Man he made, and for him built
          153Magnificent this World, and Earth his seat,
          154Him Lord pronounc'd, and, O indignity!
          155Subjected to his service Angel-wings
          156And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
          157Their earthy charge. Of these the vigilance
          158I dread, and to elude, thus wrapt in mist
          159Of midnight vapour glide obscure, and pry
          160In every bush and brake where hap may find
          161The serpent sleeping, in whose mazy folds
          162To hide me and the dark intent I bring.
          163O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
          164With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrain'd
          165Into a beast, and, mix'd with bestial slime,
          166This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
          167That to the highth of Deity aspir'd!
          168But what will not ambition and revenge
          169Descend to? Who aspires must down as low
          170As high he soar'd, obnoxious first or last
          171To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
          172Bitter ere long back on itself recoils.
          173Let it! I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
          174Since higher I fall short, on him who next
          175Provokes my envy, this new favourite
          176Of Heav'n, this Man of clay, son of despite,
          177Whom us the more to spite, his Maker rais'd
          178From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid."

          179So saying, through each thicket, dank or dry,
          180Like a black mist low-creeping, he held on
          181His midnight search where soonest he might find
          182The serpent. Him fast sleeping soon he found,
          183In labyrinth of many a round self-roll'd,
          184His head the midst, well stor'd with subtle wiles:
          185Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,
          186Nor nocent yet, but on the grassy herb,
          187Fearless, unfear'd, he slept. In at his mouth
          188The Devil enter'd, and his brutal sense
          189In heart or head possessing, soon inspir'd
          190With act intelligential, but his sleep
          191Disturb'd not, waiting close th' approach of morn.

          192Now, whenas sacred light began to dawn
          193In Eden on the humid flow'rs, that breath'd
          194Their morning incense, when all things that breathe
          195From th' Earth's great altar send up silent praise
          196To the Creator, and his nostrils fill
          197With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,
          198And join'd their vocal worship to the quire
          199Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake
          200The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs;
          201Then commune how that day they best may ply
          202Their growing work--for much their work outgrew
          203The hands' dispatch of two gard'ning so wide--
          204And Eve first to her husband thus began:

          205"Adam, well may we labour still to dress
          206This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flow'r,
          207Our pleasant task enjoin'd; but till more hands
          208Aid us the work under our labour grows,
          209Luxurious by restraint: what we by day
          210Lop overgrown, or prune or prop or bind,
          211One night or two with wanton growth derides,
          212Tending to wild. Thou, therefore, now advise,
          213Or hear what to my mind first thoughts present:
          214Let us divide our labours--thou where choice
          215Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind
          216The woodbine round this arbour, or direct
          217The clasping ivy where to climb; while I,
          218In yonder spring of roses intermix'd
          219With myrtle, find what to redress till noon;
          220For while so near each other thus all day
          221Our task we choose, what wonder if so near
          222Looks intervene and smiles, or objects new
          223Casual discourse draw on, which intermits
          224Our day's work, brought to little though begun
          225Early, and th' hour of supper comes unearn'd!"

          226To whom mild answer Adam thus returned:
          227"Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond
          228Compare above all living creatures dear!
          229Well hast thou motion'd, well thy thoughts employ'd,
          230How we might best fulfil the work which here
          231God hath assign'd us, nor of me shalt pass
          232Unprais'd; for nothing lovelier can be found
          233In woman than to study household good,
          234And good works in her husband to promote.
          235Yet not so strictly hath our Lord impos'd
          236Labour as to debar us when we need
          237Refreshment, whether food or talk between,
          238Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse
          239Of looks and smiles; for smiles from reason flow,
          240To brute denied, and are of love the food--
          241Love, not the lowest end of human life.
          242For not to irksome toil, but to delight,
          243He made us, and delight to reason join'd.
          244These paths and bowers doubt not but our joint hands
          245Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide
          246As we need walk, till younger hands ere long
          247Assist us. But if much converse perhaps
          248Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield;
          249For solitude sometimes is best society,
          250And short retirement urges sweet return.
          251But other doubt possesses me, lest harm
          252Befall thee, sever'd from me; for thou know'st
          253What hath been warn'd us; what malicious foe,
          254Envying our happiness, and of his own
          255Despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame
          256By sly assault; and somewhere nigh at hand
          257Watches, no doubt, with greedy hope to find
          258His wish and best advantage, us asunder,
          259Hopeless to circumvent us join'd, where each
          260To other speedy aid might lend at need.
          261Whether his first design be to withdraw
          262Our fealty from God, or to disturb
          263Conjugal love--than which perhaps no bliss
          264Enjoy'd by us excites his envy more--
          265Or this or worse, leave not the faithful side
          266That gave thee being, still shades thee and protects.
          267The wife, where danger or dishonour lurks,
          268Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,
          269Who guards her, or with her the worst endures."

          270To whom the virgin majesty of Eve,
          271As one who loves, and some unkindness meets,
          272With sweet austere composure thus replied:
          273"Offspring of Heav'n and Earth, and all Earth's lord!
          274That such an enemy we have, who seeks
          275Our ruin, both by thee inform'd I learn,
          276And from the parting Angel overheard
          277As in a shady nook I stood behind
          278Just then return'd at shut of evening flow'rs.
          279But that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubt
          280To God or thee, because we have a foe
          281May tempt it, I expected not to hear.
          282His violence thou fear'st not, being such
          283As we, not capable of death or pain,
          284Can either not receive or can repel.
          285His fraud is then thy fear; which plain infers
          286Thy equal fear that my firm faith and love
          287Can by his fraud be shak'n or seduc'd:
          288Thoughts--which how found they harbour in thy breast,
          289Adam?--misthought of her to thee so dear!"

          290To whom with healing words Adam replied:
          291"Daughter of God and Man, immortal Eve!--
          292For such thou art, from sin and blame entire--
          293Not diffident of thee do I dissuade
          294Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid
          295Th' attempt itself, intended by our foe.
          296For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses
          297The tempted with dishonour foul, suppos'd
          298Not incorruptible of faith, not proof
          299Against temptation. Thou thyself with scorn
          300And anger wouldst resent the offer'd wrong,
          301Though ineffectual found; misdeem not, then,
          302If such affront I labour to avert
          303From thee alone, which on us both at once
          304The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare,
          305Or, daring, first on me th' assault shall light.
          306Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn--
          307Subtle he needs must be who could seduce
          308Angels--nor think superfluous other's aid.
          309I from the influence of thy looks receive
          310Access in every virtue--in thy sight
          311More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were
          312Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking on,
          313Shame to be overcome or overreach'd,
          314Would utmost vigour raise, and rais'd unite.
          315Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel
          316When I am present, and thy trial choose
          317With me, best witness of thy virtue tried?"

          318So spake domestic Adam in his care
          319And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought
          320Less attributed to her faith sincere,
          321Thus her reply with accent sweet renew'd:
          322"If this be our condition, thus to dwell
          323In narrow circuit strait'n'd by a foe,
          324Subtle or violent, we not endu'd
          325Single with like defence wherever met,
          326How are we happy, still in fear of harm?
          327But harm precedes not sin: only our foe
          328Tempting affronts us with his foul esteem
          329Of our integrity; his foul esteem
          330Sticks no dishonour on our front, but turns
          331Foul on himself. Then wherefore shunn'd or fear'd
          332By us, who rather double honour gain
          333From his surmise prov'd false, find peace within,
          334Favour from Heav'n, our witness, from th' event?
          335And what is faith, love, virtue, unassay'd
          336Alone, without exterior help sustain'd?
          337Let us not then suspect our happy state
          338Left so imperfect by the Maker wise
          339As not secure to single or combin'd:
          340Frail is our happiness, if this be so,
          341And Eden were no Eden, thus expos'd."

