Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

"But if thou think trial unsought may find

"Us both securer than, thus warned, thou seemst,

"Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more

"Go in thy native innocence, rely

"On what thou hast of virtue; summon all!

"For God towards thee hath done his part: do thine."
So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve
Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied:

"With thy permission then, and thus forewarned,
"Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words
"Touched only; but our trial, when least sought,
May find us both perhaps far less prepared ;

66

"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 like a Wood-nymph light,
Oread or Dryad, or of Delia's train,

Betook her to the groves; but Delia's self
In gait surpassed, and goddess-like deport,
Though not, as she, with bow and quiver armed,
But with such gardening tools as art, yet rude,
Guiltless of fire, had formed, or angels brought.
To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorned,
Likest she seemed-Pomona, when she fled
Vertumnus-or to Ceres in her prime,
Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.

Her long, with ardent look, his eye pursued
Delighted, but desiring more her stay.
Oft he to her his charge of quick return
Repeated: she to him as oft engaged
To be returned by noon amid the bower,
And all things in best order to invite
Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose.

O, much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve,
Of thy presumed return! event perverse!

Thou never from that hour in Paradise

Foundst either sweet repast, or sound repose:
Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades,
Waited with hellish rancour imminent

370

380

390

400

To intercept thy way, or send thee back

Despoiled 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
The whole included race, his purposed prey.
In bower and field he sought, where any tuft
Of grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay,
Their tendance, or plantation for delight:
By fountain or by shady rivulet

He sought them both, but wished his hap might find
Eve separate; he wished, but not with hope

Of what so seldom chanced; when to his wish-
Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,
Veiled in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,
Half spied, so thick the roses blushing round
About her glowed, oft stooping to support

Each flower of tender stalk, whose head, though gay
Carnation, purple, azure, or specked with gold,
Hung drooping unsustained; them she upstays
Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while
Herself, though fairest unsupported flower,
From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh!
Nearer he drew, and many a walk traversed
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm;
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,
Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers
Imbordered on each bank, the hand of Eve!
Spot more delicious than those gardens feigned,
Or of revived Adonis, or renowned

Alcinous, host of old Laërtes' son;

410

420

430

440

Or that not mystic, where the sapient king
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.

Much he the place admired, the person more.

As one who, long in populous city pent,
Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air,
Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms

Adjoined, from each thing met conceives delight—

The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
Or dairy-each rural sight-each rural sound;
If chance, with nymph-like step, fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seemed, for her now pleases more;
She most, and in her look sums all delight:
Such pleasure took the serpent to behold
This flowery plat-the sweet recess of Eve
Thus early, thus alone. Her heavenly form,--
Angelic, but more soft, and feminine,-
Her graceful innocence, her every air
Of gesture, or least action, overawed
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereaved
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:
That space the evil one abstracted stood
From his own evil, and for the time remained
Stupidly good; of enmity disarmed—
Of guile-of hate-of envy-of revenge!
But the hot Hell that always in him burns,
Though in mid Heaven, soon ended his delight,
And tortures him now more, the more he sees
Of pleasure, not for him ordained: then soon
Fierce hate he recollects; and all his thoughts
Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites:

66

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
"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
"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;
"Foe not informidable! exempt from wound,
"I not; so much hath Hell debased, and pain
"Enfeebled me to what I was in Heaven.
"She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods!

450

460

470

480

"Not terrible, though terror be in love

"And beauty, not approached by stronger hate-
"Hate stronger, under show of love well feigned
"The way which to her ruin now I tend."
So spake the enemy of mankind, inclosed
In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve
Addressed his way; not with indented wave,
Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear,
Circular base of rising folds, that towered
Fold above fold, a surging maze! his head
Crested aloft; and carbuncle in his eyes;
With burnished 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 changed
Hermione and Cadmus, or the God
In Epidaurus; nor to which transformed
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 feared
To interrupt, sidelong he works his way.
As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought
Nigh river's mouth, or foreland, where the wind
Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail :
So varied he, and of his tortuous train
Curled many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,
To lure her eye; she, busied, heard the sound
Of rustling leaves, but minded not, as used
To such disport before her through the field,
From every beast, more duteous at her call,
Than at Circean call the herd disguised.
He, bolder now, uncalled before her stood,
But as in gaze admiring: oft he bowed
His turret crest, and sleek enamelled neck.
Fawning; and licked the ground whereon she trod,
His gentle dumb expression turned at length
The eye of Eve, to mark his play: he, glad
Of her attention gained, with serpent-tongue

490

500

510

520

Organic, or impulse of vocal air,

His fraudulent temptation thus began:

"Wonder not, sovran mistress, (if perhaps "Thou can'st, who art sole wonder), much less arm "Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain, 66 Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze "Insatiate I thus single; nor have feared

66

Thy awful brow, more awful thus retired. "Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair! "Thee all things living gaze on-all things thine

66

By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore

"With ravishment beheld-there best beheld,
"Where universally admired; but here
"In this enclosure wild, these beasts among,
"Beholders rude, and shallow to discern
"Half what in thee is fair, one man except,

530

540

"Who sees thee? (and what is one)? who shouldst be seen "A Goddess among Gods, adored and served

"By Angels numberless, thy daily train."

So glozed the tempter, and his proem tuned :

Into the heart of Eve his words made way,

Though at the voice much marvelling: at length,

Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake :

66

"What may this mean? language of man pronounced

By tongue of brute, and human sense expressed!

"The first, at least, of these I thought denied

"To beasts, whom God, on their creation-day,
"Created mute to all articulate sound:
"The latter I demur; for in their looks

"Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears.
"Thee, serpent, subtlest beast of all the field
"I knew, but not with human voice endued.
"Redouble then this miracle, and say,
"How camest thou speakable of mute; and how
"To me so friendly grown above the rest

"Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight?

66

66

66

Say, for such wonder claims attention due."
To whom the guileful tempter thus replied:
Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve!
Easy to me it is to tell thee all

550

560

« PredošláPokračovať »