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Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while
Herself, though fairest unsupported flower,
From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.
Nearer he drew, and many a walk travers’d
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm ;
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,
Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers
Imborder'd on each bank, the hand of Eve :
Spot more delicious than those gardens feign'd
Or of reviv'd Adonis, or renown'd
Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son ;
Or that, not mystick, where the sapient king
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.
Much he the place admir'd, the person more.
As one who long in populous city pent,
Where houses thick and sewers annoy
Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoin'd, from each thing met conceives delight;
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound;
If chance, with nymph-like step, fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seem’d, for her now pleases more;
She most, and in her look sums all delight:
Such pleasure took the Serpent to behold
This flowery plat, the sweet recess of Eve
Thus early, thus alone : Her Heavenly form
Angelick, but more soft, and feminine,
Her graceful innocence, her every air
Of gesture, or least action, overaw'd
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereav'd
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought :
the Evil-one abstracted stood
From his own evil, and for the time remain'd
Stupidly good; of enmity disarm’d,
Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge :
But the hot Hell that always in him burns,
Though in mid Heaven, soon ended his delight,
And tortures him now more, the more he sees
Of pleasure, not for him ordain'd : then soon
Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts
Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites.
Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what sweet
Compulsion thus transported, to forget
What hither brought us ! hate, not love ; nor hope
Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste
Of pleasure ; but all pleasure to destroy,
Save what is in destroying ; other joy
: To me is lost. Then, let me not let pass
Occasion which now smiles; behold alone
The woman, opportune to all attempts,
Her husband, for I view far round, not nigh,
Whose higher intellectual more I shun,
And strength, of courage haughty, and of limb
Heroick built, though of terrestrial mould ;
Foe not informidable ! exempt from wound,
I not; so much hath Hell debas'd, and pain
Enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven.
She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods!
Not terrible, though terrour be in love
And beauty, not approach'd by stronger hate,
Hate stronger, under show of love well feign’d;
which to her ruin now I tend.
So spake the enemy of mankind, enclos'd
In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve
Address’d his way: not with indented wave,
Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear,
Circular base of rising folds, that tower'd
Fold above fold, a surging maze! his head
Crested aloft, and carbuncle his eyes ;
With burnish'd neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass
Floated redundant : pleasing was his shape
And lovely; never since of serpent-kind
Lovelier, not those that in Illyria chang'd
Hermione and Cadmus, or the God
In Epidaurus : nor to which transform’d
Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline was seen:
He with Olympias; this with her who bore
Scipio, the highth of Rome. With tract oblique
At first, as one who sought access, but fear'd
To interrupt, side-long he works his way.
As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought
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 rusling leaves, but minded not, as us'd
To such disport before her through the field,
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 enameli'd neck,
Fawning; and lick'd the ground whereon she trod.
His 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
Organick, or impulse of vocal air,
His fraudulent temptation thus began.
Wonder not, sovran Mistress, if perhaps
Thou canst, who art sole wonder ! much less arna
Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain,
Displeas'd that I approach thee thus, and gaze
Insatiate; I thus single; nor have fear'd 1C Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir'd.
Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair,
Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine
By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore
With ravishment beheld! there best beheld,
Where universally admir'd; but here
In this enclosure wild, these beasts among,
Beholders rude, and shallow to discern
Half what in thee is fair, one man except,
Who sees thee? (and what is one ?) who should be
A Goddess among Gods, ador'd and serv'd
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,
, 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 denied To beasts ; whom God, on their creation day, Created mute to all articulate sound : The latter I demur ; for in their looks Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears. Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field I knew, but not with human voice endued; Redouble then this miracle, and say, How cam'st 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 replied. Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve ! Easy to me it is to tell thee all