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Let us divide our labors, thou where choice
Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind
The woodbine round this arbor, or direct
The clasping ivy where to climb; while I,
In yonder spring of roses intermix'd
With myrtle, find what to redress till noon:
For while so near each other thus all day 228
Our task we chuse, what wonder if so near
Looks intervene and smiles, or object new
Casual discourse draw on, which intermits
Our day's work brought to little, though begus
Early, and th' hour of supper comes unearn'd.
To whom mild answer Adam thus return'd:
Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond
Compare above all living creatures dear,
Well hast thou motion'd, well thy thoughts.employd
How we might best fulfil the works which here 236
God hath assigh'd us, nor of me shalt pass
Unprais’d: for nothing lovelier can be found
in woman, than to study household good,
And good works in her husband to promote.
Yet not so strictly hath our Lord impos'd
Labor, as to debar us when we need
Refreshment, whether food, or talk between,
Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse
Of looks and smiles, for smiles from reason flow,
To brute deny'd, and are of love the food, 240
Love not the lowest end of human life.
For not to irksome toil, but to delight
He made us, and delight to reason join'd.
These paths and bowers doubt nor but our joint hands
Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide
As we need walk, till younger hands ere long
Assist us: but if much converse perhaps
Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield:
For solitude sometimes is best society,
And short retirement urges sweet return. 250
But other doubt possesses me, lest harm
Befal thee sever'd from me; for thou know'st
What hath been warn'd us, what malicious foe
Envying our happiness, and of his own
Despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame
By sly assault; and somewhere nigh at hand
Watches, no doubt, with greedy hope to find
His wish and best advantage, us asunder,
Hopeless to circumvent us join'd, where each
To other speedy aid might lend at need; 260
Whether his first design be to withdraw
Our feälty from God, or to disturb
Conjugal love, than which perhaps no bliss
Enjoy'd by us excites his envy more ;
Os this, or worse, leave not the faithful side
That gave thee be'ing, still shades thee, and protects.
The wife, where danger or dishonor lurks,
Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,
Who guards her, or with her the worst endures.
To whom the virgin majesty of Eve, 270 As one who loves, and some unkindness meets, With sweet austere composure thus reply'd : [lord, Offspring of Heav'n and Earth, and all Earth's
That such an enemy we have, who seeks
Our ruin, both by thee inform’d I learn,
And from the parting angel over-heard,
As in a shady nook I stood behind,
Just then return'd at shut of evening flowers.
But that thou shouldse my firmness therefore doubt
To God or thee, because we have a foe
May tempt it, I expected not to hear.
His violence thou fear'st not, being such
As we, not capable of death or pain,
Can either not receive, or can repel.
His fraud is then thy fear, which plain infers
Thy equal fear that my firm faith and love
Can by his fraud be shaken or seduc'd; [breast,
Thoughts, which how found they harbour in thy
Adam, mis-thought of her to thee so dear?
To whom with healing words Adam reply'd: 290
Daughter of God and Man, immortal Eve,
For such thou art, from sin and blame entire:
Not diffident of thee do I dissuade
Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid
Th’attempt itself, intended by our foe.
For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses
The tempted with dishonor foul, suppos'd
Not incorruptible of faith, not proof
Against temptation: thou thyself with scorn
And anger wouldst resent the offer'd wrong,
300 Though ineffectual found : misdeem not then, If such affront I labor to avert From thee alone, which on us both at once
The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare,
Or daring, first on me th' assault shall light,
Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn;
Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce
Angels; not think superfluous others aid.
I from the influence of thy looks receive
Access in every virtue, in thy sight
More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were
Of ourward strength; while shame, thou looking on,
Shame to be overcome or over-reach'd
Would utmost-vigor raise, and rais'd unite.
Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel
When I am present, and thy trial chuse
With me, best witness of thy virtue try'd ?
So spake domestic Adam in his care
And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought
Less attributed to her faith sincere,
320 Thus her reply with accent sweet renew'd :
If this be our condition, thus to dwell In narrow circuit straiten'd by a foe, Subtle or violent, we not endued Single with like defence, wherever met, How are we happy, still in fear of harm ? But harm precedes not sin: only our foe Tempting affronts us with his foul esteem Of our integrity: his foul esteem Sticks no dishonor on our front, but turns 330 Foul on himself; then wherefore shunn'd or fear'd By us? who rather double honor gain From his surmise prov'd false, find peace within,
Favor from Heav'n, our witness from th' event.
And what is faith, love, virtue unassay'd
Alone, without exterior help sustain'd?
Let us not then suspect our happy state
Left so imperfect by the Maker wise,
As not secure to single or combin'd.
Frail is our happiness, if this be so, 340
And Eden were no Eden thus expos’d.
To whom thus Adam feryently reply'd:
O Woman, best are all things as the will
Of God ordain’d them; his creating hand
Nothing imperfect or deficient left
Of all that he created, much less man,
Or aught that might his happy state secure,
Secure from outward force; within himself
The danger lies, yet lies within his power:
Against his will he can receive no harm. 350
But God left free the will, for what obeys
Reason is free, and Reason he made right,
But bid her well beware, and still erect,
Lest by some fair appearing good surpris'd
She dictate false, and misinform the will
To do what God expressly hath forbid.
Not then mistrust, but tender love injoins,
That I should mind thee oft, and mind thou me.
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve,
Since reason not impossibly may meet
360 Some specious object by the foe suborn'd, And fall into deception unaware, Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warn'd.