Paradise Lost: Book IX (1674)

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Satan having compast the Earth, with meditated guile returns as a mist by Night into Paradise, enters into the Serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the Morning go forth to thir labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart: Adam consents not, alledging the danger, lest that Enemy, of whom they were forewarn'd, should attempt her found alone: Eve loath to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges her going apart, the rather desirous to make tryal of her strength: Adam at last yields: The Serpent finds her alone; his subtle aproach, first gazing, then speaking, with much flattery extolling Eve above all other Creatures. Eve wondring to hear the Serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech and such understanding not till now; the Serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain Tree in the Garden he attain'd both to Speech and Reason, till then void of each; Eve requires him to bring her to that Tree, and finds it to be the Tree of Knowledge forbidden: The Serpent now grown bolder, with many wiles and arguments induces her at length to eat; she pleas'd with the taste deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not, at last brings him of the Fruit, relates what perswaded her to eat thereof: Adam at first amaz'd, but perceiving her lost, resolves through vehemence of love to perish with her; and extenuating the trespass eats also of the Fruit: The Effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover thir nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.

NO more of talk where God or Angel GuestWith Man, as with his Friend, familiar us'dTo sit indulgent, and with him partakeRural repast, permitting him the whileVenial discourse unblam'd: I now must changeThose Notes to Tragic; foul distrust, and breachDisloyal on the part of Man, revolt,And disobedience: On the part of Heav'nNow alienated, distance and distaste,Anger and just rebuke, and judgement giv'n,That brought into this World a world of woe,Sinne and her shadow Death, and MiserieDeaths Harbinger: Sad task, yet argumentNot less but more Heroic then the wrauthOf stern Achilles on his Foe pursu'dThrice Fugitive about Troy Wall; or rageOf Turnus for Lavinia disespous'd,Or Neptun's ire or Juno's, that so longPerplex'd the Greek and Cytherea's Son;If answerable style I can obtaineOf my Celestial Patroness, who deignesHer nightly visitation unimplor'd,And dictates to me slumbring, or inspiresEasie my unpremeditated Verse:Since first this Subject for Heroic SongPleas'd me long choosing, and beginning late;Not sedulous by Nature to inditeWarrs, hitherto the onely ArgumentHeroic deem'd, chief maistrie to dissectWith long and tedious havoc fabl'd KnightsIn Battels feign'd; the better fortitudeOf Patience and Heroic MartyrdomUnsung; or to describe Races and Games,Or tilting Furniture, emblazon'd Shields,Impreses quaint, Caparisons and Steeds;Bases and tinsel Trappings, gorgious KnightsAt Joust and Torneament; then marshal'd FeastServ'd up in Hall with Sewers, and Seneshals;The skill of Artifice or Office mean,Not that which justly gives Heroic nameTo Person or to Poem. Mee of theseNor skilld nor studious, higher ArgumentRemaines, sufficient of it self to raiseThat name, unless an age too late, or coldClimat, or Years damp my intended wingDeprest, and much they may, if all be mine,Not Hers who brings it nightly to my Ear.

The Sun was sunk, and after him the StarrOf Hesperus, whose Office is to bringTwilight upon the Earth, short ArbiterTwixt Day and Night, and now from end to endNights Hemisphere had veild the Horizon round:When Satan who late fled before the threatsOf Gabriel out of Eden, now improv'dIn meditated fraud and malice, bentOn mans destruction, maugre what might hapOf heavier on himself, fearless return'd.By Night he fled, and at Midnight return'dFrom compassing the Earth, cautious of day,Since Uriel Regent of the Sun descri'dHis entrance, and forewarnd the CherubimThat kept thir watch; thence full of anguish driv'n,The space of seven continu'd Nights he rodeWith darkness, thrice the Equinoctial LineHe circl'd, four times cross'd the Carr of NightFrom Pole to Pole, traversing each Colure;On the eighth return'd, and on the Coast averseFrom entrance or Cherubic Watch, by stealthFound unsuspected way. There was a place,Now not, though Sin, not Time, first wraught the change,Where Tigris at the foot of ParadiseInto a Gulf shot under ground, till partRose up a Fountain by the Tree of Life;In with the River sunk, and with it roseSatan involv'd in rising Mist, then soughtWhere to lie hid; Sea he had searcht and LandFrom Eden over Pontus, and the PooleMaotis, up beyond the River Ob;Downward as farr Antartic; and in lengthWest from Orontes to the Ocean barr'dAt Darien, thence to the Land where flowesGanges and Indus: thus the Orb he roam'dWith narrow search; and with inspection deepConsider'd every Creature, which of allMost opportune might serve his Wiles, and foundThe Serpent suttlest Beast of all the Field.Him after long debate, irresoluteOf thoughts revolv'd, his final sentence choseFit Vessel, fittest Imp of fraud, in whomTo enter, and his dark suggestions hideFrom sharpest sight: for in the wilie Snake,Whatever sleights none would suspicious mark,As from his wit and native suttletieProceeding, which in other Beasts observ'dDoubt might beget of Diabolic pow'rActive within beyond the sense of brute.Thus he resolv'd, but first from inward griefeHis bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd:

