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Would'st thou approve thy constancy, approve
First thy obedience; th' other who can know,
Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?
But if thou think, trial unsought may find
Us both securer than thus warn'd thou seem'st,
Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more.
Go, in thy native innocence, rely
On what thou hast of virtue, summon all,
ForGod tow’rds thee hath done his part; do thine.
So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve .
Persisted, yet submiss, though last, reply'd:
With thy permission then, and thus forewarn’d
Chiefly by what thy own last reas'ning words
Touch'd only, that our trial, when least sought,
May find us both perhaps far less prepar’d, 381
The willinger I go; nor much expect
A foe so proud will first the weaker seek :
So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.
Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand
Soft she withdrew, and, likeaWood-Nymph light,
Oread, or Dryad, or of Delia's train,
Betook her to the groves; but Delia's self
In gait surpass'd, and Goddess-like deport,
Tho'not as she with bow and quiver arm’d, 390
But with such gard’ning tools as art yet rude,
Guiltless of fire, had form’d, or Angels brought.
To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorn'd,
Likest she seem'd; Pomona when she fled
Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime,
395 Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.
Her long with ardent look his eye pursu'd,
Delighted; but desiring more her stay.
Oft he to her his charge of quick return
Repeated; she to him as oft engag’d
To be return'd by noon amid the bow'r,
And all things in best order to invite
Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose.
O much deceiv’d, much failing hapless Eve,
Of thy presum'd return! Event perverse! 405
Thou never.from that hour in Paradise
Found'st either sweet repast or sound repose !
Such ambush hid among sweet flow'rs and shades
Waited with hellish rancour imminent
To intercept thy way, or send thee back
410 Despoild of innocence, of faith, of bliss. For now, and since first break of dawn, the Fiend, Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come, And on his quest, where likeliest he might find The only two of mankind, but in them
415 The whole included race ; his purpos’d prey. In bow'r and field he sought, where any tuft Of grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay, Their tendence or plantation for delight: By fountain or by shady rivulet He sought them both; but wish'd his hap might
find Eve separate; he wish'd but not with hope Of what so seldom chanc'd, when to his wish, Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies, Veil'd in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,
Half spy'd, so thick the roses blushing round
About her glow'd, oft stooping to support
Each flow'r of slender stalk, whose head, tho' gay
Carnation, purple', azure, or speck'd with gold,
Hung drooping unsustain'd: them she upstays
Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while
Herself, though fairest unsupported flow'r,
From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.
Nearer he drew; and many a walk travers d
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm, 435
Then yoluble and bold, now hid, now seen
Among thick-woven arborets and flow'rs
Imborder'd on each bank, the hand of Eve:
Spot more delicious than those gardens feign'd
Or of reviy'd Adonis, or renown'd
Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son,
Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.
Much he the place admir’d; the person more.
As one who long in pop’lous city pent, 445
Where houses thick and sew’rs annoy the air,
Forth issuing on a summer's morn to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoin'd, from each thing met conceives delight;
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine, 450
Or dairy', each rural sight, each rural sound.
If chance with nymph-like step fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seem'd, for her now pleases more,
She most, and in her look sums all delight.
Such pleasure took the Serpent to behold 455
This flow'ry plat, the sweet recess of Eve
Thus early, thus alone. Her heav'nly form
Angelic, but more soft and feminine,
Her graceful innocence, her ev'ry air
Of gesture or least action, overaw'd
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereav'd
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought.
the Evil One abstracted stood
From his own evil, and for the time remain'd
Stupidly good; of enmity disarm'd, 465
Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge:
But the hot Hell that always in him burns,
Though in mid Heav'n, soon ended his delight,
And tortures him now more, the more he sees
Of pleasure not for him ordain'd. Then soon
Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts
Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites :
Thoughts, whither have ye led me! With what
sweet Compulsion thus transported to forget What hither brought us! hate, not love, nor hope Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste 476 Of pleasure, but all pleasure to destroy, Save what is in destroying : other joy To me is lost. Then let me not let
pass Occasion which now smiles. Behold alone 480 The woman, opportune to all attempts, Her husband, for I view far round, not nigh, Whose higher intellectual more I shun, And strength, of courage haughty, and of limb
Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould, 485
Foe not informidable, exempt from wound,
So much hath Hell debas'd, and pain
Enfeebled me to what I was in Heav'n.
She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods;
Not terrible, though terror be in love 490
And beauty; not approach'd by stronger hate,
Hate stronger, under show of love well feign'd,
The way which to her ruin now I tend.
So spake the enemy' of mankind, inclos'd
In serpent, inmate bad, and toward Eve
Address'd his way, not with indented wave,
Prone on the ground, as since, but on his rear,
Circular base of rising folds, that tow'r'd
Fold above fold a surging maze, his head
Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes;
With burnish'd neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass
Floated redundant. Pleasing was his shape,
And lovely: never since of serpent kind
Lovelier: not those that in Illyria chang'd 505
Hermione and Cadmus, or the God
In Epidaurus; nor to which transform'd
Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline was seen;
He with Olympias, this with her who bore
Scipio the height of Rome. With tract oblique
At first, as one who sought access, but fear'd
To interrupt, sidelong he works his way.
As when a ship by skilful steersman wrought,
Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind