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So near grows death to life, whate'er death is, Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know'st God hath pronounced it death to taste that tree, The only sign of our obedience left, Among so many signs of power and rule Conferr'd upon us, and dominion given · Over all other creatures that possess Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think hard One easy prohibition, who enjoy Free leave so large to all things else, and choice Unlimited of manifold delights: But let us ever praise him, and extol His bounty, following our delightful task, To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers, Which were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.
To whom thus Eve replied. O thou for whom And from whom I was form’d, flesh of thy flesh, And without whom am to no end, my guide And head! what thou hast said is just and right. For we to him indeed all praises owe And daily thanks; I chiefly, who enjoy So far the happier lot, enjoying thee Preeminent by so much odds, while thou Like consort to thyself canst no where find.. That day I oft remember, when from sleep I first awaked, and found myself reposed Under a shade on flowers, much wondering where And what I was, whence thither brought and how. Not distant far from thence a murmuring sound Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoved
Pure as the expanse of Heaven; I thither went
With unexperienced thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to me seem’d another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the watery gleam appear’d,
Bending to look on me: I started back,
It started back; but pleased I soon return'd,
Pleased it return'd as soon with answering looks
Of sympathy and love: There I had fix'd
Mine eyes till now, and pined with vain desire,
Had not a voice thus warn'd me; “ What thou seest,
What there thou seest, fair Creature, is thyself;
With thee it came and goes: but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming, and thy soft embraces, he
Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy
Inseparably thine, to him shalt bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be callid
Mother of human race.” What could I do,
But follow straight, invisibly thus led ?
Till I espied thee, fair indeed and tall,
Under a plantain; yet methought less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Than that smooth watery image: Back I turn'd;
Thou following criedst aloud,“ Return, fair Eve;
Whom fliest thou? whom thou fliest, of him thou art,
His flesh, his bone; to give thee being I lent
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,
Substantial life, to have thee by my side
Henceforth an individual solace dear;
Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim
My other half:" With that thy gentle hand
Seized mine: I yielded; and from that time see
How beauty is excell'd by manly grace,
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair.
So spake our general mother, and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreproved,
And meek surrender, half-embracing lean'd
On our first father'; half her swelling breast
Naked met his, under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses hid: he in delight
Both of her beauty, and submissive charms,
Smiled with superior love, as Jupiter
On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clouds
That shed May flowers; and press’d her matron lip
With kisses pure: Aside the Devil turn'd
For envy; yet with jealous leer malign
Eyed them askance, and to himself thus plain’d.
Sight hateful, sight tormenting! thus these two, Imparadised in one another's arms, The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust, Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire, Among our other torments not the least, Still unfulfill'd with pain of longing pines. Yet let me not forget what I have gain'd From their own mouths: All is not theirs, it seems; One fatal tree there stands, of knowledge callid,
Forbidden them to taste: Knowledge forbidden?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?
Can it be death? And do they only stand
By ignorance? Is that their happy state,
The proof of their obedience and their faith?
O fair foundation laid whereon to build
Their ruin! hence I will excite their minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with design
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt
Equal with Gods: aspiring to be such,
They taste and die: What likelier can ensue?
But first with narrow search I must walk round
This garden, and no corner leave unspied;
A chance but chance may lead where I may meet
Some wandering Spirit of Heaven by fountain side,
Or in thick shade. retired, from him to draw
What further would be learn'd. Live while ye may,
Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,
Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed !
So saying, his proud step he scornful turn'd,
But with sly circumspection, and began [roam.
Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Slowly descended, and with right aspect
Against the eastern gate of Paradise
Leveld his evening rays: It was a rock
Of alabaster, piled up to the clouds,
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent
Accessible from earth, one entrance high ;
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
Still as it rose, impossible to climb.
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,
Chief of the angelic guards, awaiting night;
About him exercised heroic games
The unarmed youth of Heaven, but nigh at hand
Celestial armory, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold.
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even
On a sunbeam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fired
Impress the air, and shows the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware
Impetuous winds: He thus began in haste.
Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given
Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place
No evil thing approach or enter in.
This day at highth of noon came to my sphere
A Spirit, zealous, as he seem'd, to know
More of the Almighty's works, and chiefly Man,
God's latest image: I described his way
Bent on all speed, and mark'd his aery gait;
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted soon discern'd his looks
Alien from Heaven, with passions foul obscured:
Mine eye pursued him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him: One of the banish'd crew,
I fear, hath ventured from the deep, to raise
New troubles; him thy care must be to find.
To whom the winged warrior thus return'd.