O Earth, how like to Heav'n, if not preferr'dMore justly, Seat worthier of Gods, as builtWith second thoughts, reforming what was old!For what God after better worse would build?Terrestrial Heav'n, danc't round by other Heav'nsThat shine, yet bear thir bright officious Lamps,Light above Light, for thee alone, as seems,In thee concentring all thir precious beamsOf sacred influence: As God in Heav'nIs Center, yet extends to all, so thouCentring receav'st from all those Orbs; in thee,Not in themselves, all thir known vertue appeersProductive in Herb, Plant, and nobler birthOf Creatures animate with gradual lifeOf Growth, Sense, Reason, all summ'd up in Man.With what delight could I have walkt thee round,If I could joy in aught, sweet interchangeOf Hill, and Vallie, Rivers, Woods and Plaines,Now Land, now Sea, and Shores with Forrest crownd,Rocks, Dens, and Caves; but I in none of theseFind place or refuge; and the more I seePleasures about me, so much more I feelTorment within me, as from the hateful siegeOf contraries; all good to me becomesBane, and in Heav'n much worse would be my state.But neither here seek I, no nor in Heav'nTo dwell, unless by maistring Heav'ns Supreame;Nor hope to be my self less miserableBy what I seek, but others to make suchAs I, though thereby worse to me redound:For onely in destroying I find easeTo my relentless thoughts; and him destroyd,Or won to what may work his utter loss,For whom all this was made, all this will soonFollow, as to him linkt in weal or woe,In wo then; that destruction wide may range:To mee shall be the glorie sole amongThe infernal Powers, in one day to have marr'dWhat he Almightie styl'd, six Nights and DaysContinu'd making, and who knows how longBefore had bin contriving, though perhapsNot longer then since I in one Night freedFrom servitude inglorious welnigh halfTh' Angelic Name, and thinner left the throngOf his adorers: hee to be aveng'd,And to repaire his numbers thus impair'd,Whether such vertue spent of old now faildMore Angels to Create, if they at leastAre his Created, or to spite us more,Determin'd to advance into our roomA Creature form'd of Earth, and him endow,Exalted from so base original,With Heav'nly spoils, our spoils: What he decreedHe effected; Man he made, and for him builtMagnificent this World, and Earth his seat,Him Lord pronounc'd, and, O indignitie!Subjected to his service Angel wings,And flaming Ministers to watch and tendThir earthy Charge: Of these the vigilanceI dread, and to elude, thus wrapt in mistOf midnight vapor glide obscure, and prieIn every Bush and Brake, where hap may findeThe Serpent sleeping, in whose mazie fouldsTo hide me, and the dark intent I bring.O foul descent! that I who erst contendedWith Gods to sit the highest, am now constraindInto a Beast, and mixt with bestial slime,This essence to incarnate and imbrute,That to the hight of Deitie aspir'd;But what will not Ambition and RevengeDescend to? who aspires must down as lowAs high he soard, obnoxious first or lastTo basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,Bitter ere long back on it self recoiles;Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,Since higher I fall short, on him who nextProvokes my envie, this new FavoriteOf Heav'n, this Man of Clay, Son of despite,Whom us the more to spite his Maker rais'dFrom dust: spite then with spite is best repaid.

So saying, through each Thicket Danck or Drie,Like a black mist low creeping, he held onHis midnight search, where soonest he might findeThe Serpent: him fast sleeping soon he foundIn Labyrinth of many a round self-rowld,His head the midst, well stor'd with suttle wiles:Not yet in horrid Shade or dismal Den,Nor nocent yet, but on the grassie HerbeFearless unfeard he slept: in at his MouthThe Devil enterd, and his brutal sense,In heart or head, possessing soon inspir'dWith act intelligential, but his sleepDisturbd not, waiting close th' approach of Morn.Now when as sacred Light began to dawneIn Eden on the humid Flours, that breathdThir morning incense, when all things that breath,From th' Earths great Altar send up silent praiseTo the Creator, and his Nostrils fillWith grateful Smell, forth came the human pairAnd joind thir vocal Worship to the QuireOf Creatures wanting voice, that done, partakeThe season, prime for sweetest Sents and Aires:Then commune how that day they best may plyThir growing work: for much thir work outgrewThe hands dispatch of two Gardning so wide.And Eve first to her Husband thus began.

Adam, well may we labour still to dressThis Garden, still to tend Plant, Herb and Flour,Our pleasant task enjoyn'd, but till more handsAid us, the work under our labour grows,Luxurious by restraint; what we by dayLop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,One night or two with wanton growth deridesTending to wilde. Thou therefore now adviseOr hear what to my minde first thoughts present,Let us divide our labours, thou where choiceLeads thee, or where most needs, whether to windThe Woodbine round this Arbour, or directThe clasping Ivie where to climb, while IIn yonder Spring of Roses intermixtWith Myrtle, find what to redress till Noon:For while so near each other thus all dayOur taske we choose, what wonder if so nearLooks intervene and smiles, or object newCasual discourse draw on, which intermitsOur dayes work brought to little, though begunEarly, and th' hour of Supper comes unearn'd.

To whom mild answer Adam thus return'd.Sole Eve, Associate sole, to me beyondCompare above all living Creatures deare,Well hast thou motion'd, well thy thoughts imploydHow we might best fulfill the work which hereGod hath assign'd us, nor of me shalt passUnprais'd: for nothing lovelier can be foundIn Woman, then to studie houshold good,And good workes in her Husband to promote.Yet not so strictly hath our Lord impos'dLabour, as to debarr us when we needRefreshment, whether food, or talk between,Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourseOf looks and smiles, for smiles from Reason flow,To brute deni'd, and are of Love the food,Love not the lowest end of human life.For not to irksom toile, but to delightHe made us, and delight to Reason joyn'd.These paths & Bowers doubt not but our joynt handsWill keep from Wilderness with ease, as wideAs we need walk, till younger hands ere longAssist us: But if much converse perhapsThee satiate, to short absence I could yield.For solitude somtimes is best societie,And short retirement urges sweet returne.But other doubt possesses me, least harmBefall thee sever'd from me; for thou knowstWhat hath bin warn'd us, what malicious FoeEnvying our happiness, and of his ownDespairing, seeks to work us woe and shameBy sly assault; and somwhere nigh at handWatches, no doubt, with greedy hope to findHis wish and best advantage, us asunder,Hopeless to circumvent us joynd, where eachTo other speedie aide might lend at need;Whether his first design be to withdrawOur fealtie from God, or to disturbConjugal Love, then which perhaps no blissEnjoy'd by us excites his envie more;Or this, or worse, leave not the faithful sideThat gave thee being, still shades thee and protects.The Wife, where danger or dishonour lurks,Safest and seemliest by her Husband staies,Who guards her, or with her the worst endures.