          342To whom thus Adam fervently replied:
          343"O Woman, best are all things as the will
          344Of God ordain'd them; his creating hand
          345Nothing imperfect or deficient left
          346Of all that he created, much less Man
          347Or aught that might his happy state secure,
          348Secure from outward force. Within himself
          349The danger lies, yet lies within his power:
          350Against his will he can receive no harm.
          351But God left free the will; for what obeys
          352Reason is free, and reason he made right,
          353But bid her well beware and still erect,
          354Lest, by some fair appearing good surpris'd,
          355She dictate false and misinform the will
          356To do what God expressly hath forbid.
          357Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins
          358That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me.
          359Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve,
          360Since reason not impossibly may meet
          361Some specious object by the foe suborn'd
          362And fall into deception unaware,
          363Not keeping strictest watch as she was warn'd.
          364Seek not temptation, then, which to avoid
          365Were better--and most likely if from me
          366Thou sever not. Trial will come unsought.
          367Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approve
          368First thy obedience; th' other who can know?
          369Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?
          370But if thou think trial unsought may find
          371Us both securer than thus warn'd thou seem'st,
          372Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more.
          373Go in thy native innocence; rely
          374On what thou hast of virtue, summon all;
          375For God towards thee hath done his part: do thine."

          376So spake the Patriarch of Mankind; but Eve
          377Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied:
          378"With thy permission, then, and thus forewarn'd,
          379Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words
          380Touch'd only, that our trial when least sought
          381May find us both perhaps far less prepar'd,
          382The willinger I go, nor much expect
          383A foe so proud will first the weaker seek--
          384So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse."

          385Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand
          386Soft she withdrew, and, like a wood-nymph light,
          387Oread or Dryad or of Delia's train,
          388Betook her to the groves; but Delia's self
          389In gait surpass'd and goddess-like deport,
          390Though not as she with bow and quiver arm'd,
          391But with such gard'ning tools as art, yet rude,
          392Guiltless of fire had form'd, or Angels brought.
          393To Pales or Pomona, thus adorn'd,
          394Likest she seem'd--Pomona when she fled
          395Vertumnus--or to Ceres in her prime,
          396Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.
          397Her long with ardent look his eye pursu'd
          398Delighted, but desiring more her stay;
          399Oft he to her his charge of quick return
          400Repeated; she to him as oft engag'd
          401To be return'd by noon amid the bower,
          402And all things in best order to invite
          403Noontide repast or afternoon's repose.
          404O much deceiv'd, much failing, hapless Eve,
          405Of thy presum'd return, event perverse!
          406Thou never from that hour in Paradise
          407Found'st either sweet repast or sound repose:
          408Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades,
          409Waited with hellish rancour imminent
          410To intercept thy way, or send thee back
          411Despoil'd of innocence, of faith, of bliss.

          412For now, and since first break of dawn, the Fiend,
          413Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come,
          414And on his quest where likeliest he might find
          415The only two of mankind, but in them
          416The whole included race, his purpos'd prey.
          417In bower and field he sought, where any tuft
          418Of grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay,
          419Their tendance or plantation for delight;
          420By fountain or by shady rivulet
          421He sought them both, but wish'd his hap might find
          422Eve separate: he wish'd, but not with hope
          423Of what so seldom chanc'd, when to his wish,
          424Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,
          425Veil'd in a cloud of fragrance where she stood
          426Half-spied, so thick the roses bushing round
          427About her glow'd, oft stooping to support
          428Each flower of tender stalk whose head, though gay
          429Carnation, purple, azure, or speck'd with gold,
          430Hung drooping unsustain'd. Them she upstays
          431Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while
          432Herself, though fairest unsupported flow'r,
          433From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.
          434Nearer he drew, and many a walk travers'd
          435Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm;
          436Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen
          437Among thick-wov'n arborets and flow'rs
          438Imborder'd on each bank, the hand of Eve:
          439Spot more delicious than those gardens feign'd
          440Or of reviv'd Adonis or renown'd
          441Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son,
          442Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king
          443Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.
          444Much he the place admir'd, the person more.
          445As one who, long in populous city pent,
          446Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air,
          447Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe
          448Among the pleasant villages and farms
          449Adjoin'd, from each thing met conceives delight--
          450The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
          451Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound--
          452If chance with nymph-like step fair virgin pass,
          453What pleasing seem'd, for her now pleases more,
          454She most, and in her look sums all delight:
          455Such pleasure took the Serpent to behold
          456This flow'ry plat, the sweet recess of Eve
          457Thus early, thus alone. Her heav'nly form
          458Angelic, but more soft and feminine,
          459Her graceful innocence, her every air
          460Of gesture or least action, overaw'd
          461His malice, and with rapine sweet bereav'd
          462His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought.
          463That space the Evil One abstracted stood
          464From his own evil, and for the time remain'd
          465Stupidly good, of enmity disarm'd,
          466Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge.
          467But the hot Hell that always in him burns,
          468Though in mid Heav'n, soon ended his delight,
          469And tortures him now more, the more he sees
          470Of pleasure not for him ordain'd. Then soon
          471Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts
          472Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites:

          473"Thoughts, whither have ye led me? with what sweet
          474Compulsion thus transported to forget
          475What hither brought us? Hate, not love, nor hope
          476Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste
          477Of pleasure, but all pleasure to destroy,
          478Save what is in destroying--other joy
          479To me is lost. Then let me not let pass
          480Occasion which now smiles. Behold alone
          481The Woman, opportune to all attempts;
          482Her husband--for I view far round--not nigh,
          483Whose higher intellectual more I shun,
          484And strength, of courage haughty, and of limb
          485Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould:
          486Foe not informidable, exempt from wound,
          487I not--so much hath Hell debas'd, and pain
          488Enfeebl'd me, to what I was in Heav'n.
          489She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods;
          490Not terrible, though terror be in love
          491And beauty, not approach'd by stronger hate--
          492Hate stronger under show of love well feign'd:
          493The way which to her ruin now I tend."

          494So spake the Enemy of Mankind, enclos'd
          495In serpent, inmate bad, and toward Eve
          496Address'd his way: not with indented wave
          497Prone on the ground, as since, but on his rear,
          498Circular base of rising folds that tow'r'd
          499Fold above fold, a surging maze: his head
          500Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes:
          501With burnished neck of verdant gold, erect
          502Amidst his circling spires that on the grass
          503Floated redundant. Pleasing was his shape
          504And lovely: never since of serpent kind
          505Lovelier--not those that in Illyria chang'd
          506Hermione and Cadmus, or the God
          507In Epidaurus: nor to which transform'd
          508Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen,
          509He with Olympias, this with her who bore
          510Scipio, the highth of Rome. With tract oblique
          511At first, as one who sought access but fear'd
          512To interrupt, sidelong he works his way.
          513As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought
          514Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind
          515Veers oft, as oft so steers and shifts her sail,
          516So varied he, and of his tortuous train
          517Curl'd many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,
          518To lure her eye. She, busied, heard the sound
          519Of rustling leaves, but minded not, as us'd
          520To such disport before her through the field
          521From every beast, more duteous at her call
          522Than at Circean call the herd disguis'd.
          523He, bolder now, uncall'd before her stood,
          524But as in gaze admiring. Oft he bow'd
          525His turret crest and sleek enamell'd neck,
          526Fawning, and lick'd the ground whereon she trod.
          527His gentle dumb expression turn'd at length
          528The eye of Eve to mark his play; he, glad
          529Of her attention gain'd, with serpent-tongue
          530Organic, or impulse of vocal air,
          531His fraudulent temptation thus began:

          532"Wonder not, sovran mistress (if perhaps
          533Thou canst who art sole wonder), much less arm
          534Thy looks, the heav'n of mildness, with disdain,
          535Displeas'd that I approach thee thus and gaze
          536Insatiate, I thus single, nor have fear'd
          537Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir'd.
          538Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair,
          539Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine
          540By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore,
          541With ravishment beheld--there best beheld
          542Where universally admir'd; but here,
          543In this enclosure wild, these beasts among,
          544Beholders rude and shallow to discern
          545Half what in thee is fair, one man except
          546Who sees thee (and what is one?) who shouldst be seen
          547A Goddess among Gods, ador'd and serv'd
          548By Angels numberless, thy daily train?"

