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With ardour to enjoy thee, fairer now
Than ever, bounty of this virtuous tree.'
So said he, and forbore not glance or toy
Of amorous intent, well understood
Of Eve, whose eye darted contagious fire.
Her hand he seiz'd, and to a shady bank,
Thick overhead with verdant roof imbow'rd,
He led her nothing loth; flow'rs were the couch,
Pansies, and violets, and asphodel,
And hyacinth, Earth's freshest softest lap.
There they their fill of love and love's disport
Took largely, of their mutual guilt the seal,
The solace of their sin, till dewy sleep
Oppress’d them, wearied with their amorous play.
Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,
That with exhilarating vapour bland
About their spirits had play'd, and inmost powers
Made err, was now exhald; and grosser sleep
Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams
Encumber'd, now had left them, up they rose
As from unrest; and each the other viewing,
Soon found their eyes how op'nd, and their minds
How dark’nd; innocence, that as a veil
Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone,
Just confidence, and native righteousness,
And honour from about. them, naked left
To guilty Shame; he cover'd, but his robe
Uncover'd more. So rose the Danite strong,
Herculean Samson from the harlot-lap
Of Philistean Dalilah, and wak'd
Shorn of his strength; they destitute and bare
Of all their virtue. Silent, and in face
Confounded long they sat, as struck'n mute;
Till Adam, though not less than Eve abash't,
At length gave utterance to these words constrain'd.
O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear
To that false worm, of whomsoever taught
To counterfet man's voice, true in our fall,
False in our promised rising: since our eyes
Op’nd we find indeed, and find we know
Both 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 purity,
Our wonted ornaments, now soild and stain'd;
And in our faces evident the signs
Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store ;
Even shame, the last of evils; of the first
Be sure then. How shall I behold the face
Henceforth of God or angel, erst with joy
And rapture so oft beheld ? those Heav'nly shapes
Will dazzle now this earthly, with their blaze
Insufferably bright. O might I here
In solitude live savage, in some glade
Obscur’d, where highest woods impenetrable
To star or sun-light, spread their umbrage broad
And brown as evening! Cover me, ye pines,
Ņe cedars, with innumerable boughs
Hide me, where I may never see them more!
But let us now, as in bad plight, devise
What best may for the present serve to hide
The parts of each from other, that seem most
To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen :
Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sew'd,
And girded on our loins, may cover round
Those middle parts, that this new comer, Shame,
There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.'
So counsell'd he: and both together went
Into the thickest wood, there soon they chose
The fig-tree, not that kind for fruit renown'd,
But such as at this day to Indians known
In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms,
Branching so broad and long, that in the ground
The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
About the mother tree, a pillar'd shade
High over-arch't, and echoing walks between ;
There oft the Indian herdsman shunning heat
Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
At loopholes cut through thickest shade. Those leaves
They gather'd, broad as Amazonian targe,
And with what skill they had, together sew'd,
To gird their waist; vain covering if to hide
Their guilt and dreaded shame; O how unlike
To that first naked glory! Such of late
Columbus found th’ American, so girt
With feather'd cincture, naked else and wild,
Among the trees on iles and woody shores.
Thus fenc't, and as they thought, their shame in part
Cover'd, but not at rest or ease of mind,
They sat them down to weep; nor only tears
Rain'd at their eyes, but high winds worse within
Began to rise; high passions, anger, hate,
Mistrust, suspicion, discord; and shook sore
Their inward state of mind, calm region once
1125 And full of peace, now tost and turbulent : For Understanding rul'd not, and the Will Heard not her lore; both in subjection now To sensual Appetite, who from beneath Usurping over sovran Reason claim'd
1130 Superior sway; from thus distemper'd breast, Adam, estrang'd in look and alter'd style, Speech intermitted thus to Eve renew'd.
“Would thou hadst heark’nd to my words, and stay'd With me, as I besought thee, when that strange 1135 Desire of wandring, this unhappy morn, I know not whence possess'd thee; we had then Remain'd still happy, not as now, despoil'd Of all our good, sham'd, naked, miserable. Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve 1140 The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek Such proof, conclude, they then begin to fail.'
To whom soon moy'd with touch of blame thus Eve. • What words have passed thy lips, Adam severe ! Imput'st thou that to my default, or will
Of wandring, as thou call'st it, which who knows
But might as ill have happ’nd thou being by,
Or to thyself perhaps? Hadst thou been there,
Or here th' attempt, thou couldst not have discern'd
Fraud in the serpent, speaking as he spake;
No ground of enmity between us known,
Why should he mean me ill, or seek to harm.
Was I to have never parted from thy side ?
As good have grown there still a lifeless rib.
Being as I am, why didst not thou the head
Command me absolutely not to go,
Going into such danger as thou saidst ?
Too facile then thou didst not much gainsay,
Nay didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
Hadst thou been firm and fixt in thy dissent,
Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with me.'
To whom then first incenst Adam repli’d,
• Is this the love, is this the recompense
Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve, exprest
Immutable when thou wert lost, not I,
Who might have liv'd and joy'd immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?
And am I now upbraided as the cause
Of thy transgressing ? not enough severe,
It seems, in thy restraint: what could I more?
I warn’d thee, I admonish'd thee, foretold
The danger, and the lurking enemy
That lay in wait; beyond this had been force,
And force upon free-will hath here no place.
But confidence then bore thee on, secure
Either to meet no danger, or to find
Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps
I also err'd in overmuch admiring
What seem'd in thee so perfet, that I thought
No evil durst attempt thee; but I rue
That error now, which is become my crime,
And thou th' accuser. Thus it shall befal
Him who to worth in women overtrusting
Lets her will rule ; restraint she will not brook,
And left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse.'
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning,
And of their vain contest appear'd no end.