To whom the Virgin Majestie of Eve,As one who loves, and some unkindness meets,With sweet austeer composure thus reply'd,

Ofspring of Heav'n and Earth, and all Earths Lord,That such an Enemie we have, who seeksOur ruin, both by thee informd I learne,And from the parting Angel over-heardAs in a shadie nook I stood behind,Just then returnd at shut of Evening Flours.But that thou shouldst my firmness therfore doubtTo God or thee, because we have a foeMay tempt it, I expected not to hear.His violence thou fearst not, being such,As wee, not capable of death or paine,Can either not receave, or can repell.His fraud is then thy fear, which plain inferrsThy equal fear that my firm Faith and LoveCan by his fraud be shak'n or seduc't;Thoughts, which how found they harbour in thy brestAdam, missthought of her to thee so dear?

To whom with healing words Adam replyd.Daughter of God and Man, immortal Eve,For such thou art, from sin and blame entire:Not diffident of thee do I dissuadeThy absence from my sight, but to avoidTh' attempt it self, intended by our Foe.For hee who tempts, though in vain, at least aspersesThe tempted with dishonour foul, suppos'dNot incorruptible of Faith, not prooffAgainst temptation: thou thy self with scorneAnd anger wouldst resent the offer'd wrong,Though ineffectual found: misdeem not then,If such affront I labour to avertFrom thee alone, which on us both at onceThe Enemie, though bold, will hardly dare,Or daring, first on mee th' assault shall light.Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn;Suttle he needs must be, who could seduceAngels, nor think superfluous others aid.I from the influence of thy looks receaveAccess in every Vertue, in thy sightMore wise, more watchful, stronger, if need wereOf outward strength; while shame, thou looking on,Shame to be overcome or over-reachtWould utmost vigor raise, and rais'd unite.Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feelWhen I am present, and thy trial chooseWith me, best witness of thy Vertue tri'd.

So spake domestick Adam in his careAnd Matrimonial Love; but Eve, who thoughtLess attributed to her Faith sincere,Thus her reply with accent sweet renewd.

If this be our condition, thus to dwellIn narrow circuit strait'nd by a Foe,Suttle or violent, we not endu'dSingle with like defence, wherever met,How are we happie, still in fear of harm?But harm precedes not sin: onely our FoeTempting affronts us with his foul esteemOf our integritie: his foul esteemeSticks no dishonour on our Front, but turnsFoul on himself; then wherefore shund or feardBy us? who rather double honour gaineFrom his surmise prov'd false, find peace within,Favour from Heav'n, our witness from th' event.And what is Faith, Love, Vertue unassaidAlone, without exterior help sustaind?Let us not then suspect our happie StateLeft so imperfet by the Maker wise,As not secure to single or combin'd.Fraile is our happiness, if this be so,And Eden were no Eden thus expos'd.

To whom thus Adam fervently repli'd.O Woman, best are all things as the willOf God ordain'd them, his creating handNothing imperfet or deficient leftOf all that he Created, much less Man,Or aught that might his happie State secure,Secure from outward force; within himselfThe danger lies, yet lies within his power:Against his will he can receave no harme.But God left free the Will, for what obeyesReason, is free, and Reason he made right,But bid her well beware, and still erect,Least by some faire appeering good surpris'dShe dictate false, and misinforme the WillTo do what God expressly hath forbid.Not then mistrust, but tender love enjoynes,That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me.Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve,Since Reason not impossibly may meetSome specious object by the Foe subornd,And fall into deception unaware,Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warnd.Seek not temptation then, which to avoideWere better, and most likelie if from meeThou sever not: Trial will come unsought.Wouldst thou approve thy constancie, approveFirst thy obedience; th' other who can know,Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?But if thou think, trial unsought may findeUs both securer then thus warnd thou seemst,Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more;Go in thy native innocence, relieOn what thou hast of vertue, summon all,For God towards thee hath done his part, do thine.So spake the Patriarch of Mankinde, but EvePersisted, yet submiss, though last, repli'd.

With thy permission then, and thus forewarndChiefly by what thy own last reasoning wordsTouchd onely, that our trial, when least sought,May finde us both perhaps farr less prepar'd,The willinger I goe, nor much expectA Foe so proud will first the weaker seek;So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.Thus saying, from her Husbands hand her handSoft she withdrew, and like a Wood-Nymph lightOread or Dryad, or of Delia's Traine,Betook her to the Groves, but Delia's selfIn gate surpass'd and Goddess-like deport,Though not as shee with Bow and Quiver armd,But with such Gardning Tools as Art yet rude,Guiltless of fire had formd, or Angels brought.To Pales, or Pomona thus adornd,Likeliest she seemd, Pomona when she fledVertumnus, or to Ceres in her Prime,Yet Virgin of Proserpina from Jove.Her long with ardent look his Eye pursu'dDelighted, but desiring more her stay.Oft he to her his charge of quick returneRepeated, shee to him as oft engag'dTo be returnd by Noon amid the Bowre,And all things in best order to inviteNoontide repast, or Afternoons repose.O much deceav'd, much failing, hapless Eve,Of thy presum'd return! event perverse!Thou never from that houre in ParadiseFoundst either sweet repast, or sound repose;Such ambush hid among sweet Flours and ShadesWaited with hellish rancour imminentTo intercept thy way, or send thee backDespoild of Innocence, of Faith, of Bliss.For now, and since first break of dawne the Fiend,Meer Serpent in appearance, forth was come,And on his Quest, where likeliest he might findeThe onely two of Mankinde, but in themThe whole included Race, his purposd prey.In Bowre and Field he sought, where any tuftOf Grove or Garden-Plot more pleasant lay,Thir tendance or Plantation for delight,By Fountain or by shadie RivuletHe sought them both, but wish'd his hap might findEve separate, he wish'd, but not with hopeOf what so seldom chanc'd, when to his wish,Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,Veild in a Cloud of Fragrance, where she stood,Half spi'd, so thick the Roses bushing roundAbout her glowd, oft stooping to supportEach Flour of slender stalk, whose head though gayCarnation, Purple, Azure, or spect with Gold,Hung drooping unsustaind, them she upstaiesGently with Mirtle band, mindless the while,Her self, though fairest unsupported Flour,From her best prop so farr, and storm so nigh.Neerer he drew, and many a walk travers'dOf stateliest Covert, Cedar, Pine, or Palme,Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seenAmong thick-wov'n Arborets and FloursImborderd on each Bank, the hand of Eve:Spot more delicious then those Gardens feign'dOr of reviv'd Adonis, or renowndAlcinous, host of old Laertes Son,Or that, not Mystic, where the Sapient KingHeld dalliance with his faire Egyptian Spouse.Much hee the Place admir'd, the Person more.As one who long in populous City pent,Where Houses thick and Sewers annoy the Aire,Forth issuing on a Summers Morn to breatheAmong the pleasant Villages and FarmesAdjoynd, from each thing met conceaves delight,The smell of Grain, or tedded Grass, or Kine,Or Dairie, each rural sight, each rural sound;If chance with Nymphlike step fair Virgin pass,What pleasing seemd, for her now pleases more,She most, and in her look summs all Delight.Such Pleasure took the Serpent to beholdThis Flourie Plat, the sweet recess of EveThus earlie, thus alone; her Heav'nly formeAngelic, but more soft, and Feminine,Her graceful Innocence, her every AireOf gesture or lest action overawdHis Malice, and with rapine sweet bereav'dHis fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:That space the Evil one abstracted stoodFrom his own evil, and for the time remaindStupidly good, of enmitie disarm'd,Of guile, of hate, of envie, of revenge;But the hot Hell that alwayes in him burnes,Though in mid Heav'n, soon ended his delight,And tortures him now more, the more he seesOf pleasure not for him ordain'd: then soonFierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughtsOf mischief, gratulating, thus excites.