          549So gloz'd the Tempter, and his proem tun'd.
          550Into the heart of Eve his words made way,
          551Though at the voice much marvelling; at length,
          552Not unamaz'd, she thus in answer spake:

          553"What may this mean? Language of Man pronounc'd
          554By tongue of brute, and human sense express'd?
          555The first at least of these I thought denied
          556To beasts, whom God on their creation-day
          557Created mute to all articulate sound;
          558The latter I demur, for in their looks
          559Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears.
          560Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field
          561I knew, but not with human voice endu'd;
          562Redouble then this miracle, and say
          563How cam'st thou speakable of mute, and how
          564To me so friendly grown above the rest
          565Of brutal kind that daily are in sight:
          566Say, for such wonder claims attention due."

          567To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied:
          568"Empress of this fair World, resplendent Eve!
          569Easy to me it is to tell thee all
          570What thou command'st, and right thou shouldst be obey'd.
          571I was at first as other beasts that graze
          572The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low
          573As was my food, nor aught but food discern'd
          574Or sex, and apprehended nothing high:
          575Till on a day roving the field, I chanc'd
          576A goodly tree far distant to behold,
          577Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mix'd,
          578Ruddy and gold. I nearer drew to gaze,
          579When from the boughs a savoury odour blown,
          580Grateful to appetite, more pleas'd my sense
          581Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats
          582Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at ev'n,
          583Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play.
          584To satisfy the sharp desire I had
          585Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv'd
          586Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,
          587Powerful persuaders, quick'n'd at the scent
          588Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen.
          589About the mossy trunk I wound me soon;
          590For high from ground the branches would require
          591Thy utmost reach or Adam's: round the tree
          592All other beasts that saw, with like desire
          593Longing and envying stood, but could not reach.
          594Amid the tree now got where plenty hung
          595Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill
          596I spar'd not; for such pleasure till that hour
          597At feed or fountain never had I found.
          598Sated at length, ere long I might perceive
          599Strange alteration in me, to degree
          600Of reason in my inward powers, and speech
          601Wanted not long, though to this shape retain'd.
          602Thenceforth to speculations high or deep
          603I turn'd my thoughts, and with capacious mind
          604Consider'd all things visible in Heav'n,
          605Or Earth, or Middle, all things fair and good.
          606But all that fair and good in thy divine
          607Semblance, and in thy beauty's heav'nly ray,
          608United I beheld--no fair to thine
          609Equivalent or second; which compell'd
          610Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come
          611And gaze, and worship thee of right declar'd
          612Sovran of creatures, universal Dame!"

          613So talk'd the spirited sly Snake; and Eve,
          614Yet more amaz'd, unwary thus replied:
          615"Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt
          616The virtue of that fruit, in thee first prov'd.
          617But say, where grows the tree? from hence how far?
          618For many are the trees of God that grow
          619In Paradise, and various, yet unknown
          620To us; in such abundance lies our choice
          621As leaves a greater store of fruit untouch'd,
          622Still hanging incorruptible, till men
          623Grow up to their provision, and more hands
          624Help to disburden Nature of her birth."

          625To whom the wily Adder, blithe and glad:
          626"Empress, the way is ready and not long:
          627Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat
          628Fast by a fountain, one small thicket past
          629Of blowing myrrh and balm. If thou accept
          630My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon."

          631"Lead, then," said Eve. He, leading, swiftly roll'd
          632In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,
          633To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy
          634Brightens his crest. As when a wand'ring fire,
          635Compact of unctuous vapour which the night
          636Condenses, and the cold environs round,
          637Kindl'd through agitation to a flame
          638(Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends),
          639Hovering and blazing with delusive light,
          640Misleads th' amaz'd night-wanderer from his way
          641To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool,
          642There swallow'd up and lost, from succour far:
          643So glister'd the dire Snake, and into fraud
          644Led Eve, our credulous Mother, to the Tree
          645Of Prohibition, root of all our woe;
          646Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake:

          647"Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming hither,
          648Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess,
          649The credit of whose virtue rest with thee,
          650Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects!
          651But of this tree we may not taste nor touch:
          652God so commanded, and left that command
          653Sole daughter of his voice. The rest, we live
          654Law to ourselves: our reason is our law."

          655To whom the Tempter guilefully replied:
          656"Indeed! Hath God then said that of the fruit
          657Of all these garden-trees ye shall not eat,
          658Yet lords declar'd of all in earth or air?"

          659To whom thus Eve, yet sinless: "Of the fruit
          660Of each tree in the garden we may eat;
          661But of the fruit of this fair tree, amidst
          662The garden, God hath said, 'Ye shall not eat
          663Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die.' "

          664She scarce had said, though brief, when now more bold
          665The Tempter, but with show of zeal and love
          666To Man, and indignation at his wrong,
          667New part puts on, and as to passion mov'd,
          668Fluctuates disturb'd, yet comely, and in act
          669Rais'd, as of some great matter to begin.
          670As when of old some orator renown'd
          671In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence
          672Flourish'd, since mute, to some great cause address'd,
          673Stood in himself collected, while each part,
          674Motion, each act, won audience ere the tongue
          675Sometimes in highth began, as no delay
          676Of preface brooking through his zeal of right:
          677So standing, moving, or to highth upgrown,
          678The Tempter, all impassion'd, thus began:

          679"O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving Plant,
          680Mother of science! now I feel thy power
          681Within me clear, not only to discern
          682Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
          683Of highest agents, deem'd however wise.
          684Queen of this Universe! do not believe
          685Those rigid threats of death. Ye shall not die.
          686How should ye? By the fruit? it gives you life
          687To knowledge. By the Threat'ner? look on me,
          688Me who have touch'd and tasted, yet both live
          689And life more perfect have attain'd than Fate
          690Meant me, by vent'ring higher than my lot.
          691Shall that be shut to Man which to the beast
          692Is open? or will God incense his ire
          693For such a petty trespass, and not praise
          694Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
          695Of death denounc'd, whatever thing death be,
          696Deterr'd not from achieving what might lead
          697To happier life, knowledge of good and evil?
          698Of good, how just? of evil (if what is evil
          699Be real), why not known, since easier shunn'd?
          700God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;
          701Not just, not God; not fear'd then, nor obey'd:
          702Your fear itself of death removes the fear.
          703Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,
          704Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,
          705His worshippers? He knows that in the day
          706Ye eat thereof your eyes, that seem so clear,
          707Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then
          708Open'd and clear'd, and ye shall be as Gods,
          709Knowing both good and evil as they know.
          710That ye should be as Gods, since I as Man,
          711Internal Man, is but proportion meet:
          712I, of brute, human; ye, of human, Gods.
          713So ye shall die, perhaps, by putting off
          714Human, to put on Gods--death to be wish'd,
          715Though threat'n'd, which no worse than this can bring!
          716And what are Gods, that Man may not become
          717As they, participating godlike food?
          718The Gods are first, and that advantage use
          719On our belief, that all from them proceeds.
          720I question it; for this fair earth I see,
          721Warm'd by the sun, producing every kind,
          722Them nothing. If they all things, who enclos'd
          723Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,
          724That whoso eats thereof forthwith attains
          725Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies
          726Th' offence, that Man should thus attain to know?
          727What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree
          728Impart against his will, if all be his?
          729Or is it envy? and can envy dwell
          730In Heav'nly breasts? These, these and many more
          731Causes import your need of this fair fruit.
          732Goddess humane, reach then and freely taste!"

