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Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind
Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail:
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
To such disport before her through the field, 520
From every 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
His turret crest, and sleek enamel'd neck,
Fawning, and lick'd the ground whereon she trod.
Ilis 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
Organic, or impulse of vocal air,
530 His fraudulent temptation thus began :
Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhaps Thou canst, who art sole wonder; much less arm Thy looks, the heav'n of mildness, with disdain, Displeas'd that I approach thee thus, and gaze Insatiate, I thus single, nor have fcard Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir'd. Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair, Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine By_gifte and thy celestial beauty' adore 540 Vich tviskanent bebeld, there best beheld
hero-unile sally admir'd; but here -; In this thic locate wild, these beasts amongs
Beholders rude, and shallow to discern
Half what in thee is fair, one man except,
Who sees thee? (and what is one ?) who shouldst
A goddess among gods, ador'd and servid [be seen
By angels numberless, thy daily train.
So gloz'd the Tempter, and his proem tun'd;
Into the heart of Eve his words made way, 650
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 ?
The first at least of these I thought deny'd
To beasts, whom God on their creation-day
Created mute to all articulate sound:
The latter I demur, for in their looks
Much rea’son, and in their actions oft appears.
Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field 560
I knew, but not with human voice indued;
Redouble then this miracle, and say,
How cams't thou speakable of mute, and how
To me so friendly grown above the rest
Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight?
Say, for such wonder claims attention due ?
To whom the guileful Tempter thus reply'd :
Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve,
Easy to me it is to tell thee all
What thou command'st, and right thou shouldst be
I was at first as other beasts that graze [obeyed : :
The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and lów, K
As common food; nor aught but food discern'da.
Or sex, and apprehended nothing high:
Till on a day roving the field, I chanc'd
A goodly tree far distant to behold
Loaden with fruit of fairest colors mix'd,
Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze;
When from the boughs a savory odor blown,
Grateful to appetite, more pleas'd my sense 580
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
Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv'd
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,
Powerful persuaders, quicken at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen.
About the mossy trunk I wound me soon, 589
For high from ground the branches would require
Thy utmost reach or Adam's : round the tree
All other beasts that saw, with like desire
Longing and envying stood, but could not reach
Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung
Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill
I spar'd not, for such pleasure till that hour
At feed or fountain never had I found.
Sated at length, ere long I might perceive
Strange alteration in me, to degree
Of reason in my inward powers, and speech 600
Wanted not long though to this shape retain'd.
Thenceforth to speculationis high or deep
I turn'd my thoughts, and with capacious mind
Consider'd all things visible in Heav'n, Or Earth, or middle, all things fair and good ; But all that fair and good in thy divine Semblance, and in thy beauty's heav'nly ray United I beheld; no fair to thine Equivalent or second, which compellid Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come 610 · And gaze, and worship thee of right declar'd Sovran of creatures, universal dame.
So talk'd the spirited sly snake; and Eve Yet more amaz'd unwary thus reply'd: Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt The virtue of that fruit, in thee first prov'd : But say, where grows the tree, from hence how far ? For many are the trees of God that grow In Paradise, and various, yet unknown To us, in such abundance lies our choice, 620 As leaves a greater store of fruit untouch'd, Still hanging incorruptible, till men Grow up to their provision, and more hands Help to disburden Nature of her birth.
To whom the wily adder, blithe and glad: Empress, the way is ready, and not long, Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat, Fast by a fountain, one small thicket past Of blowing myrrh and balm ; if thou accept My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon. 630
Lead then, said Eve. He leading swiftly rollid In tangles, and made intricate seem strait, To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy
Brightens his crest. As when a wand'ring fire,
Compact of unctuous vapor, which the night
Condenses, and the cold environs round,
Kindled through agitation to a flame,
Which oft, they say, some evil Spi'rit attends,
Hovering and blazing with delusive light, 639
Misleads th' amaz’d night-wand'rer from his way
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool,
There swallow'd up and lost, from succor far:
So glister's the dire snake, and into fraud
Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree
Of prohibition, root of all our woe ;
Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake:
Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming hither,
Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess,
The credit of whose virtue rest with thee,
Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects. 650
But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;
God so commanded, and left that command
Sole daughter of his voice; the rest, we live
Law to ourselves, our reason is our law.
To whom the Tempter guilefully replied :
Indeed! hath God then said that of the fruit
Of all these garden trees ye shall not eat,
Yet lords declar'd of all in earth or air ?
To whom thus Eve yet sinless : Of the fruit
Of each tree in the garden we may eat, 660
But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst
The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat
Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die.