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This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower, Our pleasant task enjoin'd; but, till more hands Aid us, the work under our labour grows, Luxurious by restraint; what we by day Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, 210 One night or two with wanton growth derides, Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise, Or bear what to my mind first thoughts present: Let us divide our labours ; thou, where choice Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind 215 The woodbine found this arbour, or direct
With myrtle, find what to redress till noon:
For, while so near each other thus all day
Our task we choose, 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 begun
Early, and the hour of supper comes unearn'd? 225
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 employ'd,
How we might best fulfil the work which here 230
God hath assign'd us; nor of me shalt pass
Unpraised : 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 imposed
235 Labour, 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 denied, and are of love the food; Love, not the lowest end of human life.
He made us, and delight to reason join'd.
These paths and bowers doubt not but our joint hands
Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide 245
As we need walk, till younger hands ere long
Assist us: but, if much conversa perhaps
Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield :
For solitude sometimes is best society,
And short retirement urges sweet return.
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
Despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame 255
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 :
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;
Or this, or worse, leave not the faithful side 265
That gave thee being, still shades thee, and protects
The wife, where danger or dishonour lurks,
Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,
To whom the virgin majesty of Eve, 270 As one who loves, and some unkindness meets, With sweet austere composure thus replied :
Offspring of Heaven and Earth, and all Earth's Lord! That such an enemy we have, who seeks Our ruin, both by thee inform'd I learn,
275 And from the parting Angel overheard, As in a shady nook I stood behind, Just then return'd at shut of evening flowers. But, that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubt To God or thee, because we have a foe
280 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 foar; which plain infers 285
Thy equal fear, that my firm faith and love
Can by his fraud be shaken or seduced ;
Thoughts, which how found they harbour in thy breast,
Adam, misthought of her to thee so dear?
To whom with healing words Adam replied: 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
The attempt itself, intended by our foe.
295 For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses The tempted with dishonour foul ; supposed 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 labour to avert From thee alone, which on us both at once The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare ? Or daring, first on me the assault shall light, 305 Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn; · Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce Angels; nor 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 wero
Of outward strength ; while shame, thou looking in,
Shame to be overcome or overreachd,
Would utmost vigour raise, and raised unite.
Why shculdst not thou like sense within thee feel 315
When I am present, and thy trial choose
With me, best witness of thy virtue tried ?
So spake domestic Adam in his care
And matrimonial love ; but Eve, who thought
Less áttributed 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 dishonour on our front, but turns 330
Foul on himself; then wherefore shunn'd or fear'd
By us ? who rather double honour gain
From his surmise proved false ; find peace within,
Favour from Heaven, our witness, from the event.
And what is faith, love, virtue, unassay'd 335
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 combined.
Frail is our happiness; if this be so,
340 And Eden werè no Eden, thus exposed.
To whom thus Adam fervently replied : 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
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 surprised, She dictate false ; and misinform the will To do what God expressly hath forbid. Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins, .
That I should mind thée oft ; and mind thou me,
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve;
Since Reason not impossibly may meet
Some specious object by the foe suborn'd,
And fall into deception unaware,
Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warn’d.
Seek not temptation then, which to avoid
Were better, and most likely if from me
Thou sever not : trial will come unsought.
Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approve
First thy obedience ; the other who can know,
Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?
But, if thou think, trial unsought may find 370
Us both securer than thus warn'd thou seem'st, .
Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more ;
Go in thy native innocence, rely
On what thou hast of virtue; summon all !
For God towards thee hath done his part : do thine.
So spake the patriarch of mankind ; but Eve 375
Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied :
With thy permission then, and thus forewarn'd
Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words
Touch'd only ; that our trial, when least sought,
May find us both perhaps far less prepared, 380.
The willinger I go, nor much expect
A foe so proud will first the weaker seek ;
So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.
Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand
Soft she withdrew; and, like a Woodnymph light, 385
Oread or Dryad, or of Delia's train,
Betook her to the groves ; but Delia's self
In gait surpass’d, and goddesslike deport,
Though not as she with bow and quiver arm'd,
But with such gardening tools as Art yet rude, 390
Guiltless of fire, had form’d, or Angels brought.
To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorn’d,
Likest she seem'd, Pomona when she fled
Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime, .