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Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone;
Just confidence, and native righteousness,
And honour, from about them, naked left
To guilty shame; he cover'd, but his robe
Uncover'd more. So rose the Danite strong,
Herculean Samson, from the harlot-lap
Of Philistean Dalilah, and wak'd
Shorn of his strength.
They destitute and bare
Of all their virtue ; silent, and in face
Confounded, long they sat, as stricken mute:
Till Adam, though not less than Eve abash'd ;
At length gave utterance to these words constrain'd.
« O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear To that false worm, of whomsoever taught To counterfeit man's voice; true in our fall, False in our promis'd rising ; since our eyes Open'd we find indeed, and find we know Both good and evil; good lost, and evil got, Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know; Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void, Of innocence, of faith, of purity, Our wonted ornaments now soil'd and stain'd, And in our faces evident the signs Of foul concupiscence; whence the evil store ; Even shame, the last of evils; of the first Be sure then. How shall I behold the face Henceforth of God or angel, erst with joy And rapture so oft beheld? those heavenly shapes Will dazzle now this earthly with their blaze Insufferably bright. O! might 1 here In solitude live savage; in some glade
Obscur'd, where highest woods, impenetrable
To star or sun-light, spread their umbrage broad
And brown as evening : cover me, ye pines !
Ye cedars, with innumerable boughs
Hide me, where I
may never see them more!.
But let us now, as in bad plight, devise
present serve to hide
of each from other, that seem most
To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen;
Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sew'd
And girded on our loins, may cover round
Those middle parts; that this new comer, shame,
There sit not, and reproach us as unclean. »
So counsellid he, and both together went
Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose
The fig-tree: not that kind for fruit renown'd,
But such as at this day, to Indians known,
In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms
Branching so broad and long, that in the ground
The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow
About the mother tree, a pillar's shade
High over-arch'd, and echoing walks between :
There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat,
Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
At loop-holes cut through thickest shade.
They gather'd, broad as Amazonian targe;
And, with what skill they had, together sew'd,
To gird their waste; vain covering, if to hide
Their guilt and dreaded shame! O, how unlike
To that first naked glory! such of late
Columbus, found the American, so girt
With feather'd cincture; naked else, and wild
Among the trees on isles and woody shores.
Thus fenc'd, and, as they thought, their shame in part
Cover’d, but not at rest or ease of mind,
They sat them down to weep; nor only tears
Rain'd at their eyes, but high winds worse within
Began to rise, high passions, anger, hate,
Mistrust, suspicion, discord; and shook sore
Their inward state of mind, calm region once
And full of peace, now tost and turbulent :
For understanding rul'd not, and the will
Heard not her lore : both in subjection now
To sensual appetite, who from beneath
Usurping over sovran reason claim'd
From thus distemper’d breast,
Adam, estrang'd in look and alter'd style,
Speech intermitted thus to Eve renew'd :
« Would thou hadst hearken’d to my words, and staid With me, as I besought thee, when that strange Desire of wandering, this unhappy morn, I know not whence possess'd thee; we had then Remain'd still happy; not, as now, despoil'd Of all our good; sham’d, naked, miserable ! Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek Such proof, conclude, they then begin to fail.
To whom, soon mov'd with touch of blame, thus Eve: « What words have pass'd thy lips, Adam severe! Imput'st thou that to my default, or will Of wandering, as thou call'st it, which who knows But might as ill have happen'd thou being by,
Or to thyself perhaps? hadst thou been there,
Or here the attempt, thou could'st not have discern'd
Fraud in the serpent, speaking as he spake;
No ground of enmity between us known,
Why he should mean me ill, or seek to harm.
Was I to have never parted from thy side?
As good have grown there still a lifeless rib.
Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head,
Command me absolutely not to go,
Going into such danger, as thou saidst?
Too facile then, thou didst not much gainsay ;
Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
Hadst thou been firm and fix'd in thy dissent,
Neither had I transgressed, nor thon with me. »
To whom, then first incens'd, Adam replied :
« Is this the love, is this the recompense
Of mine to thee, ungrateful Eve! express'd
Immutable, when thou wert lost, not I;
Who might have liv'd and joy'd immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee?
And am I now upbraided as the cause
Of thy transgressing? not enough severe,
It seems, in thy restraint : what could I more?
I warn'd thee, I admonish'd thee, foretold
The danger, and the lurking enemy
That lay in wait; beyond this, had been force ;
And force upon free will hath here no place.
But confidence then bore thee on, secure
Either to meet no danger, or to find
Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps
I also err'd, in overmuch admiring
What seem'd in thee so perfect, that I thought
No evil durst attempt thee; but I rue
That error now, which is become my crime,
And thou the accuser. Thus it shall befal
Him, who, to worth in women overtrusting,
Lets her will rule : restraint she will not brook,
And, left to herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse. »
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning;
And of their vain contest appeared no end.