          733He ended; and his words, replete with guile,
          734Into her heart too easy entrance won.
          735Fix'd on the fruit she gaz'd, which to behold
          736Might tempt alone; and in her ears the sound
          737Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregn'd
          738With reason, to her seeming, and with truth.
          739Meanwhile the hour of noon drew on and wak'd
          740An eager appetite, rais'd by the smell
          741So savoury of that fruit, which with desire,
          742Inclinable now grown to touch or taste,
          743Solicited her longing eye; yet first,
          744Pausing a while, thus to herself she mus'd:

          745"Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits,
          746Though kept from Man, and worthy to be admir'd,
          747Whose taste, too long forborne, at first assay
          748Gave elocution to the mute, and taught
          749The tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise.
          750Thy praise he also who forbids thy use
          751Conceals not from us, naming thee the Tree
          752Of Knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil:
          753Forbids us then to taste, but his forbidding
          754Commends thee more, while it infers the good
          755By thee communicated, and our want;
          756For good unknown sure is not had, or had
          757And yet unknown, is as not had at all.
          758In plain, then, what forbids he but to know,
          759Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?
          760Such prohibitions bind not. But if Death
          761Bind us with after-bands, what profits then
          762Our inward freedom? In the day we eat
          763Of this fair fruit, our doom is we shall die!
          764How dies the Serpent? He hath eat'n, and lives
          765And knows and speaks and reasons and discerns,
          766Irrational till then. For us alone
          767Was death invented? or to us denied
          768This intellectual food, for beasts reserv'd?
          769For beasts it seems; yet that one beast which first
          770Hath tasted envies not, but brings with joy
          771The good befall'n him, author unsuspect,
          772Friendly to Man, far from deceit or guile.
          773What fear I then? rather, what know to fear
          774Under this ignorance of good and evil,
          775Of God or death, of law or penalty?
          776Here grows the cure of all: this fruit divine,
          777Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste,
          778Of virtue to make wise. What hinders, then
          779To reach and feed at once both body and mind?"

          780So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
          781Forth-reaching to the fruit, she pluck'd, she eat.
          782Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
          783Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe
          784That all was lost. Back to the thicket slunk
          785The guilty Serpent, and well might; for Eve,
          786Intent now wholly on her taste, naught else
          787Regarded: such delight till then, as seem'd,
          788In fruit she never tasted, whether true
          789Or fancied so through expectation high
          790Of knowledge: nor was Godhead from her thought.
          791Greedily she ingorg'd without restraint,
          792And knew not eating death. Satiate at length,
          793And height'n'd as with wine, jocund and boon,
          794Thus to herself she pleasingly began:

          795"O sovran, virtuous, precious of all trees
          796In Paradise! of operation blest
          797To sapience, hitherto obscur'd, infam'd,
          798And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no end
          799Created! but henceforth my early care,
          800Not without song each morning, and due praise,
          801Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease
          802Of thy full branches, offer'd free to all:
          803Till, dieted by thee, I grow mature
          804In knowledge, as the Gods who all things know--
          805Though others envy what they cannot give,
          806For had the gift been theirs, it had not here
          807Thus grown! Experience, next to thee I owe
          808Best guide: not following thee, I had remain'd
          809In ignorance; thou open'st Wisdom's way
          810And giv'st access, though secret she retire.
          811And I perhaps am secret: Heav'n is high--
          812High, and remote to see from thence distinct
          813Each thing on Earth--and other care perhaps
          814May have diverted from continual watch
          815Our great Forbidder, safe with all his spies
          816About him. But to Adam in what sort
          817Shall I appear? Shall I to him make known
          818As yet my change, and give him to partake
          819Full happiness with me, or rather not,
          820But keep the odds of knowledge in my power
          821Without copartner? so to add what wants
          822In female sex, the more to draw his love,
          823And render me more equal, and perhaps--
          824A thing not undesirable--sometime
          825Superior; for, inferior, who is free?
          826This may be well; but what if God have seen,
          827And death ensue? Then I shall be no more;
          828And Adam, wedded to another Eve,
          829Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct--
          830A death to think! Confirm'd then, I resolve:
          831Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe!
          832So dear I love him that with him all deaths
          833I could endure, without him live no life."

          834So saying, from the tree her step she turn'd:
          835But first, low reverence done as to the Power
          836That dwelt within, whose presence had infus'd
          837Into the plant sciential sap, deriv'd
          838From nectar, drink of Gods. Adam the while,
          839Waiting desirous her return, had wove
          840Of choicest flow'rs a garland, to adorn
          841Her tresses and her rural labours crown,
          842As reapers oft are wont their harvest-queen.
          843Great joy he promis'd to his thoughts, and new
          844Solace in her return, so long delay'd;
          845Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill,
          846Misgave him: he the falt'ring measure felt,
          847And forth to meet her went, the way she took
          848That morn when first they parted. By the Tree
          849Of Knowledge he must pass; there he her met,
          850Scarce from the tree returning: in her hand
          851A bough of fairest fruit that downy smil'd,
          852New gather'd, and ambrosial smell diffus'd.
          853To him she hasted; in her face excuse
          854Came prologue, and apology to prompt,
          855Which with bland words at will she thus address'd:

          856"Hast thou not wonder'd, Adam, at my stay?
          857Thee I have miss'd, and thought it long, depriv'd
          858Thy presence--agony of love till now
          859Not felt, nor shall be twice; for never more
          860Mean I to try, what rash untried I sought,
          861The pain of absence from thy sight. But strange
          862Hath been the cause, and wonderful to hear:
          863This tree is not, as we are told, a tree
          864Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown
          865Op'ning the way, but of divine effect
          866To open eyes and make them Gods who taste;
          867And hath been tasted such. The Serpent wise,
          868Or not restrain'd as we, or not obeying,
          869Hath eat'n of the fruit, and is become
          870Not dead, as we are threat'n'd, but thenceforth
          871Endu'd with human voice and human sense,
          872Reasoning to admiration, and with me
          873Persuasively hath so prevail'd that I
          874Have also tasted, and have also found
          875Th' effects to correspond: opener mine eyes,
          876Dim erst, dilated spirits, ampler heart,
          877And growing up to Godhead, which for thee
          878Chiefly I sought, without thee can despise;
          879For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss,
          880Tedious unshar'd with thee, and odious soon.
          881Thou, therefore, also taste, that equal lot
          882May join us, equal joy, as equal love;
          883Lest, thou not tasting, different degree
          884Disjoin us, and I then too late renounce
          885Deity for thee, when Fate will not permit."

