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Might tempt alone; and in her ears the sound
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregn'd
With reason, to her seeming, and with truth :
Meanwhile the hour of noon drew on, and wak'd
An eager appetite rais'd by the smell
So savoury of that fruit, which with desire
(Inclinable now grown to touch or taste)
Solicited her longing eye; yet first
Pausing awhile, thus to herself she mus'd.

« Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits,
Though kept from man, and worthy to be admir'd;
Whose taste, too long forborne, at first assay
Gave elocution to the mute, and taught

The tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise :
Thy praise he also, who forbids thy use,
Conceals not from us, naming thee the tree
Of knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;
Forbids us then to taste! but his forbidding
Commends thee more, while it infers the good
By thee communicated, and our want :
For good unknown sure is not had; or, had
And yet unknown, is as not had at all.
In plain then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise?
Such prohibitions bind not. But, if death.
Binds us with after-bands, what profits then
Our inward freedom? In the day we eat
Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we shall die!
How dies the serpent? he hath eaten and lives,
And knows and speaks, and reasons and discerns,
Irrational till then. For us alone

Was death invented? or to us denied

This intellectual food, for beasts reserv'd?

For beasts it seems; yet that one beast which first
Hath tasted envies not, but brings with joy
The good befall'n him, author unsuspected,
Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile.
What fear I then? rather, what know to fear
Under this ignorance of good and evil,
Of God or death, of law or penalty?
Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine,
Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste,

Of virtue to make wise. What hinders then
To reach, and feed at once both body and mind?
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour

Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck'd she eat!
Earth felt the wound; and nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,
That all was lost. Bach to the thicket slunk
The guilty serpent; and well might; for Eve,
Intent now wholly on her taste, nought else
Regarded; such delight till then, as seem'd,
In fruit she never tasted, whether true
Or fancied so, through expectation high
Of knowledge; nor was godhead from her thought.
Greedily she ingorg'd without restraint,

And knew not eating death. Satiate at length
And heighten'd as with wine, jocund and boon,
Thus to herself she pleasingly began.

« O sovran, virtuous, precious of all trees In paradise of operation blessed

To sapience, hitherto obscured, infamed,
And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no end
Created; but henceforth my early care,

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Not without song, each morning, and due praise,
Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease
Of thy full branches offer'd free to all;
Till, dieted by thee, I grow mature

In knowledge, as the gods, who all things know;
Though others envy what they cannot give :
For, had the gift been theirs, it had not here
Thus grown. Experience, next, to thee I owe,
Best guide; not following thee, I had remain'd
In ignorance; thou open'st wisdom's way
And giv'st access, though secret she retire.

« And I perhaps am secret; heaven is high,
High, and remote to see from thence distinct
Each thing on earth; and other care perhaps
May have diverted from continual watch
Our great forbidder, safe with all his spies
About him. But to Adam in what sort
Shall I appear? shall I to him make known
As ye my change, and give him to partake
Full happiness with me; or rather not,
But keep the odds of knowledge in my power
Without copartner? so to add what wants
In female sex, the more to draw his love,
And render me more equal; and perhaps,
A thing not undesirable, sometimes
Superior; for, inferior, who is free?


This be well but what if God have seen,
And death ensue ! then I shall be no more!
And Adam, wedded to another Eve,
Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct;
A death to think! confirm'd then I resolve,
Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe

So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life. >>

So saying, from the tree her step she turn'd;
But first low reverence done, as to the power
That dwelt within, whose presence had infus'd
Into the plant sciential sap, deriv'd

From nectar, drink of gods. Adam the while,
Waiting desirous her return, had wove

Of choicest flowers a garland, to adorn
Her tresses, and her rural labours crown;
As reapers oft are wont their harvest-queen.
Great joy he promis'd to his thoughts, and new
Solace in her return, so long delay'd:


Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill,
Misgave him he the faultering measure felt,
And forth to meet her went, the way she took
That morn when first they parted: by the tree
Of knowledge he must pass; there he her met,
Scarce from the tree returning; in her hand
A bough of fairest fruit, that downy smil’d,
New gather'd, and ambrosial smell diffus'd.
To him she hasted; in her face excuse
Came prologue, and apology too prompt ;
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
Mean I to try, what rash untried I sought,

The pain of absence from thy sight. But strange
Hath been the cause, and wonderful to hear :
This tree is not, as we are told, a tree

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Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown
Opening the way, but of divine effect
To open eyes, and make them gods who taste;
And hath been tasted such; the serpent wise,
Or not restrain'd as we, or not obeying,
Hath eaten of the fruit; and is become,
Not dead, as we are threaten'd, but henceforth
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
The' effects to correspond; opener mine eyes,
Dim erst dilated spirits, ampler heart,
And growing up to godhead; which for thee
Chiefly I sought, without thee can despise.
For bliss, as thou hast part, to me is bliss;
Tedious, unshar'd with thee, and odious soon.
Thou therefore also taste, that equal lot
May join us equal joy, as equal love;
Lest, thou not tasting, different degree
Disjoin us, and I then too late renounce
Deity for thee, when fate will not permit.

Thus Eve with countenance blithe her story told;
But in her cheek distemper flushing glow'd.
On the other side, Adam, soon as he heard
The fatal trespass done by Eve, amaz'd,
Astonied stood and blank, while horror chill
Ran through his veins, and all his joints relax'd;
From his slack hand the garland wreath'd for Eve
Down dropt, and all the faded roses shed:
Speechless he stood and pale, till thus at length
First to himselft he inward silence broke.

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