Thoughts, whither have ye led me, with what sweetCompulsion thus transported to forgetWhat hither brought us, hate, not love, nor hopeOf Paradise for Hell, hope here to tasteOf pleasure, but all pleasure to destroy,Save what is in destroying, other joyTo me is lost. Then let me not let passOccasion which now smiles, behold aloneThe Woman, opportune to all attempts,Her Husband, for I view far round, not nigh,Whose higher intellectual more I shun,And strength, of courage hautie, and of limbHeroic built, though of terrestrial mould,Foe not informidable, exempt from wound,I not; so much hath Hell debas'd, and paineInfeebl'd me, to what I was in Heav'n.Shee fair, divinely fair, fit Love for Gods,Not terrible, though terrour be in LoveAnd beautie, not approacht by stronger hate,Hate stronger, under shew of Love well feign'd,The way which to her ruin now I tend.

So spake the Enemie of Mankind, enclos'dIn Serpent, Inmate bad, and toward EveAddress'd his way, not with indented wave,Prone on the ground, as since, but on his reare,Circular base of rising foulds, that tour'dFould above fould a surging Maze, his HeadCrested aloft, and Carbuncle his Eyes;With burnisht Neck of verdant Gold, erectAmidst his circling Spires, that on the grassFloted redundant: pleasing was his shape,And lovely, never since of Serpent kindLovelier, not those that in Illyria chang'dHermione and Cadmus, or the GodIn Epidaurus; nor to which transformdAmmonian Jove, or Capitoline was seen,Hee with Olympias, this with her who boreScipio the highth of Rome. With tract obliqueAt first, as one who sought access, but feardTo interrupt, side-long he works his way.As when a Ship by skilful Stearsman wroughtNigh Rivers mouth or Foreland, where the WindVeres oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her Saile;So varied hee, and of his tortuous TraineCurld many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,To lure her Eye; shee busied heard the soundOf rusling Leaves, but minded not, as us'dTo such disport before her through the Field,From every Beast, more duteous at her call,Then at Circean call the Herd disguis'd.Hee boulder now, uncall'd before her stood;But as in gaze admiring: Oft he bowdHis turret Crest, and sleek enamel'd Neck,Fawning, and lick'd the ground whereon she trod.His gentle dumb expression turnd at lengthThe Eye of Eve to mark his play; he gladOf her attention gaind, with Serpent TongueOrganic, or impulse of vocal Air,His fraudulent temptation thus began.

Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhapsThou canst, who art sole Wonder, much less armThy looks, the Heav'n of mildness, with disdain,Displeas'd that I approach thee thus, and gazeInsatiate, I thus single, nor have feardThy awful brow, more awful thus retir'd.Fairest resemblance of thy Maker faire,Thee all things living gaze on, all things thineBy gift, and thy Celestial Beautie adoreWith ravishment beheld, there best beheldWhere universally admir'd; but hereIn this enclosure wild, these Beasts among,Beholders rude, and shallow to discerneHalf what in thee is fair, one man except,Who sees thee? (and what is one?) who shouldst be seenA Goddess among Gods, ador'd and serv'dBy Angels numberless, thy daily Train.

So gloz'd the Tempter, and his Proem tun'd;Into the Heart of Eve his words made way,Though at the voice much marveling; at lengthNot unamaz'd she thus in answer spake.What may this mean? Language of Man pronounc'tBy Tongue of Brute, and human sense exprest?The first at lest of these I thought deni'dTo Beasts, whom God on thir Creation-DayCreated mute to all articulat sound;The latter I demurre, for in thir looksMuch reason, and in thir actions oft appeers.Thee, Serpent, suttlest beast of all the fieldI knew, but not with human voice endu'd;Redouble then this miracle, and say,How cam'st thou speakable of mute, and howTo me so friendly grown above the restOf brutal kind, that daily are in sight?Say, for such wonder claims attention due.