          886Thus Eve with count'nance blithe her story told;
          887But in her cheek distemper flushing glow'd.
          888On th' other side, Adam, soon as he heard
          889The fatal trespass done by Eve, amaz'd,
          890Astonied stood and blank, while horror chill
          891Ran through his veins and all his joints relax'd.
          892From his slack hand the garland wreath'd for Eve
          893Down dropp'd, and all the faded roses shed.
          894Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length
          895First to himself he inward silence broke:

          896"O fairest of creation, last and best
          897Of all God's works, creature in whom excell'd
          898Whatever can to sight or thought be form'd
          899Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!
          900How art thou lost! how on a sudden lost,
          901Defac'd, deflow'r'd, and now to death devote!
          902Rather, how hast thou yielded to transgress
          903The strict forbiddance, how to violate
          904The sacred fruit forbidd'n? Some cursed fraud
          905Of enemy hath beguil'd thee, yet unknown,
          906And me with thee hath ruin'd; for with thee
          907Certain my resolution is to die.
          908How can I live without thee? how forgo
          909Thy sweet converse, and love so dearly join'd,
          910To live again in these wild woods forlorn?
          911Should God create another Eve, and I
          912Another rib afford, yet loss of thee
          913Would never from my heart. No, no! I feel
          914The link of nature draw me: flesh of flesh,
          915Bone of my bone thou art, and from thy state
          916Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe."

          917So having said, as one from sad dismay
          918Recomforted and, after thoughts disturb'd,
          919Submitting to what seem'd remediless,
          920Thus in calm mood his words to Eve he turn'd:
          921"Bold deed thou hast presum'd, advent'rous Eve,
          922And peril great provok'd, who thus hast dar'd
          923Had it been only coveting to eye
          924That sacred fruit, sacred to abstinence;
          925Much more to taste it, under ban to touch.
          926But past who can recall, or done undo?
          927Not God Omnipotent, nor Fate! Yet so
          928Perhaps thou shalt not die; perhaps the fact
          929Is not so heinous now--foretasted fruit,
          930Profan'd first by the Serpent, by him first
          931Made common and unhallow'd ere your taste;
          932Nor yet on him found deadly: he yet lives--
          933Lives, as thou saidst, and gains to live as Man,
          934Higher degree of life: inducement strong
          935To us, as likely tasting to attain
          936Proportional ascent; which cannot be
          937But to be Gods or Angels, demi-gods.
          938Nor can I think that God, Creator wise,
          939Though threat'ning, will in earnest so destroy
          940Us, his prime creatures, dignified so high,
          941Set over all his works, which in our fall,
          942For us created, needs with us must fail,
          943Dependent made. So God shall uncreate,
          944Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour lose--
          945Not well conceiv'd of God; who, though his power
          946Creation could repeat, yet would be loath
          947Us to abolish, lest the Adversary
          948Triumph and say: 'Fickle their state whom God
          949Most favours; who can please him long? Me first
          950He ruin'd, now mankind; whom will he next?'--
          951Matter of scorn not to be given the Foe.
          952However, I with thee have fix'd my lot,
          953Certain to undergo like doom. If death
          954Consort with thee, death is to me as life:
          955So forcible within my heart I feel
          956The bond of Nature draw me to my own,
          957My own in thee; for what thou art is mine:
          958Our state cannot be severed, we are one,
          959One flesh. To lose thee were to lose myself."

          960So Adam; and thus Eve to him replied:
          961"O glorious trial of exceeding love,
          962Illustrious evidence, example high!
          963Engaging me to emulate (but, short
          964Of thy perfection, how shall I attain?),
          965Adam, from whose dear side I boast me sprung,
          966And gladly of our union hear thee speak,
          967One heart, one soul in both; whereof good proof
          968This day affords, declaring thee resolv'd,
          969Rather than death, or aught than death more dread,
          970Shall separate us, link'd in love so dear,
          971To undergo with me one guilt, one crime,
          972If any be, of tasting this fair fruit,
          973Whose virtue (for of good still good proceeds,
          974Direct, or by occasion) hath presented
          975This happy trial of thy love, which else
          976So eminently never had been known.
          977Were it I thought death menac'd would ensue
          978This my attempt, I would sustain alone
          979The worst, and not persuade thee: rather die
          980Deserted than oblige thee with a fact
          981Pernicious to thy peace, chiefly assur'd
          982Remarkably so late of thy so true,
          983So faithful, love unequall'd. But I feel
          984Far otherwise th' event--not death, but life
          985Augmented, op'n'd eyes, new hopes, new joys,
          986Taste so divine that what of sweet before
          987Hath touch'd my sense flat seems to this and harsh.
          988On my experience, Adam, freely taste,
          989And fear of death deliver to the winds!"

          990So saying, she embrac'd him, and for joy
          991Tenderly wept, much won that he his love
          992Had so ennobl'd, as of choice to incur
          993Divine displeasure for her sake, or death.
          994In recompense (for such compliance bad
          995Such recompense best merits), from the bough
          996She gave him of that fair enticing fruit
          997With liberal hand. He scrupl'd not to eat,
          998Against his better knowledge, not deceiv'd,
          999But fondly overcome with female charm.
        1000Earth trembl'd from her entrails, as again
        1001In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan;
        1002Sky lour'd and, muttering thunder, some sad drops
        1003Wept at completing of the mortal sin
        1004Original; while Adam took no thought,
        1005Eating his fill, nor Eve to iterate
        1006Her former trespass fear'd, the more to soothe
        1007Him with her lov'd society: that now,
        1008As with new wine intoxicated both,
        1009They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel
        1010Divinity within them breeding wings
        1011Wherewith to scorn the Earth. But that false fruit
        1012Far other operation first display'd,
        1013Carnal desire inflaming. He on Eve
        1014Began to cast lascivious eyes; she him
        1015As wantonly repaid: in lust they burn,
        1016Till Adam thus 'gan Eve to dalliance move:

        1017"Eve, now I see thou art exact of taste
        1018And elegant, of sapience no small part,
        1019Since to each meaning 'savour' we apply,
        1020And palate call 'judicious.' I the praise
        1021Yield thee, so well this day thou hast purvey'd.
        1022Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstain'd
        1023From this delightful fruit, nor known till now
        1024True relish, tasting. If such pleasure be
        1025In things to us forbidd'n, it might be wish'd
        1026For this one tree had been forbidden ten.
        1027But come; so well refresh'd, now let us play,
        1028As meet is after such delicious fare;
        1029For never did thy beauty, since the day
        1030I saw thee first and wedded thee, adorn'd
        1031With all perfections, so inflame my sense
        1032With ardour to enjoy thee, fairer now
        1033Than ever: bounty of this virtuous tree!"

        1034So said he, and forbore not glance or toy
        1035Of amorous intent, well understood
        1036Of Eve, whose eye darted contagious fire.
        1037Her hand he seiz'd, and to a shady bank,
        1038Thick overhead with verdant roof embow'r'd,
        1039He led her, nothing loath; flow'rs were the couch,
        1040Pansies and violets and asphodel
        1041And hyacinth--Earth's freshest, softest lap.
        1042There they their fill of love and love's disport
        1043Took largely, of their mutual guilt the seal,
        1044The solace of their sin, till dewy sleep
        1045Oppress'd them, wearied with their amorous play.

        1046Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,
        1047That with exhilarating vapour bland
        1048About their spirits had play'd and inmost powers
        1049Made err, was now exhal'd, and grosser sleep,
        1050Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams
        1051Encumber'd, now had left them, up they rose
        1052As from unrest, and each the other viewing,
        1053Soon found their eyes how op'n'd, and their minds
        1054How dark'n'd. Innocence, that as a veil
        1055Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone,
        1056Just confidence and native righteousness
        1057And honour, from about them: naked left
        1058To guilty Shame--he cover'd, but his robe
        1059Uncover'd more. So rose the Danite strong,
        1060Herculean Samson, from the harlot-lap
        1061Of Philistean Dalilah, and wak'd
        1062Shorn of his strength:-they destitute and bare
        1063Of all their virtue. Silent, and in face
        1064Confounded, long they sat, as struck'n mute;
        1065Till Adam, though not less than Eve abash'd,
        1066At length gave utterance to these words constrain'd:

        1067"O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear
        1068To that false Worm, of whomsoever taught
        1069To counterfeit Man's voice--true in our fall,
        1070False in our promis'd rising, since our eyes
        1071Op'n'd we find indeed, and find we know
        1072Both good and evil, good lost and evil got:
        1073Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know,
        1074Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void,
        1075Of innocence, of faith, of purity,
        1076Our wonted ornaments now soil'd and stain'd,
        1077And in our faces evident the signs
        1078Of foul concupiscence! whence evil store,
        1079Even shame, the last of evils. Of the first
        1080Be sure then! How shall I behold the face
        1081Henceforth of God or Angel, erst with joy
        1082And rapture so oft beheld? Those Heav'nly Shapes
        1083Will dazzle now this earthly with their blaze
        1084Insufferably bright. O might I here
        1085In solitude live savage, in some glade
        1086Obscur'd, where highest woods, impenetrable
        1087To star or sunlight, spread their umbrage broad,
        1088And brown as evening! Cover me, ye pines!
        1089Ye cedars, with innumerable boughs
        1090Hide me, where I may never see them more!
        1091But let us now, as in bad plight, devise
        1092What best may for the present serve to hide
        1093The parts of each from other that seem most
        1094To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen--
        1095Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves, together sew'd,
        1096And girded on our loins, may cover round
        1097Those middle parts, that this new comer, Shame,
        1098There sit not and reproach us as unclean."

        1099So counsell'd he, and both together went
        1100Into the thickest wood. There soon they chose
        1101The fig-tree--not that kind for fruit renown'd,
        1102But such as at this day, to Indians known,
        1103In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms
        1104Branching so broad and long that in the ground
        1105The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
        1106About the mother tree, a pillar'd shade
        1107High overarch'd, and echoing walks between:
        1108There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,
        1109Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
        1110At loop-holes cut through thickest shade. Those leaves
        1111They gather'd, broad as Amazonian targe,
        1112And with what skill they had together sew'd,
        1113To gird their waist--vain covering, if to hide
        1114Their guilt and dreaded shame! O how unlike
        1115To that first naked glory! Such of late
        1116Columbus found th' American, so girt
        1117With feather'd cincture, naked else and wild,
        1118Among the trees on isles and woody shores.
        1119Thus fenc'd and, as they thought, their shame in part
        1120Cover'd, but not at rest or ease of mind,
        1121They sat them down to weep. Nor only tears
        1122Rain'd at their eyes, but high winds worse within
        1123Began to rise, high passions--anger, hate,
        1124Mistrust, suspicion, discord--and shook sore
        1125Their inward state of mind, calm region once
        1126And full of peace, now toss'd and turbulent:
        1127For Understanding rul'd not, and the Will
        1128Heard not her lore, both in subjection now
        1129To sensual Appetite, who, from beneath
        1130Usurping over sovran Reason, claim'd
        1131Superior sway. From thus distemper'd breast
        1132Adam, estrang'd in look and alter'd style,
        1133Speech intermitted, thus to Eve renew'd:

        1134"Would thou hadst heark'n'd to my words, and stay'd
        1135With me, as I besought thee, when that strange
        1136Desire of wand'ring, this unhappy morn,
        1137I know not whence possess'd thee! We had then
        1138Remain'd still happy--not, as now, despoil'd
        1139Of all our good, sham'd, naked, miserable!
        1140Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve
        1141The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek
        1142Such proof, conclude they then begin to fail."
        1143To whom, soon mov'd with touch of blame, thus Eve:
        1144"What words have pass'd thy lips, Adam severe!
        1145Imput'st thou that to my default, or will
        1146Of wandering, as thou call'st it, which who knows
        1147But might as ill have happ'n'd thou being by,
        1148Or to thyself perhaps? Hadst thou been there,
        1149Or here th' attempt, thou couldst not have discern'd
        1150Fraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake,
        1151No ground of enmity between us known,
        1152Why he should mean me ill or seek to harm.
        1153Was I to have never parted from thy side?
        1154As good have grown there still, a lifeless rib!
        1155Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head,
        1156Command me absolutely not to go,
        1157Going into such danger, as thou saidst?
        1158Too facile then, thou didst not much gainsay,
        1159Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
        1160Hadst thou been firm and fix'd in thy dissent,
        1161Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with me."

        1162To whom, then first incens'd, Adam replied:
        1163"Is this the love, is this the recompense
        1164Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve, express'd
        1165Immutable when thou wert lost, not I--
        1166Who might have liv'd and joy'd immortal bliss,
        1167Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?
        1168And am I now upbraided as the cause
        1169Of thy transgressing? not enough severe,
        1170It seems, in thy restraint! What could I more?
        1171I warn'd thee, I admonish'd thee, foretold
        1172The danger and the lurking enemy
        1173That lay in wait. Beyond this had been force,
        1174And force upon free will hath here no place.
        1175But confidence then bore thee on, secure
        1176Either to meet no danger or to find
        1177Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps
        1178I also err'd in overmuch admiring
        1179What seem'd in thee so perfect that I thought
        1180No evil durst attempt thee; but I rue
        1181That error now, which is become my crime,
        1182And thou th' accuser. Thus it shall befall
        1183Him who, to worth in women overtrusting,
        1184Lets her will rule: restraint she will not brook;
        1185And, left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
        1186She first his weak indulgence will accuse."

        1187Thus they in mutual accusation spent
        1188The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning;
        1189And of their vain contest appear'd no end.



1] The angel guest is Raphael, whose discourse with Adam has extended from the angel's arrival in Book V to the end of Book VIII. Sometimes, however, God seemed to speak directly to man (as in one instance which Adam recounts to Raphael) but always (so Milton held) through the unrecognized medium of the Son or some angel. The intimacy of Earth and Heaven marked by Raphael's joining Adam and Eve in their rural repast and his permitting Adam venial discourse (light but blameless talk) is now to be lost.

11] Cf. above I, 3.

13] This theme (argument--see above I, 24 n.) is not less but more heroic, i.e., worthy of treatment in an epic or heroic poem, than that of the Iliad, whose stated subject was the wrath of Achilles and which recounted his pursuit and slaying of Hector, or than that of the Aeneid with the rivalry of Aeneas and Turnus for the hand of Lavinia, or that of the Odyssey with Neptune's persecution of Odysseus (the Greek), or again that of the Aeneid with Juno's unrelenting enmity to Aeneas, the son of Venus (Cytherea).

21] my celestial patroness: i.e. the Heavenly Muse invoked at I, 5 above.

25] this subject for heroic (i.e., epic) song, namely, the Fall of Man: see above, Introductory Note.

