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On my

“ On me


defenceless head: both death and I
“ Are found eternal, and incorporate both:
“Nor I on my part single ; in me all
“ Posterity stands curs’d: fair patrimony

“ That I must leave ye, sons ! O, were I able 820 “ To waste it all myself, and leave ye none!

“So disinherited, how would ye bless
“Me, now your curse! Ah, why should all mankind,
“For one man's fault, thus guiltless be condemn'd,

“ If guiltless ? But from me what can proceed, 825 “ But all corrupt; both mind and will depraved,

“ Not to do only, but to will the same
“ With me? How can they then acquitted stand
“ In sight of God? Him, after all disputes,

“ Forc'd I absolve : all my evasions vain, 830 “And reas'nings, though through mazes, lead me still “ But to my own conviction: first and last

-me only, as the source and spring “Of all corruption, all the blame lights due:

“ So might the wrath! Fond wish! couldst thou support 835 “ That burden, heavier than the earth to bear

“ Than all the world much heavier; though divided
“ With that bad woman? Thus, what thou desir'st,
“ And what thou fear'st, alike destroys all hope

“Of refuge, and concludes thee miserable 810 “Beyond all past example and future

To Satan only like, both crime and doom.
“O conscience ! into what abyss of fears
“ And horrors hast thou driven me, out of which

“I find no way; from deep to deeper plung'd!" 845 Thus Adam to himself lamented loud

Through the still night; not now, as ere man fell,
Wholesome, and cool, and mild; but with black air
Accompanied, with damps, and dreadful gloom;

Which to his evil conscience represented
850 All things with double terror. On the ground

Outstretch'd he lay-on the cold ground; and oft
Curs'd his creation-death as oft accus'd


Of tardy execution, since denounc'd

The day of his offence. “ Why comes not death," 855 Said he, “ with one thrice acceptable stroke

“ To end me? Shall Truth fail to keep her word?
“ Justice divine not hasten to be just ?
“ But death comes not at call; Justice divine

“Mends not her slowest pace for prayers, or cries. 860 “O woods, O fountains, hillocks, dales, and bowers,

“With other echo late I taught your shades
“ To answer, and resound far other song !"

Whom, thus afflicted, when sad Eve beheld

Desolate where she sat, approaching nigh, 865 Soft words to his fierce passion she assay'd;

But her with stern regard he thus repell’d:

“Out of my sight, thou serpent! That name best “ Befits thee, with him leagued; thyself as false

And hateful! nothing wants, but that thy shape, 870 “ Like his, and colour serpentine, may show

Thy inward fraud ; to warn all creatures from thee “Henceforth; lest that too heavenly form, pretended, “ To hellish falsehood snare them! But for thee

“I had persisted happy: had not thy pride 875 “ And wand'ring vanity, when least was safe,

Rejected my forewarning, and disdain'd
“ Not to be trusted—longing to be seen,
“ Though by the devil himself, him overweening

“ To over-reach ; but, with the serpent meeting, 880 “Fool'd and beguild: by him thou, I by thee,

“ To trust thee from my side; imagin'd wise,
“ Constant, mature, proof against all assaults ;
And understood not all was but a show,

“Rather than solid virtue; all but a rib
885 “ Crooked by nature; bent (as now appears)

“More to the part sinister, from me drawn;
“ Well if thrown out, as supernumerary
“ To my just number found! O! why did God,

“ Creator wise, that peopled highest heaven 890 “ With spirits masculine, create at last


“ This novelty on earth, this fair defect
“ Of nature ?-and not fill the world at once
“ With men, as angels, without feminine?

Or find some other way to generate
895 “Mankind ? This mischief had not then befall'n,

And more that shall befal-innumerable
“ Disturbances on earth through female snares,
And strait conjunction with this sex; for either

“ He never shall find out fit mate, but such 900 “ As some misfortune brings him, or mistake;

Or, whom he wishes most shall seldom gain

Through her perverseness, but shall see her gain'd By a far worse; or, if she love, withheld

By parents; or, his happiest choice too late 905 “ Shall meet, already link'd and wedlock-bound

“ To a fell adversary, his hate, or shame :
“ Which infinite calamity shall cause
To human life, and household peace confound.”