To whom the guileful Tempter thus reply'd.Empress of this fair World, resplendent Eve,Easie to mee it is to tell thee allWhat thou commandst, and right thou shouldst be obeyd:I was at first as other Beasts that grazeThe trodden Herb, of abject thoughts and low,As was my food, nor aught but food discern'dOr Sex, and apprehended nothing high:Till on a day roaving the field, I chanc'dA goodly Tree farr distant to beholdLoaden with fruit of fairest colours mixt,Ruddie and Gold: I nearer drew to gaze;When from the boughes a savorie odour blow'n,Grateful to appetite, more pleas'd my senseThen smell of sweetest Fenel or the TeatsOf Ewe or Goat dropping with Milk at Eevn,Unsuckt of Lamb or Kid, that tend thir play.To satisfie the sharp desire I hadOf tasting those fair Apples, I resolv'dNot to deferr; hunger and thirst at once,Powerful perswaders, quick'nd at the scentOf that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keene.About the mossie Trunk I wound me soon,For high from ground the branches would requireThy utmost reach or Adams: Round the TreeAll other Beasts that saw, with like desireLonging and envying stood, but could not reach.Amid the Tree now got, where plenty hungTempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fillI spar'd not, for such pleasure till that hourAt Feed or Fountain never had I found.Sated at length, ere long I might perceaveStrange alteration in me, to degreeOf Reason in my inward Powers, and SpeechWanted not long, though to this shape retain'd.Thenceforth to Speculations high or deepI turnd my thoughts, and with capacious mindConsiderd all things visible in Heav'n,Or Earth, or Middle, all things fair and good;But all that fair and good in thy DivineSemblance, and in thy Beauties heav'nly RayUnited I beheld; no Fair to thineEquivalent or second, which compel'dMee thus, though importune perhaps, to comeAnd gaze, and worship thee of right declar'dSovran of Creatures, universal Dame.

So talk'd the spirited sly Snake; and EveYet more amaz'd unwarie thus reply'd.

Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubtThe vertue of that Fruit, in thee first prov'd:But say, where grows the Tree, from hence how far?For many are the Trees of God that growIn Paradise, and various, yet unknownTo us, in such aboundance lies our choice,As leaves a greater store of Fruit untoucht,Still hanging incorruptible, till menGrow up to thir provision, and more handsHelp to disburden Nature of her Bearth.

To whom the wilie Adder, blithe and glad.Empress, the way is readie, and not long,Beyond a row of Myrtles, on a Flat,Fast by a Fountain, one small Thicket pastOf blowing Myrrh and Balme; if thou acceptMy conduct, I can bring thee thither soon.

Lead then, said Eve. Hee leading swiftly rowldIn tangles, and made intricate seem strait,To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joyBright'ns his Crest, as when a wandring Fire,Compact of unctuous vapor, which the NightCondenses, and the cold invirons round,Kindl'd through agitation to a Flame,Which oft, they say, some evil Spirit attendsHovering and blazing with delusive Light,Misleads th' amaz'd Night-wanderer from his wayTo Boggs and Mires, and oft through Pond or Poole,There swallow'd up and lost, from succour farr.So glister'd the dire Snake, and into fraudLed Eve our credulous Mother, to the TreeOf prohibition, root of all our woe;Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake.

Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming hither,Fruitless to mee, though Fruit be here to excess,The credit of whose vertue rest with thee,Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects.But of this Tree we may not taste nor touch;God so commanded, and left that CommandSole Daughter of his voice; the rest, we liveLaw to our selves, our Reason is our Law.

To whom the Tempter guilefully repli'd.Indeed? hath God then said that of the FruitOf all these Garden Trees ye shall not eate,Yet Lords declar'd of all in Earth or Aire?

To whom thus Eve yet sinless. Of the FruitOf each Tree in the Garden we may eate,But of the Fruit of this fair Tree amidstThe Garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eateThereof, nor shall ye touch it, least ye die.

She scarse had said, though brief, when now more boldThe Tempter, but with shew of Zeale and LoveTo Man, and indignation at his wrong,New part puts on, and as to passion mov'd,Fluctuats disturbd, yet comely and in actRais'd, as of som great matter to begin.As when of old som Orator renoundIn Athens or free Rome, where EloquenceFlourishd, since mute, to som great cause addrest,Stood in himself collected, while each part,Motion, each act won audience ere the tongue,Somtimes in highth began, as no delayOf Preface brooking through his Zeal of Right.So standing, moving, or to highth upgrownThe Tempter all impassiond thus began.

O Sacred, Wise, and Wisdom-giving Plant,Mother of Science, Now I feel thy PowerWithin me cleere, not onely to discerneThings in thir Causes, but to trace the wayesOf highest Agents, deemd however wise.Queen of this Universe, doe not believeThose rigid threats of Death; ye shall not Die:How should ye? by the Fruit? it gives you LifeTo Knowledge? By the Threatner, look on mee,Mee who have touch'd and tasted, yet both live,And life more perfet have attaind then FateMeant mee, by ventring higher then my Lot.Shall that be shut to Man, which to the BeastIs open? or will God incense his ireFor such a petty Trespass, and not praiseRather your dauntless vertue, whom the painOf Death denounc't, whatever thing Death be,Deterrd not from atchieving what might leadeTo happier life, knowledge of Good and Evil;Of good, how just? of evil, if what is evilBe real, why not known, since easier shunnd?God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just;Not just, not God; not feard then, nor obeyd:Your feare it self of Death removes the feare.Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,His worshippers; he knows that in the dayYe Eate thereof, your Eyes that seem so cleere,Yet are but dim, shall perfetly be thenOp'nd and cleerd, and ye shall be as Gods,Knowing both Good and Evil as they know.That ye should be as Gods, since I as Man,Internal Man, is but proportion meet,I of brute human, yee of human Gods.So ye shall die perhaps, by putting offHuman, to put on Gods, death to be wisht,Though threat'nd, which no worse then this can bring.And what are Gods that Man may not becomeAs they, participating God-like food?The Gods are first, and that advantage useOn our belief, that all from them proceeds;I question it, for this fair Earth I see,Warm'd by the Sun, producing every kind,Them nothing: If they all things, who enclos'dKnowledge of Good and Evil in this Tree,That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attainsWisdom without their leave? and wherein liesTh' offence, that Man should thus attain to know?What can your knowledge hurt him, or this TreeImpart against his will if all be his?Or is it envie, and can envie dwellIn heav'nly breasts? these, these and many moreCauses import your need of this fair Fruit.Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste.

