Abbildungen der Seite

Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv'd .
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,
Pow'rful persuaders, quicken'd at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen.
About the mossy trunk I wound me soon;
For high from ground the branches would require
Thy utmost reach, or Adam's: round the tree
All other beasts that saw, with like desire,
Longing and envying stood, but could not reach.
Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung
Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill
I spar'd not; for such pleasure till that hour
At feed or fountain never had I found.
Sated at length, ere long I might perceive
Strange alteration in me, to degree,
of reason in my inward pow'rs, and speech
Wanted not long, though to this shape retain'd.
Thenceforth to speculations high or deep
I turn'd my thoughts; and with capacious mind,
Consider'd all things visible in Heaven,
Or'Earth, or Middle, all things fair and good;
But all that fair and good in thy divine
Semblance, and in thy beauty's heav'nly ray,
United I beheld; no fair to thine
Equivalent or second, which compelld
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come.
And gaze, and worship thee, of right declar'd
Sov'reign of creatures, universal dame.

So talk'd the spirited sly Snake; and Eve
Yet more amaz’d, unwary thus reply'd:.
Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt
The virtue of that fruit, in thee first provid,
But say, where grows the tree, from hence how far?
For many are the trees of God that grow
In Paradise, and various, yet unknown's
To us: in such abundance lies our ehoice,
As leaves a greater store of fruit untouch'd,
Still hanging incorruptible, till men
Grow up to their provision, and more bands

Help to disburden Nature of her birth.

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

Lead, then, said Eve. He leading swiftly rollid
In angles, and made intricate seem straight,
To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy
Brightens his crest: as when a wand'ring fire,
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night
Condenses, and the cold environs round,
Kindled through agitation to a flame,
Which oft, they say, some evil sp'rit attends,
Hovering, and blazing with delusive light,
Misleads th' amaz'd night-wand'rer from his way,
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool,
There swallow'd up and lost, from succour far.
So glister'd the dire Snake, and into fraud
Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree
Of 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 me, though fruit be here t'excess;
The credit of whose virtue rests with chee,
Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects.
But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;
God so coinmanded, and left that coinmand
Sole daughter of his voice; the rest, we live
Law to ourselves, our reason is our law.

To whom the tempter guilefully reply'd:.
Indeed? haih God then said, that of the fruit
Of all these garden-trees ye shall not eat?
Yet lords declar'd of all in earth or air.

To whom thus Eve, yet sinless : Of the fruit
Of each tree in the garden we may eat;
But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst
The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat

[ocr errors]

Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die.
She scarce had said, though brief, when now more

The tempter, but with show of zeal and love
To man, and indignation at his wrong,
New parts puts on: and to his passion mov'd.
Fluctuates disturb'd, yet comely and in act
Rais'd, as of some great matter to begin.
As when of old some orator renown'd
In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence
Flourish'd, since mute, to some great cause addressid,
Stood in himself collected, while each part,
Motion, each act won audience ere the tongue
Sometimes in height began, as no delay

Of preface brooking through his zeal of right:
So standing, moving, or to height up-grown,
The tempter all impassion'd thus began: .

O sacred, wise, and wisdom giving plant,
Mother of science, now I feel thy pow'r
Within me clear, not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest agents, deem'd however wise.
- Queen of this universe, do not believe

Those rigid threats of death ; ve shall not die:
Ilow should ye? by the fruit? it gives you life
To knowledge; by the threatper? look on me,
Me who have touch'd and tasted, yet both live,
And life more perfect have attain'd than fate
Meant me, by vent'ring higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to man, which to the beast
Is open? or will God incense his ire.
For such a petty trespass, and not praise
Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
of death denounc'd, whatever thing death be,
Deterr'd not from atchieving what might lead
To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;
Of good, how just? of evil, if what is evil
Be real, why not known, since easier shunn d?
God therefore cannot hurt ve, and be just;

Not just, not God; not fear'd then, nor obey'd:
Your fear itself of death removes the fear.
Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,
Why but to keep you low and ignorant,
His worshippers: he knows, that in the day
Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,
Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then
Open'd and clear'd, and ye shall be as gods,
Knowing both good and evil as they know.
That ye shall be as gods, since I as man,
Internal man, is but proportion meet;
I of brute, human; ye of human, gods.
So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off
Huinan, to put on gods; death to be wish’d,
Tho'threaten'd, which no worse than this can bring.
And what are God's, that Man may not become
As they, participating god-like food!
The gods are first, and that advantage use
On our belief, that all from them proceeds:
I question it; for this fair earth 1 see,
Warın'd by the sun, producing every kind,
Them nothing. if aber all things, who inclos'd
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains.
Wisdom without their leaves and wherein lies
Th’offence, that man should thus attain to know?
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree
Impart against his will, if all be hist
Or is it envy? and can envy dwell
In beav'nly breasts: "These, these, and many more
Causes, import your need of this fair fruit.
Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste.

He ended; and his words replete with guide
Into her heart too casy entrance won :
Fix'd on the fruit she gaz'd, which to behold
Might tempt alone; and in her ears the sound
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregn'd
With reason, to her seeming, and with truth;
Meanwhile the hour of noon drew on, and wak'd

An eager appetite, raisd by the smell
So savoury of that fruit, which with desire,
Inclinable now grown to touch and taste,
Solicited her longing eye: yet first,
Pausing awhile, thus to herself she mus d:

Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits, .
Though kept from man, and worthy to be admir'd:
Whose taste, too long forborne, at first assay
Gave elocution to the mute, and taught
The tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise:
Thy praise he also who forbids thy use,
Conceals not from us, naming thiee the tree
Of knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;
Forbids us then to taste; but his forbidding
Commends thee more, while it infers the good
By thee communicated, and our want:
For good unknown, sure is not had; or had,
And 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 bind not. But if death
Bind us with after bands, what profits then
Our inward freedom? In the day we eat
Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we shall die.
How dies the serpent? he hath eat'n and lives,
And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns,
Irrational till then. For us alone
Was death invented or to us deny'd

This intellectual food, for beasts reserv'd
For beasts it seems; yet that one beast which first
Hath tasted envies not, but brings with joy
The good befall’n him, author unsuspect, 's*
Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile,"
What fear I then; rather what know to fear
Under this ignorance of good and evil,"
Of God or death, of law or penalty?
Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine,
Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste, .
Of virtue to make wise: what hinders then

« ZurückWeiter »