27] Though he has actually, in Books V and VI, supposed the element of martial prowess expected of the epic, Milton protests that he is averse to such matter, hitherto deemed the only fit subject for epic and romance, which deal at tedious length with the ruin wrought by fabulous warriors in fictitious battles, neglecting the while the true heroism of saints and martyrs. Then, mingling epic and romance in a common condemnation he specifies epic games (like those attending the obsequies of Patroclus in the Iliad and Anchises in the Aeneid) and the description of the equipment (furniture) of the knights armed for tournaments, their shields emblazon'd with odd or ingenious devices (Impreses quaint); or of the steeds and their trappings, the long cloths thrown over them (Bases), often of material interwoven with gold or silver thread (tinsel); or, finally, of the ceremonious feast served in the castle hall, with due attendance of household officers, sewer (chief server) and seneschal (steward of the household) all this dwelling on the skill and artifice of menials, not on anything that can be justly called heroic in person or poem. To Milton there remains a higher theme (argument) sufficient in itself to raise to its true level that (debased) name of heroic, unless what he elsewhere calls "answerable style" should fail him through the advanced age and decrepitude of the whole world (an age too late) a recurrent fear in Milton's day; or the cold northern climate, so unlike that of the Mediterranean cradle of culture, where, as Milton said, the sun "ripens wits as well as fruits"; or, finally his own advancing years: all of which might well frustrate his intended flight if indeed he relied solely on himself, and not, as he does, on the Heavenly Muse.

48] Resuming his narrative, Milton refers first to the evening on which Raphael departs (end of Book VIII), then to the expulsion of Satan from the garden by Gabriel (end of Book IV).

49] Hesperus: see above IV, 605 n.

54] improv'd: taught by experience.

56] maugre: in spite of.

64] Keeping always within the shadow of night, Satan circled the equator (equinoctial line) and then circled the earth four times along the imaginary lines (the colures) running from north to south through the poles.

67] the coast averse: the side opposite.

76] Having described Satan's journey astronomically, Milton now describes it geographically. Satan travelled northward over the Black Sea (Pantus) and the Sea of Azof (the pool Maeotis) to the Siberian river Ob, which flows into the Arctic Sea; from the North pole he then descended to the South pole. Westward he travelled along the Syrian river Orontes, over the Mediterranean and the Atlantic to the Isthmus of Panama (Darien) and thence across the Pacific to India (Canges and Indus).

86] "Now the Serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field which the Lord God had made'' (Genesis 3:1).

88] sentence: decision.

89] imp: offspring.

100] Gods: angels (often so called by Milton and justified by him with reference to the Bible).

103] According to the Ptolemaic (or geocentric) scheme, Milton has the heavenly bodies circle round the earth, and according to the Christian idea they exist in order to be serviceable (officious) to it. Further, he returns to the idea of their nourishing by their influence all growth (see above, IV, 667-73 and n.). Finally, "According to the traditional scheme inherited from the Greeks, man contained within himself the faculty of growth, which was the peculiar property of vegetables, and the faculty of sensation, which was the peculiar property of the lower animals, while his own peculiar property of reason was added to these'' (Tillyard).

121] siege: seat or dwelling.

125] mast'ring: mastering.

132] Nature is likewise transformed by the Fall of Man.

142] name: species or race (those that are named angel).

143] Satan, who has found cause for rebelling in God's exalting of the Son (see Head Note), now repines at the gifts showered on man. He has always affected to doubt whether God created the angels, or whether they were not self-originating, but supposing God did create them, Satan now fancies that power lost or spent. Always, indeed, he gets the facts wrong, his mind deluded by an errant Will.

166] incarnate: enter into fleshly form. Milton deliberately uses the word with religious associations, to heighten the contrast of Satan with Christ.

170] obnoxious: liable, exposed to.

174] Satan, who has professed no enmity to man (above, IV, 362-81), now hardens his heart against him.

176] son of despite: a Hebraism, like "son of wickedness'' (Psalm 89:22) or "sons of valour'' (II Samuel 2:7).

186] nocent: poisonous.

190] act intelligential: activity of intellect.

199] partake / The season: share in the delights of the season.

205] still: incessantly.

218] spring: thicket.

229] motion'd: proposed, moved.

241] end: object.

245] wilderness: wildness.

270] virgin: innocent, pure.

276] the parting Angel: Raphael, whose last words to Adam were a warning to "beware'' and "stand fast'' (VIII, 633-43).

289] misthought: misjudgment.

292] from ... entire: in its Latin sense of "whole,'' hence untouched by.

310] Access: increase.

323] strait'n'd: confined.

330] front: brow, forehead.

334] event: outcome.

339] As not secure to us whether alone or together.

350] Milton is insistent on man's free will.

352] "Right reason'' was the sundard of judgment repeatedly invoked in Chnstian as in classical thought.

353] erect: alert.

358] mind: remind.

361] suborn'd: procured for an evil purpose.

367] approve: prove.

371] securer: less careful or (as Eve takes it, 381) less prepared, less on guard.

377] Eve, persistent, but submissive in manner, has the last word.

387] Oread: mountain nymph. Dryad: wood nymph. Delia's train: Diana or Artemis (goddess of the hunt), born on Delos and thus named Delia, was attended by a company (train) of nymphs.

389] deport: bearing.

392] Guiltless of fire: i.e., formed without the use of fire, necessary to work metal, but not yet discovered and put to sometimes guilty use.

393] Pales: a Roman goddess of flocks and herds. Pomona: Roman goddess of fruit.

395] Vertumnus: a lesser country deity of Roman mythology, who wooed, and after long resistance won, Pomona. Ceres: the Roman goddess of agriculture, mother of Proserpina; see above, IV, 271 and n.

405] event perverse: outcome the very opposite.

413] Mere: entire, nothing more than.

418] more pleasant: especially pleasant.

419] tendance: object of care.

431] mindless: careless, with no thought (of danger).

436] voluble: with rolling motion.

438] Imborder'd: planted to form borders.

440] reviv'd Adonis: Adonis, who was slain by a boar, was rescued from the underworld by the prayers of Venus and allowed to spend six months with her each year in a beautiful place known as the garden of Adonis.

441] Alcinous: King of Phoecia who entertained the wandering Odysseus (Laertes' son), possessed wonderful gardens (Odyssey, VII, 112ff.).

442] not mystic: historical, not imaginary or fictitious (as were the gardens previously mentioned), since this is mentioned in Scripture (Song of Solomon 6:2). the sapient king: Solomon "made affmity with Pharaoh king of Egypt and took Pharaoh's daughter and brought her into the city of David'' (I Kings 3:1). Some critics held that the Song of Solomon was the epithalamium or wedding song for this marriage.

446] annoy: make noisome.

450] tedded: mown and spread out to dry. kine: cattle.

453] for her: by virtue of her presence.

456] plat: plot.

459] her manner, whether of action, however slight, or gesture.

461] rapine: robbery.

471] recollects: in the literal sense of "re-collects."

472] gratulating: rejoicing, gloating.

481] opportune: conveniently placed.

483] intellectual: intellect.

485] terrestrial mould: earth.

491] not: if not, unless.

502] spires: coils.

503] redundant: wave-like.

504] Milton compares the Serpent with those of classic myth. Cadmus and Hermione were, in Illyria on the east coast of the Adriatic), changed into serpents (Ovid, Metamorphoses, IV, 562 ff.). Aesculapius, god of medicine, manifested himself as a serpent at his temple at Epidaurus in Argolis (ibid., XV, 670-74). Olympias, mother of Alexander the Great, claimed that he was the son of Jupiter Ammon (Ammonian Jove; see above, IV, 277 and note), who appeared to her in the form of a serpent (Plutarch, Life of Alexander). In the same form Jupiter Capitalinus (i.e., of Rome) became, according to legend, the father of Scipio Africanus, the greatest of the Romans (highth of Rome), by Sempronia.

