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Oft he to her his charge of quick return 400 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
Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose.

O much deceiv'd, much failing, hapless Eve, 405 Of thy presum'd return! event perverse!

Thou never froin 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 410 To intercept 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 415 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 tendance, or plantation for delight : 420 By fountain, or by shady rivulet,

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,
425 Veild in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,

Half spied, so thick the roses blushing round
About her glow'd, oft stooping to support
Each flower of tender stalk, whose head, though gay

Carnation, purple, azure, or speck'd with gold, 430 Hung drooping unsustain’d; 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 travers'd 435 Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm ;

Then voluble and bold; now hid, now seen

Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers
Imborder'd on each bank, the hand of Eve!

Spot more delicious than those gardens feign’d, 440 Or of reviv'd Adonis, or renown'd

Alcinous, host of old Laërtes' son ;
Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.

Much he the place admir'd, the person more. 445 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 delight450 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 seem'd, for her now pleases more;

She most, and in her look sums all delight: 455 Such pleasure took the serpent to behold

This flow'ry 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 460 Of gesture or least action, overaw'd

His malice, and with rapine sweet bereav'd
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought;

the evil one abstracted stood From his own evil, and for the time remain'd 465 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 heaven, soon ended his delight,

And tortures him now more, the more he sees 470 Of pleasure not for him ordain'd; then soon

Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts
Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites :

Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what sweet * Compulsion thus transported, to forget

That space




475 “ 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 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 485 “Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould ;

“Foe not informidable ! exempt from wound,
“I not; so much hath hell debas'd, and pain
“Enfeebled me, to what I was in heaven.

“She fair, divinely fair, fit love for gods ! 490 “ Not terrible, though terror be in love

“ And beauty, not approach'd by stronger hate-
“ Hate stronger under show of love well feign'd;
The way which to her ruin now I tend.”

So spake the enemy of mankind enclos'd 495 In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve

Address'd his way ; not with indented wave,
Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear,
Circular base of rising folds, that tower'd

Fold above fold, a surging maze; his head 500 , Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes;

With burnish'd 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 505 Lovelier; not those that in Illyria chang'd

Hermione, and Cadmus; or the god
In Epidaurus; nor to which transform'd
Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen;

He with Olympias; this with her who bore
510 Scipio, the height of Rome. With tract oblique

At first, as one who sought access, but fear'd
To interrupt, side-long he works his way.

As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought

Nigh river's mouth, or foreland, where the wind 515 Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sails;

So varied he, and of his tortuous train
Curl'd many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,
To lure her eye: she, busied, heard the sound

Of rustling leaves, but minded not, as us'd 520 To such disport before her through the field

From ev'ry beast, more duteous at her call,
Than at Circean call the herd disguis'd.
He, bolder now, uncall'd before her stood,

But as in gaze admiring: oft he bow'd
525 His turret crest, and sleek enamellid neck,

Fawning; and lick’d the ground whereon she trod :
His gentle dumb expression turn'd at length
The eye of Eve, to mark his play: he, glad

Of her attention gain’d, with serpent-tongue 530 Organic, or impulse of vocal air,

His fraudulent temptation thus began :

“ Wonder not, sov'reign mistress (if perhaps
“ Thou canst, who art sole wonder) much less arm

“ Thy looks, the heaven of mildness, with disdain, 535 “ Displeas'd that I approach thee thus, and

“ Insatiate-I thus single ; nor have fear'd
“ Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir'd,
“Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair!

“ Thee all things living gaze on-all things thine 540 “By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore,

“ With ravishment beheld—there best beheld,
“ Where universally admir'd: but here
“ In this enclosure wild, these beasts among,

“Beholders rude, and shallow to discern
545 “ Half what in thee is fair, one man except,

“Who sees thee? (and what is one ?) who should be seen
“A goddess among gods, ador'd and serv'd
By angels numberless, thy daily train.”

So gloz'd the tempter, and his proem tund: 550 Into the heart of Eve his words made way,

Though at the voice much marvelling: at length,
Not unamaz'd, she thus in answer spake :

“What may this mean? language of man pronounc'd

By tongue of brute, and human sense express'd ! 555 “ 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. 560 “ Thee, serpent, subtlest beast of all the field

“I knew; but not with human voice endued.
“Redouble then this miracle, and say
“How cam'st thou speakable of mute; and how

“ To me so friendly grown above the rest 565 “Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight?

“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 570 “ What thou command'st; and right thou shouldst be

obeyed :
“ I was at first as other beasts that graze
“ The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low,
As was my food; nor aught but food discern'd,

“ Or sex, and apprehended nothing high : 575 “ Till, on a day roving the field, I chanc'd

A goodly tree far distant to behold,
“Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mix'd,

Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze;

“When from the boughs a savoury odour blown, 580 “Grateful to appetite, more pleas'd my sense

“ Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats
“Of ewe or goat, dropping with milk at even,
“ Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play.

“ To satisfy the sharp desire I had
585 “ Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv’d

“ Not to defer ; hunger and thirst at once,
“ Powerful persuaders, quicken'd at the scent

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