He ended, and his words replete with guileInto her heart too easie entrance won:Fixt on the Fruit she gaz'd, which to beholdMight tempt alone, and in her ears the soundYet rung of his perswasive words, impregn'dWith Reason, to her seeming, and with Truth;Mean while the hour of Noon drew on, and wak'dAn eager appetite, rais'd by the smellSo savorie of that Fruit, which with desire,Inclinable now grown to touch or taste,Sollicited her longing eye; yet firstPausing a while, thus to her self she mus'd.

Great are thy Vertues, doubtless, best of Fruits,Though kept from Man, and worthy to be admir'd,Whose taste, too long forborn, at first assayGave elocution to the mute, and taughtThe Tongue not made for Speech to speak thy praise:Thy praise hee also who forbids thy use,Conceales not from us, naming thee the TreeOf Knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;Forbids us then to taste, but his forbiddingCommends thee more, while it inferrs the goodBy thee communicated, and our want:For good unknown, sure is not had, or hadAnd yet unknown, is as not had at all.In plain then, what forbids he but to know,Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?Such prohibitions binde not. But if DeathBind us with after-bands, what profits thenOur inward freedom? In the day we eateOf this fair Fruit, our doom is, we shall die.How dies the Serpent? hee hath eat'n and lives,And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns,Irrational till then. For us aloneWas death invented? or to us deni'dThis intellectual food, for beasts reserv'd?For Beasts it seems: yet that one Beast which firstHath tasted, envies not, but brings with joyThe good befall'n him, Author unsuspect,Friendly to man, farr from deceit or guile.What fear I then, rather what know to feareUnder this ignorance of good and Evil,Of God or Death, of Law or Penaltie?Here grows the Cure of all, this Fruit Divine,Fair to the Eye, inviting to the Taste,Of vertue to make wise: what hinders thenTo reach, and feed at once both Bodie and Mind?

So saying, her rash hand in evil hourForth reaching to the Fruit, she pluck'd, she eat:Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seatSighing through all her Works gave signs of woe,That all was lost. Back to the Thicket slunkThe guiltie Serpent, and well might, for EveIntent now wholly on her taste, naught elseRegarded, such delight till then, as seemd,In Fruit she never tasted, whether trueOr fansied so, through expectation highOf knowledg, nor was God-head from her thought.Greedily she ingorg'd without restraint,And knew not eating Death: Satiate at length,And hight'nd as with Wine, jocond and boon,Thus to her self she pleasingly began.

O Sovran, vertuous, precious of all TreesIn Paradise, of operation blestTo Sapience, hitherto obscur'd, infam'd,And thy fair Fruit let hang, as to no endCreated; but henceforth my early care,Not without Song, each Morning, and due praiseShall tend thee, and the fertil burden easeOf thy full branches offer'd free to all;Till dieted by thee I grow matureIn knowledge, as the Gods who all things know;Though others envie what they cannot give;For had the gift bin theirs, it had not hereThus grown. Experience, next to thee I owe,Best guide; not following thee, I had remaindIn ignorance, thou op'nst Wisdoms way,And giv'st access, though secret she retire.And I perhaps am secret; Heav'n is high,High and remote to see from thence distinctEach thing on Earth; and other care perhapsMay have diverted from continual watchOur great Forbidder, safe with all his SpiesAbout him. But to Adam in what sortShall I appeer? shall I to him make knownAs yet my change, and give him to partakeFull happiness with mee, or rather not,But keep the odds of Knowledge in my powerWithout Copartner? so to add what wantsIn Femal Sex, the more to draw his Love,And render me more equal, and perhaps,A thing not undesireable, somtimeSuperior; for inferior who is free?This may be well: but what if God have seen,And Death ensue? then I shall be no more,And Adam wedded to another Eve,Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct;A death to think. Confirm'd then I resolve;Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe:So dear I love him, that with him all deathsI could endure, without him live no life.

So saying, from the Tree her step she turnd,But first low Reverence don, as to the powerThat dwelt within, whose presence had infus'dInto the plant sciential sap, deriv'dFrom Nectar, drink of Gods. Adam the whileWaiting desirous her return, had woveOf choicest Flours a Garland to adorneHer Tresses, and her rural labours crown,As Reapers oft are wont thir Harvest Queen.Great joy he promis'd to his thoughts, and newSolace in her return, so long delay'd;Yet oft his heart, divine of somthing ill,Misgave him; hee the faultring measure felt;And forth to meet her went, the way she tookThat Morn when first they parted; by the TreeOf Knowledge he must pass, there he her met,Scarse from the Tree returning; in her handA bough of fairest fruit that downie smil'd,New gatherd, and ambrosial smell diffus'd.To him she hasted, in her face excuseCame Prologue, and Apologie to prompt,Which with bland words at will she thus addrest.

Hast thou not wonderd, Adam, at my stay?Thee I have misst, and thought it long, depriv'dThy presence, agonie of love till nowNot felt, nor shall be twice, for never moreMean I to trie, what rash untri'd I sought,The pain of absence from thy sight. But strangeHath bin the cause, and wonderful to heare:This Tree is not as we are told, a TreeOf danger tasted, nor to evil unknownOp'ning the way, but of Divine effectTo open Eyes, and make them Gods who taste;And hath bin tasted such: the Serpent wise,Or not restraind as wee, or not obeying,Hath eat'n of the fruit, and is become,Not dead, as we are threatn'd, but thenceforthEndu'd with human voice and human sense,Reasoning to admiration, and with meePerswasively hath so prevaild, that IHave also tasted, and have also foundTh' effects to correspond, opener mine Eyes,Dimm erst, dilated Spirits, ampler Heart,And growing up to Godhead; which for theeChiefly I sought, without thee can despise.For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss,Tedious, unshar'd with thee, and odious soon.Thou therefore also taste, that equal LotMay joyne us, equal joy, as equal Love;Least thou not tasting, different degreeDisjoyne us, and I then too late renounceDeitie for thee, when Fate will not permit.

