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“Not terrible, though terror be in love
So spake the enemy of mankind, inclosed
Organic, or impulse of vocal air,
530 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, “ Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze “ Insatiate -I thus single ; nor have feared “ Thy awful brow, more awful thus retired. “ Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair ! “Thee all things living gaze on-all things thine By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore
540 “ 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, “ 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,
550 Though at the voice much marvelling : at length, Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake :
“ 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
560 “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?
Say, for such wonder claims attention due."
“What thou commandst; and right thou shouldst be obeyed : “I was at first as other beasts that graze
571 “ The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, “ As was my food; nor aught but food discerned, “Oi sex, and apprehended nothing high :
Till, on a day, roving the field, I chanced “ A goodly tree far distant to behold “ Laden with fruit of fairest colours mixed,
Ruddy and gold : I nearer drew to gaze ; “When from the boughs a savoury odour blown, “ Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense “ Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats “Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even, “ Unsucked of lamb or kid, that tend their play. “ To satisfy the sharp desire I had “Of tasting those fair apples, I resolved “ Not to defer ; hunger and thirst at once “ Powerful persuaders, quickened at the scent “Of that alluring fruit, urged me so keen. “ About the mossy trunk I wound me soon; For, high from ground, the branches would require
590 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 spared 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 powers; and speech
600 “Wanted not long; though to this shape retained. “ Thenceforth to speculations high or deep
'I turned my thoughts, and, with capacious mind,
Equivalent, or second ! which compelled
“Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come 610 “ And gaze, and worship thee, of right declared “ Sovran of creatures, universal dame!”
So talked the spirited sly snake; and Eve, Yet more amazed, unwary thus replied :
“Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt “ The virtue of that fruit, in thee first proved : “ 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 “ To us; in such abundance lies our choice,
620 “ As leaves a greater store of fruit untouched, “ Still hanging incorruptible, till men “ Grow up to their provision, and more hands
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 hither soon.”
630 “ Lead then,” said Eve. He, leading, swiftly rolled In tangles, and made intricate seem straight, To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy Brightens his crest. As when a wandering 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 spirit attends,) Hovering and blazing with delusive light, Misleads the amazed night-wanderer from his way
640 To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool, There swallowed up and lost, from succour far : So glistered 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 spared our coming hither, “ Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess, " The credit of whose virtue rest with thee;
“ Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects !
650 “But of this tree we may not taste, nor touch ; “God so commanded, and left that command “ Sole daughter of his voice : the rest, we live “ Law to ourselves : our reason is our law.”
To whom the tempter guilefully replied : • Indeed! hath God then said that of the fruit “ Of all these garden-trees ye shall not eat, “ Yet lords declared of all in earth or air ?"
To whom thus Eve, yet sinless : “Of the fruit “ Of each tree in the garden we may eat ,
660 “ But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst “ The garden, God hath said, “Ye shall not eat “ Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die.'
She scarce had said, though brief, when now, more bold, The tempter, but with show of zeal and love To Man, and indignation at his wrong, New part puts on; and, as to passion moved, Fluctuates disturbed, yet comely, and in act Raised, as of some great matter to begin. As when of old some orator renowned,
670 In Athens, or free Rome, where eloquence Flourished, since mute, to some great cause addressed, 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 upgrown, The tempter, all impassioned thus began :
“O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving Plant, “Mother of science ? now I feel thy power
680 “Within me clear; not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways “Of highest agents, deemed however wise.
Queen of this universe! do not believe “ Those rigid threats of death : ye shall not die;
How should you? By the fruit ? it gives you lifet, “To knowledge; By the threatener ? look on me
Me, who have touched and tasted; yet both live, sip'*?" And life more perfect have attained than fate i ti