« AnteriorContinua »
And what is faith, love, virtue unassay'd
Alone, without exterior help sustain'd ?
Let us not then suspect our happy state
Left so imperfect by the Maker wise,
As not secure to single or combin'd.
Frail is our happiness, if this be so,
And Eden were no Eden thus expos’d.
To whom thus Adam fervently reply'd:
O Woman, best are all things as the will
Of God ordain'd them; his creating hand
Nothing imperfect or deficient left
Of all that he created, much less man,
Or ought that might his happy state secure,
Secure from outward force; within himself
The danger lies, yet lies within his power:
Against his will he can receive no harm.
But God left fiee the will, for what obeys
Reason is free, and Reason he made right,
But bid her well beware, and still erect,
Lest by some fair appearing good surpriz'd
She dictate false, and misinform the will
To do what God expressly hath forbid.
Not then mistrust, but tender love injoins,
That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me.
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve,
Since reason not impossibly may meet
Some specious object by the foe suborn'd,
And fall into deception unaware,
Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warn'd.
Seek not temptation then, which to avoid
Were better, and most likely if from me
Thou sever not: trial will come unsought.
Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approve
First thy obedience; th’ other who can know,
Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?
But if thou think, trial unsought may find 370
Us both securer than thus warn’d thou seem'st,
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 tow’ards thee hath done his part, do thine.
So spake the Patriarch of mankind; bui Eve
Persisted, yet submiss, though last, reply'd.
With thy permission then, and thus forewarn’d Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words Touch'd only, that our trial, when least sought, 380 May find us both perhaps far less prepar'd, 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 gate surpass’d, and goddess-like deport, Though not as she with bow and quiver arm'd 395 But with such ga: d’ning tools as art yet rude, Guiltless of fire, had form’d, or Angels brought. To Pales, or Poinona, thus adorn'd,
Likest she seem'd, Pomona when she fled
Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime,
Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.
Her long with ardent look his eye pursu'd
Delighted, but desiring more her stay.
Oft he to her his charge of quick return
Repeated, she to him as oft engag'd
To be return'd by noon amid the bower,
And all things in best order to invite
Noon-tide repast, or afternoon's repose.
O much deceiv'd, much failing, hapless Eve,
Of thy presum'd return! event perverse !
Thou never from that hour in Paradise
Found'st either sweet repast or sound repose :
Such ambush hid among sweet flowers and shades
Waited with hellish rancour imminent
To intercepe thy way, or send thee back
Despoil'd 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 purpos’d prey.
In bower and field he sought, where any tuft
Of grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay,
Their tendence or plantation for delight;
By fountain or by shady rivulet
420 He sought them both, but wish'd his hap might find Eve separate, he wish'd, but not with hope Of what so seldom chanc'd, when to his wish,
Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,
2. Veil'd in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,
Half spy'd, so thick the roses blushing round
About her glow'd, cfi stooping to support
Each flower of slender stalk, whose head though gay : Carnation, purple', azure, or speck'd with gold,
Hung drooping unsustain’d; them she upstays 430
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 travers’d
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm,
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen
Among thick-woven arborets and Aowers
Imborder'd on each bank, the hand of Eve:
Spot more delicious than those gardens feign'd,
Or of reviv'd Adonis, or renown'd
Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son,
Cr that, not mystic, where the sapient king
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.
Much he the place adınir'd, 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
Adjoin'd, from each thing met conceives delight,
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
Or daiiy', each rural sight, each rural sound;
If chance with nymph-lile step fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seein'd, 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 heav'nly form
Angelic, but more soft and feminine,
Her graceful innocence, her every air
Of gesture or least action overaw'd
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereav'd
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:
That space the Evil-one abstracted stood
From his own ev'il, and for the time remain'd
Stupidly good, of enmity disarm’d,
Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge;
But the hot hell that always in him burns,
Though in mid Heav'n, soon ended his delight,
And tortures him now more, the more he sees
Of pleasure not for him ordain'd: then soon
Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts
Of mischief, gratulati:g, thus excites: (sweet
Thoughts, whither have ye led me? with what
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,