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Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain

950
His full wrath, whose thou feel'st as yet least part,
And my displeasure bear’st so ill. If pray’rs
Could alter high decrees, I to that place
Would speed before thee, and be louder heard,
That on my head all might be visited; 955
Thy frailty and infirmer sex forgiv'n,
To me committed, and by me expos’d.
But rise, let us no more contend, nor blame
Each other, blam'd enough elsewhere, but strive
In offices of love, how we may lighten 960
Each other's burden, in our share of woe;
Since this day's death denounc'd, if aught I see,
Will prove no sudden, but a slow-pac'd evil,
A long day's dying to augment our pain,
And to our seed (O hapless seed !) deriv'd. 965

To whom thus Eve, recov’ring heart, reply'd :
Adam, by sad experiment, I know
How little weight my words with thee can find,
Found so erroneous, thence by just event
Found so unfortunate! nevertheless, 970
Restor’d by thee, vile as I am, to place
Of new acceptance, hopeful to regain
Thy love, the sole contentment of my

heart
Living or dying, from thee I will not hide
What thoughts in my unquiet breast are ris'n,
Tending to some relief of our extremes, 976
Or end, though sharp and sad, yet tolerable,
As in our evils, and of easier choice.
If care of our descent perplex us most,

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Which must be born to certain woe, devour'd
By Death at last ; and mis'rable it is 981
To be to others cause of misery,
Our own begott'n, and of our loins to bring
Into this cursed world a woeful race !
That after wretched life, must be at last 985
Food for so foul a monster! In thy pow'r
It lies, yet ere conception, to prevent
The race unblest, to being yet unbegot.
Childless thou art, childless remain ; so Death
Shall be deceiv'd his glut, and with us two 990
Be forc'd to satisfy his rav'nous maw.
But if thou judge it hard and difficult,
Conversing, looking, loving, to abstain
From love's due rites, nuptial embraces sweet,
And with desire to languish without hope, 995
Before the present object languishing
With like desire, which would be misery
And torment less than none of what we dread,
Then both ourselves and seed at once to free
From what we fear for both, let us make short;
Let us seek Death, or he not found, supply 1001
With our own hands his office on ourselves.
Why stand we longer shiv’ring under fears,
That show no end but death, and have the pow'r.
Of many ways to die, the shortest choosing,
Destruction with destruction to destroy? 1006

She ended here, or vehement despair
Broke off the rest; so much of death her thoughts
Had entertain'd, as dy'd her cheeks with pale.

1020

But Adam with such counsel nothing sway'd : To better hopes his more attentive mind IOIT Lab’ring had rais'd, and thus to Eve reply'd:

Eve, thy contempt of life and pleasure seems To argue in thee something more sublime And excellent than what thy mind contemns; But self-destruction therefore sought, refutes That excellence thought in thee, and implies, Not thy contempt, but anguish and regret For loss of life and pleasure overlov'd. Or if thou covet death, as utmost end Of misery, so thinking to evade The penalty pronounc'd, doubt not but God Hath wiselier arm'd his vengeful ire than so To be forestall'd: much more I fear lest death So snatch'd will not exempt us from the pain We are by doom to pay: rather such acts 1026 Of contumacy’ will provoke the Highest To make death in us live. Then let us seek Some safer resolution, which methinks I have in view, calling to mind with heed 1030 Part of our sentence, that thy seed shall bruise The Serpent's head. Piteous amends! unless Be meant, whom I conjecture, our grand foe Satan, who in the serpent hath contriv'd Against us this deceit. To'crush his head 1035 Would be revenge indeed; which will be lost By death brought on ourselves, or childless days Resolv'd, as thou proposest; so our foe Shall 'scape his punishment ordain'd, and we

Instead, shall double ours upon our heads. 1040
No more be mention'd then of violence
Against ourselves, and wilful barrenness,
That cuts us off from hope, and savours only
Rancour and pride, impatience and despite,
Reluctance against God and his just yoke · 1045
Laid on our necks. Remember with what mild
And gracious temper he both heard and judg'd,
Without wrath or reviling! We expected
Immediate dissolution, which we thought
Was meant by death that day; when lo, to thee
Pains only in child-bearing were foretold, 1051
And bringing forth ; soon recompens'd with joy,
Fruit of thy womb. On me the curse aslope
Glanc'd on the ground. With labour I must earn
My bread. What harm? Idleness had been worse:
My labour will sustain me. And lest cold 1056
Or heat should injure us, his timely care
Hath unbesought provided, and his hands
Cloth'd us, unworthy, pitying while he judg’d.
How much more, if we pray him, will his ear
Be
open,

and his heart to pity’incline, 1061
And teach us farther by what means to shun
Th’inclement seasons, rain, ice, hail, and snow!
Which now the sky with various face begins
To show us in this mountain, while the winds
Blow moist and keen,shatt'ring the graceful locks
Of these fair spreading trees; which bids us seek
Some better shroud, some better warmth to cherish
Our limbs benumb'd, ere this diurnal star

grace 1081

Leave cold the night, how we his gather'd beams Reflected, may

with matter sere foment, 1071 Or, by collision of two bodies, grind The air attrite to fire, as late the clouds Justling,or push'd with winds, rude in theirshock, Tinė the slant lightning, whose thwart flame driv'n down,

1075 Kindles the gummy bark of fir or pine, And sends a comfortable heat from far, Which might supply the sun.

Such fire to use, And what may else be remedy or cure To evils which our own misdeeds have wrought, He will instruct us praying, and of Beseeching him, so as we need not fear To pass commodiously this life, sustain'd By him with many comforts, till we end In dust : our final rest and native home.

1085
What better can we do, than to the place
Repairing where he judg’d us, prostrate fall
Before him, reverent, and there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg, with tears
Wat’ring the ground, and with our sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow'unfeign'd, and humiliation meek?
Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn
From his displeasure; in whose look serene,
When angry most he seem'd, and most severe,
What else but favour, grace,

and
mercy

shone? So spake our father penitent; nor Eve Felt less remorse. They forthwith to the place

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