Thus Eve with Countnance blithe her storie told;But in her Cheek distemper flushing glowd.On th' other side, Adam, soon as he heardThe fatal Trespass don by Eve, amaz'd,Astonied stood and Blank, while horror chillRan through his veins, and all his joynts relax'd;From his slack hand the Garland wreath'd for EveDown drop'd, and all the faded Roses shed:Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at lengthFirst to himself he inward silence broke.

O fairest of Creation, last and bestOf all Gods works, Creature in whom excell'dWhatever can to sight or thought be formd,Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!How art thou lost, how on a sudden lost,Defac't, deflourd, and now to Death devote?Rather how hast thou yeelded to transgressThe strict forbiddance, how to violateThe sacred Fruit forbidd'n! som cursed fraudOf Enemie hath beguil'd thee, yet unknown,And mee with thee hath ruind, for with theeCertain my resolution is to Die;How can I live without thee, how forgoeThy sweet Converse and Love so dearly joyn'd,To live again in these wilde Woods forlorn?Should God create another Eve, and IAnother Rib afford, yet loss of theeWould never from my heart; no no, I feelThe Link of Nature draw me: Flesh of Flesh,Bone of my Bone thou art, and from thy StateMine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.So having said, as one from sad dismayRecomforted, and after thoughts disturbdSubmitting to what seemd remediless,Thus in calm mood his Words to Eve he turnd.

Bold deed thou hast presum'd, adventrous Eve,And peril great provok't, who thus hath dar'dHad it been onely coveting to EyeThat sacred Fruit, sacred to abstinence,Much more to taste it under banne to touch.But past who can recall, or don undoe?Not God Omnipotent, nor Fate, yet soPerhaps thou shalt not Die, perhaps the FactIs not so hainous now, foretasted Fruit,Profan'd first by the Serpent, by him firstMade common and unhallowd ere our taste;Nor yet on him found deadly, he yet lives,Lives, as thou saidst, and gaines to live as ManHigher degree of Life, inducement strongTo us, as likely tasting to attaineProportional ascent, which cannot beBut to be Gods, or Angels Demi-gods.Nor can I think that God, Creator wise,Though threatning, will in earnest so destroyUs his prime Creatures, dignifi'd so high,Set over all his Works, which in our Fall,For us created, needs with us must faile,Dependent made; so God shall uncreate,Be frustrate, do, undo, and labour loose,Not well conceav'd of God, who though his PowerCreation could repeate, yet would be loathUs to abolish, least the AdversaryTriumph and say; Fickle their State whom GodMost Favors, who can please him long; Mee firstHe ruind, now Mankind; whom will he next?Matter of scorne, not to be given the Foe,However I with thee have fixt my Lot,Certain to undergoe like doom, if DeathConsort with thee, Death is to mee as Life;So forcible within my beart I feelThe Bond of Nature draw me to my owne,My own in thee, for what thou art is mine;Our State cannot be severd, we are one,One Flesh; to loose thee were to loose my self.

So Adam, and thus Eve to him repli'd.O glorious trial of exceeding Love,Illustrious evidence, example high!Ingaging me to emulate, but shortOf thy perfection, how shall I attaine,Adam, from whose deare side I boast me sprung,And gladly of our Union heare thee speak,One Heart, one Soul in both; whereof good prooffThis day affords, declaring thee resolvd,Rather then Death or aught then Death more dreadShall separate us, linkt in Love so deare,To undergoe with mee one Guilt, one Crime,If any be, of tasting this fair Fruit,Whose vertue, for of good still good proceeds,Direct, or by occasion hath presentedThis happie trial of thy Love, which elseSo eminently never had bin known.Were it I thought Death menac't would ensueThis my attempt, I would sustain aloneThe worst, and not perswade thee, rather dieDeserted, then oblige thee with a factPernicious to thy Peace, chiefly assur'dRemarkably so late of thy so true,So faithful Love unequald; but I feelFarr otherwise th' event, not Death, but LifeAugmented, op'nd Eyes, new Hopes, new Joyes,Taste so Divine, that what of sweet beforeHath toucht my sense, flat seems to this, and harsh.On my experience, Adam, freely taste,And fear of Death deliver to the Windes.

So saying, she embrac'd him, and for joyTenderly wept, much won that he his LoveHad so enobl'd, as of choice to incurrDivine displeasure for her sake, or Death.In recompence (for such compliance badSuch recompence best merits) from the boughShe gave him of that fair enticing FruitWith liberal hand: he scrupl'd not to eatAgainst his better knowledge, not deceav'd,But fondly overcome with Femal charm.Earth trembl'd from her entrails, as againIn pangs, and Nature gave a second groan,Skie lowr'd and muttering Thunder, som sad dropsWept at compleating of the mortal SinOriginal; while Adam took no thought,Eating his fill, nor Eve to iterateHer former trespass fear'd, the more to sootheHim with her lov'd societie, that nowAs with new Wine intoxicated bothThey swim in mirth, and fansie that they feelDivinitie within them breeding wingsWherewith to scorne the Earth: but that false FruitFarr other operation first displaid,Carnal desire enflaming, hee on EveBegan to cast lascivious Eyes, she himAs wantonly repaid; in Lust they burne:Till Adam thus'gan Eve to dalliance move,

Eve, now I see thou art exact of taste,And elegant, of Sapience no small part,Since to each meaning savour we apply,And Palate call judicious; I the praiseYeild thee, so well this day thou hast purvey'd.Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstain'dFrom this delightful Fruit, nor known till nowTrue relish, tasting; if such pleasure beIn things to us forbidden, it might be wish'd,For this one Tree had bin forbidden ten.But come, so well refresh't, now let us play,As meet is, after such delicious Fare;For never did thy Beautie since the dayI saw thee first and wedded thee, adorn'dWith all perfections, so enflame my senseWith ardor to enjoy thee, fairer nowThen ever, bountie of this vertuous Tree.