517] wanton: playful.

522] herd disguis'd: men transformed to beasts by the enchantress Circe (Odyssey, X).

525] turret: towerlike.

529] He either used the serpent's tongue as organ of speech, or produced a voice by some more direct impulsion of air.

537] awful: awe-inspiring.

544] shallow to: without sufficient intelligence to.

549] gloz'd: spoke flatteringly. proem: formal introduction.

558] demur: remain in doubt about.

563] speakable of mute: capable of speech after being dumb.

581] According to popular belief, snakes liked fennel and sucked the teats of sheep and goats.

599] to degree: to the extent.

605] Middle: the air between them.

610] importune: importunate.

612] universal Dame: mistress of the universe.

613] spirited: spirit-possessed.

624] birth: produce.

629] blowing: blossoming. balm: balsam tree.

634] Milton likens the serpent's bright crest to the will-o'-the-wisp which leads travellers astray and sometimes to their destruction, offering first a scientific explanation (Compact of unctuous vapour, i.e., `composed of oily fumes'), then that of popular superstition.

644] Tree / Of prohibition: a Hebraism for "forbidden tree."

651] The prohibition regarding the Tree of Knowledge is the one example of "positive law'' (Sole daughter of his voice is a Hebraism for only uttered command) in contrast with the ''law of nature,'' known by reason, to which the rest of their conduct is left.

667] New parts puts on: assumes a new role in the drama.

671] free Rome: Rome while yet free (under the republic).

673] in himself collected: complete master of all his faculties. part: i.e., of the body.

674] act: action (which won attention before he spoke).

675] in highth began: plunged right into the subject, in height of passion.

680] science: knowledge.

683] highest agents: active beings of the highest rank.

687] To: perhaps "in addition to'' (which is of course a Satanic falsehood: the Tree of Knowledge is not the Tree of Life) or perhaps the meaning is, "it gives as it were a new life, the life of knowledge.''

690] lot: appointed status.

698] Of good, how just? how can God be just if he prohibits the knowledge of good?

711] Internal man: externally he is still a serpent.

713] by putting off humanity to put on divinity. Satan parodies I Corinthians 15:53 and Colossians 3:9-10.

722] If they: i.e., if they produce.

731] import: signify, indicate.

732] humane: probably means "gracious," but possibly (as often in Milton's day) "human."

737] impregn'd: pregnant.

738] to her seeming: as it seemed to her.

742] Inclinable: inclined towards.

747] assay: test.

755] our want: our lack (of that good).

758] In plain: in brief.

771] author unsuspect: source of information not to be suspected.

781] eat: ate.

782] Nature, because likewise disrupted by Man's Fall, gave signs of woe.

792] eating: that she was eating.

793] boon: gay, expansive (as in boon companion).

795] O most sovereign, etc., among all trees.

796] of operation blest / To sapience: gifted with the power to confer wisdom.

797] infam'd: slandered, misrepresented.

805] others: i.e., the gods.

807] Experience: experiment. I owe: I am indebted.

811] secret: hidden.

815] Our great Forbidder: Eve's new view of God, a first result of her fall. safe: safely out of the way, not dangerous.

820] odds: advantage.

825] A like confusion of equality with liberty was the ground of Satan's rebellion.

837] sciential: productive of knowledge (science--Lat. scientia--used of all knowledge).

845] divine of: prophetic of, foreboding.

846] the falt'ring measure: the uneven beat of his heart.

850] Scarce ... returning: only just now returning.

853] A pleading (and perhaps a guilty) expression in her face (excuse) served, like the prologue to a play, to introduce (prompt) a formal apology or verbal defence.

860] What I rashly sought when it was untried.

864] tasted: if tasted.

867] tasted such: proved by tasting to be of such effect.

872] to admiration: so as to give rise to wonder (cf. Lat. admirari, to wonder).

890] Astonied: astonished. If Milton is thinking of Job 17:8, he will be well aware of the irony of Adam's response: "Upright men shall be astonied at this and the innocent shall stir up himself against the hypocrite."

901] devote: doomed.

907] Milton agrees with St. Augustine that, unlike Eve, Adam was not deceived but chose deliberately to share Eve's fate: his sin likewise was disobedience, but the motive was uxoriousness. Milton, however, does not minimize the diffculty of Adam's position.

913] Cf. ''This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh .... Therefore shall a man ... cleave unto his wife'' (Genesis 2:23-24).

917] Adam's decision (wrong though it be) brings (temporary) calm of mind.

927] so: even so.

928] Perhaps the fact (deed) is not so heinous now that the serpent has first defiled the fruit. Adam mistakenly attributes virtue to the fruit itself, which for Milton has no such power but serves only as a test of obedience.

935] tasting: if we taste.

945] Not well conceiv'd of God: it is not to be supposed that God would behave in this manner.

974] by occasion: indirectly.

980] oblige: as in Latin, to make guilty or liable to punishment. fact: deed (see above 928-31n).

984] event: outcome (see above, line 405 n.).

1000] Cf. above, lines 782-84 and note, and "the whole creation groaneth ... till now" (Romans 8:22).

1018] elegant: discriminating. sapience: wisdom.

1019] Since we use the word savour (i.e., taste) in reference to both the understanding (as in "man of taste") and the palate.

1026] For: instead of.

1029] Adam's words recall those of Zeus to Hera (Iliad XIV. 292 ff.).

1034] toy: caress.

1050] unkindly: unnatural; grosser sleep: in contrast to that light and natural sleep of innocence described earlier (P.L., V, 3-5).

1058] he: Shame. his robe: the robe of Shame.

1059] Samson, of the tribe of Dan, strong like Hercules, was shorn of his strength while sleeping (Judges 16).

1068] Worm: serpent.

1079] last: can hardly mean `worst' as editors have assumed since the first, namely, alienation from God, is clearly the worst; last then because the result of all that have gone before.

1083] earthly: earthly nature.

1088] brown: dark (cf. IV, 246 and n.).

1090] them: the heavenly shapes.

1091] as in: since we are in, a Latinism.

1094] obnoxious: liable.

1101] The fig-tree here referred to is the banyan or Indian fig; hence the place names introduced; Malabar, the southwestern coast of India; Decan, the Indian peninsula in general, and the hinterland east of Goa in particular. In the detailed description of the tree Milton is following closely Gerard's popular Herbal (1597).

1111] Amazonian targe: the light shields of the Amazons.

1117] feather'd cincture: here, a loin-cloth made of, or adorned with feathers.

1121] Readers familiar with Milton's description of the Chaos (P.L., II, 891 ff.; VII, 210-15) would recognize a reflection of Chaos in the minds of Adam and Eve.

1132] style: cf. speech.

1133] intermitted: which had been interrupted.

1154] Eve was made by God from a rib taken from Adam's side (Genesis 2:21-22: P.L., VIII, 452-77).

1164] mine: my love. express'd / Immutable: shown to be unchangeable.

1175] confidence: overconfidence.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: John Milton, Paradise Lost. 2nd edn. (1674).
First publication date: 1674
Publication date note: In ten books.
RPO poem editor: Hugh MacCallum, A. S. P. Woodhouse
RP edition: 3RP 1.279-305.
Recent editing: 1:2002/6/8

Composition date: 1642 - 1665
Form: iambic pentameter
Rhyme: unrhymed

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