Page images

Alone as they. About them frisking play'd
All beasts of ih' earth, since wild, and of all chase,
In wood or wilderness, forest or den;
Sporting the lion ramp'd, and in liis paw
Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,
Gamboll'd before them; the unwieldy elephant,
To make them mirth, us'd all his might, and wreath'd
His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,
Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine
His braided train, and of his fatal guile
Gave proof unbeeded; others on the grass
Couch’d, and, now fill'd with pasiure, gazing sat,
Or bedward ruminating; for the sun
Declin'd was hasting now with prone career
"To th' ocean isles, and in th' ascending scale
Of heaven the stars that usher evening rose :
When Satan, still in gaze as first he stood,
Scarce thus at length fail'd speech recover'd said:

“O hell! what do mine eyes with grief behold ?
Into our room of bliss thus high advanced
Creatures of other mould; earth-born perhaps,
Not spirits; yet to heavenly spirits bright
Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue
With wonder, and could love, so lively shines
In them divine resemblance, and such grace
The hand that form’d them on their shape hath pour'd.
Ah, gentle pair! ye little think how nigh
Your change approaches ! when all these delights
Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe ;
More woe, the more your taste is now of joy.
Happy! but for so bappy ill securd
Long to continue; and this high seat your heaven,
Ill-fenc'd for heaven, to keep out such a foe
As now is enter'd : yet no purpos'd foe
To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn,
Though I unpitied. League with you I seek,
And mutual amity, so strait, so close,
That I with you must dwell, or you with me
Henceforth. My dwelling haply may not please,
Like this fair Paradise, your sense ; yet such
Accept your Maker's work; lle gave it me,

Which I as freely give. Hell shall unfold,
To entertain you two, her widest gates,
And send forth all her kings: there will be room,
(Not like these narrow limits.) to receive
Your numerous offspring. If no better place,
Thank him who puts me loath to this revenge
On you, who wrong'd me not, for hiin who wrong'd.
And should I at your harmless innocence
Melt, (as I do,) yet public reason just,
Honour and empire with revenge enlarg'u,
By conqu’ring this new world, compels me now
To do, what else, though damn'd, I should abhor."

So spake the fiend, and with necessity,
(The tyrant's plea,) excus'd his devilish deeds.
Then from his lofty stand on that high tree,
Down he alights among the sportful berd
Of those four-footed kinds ; himself now one,
Now other, as their shape serv'd best his end
Nearer to view his prey, and unespied
To mark what of their state he more might learn
By word or action mark'd. About them round
A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;
Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied,
In some purlieu, two gentle fawns at play,
Stra; couches close, then rising changes oft
His couchant watch, as one who chose his ground,
Whence rushing he might surest seize them both,
Grip'd in each paw: when Adam, first of men,
To first of women, Eve, thus moving speech,
Turn'd'bim, all ear, to hear new utterance How:

“ Sole partner, and sole part of all these joys!
Dearer thyself than all: needs must the power
That made us, and for us this ample world,
Be infinitely good, and of his good
As liberal, and free as infinite;
That rais'd us from the dust, and plac’d'us here

all this happiness, who at bis band
Hlave noihing merited, nor can perform
Oaght whereof he hath need : be who requires
From us no other service than to keep
This one, this easy charge, · Of all the trees

In Paradise that bear delicious fruit
So various, not to taste that only tree
Of knowledge, planted by the tree of life.'
So near grows death to life! whale'er death is ;
Some dreadful thing no doubt: for well thou know'st
God bath pronounc'd it death to taste that tree,
The only sign of our obedience left
Among so many signs of power and rule,
Conferr'd upon us; and dominion given
Over all other creatures that possess
Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think hard
One easy prohibition, who enjoy
Free leave so large to all things else, and choice
Unlimited of manifold delights :
But let us ever praise him, and extol
Ilis bounty, following our delightful task,
To prune these growing plants and tend these flowers,
Which were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.

To whom thus Eve replied : “O thou for whom,
And from whom, I was form'd; flesh of thy flesh ;
And without whom am to no end; my guide
And head! what thou hast said is just and right.
For we to him indeed all praises owe,
And daily thanks; I chiefly, who enjoy
So far the happier lot, enjoying thee
Pre-eminent by so much odds; while thou
Like copsort to thyself canst no wbere find.
That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awak'd, and found myself repos'd
Under a sbade on flowers ; much wond'ring where
And what I was, whence thither brought and how.
Not distant far from thence a murm’ring sound
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmovid,
Pure as th'esparise of beaven : I thither went,

Pith unexperienc'd thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, tbat to me seem'd another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the wat’ry gleam appeard,

Bending to look on me: I started back ;
It started back: but pleas'd I soon return'd;
Pleas'd it return'd as soon ; with answering looks
Of sympathy' and love. There I had fix'da
Mine eyes till now, and pin’d with vain desire,
Plad not a voice thus warn'd me: "What thou seest,
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself ;
With thee it came and goes : but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming, and thy soft embraces; be
Whose image thou art : him thou shalt enjoy,
Inseparably thine, to bim shalt bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be callid
Mother of human race.' What could I do
But follow straight, invisibly thus led ?
Till I espied thee, fair indeed, and tall
Under a platane ; yet, methought, less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Than that smooth wat’ry image : back I turn'd;
Thou following cried'st aloud, « Return, fair Eve,
Whom fiest thou? Whoin thou fliest, of him thou art,
His flesh, his bone ; to give thee being I lent
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,
Substantial life, to have thee by my side
Henceforth an individual solace dear;
Part of my soul, I seek thee; and thee claim,
My other half.'-- With that, thy gentle band
Seiz'd mine; I yielded ; and from that time see
How beauty is excell'd by manly grace,
And wisdom which alone is truly fair."

So spake our general mother; and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreprov'd,
And meek surrender, half embracing lean'd
On our first father: half her swelling breast
Naked met bis, under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses bid. He in delight
Both of her beauty and submissive charms,
Smil'd with superior love; as Jupiter
On Juno smiles, when be impregns the clouds,
That slied May flowers; and press'd ber matron lip

[ocr errors]

With kisses pure : aside the Devil turn'd
For envy, yet with jealous leer malign
Eyed them askance; and to himself ihus plain'ill:

Sight hateful, sight tormenting! Thus these two
Jinparadis'd in one another's arms,
(The happier Eden !) shall enjoy their fill
Or bliss on bliss ; while I to hell am thrust,
Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,
Among our other torments not the least,
Still unfulfill'd with pain of longing, pines.
Yet let me not forget what I have gain'd
From their own mouths: all is not theirs it seems;
One fatal tree there stands, of knowleilge callid,
Forbidden them to taste. Knowledge forbidden ?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?
Can it be death? And do they only stand
By ignorance? Is that their bappy state,
The proof of their obedience and their faith?
O fair fuundation laid whereon to build
Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with design
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt
Equal with gods. Aspiring to be such,
They taste and die; what likelier can ensue?
But first with narrow search I must walk round
This garden, and no corner leave unspied;
A chance but chance may lead where I may neet
Some wand'ring spirit of heaven, by fountain side
Or in thick skade retir'd, from him to draw
What further would be learn'd.

Live while ye may, Yet happy pair! Enjoy, till I return, Short pleasures; for long woes are to succeed !"

So saying his proud step he scornful turn'd, But with sly circumspection, and began, Through wood, ébrough waste, o'er hill, o'er dale,

his roam.

Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where beaven
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Slowly descended ; and with right aspect

« PreviousContinue »