He added not, and from her turn'd: but Eve, 910 Not so repuls'd, with tears that ceas'd not flowing,

And tresses all disorder'd, at his feet
Fell humble; and, embracing them, besought
His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint:

“Forsake me not thus, Adam! Witness heaven 915 “ What love sincere, and reverence, in my heart

“I bear thee ! and unweeting have offended,
“Unhappily deceiv'd! Thy suppliant
I beg, and clasp thy knees: bereave me not
“(Whereon I live!) thy gentle looks, thy aid,
“ Thy counsel, in this uttermost distress;
My only strength, and stay! Forlorn of thee,
“ Whither shall I betake me? where subsist?
“While yet we live,--scarce one short hour perhaps,-

“ Between us two let there be peace—both joining, 925 “ As join'd in injuries-one enmity

“ Against a foe by doom express assign'd us,
“ That cruel serpent! On me exercise not
* Thy hatred for this misery befalln-



“On me already lost-me than thyself
“ More miserable! Both have sinn'd; but thou

Against God only, I against God and thee :
“ And to the place of judgment will return;
“ There with my cries importune Heaven; that all

“ The sentence, from thy head remov'd, may light 935 “ On me-sole cause to thee of all this woe

“Me—me only—just object of his ire!"

She ended, weeping; and her lowly plight,
Immovable till peace obtain'd from fault

Acknowledg'd and deplor'd, in Adam wrought 940 Commiseration : soon his heart relented

Towards her, his life so late, and sole delight,
Now at his feet submissive in distress!
Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking-

His counsel whom she had displeas'd—his aid !
945 As one disarm'd his anger all he lost,
And thus with peaceful words uprais'd her soon :

Unwary, and too desirous (as before, “So now) of what thou know'st not, who desir’st

“ The punishment all on thyself! Alas ! 950

“ Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain
“ His full wrath, whose thou feel'st as yet least part;
And my displeasure bear'st so ill. If prayers
“ Could alter high decrees, I to that place

“ Would speed before thee, and be louder heard 955 “ That on my head all might be visited ;

• Thy frailty and infirmer sex forgiv'n,
“ To me committed, and by me expos'd.
“ But rise: let us no more contend, nor blame

“Each other, blam'd enough elsewhere; but strive 960 “ In offices of love, how we may lighten

“ Each other's burden in our share of woe;
“ Since this day's death denounc'd, if aught I see,
“Will prove no sudden, but a slow-pac'd evil ;

“ A long day's dying to augment our pain; 965 “ And to our seed (O hapless seed !) deriv'd."

To whom thus Eve, recovering heart, replied :


“ Adam ! by sad experiment I know
“How little weight my words with thee can find,

Found so erroneous; thence by just event 970 “ Found so unfortunate; nevertheless,

“Restor'd by thee, vile as I am, to place
“Of new acceptance. Hopeful to regain

Thy love, the sole contentment of my heart

“ Living or dying, from thee I will not hide
975 What thoughts in my unquiet breast are ris'n,

Tending to some relief of our extremes,
Or end; though sharp and sad, yet tolerable
As in our evils, and of easier choice.
“If care of our descent perplex us most,
“ Which must be born to certain woe, devour'd
“By death at last; (and miserable it is,
“ To be to others cause of misery,
“Our own begotten; and of our loins to bring

“ Into this cursed world a woful race,
985 “ That after wretched life must be at last

“ Food for so foul a monster;) in thy power
“ It lies, yet ere conception, to prevent
“ The race unblest, to being yet unbegot.

“ Childless thou art, childless remain: so Death 990“ Shall be deceiv'd his glut, and with us two

“ Be forc'd to satisfy his rav'nous maw.
“But if thou judge it hard and difficult,
“ Conversing-looking-loving, to abstain

“ From love's due rites-nuptial embraces sweet, 995 “ And with desire to languish without hope,

“Before the present object languishing
“ With like desire, which would be misery
And torment less than none of what we dread;

“ Then, both ourselves and seed at once to free 1000 “ From what we fear for both, let us make short

“ Let us seek Death ; or, he not found, supply
With our own hands his office on ourselves.
“Why stand we longer shiv'ring under fears
“ That show no end but death, and have the power

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