So said he, and forbore not glance or toyOf amorous intent, well understoodOf Eve, whose Eye darted contagious Fire.Her hand he seis'd, and to a shadie bank,Thick overhead with verdant roof imbowr'dHe led her nothing loath; Flours were the Couch,Pansies, and Violets, and Asphodel,And Hyacinth, Earths freshest softest lap.There they thir fill of Love and Loves disportTook largely, of thir mutual guilt the Seale,The solace of thir sin, till dewie sleepOppress'd them, wearied with thir amorous play.Soon as the force of that fallacious Fruit,That with exhilerating vapour blandAbout thir spirits had plaid, and inmost powersMade erre, was now exhal'd, and grosser sleepBred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreamsEncumberd, now had left them, up they roseAs from unrest, and each the other viewing,Soon found thir Eyes how op'nd, and thir mindsHow dark'nd; innocence, that as a veileHad shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gon,Just confidence, and native righteousnessAnd honour from about them, naked leftTo guiltie shame hee cover'd, but his RobeUncover'd more, so rose the Danite strongHerculean Samson from the Harlot-lapOf Philistean Dalilah, and wak'dShorn of his strength, They destitute and bareOf all thir vertue: silent, and in faceConfounded long they sate, as struck'n mute,Till Adam, though not less then Eve abash't,At length gave utterance to these words constraind.

Eve, in evil hour thou didst give eareTo that false Worm, of whomsoever taughtTo counterfet Mans voice, true in our Fall,False in our promis'd Rising; since our EyesOp'nd we find indeed, and find we knowBoth Good and Evil, Good lost, and Evil got,Bad Fruit of Knowledge, if this be to know,Which leaves us naked thus, of Honour void,Of Innocence, of Faith, of Puritie,Our wonted Ornaments now soild and staind,And in our Faces evident the signesOf foul concupiscence; whence evil store;Even shame, the last of evils; of the firstBe sure then. How shall I behold the faceHenceforth of God or Angel, earst with joyAnd rapture so oft beheld? those heav'nly shapesWill dazle now this earthly, with thir blazeInsufferably bright. O might I hereIn solitude live savage, in some gladeObscur'd, where highest Woods impenetrableTo Starr or Sun-light, spread thir umbrage broadAnd brown as Evening: Cover me ye Pines,Ye Cedars, with innumerable boughsHide me, where I may never see them more.But let us now, as in bad plight, deviseWhat best may from the present serve to hideThe Parts of each for other, that seem mostTo shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen,Some Tree whose broad smooth Leaves together sowd,And girded on our loyns, may cover roundThose middle parts, that this new commer, Shame,There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.

So counsel'd hee, and both together wentInto the thickest Wood, there soon they choseThe Figtree, not that kind for Fruit renown'd,But such as at this day to Indians knownIn Malabar or Decan spreds her ArmesBraunching so broad and long, that in the groundThe bended Twigs take root, and Daughters growAbout the Mother Tree, a Pillard shadeHigh overarch't, and echoing Walks between;There oft the Indian Herdsman shunning heateShelters in coole, and tends his pasturing HerdsAt Loopholes cut through thickest shade: Those LeavesThey gatherd, broad as Amazonian Targe,And with what skill they had, together sowd,To gird thir waste, vain Covering if to hideThir guilt and dreaded shame; O how unlikeTo that first naked Glorie. Such of lateColumbus found th' American so girtWith featherd Cincture, naked else and wildeAmong the Trees on Iles and woodie Shores.Thus fenc't, and as they thought, thir shame in partCoverd, but not at rest or ease of Mind,They sate them down to weep, nor onely TearesRaind at thir Eyes, but high Winds worse withinBegan to rise, high Passions, Anger, Hate,Mistrust, Suspicion, Discord, and shook soreThir inward State of Mind, calm Region onceAnd full of Peace, now tost and turbulent:For Understanding rul'd not, and the WillHeard not her lore, both in subjection nowTo sensual Appetite, who from beneatheUsurping over sovran Reason claimdSuperior sway: from thus distemperd brest,Adam, estrang'd in look and alterd stile,Speech intermitted thus to Eve renewd.

Would thou hadst heark'nd to my words, and stai'dWith me, as I besought thee, when that strangeDesire of wandring this unhappie Morn,I know not whence possessd thee; we had thenRemaind still happie, not as now, despoildOf all our good, sham'd, naked, miserable.Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approveThe Faith they owe; when earnestly they seekSuch proof, conclude, they then begin to faile.

To whom soon mov'd with touch of blame thus Eve.What words have past thy Lips, Adam severe,Imput'st thou that to my default, or willOf wandring, as thou call'st it, which who knowsBut might as ill have happ'nd thou being by,Or to thy self perhaps: hadst thou been there,Or here th' attempt, thou couldst not have discerndFraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake;No ground of enmitie between us known,Why hee should mean me ill, or seek to harme,Was I to have never parted from thy side?As good have grown there still a liveless Rib.Being as I am, why didst not thou the HeadCommand me absolutely not to go,Going into such danger as thou saidst?Too facil then thou didst not much gainsay,Nay didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.Hadst thou bin firm and fixt in thy dissent,Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with mee.

To whom then first incenst Adam repli'd,Is this the Love, is this the recompenceOf mine to thee, ingrateful Eve, exprestImmutable when thou wert lost, not I,Who might have liv'd and joyd immortal bliss,Yet willingly chose rather Death with thee:And am I now upbraided, as the causeOf thy transgressing? not enough severe,It seems, in thy restraint: what could I more?I warn'd thee, I admonish'd thee, foretoldThe danger, and the lurking EnemieThat lay in wait; beyond this had bin force,And force upon free will hath here no place.But confidence then bore thee on, secureEither to meet no danger, or to findeMatter of glorious trial; and perhapsI also err'd in overmuch admiringWhat seemd in thee so perfet, that I thoughtNo evil durst attempt thee, but I rueThat errour now, which is become my crime,And thou th' accuser. Thus it shall befallHim who to worth in Women overtrustingLets her will rule; restraint she will not brook,And left to her self, if evil thence ensue,Shee first his weak indulgence will accuse.

Thus they in mutual accusation spentThe fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning,And of thir vain contest appeer'd no end.

© John Milton