« PreviousContinue »
“ Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine,
So saying, her rash hand, in evil hour,
That all was lost! Back to the thicket slunk 785 The guilty serpent; and well might; for Eve,
Intent now wholly on her taste, nought else
Or fancied so, through expectation high 790 Of knowledge ; nor was godhead from her thought.
Greedily she engorg'd, without restraint,
“O sovran, virtuous, precious of all trees
“Created; but henceforth my early care, 800 “Not without song, each morning, and due praise,
“Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease
“In knowledge, as the gods, who all things know; 805 “ Though others envy what they cannot give :
“For, had the gift been theirs, it had not here
“In ignorance; thou open'st wisdom's way, 810 “ And giv'st access, though secret she retire.
“ And I perhaps am secret : heaven is high,
High, and remote to see from thence distinct
May have diverted from continual watch
“ About him. But to Adam in what sort
“ Full happiness with me? or rather not, 820 “ But keep the odds of knowledge in my power,
“Without copartner? so to add what wants
“A thing not undesirable, sometime 825 “Superior; for, inferior, who is free?
“ This may be well. But what if God have seen,
“ Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct; 830 “A death to think! Confirm'd then I resolve,
“ Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe:
So saying, from the tree her step she turn'd; 835 But first low reverence done, as to the power
That dwelt within, whose presence had infus'd
Waiting desirous her return, had wove 840 Of choicest flowers a garland, to adorn
Her tresses, and her rural labours crown;
oft wont their harvest queen. Great joy he promis'd to his thoughts, and new
Solace in her return so long delay'd :
Misgave him: he the falt'ring measure felt;
Of knowledge he must pass; there he her met, 850 Scarce from the tree returning ; in her hand
A bough of fairest fruit, that downy smild,
New gather'd, and ambrosial smell diffus'd.
Came prologue, and apology too prompt; 855 Which, with bland words at will, she thus address'd:
“ Hast thou not wonder'd, Adam, at my stay? Thee I have miss'd, and thought it long, depriv'd
Thy presence; agony of love till now
“ Not felt, nor shall be twice ; for never more 860 “Mean I to try, what rash untried I sought,
“ The pain of absence from thy sight. But strange
“Of danger tasted ; nor to evil unknown 865 “ Opening the way, but of divine effect
“ To open eyes, and make them gods who taste;
“Hath eaten of the fruit; and is become 870 “ Not dead, as we are threaten'd; but thenceforth
“ Endued with human voice, and human sense ;
Reasoning to admiration! and with me “ Persuasively hath so prevail'd, that I
“Have also tasted, and have also found
“ Dim erst—dilated spirits-ampler heart-
“For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss ; 880 “ Tedious, unshar'd with thee, and odious soon.
“ Thou therefore also taste, that equal lot
Lest, thou not tasting, different degree
Disjoin us, and I then too late renounce 885 “ Deity for thee, when fate will not permit."
Thus Eve with count'nance blithe her story told ;
890 Astonied stood, and blank! while horror chill
Ran through his veins, and all his joints relax'd !
Speechless he stood and pale; till thus, at length, 895 First to himself he inward silence broke:
“ O fairest of creation ! last and best
Holy, divine, good, amiable, or sweet!
“ The sacred fruit forbidden! Some cursed fraud 905 “Of enemy hath beguild thee, yet unknown,
“ And me with thee hath ruin'd; for with thee
resolution is to die.
Thy sweet convérse, and love so dearly join'd, 910 “ To live again in these wild woods forlorn ?
“Should God create another Eve, and I
“ The link of nature draw me: flesh of flesh,
“ Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe !"
So having said, as one from sad dismay
Submitting to what seem'd remediless,
“ Bold deed thou hast presum'd, adventurous Eve! “And peril great provok'd, who thus hast dar'd, “ Had it been only coveting to eye " That sacred fruitsacred to abstinence, “ Much more to taste it, under ban to touch. “But past who can recall, or done undo? “ Not God omnipotent, nor fate. Yet so
Perhaps thou shalt not die ; perhaps the fact
“ Is not so heinous now,-foretasted fruit, 930 “ Profan'd first by the serpent, -by him first
“Made common, and unhallow'd, ere our taste,
“ Higher degree of life; inducement strong 935
“ To us, as likely tasting to attain
Proportional ascent; which cannot be
Dependent made: so God shall uncreate
“ Be frustrate-do—undo, and labour lose; 945 “Not well conceiv'd of God, who, though his power
“Creation could repeat, yet would be loth
Triumph, and say, 'Fickle their state whom God
“Most favours ! who can please him long? Me first 950 “He rüin'd, now mankind; whom will he next?'
“Matter of scorn, not to be given the foe.
“ Consort with thee, death is to me as life; 955 “So forcible within my heart I feel
“ The bond of nature draw me to my own
My own in thee, for what thou art is mine ;
So Adam; and thus Eve to him replied: