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Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.

395 Her long with ardent look his eye pursued Delighted, but desiring more her stay. Oft he to her his charge of quick return Repeated; she to him as oft engaged To be return'd by noon aiaid the bower, And all things in best order to invite Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose. O much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve, . Of thy presumed return! event perverse ! Thou never from that hour in Paradise

405 Tound'st either sweet repast or sound repose; Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades, Waited with hellish rancour imminent To intercept thy way, or send thee back Despoil'd of innocence, of faith, of bliss ! 410 For now, and siņce first break of dawn, the Fiend, Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come; And on his quest, where likeliest he might find The only two of mankind, but in them The whole included race, his purposed prey.

415 In bower and field he sought, where any tuft Of grove or garden plot more pleasant lay, Their tendance, or plantation for delight; By fountain or by shady rivulet He sought them both, but wish'd his hap might find Eve separate ; he wish’d, but not with hope 421 Of what so seldom chanced; when to his wish, Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies, Veil'd in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood, Half spied, so thick the roses blushing round 425 About her glow'd, oft stooping to support Each flower of slender stalk, whose head, though gay Carnation, purple, azure, or speck'd with gold, Hung drooping unsustain'd; them she upstays 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 travérsed
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm ;
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,
Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers
Embroider'd on each bank, the hand of Eve :
Spot more delicious than those gardens feign'd
Or of revived Adonis, or renown'd
Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son ;
Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king
Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse.
Much he the place admired, the person more.
As one who long in populous city pent,
Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air, 445
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; 450
If chance, with nymphlike 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
Angelic, but more soft and feminine,
Her graceful innocence, her every air
Of gesture, or least action, overawed .
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereaved
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:
That space 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:

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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

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Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts 470 Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites.

Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what swoet Compulsion thus transported, to forget What hither brought us! hate, not love ; nor hopo Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste

475 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 Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould ; Foe not informidable ! exempt from wound, I not; so much hath Hell debased, and pain Enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven. She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods ! Not terrible, though terror be in love And beauty, not approach'd by stronger hate, 490 Hate stronger, under show of love well feign'd; The way which to her ruin now I tend.

So spake the enemy of mankind, enclosed In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve Address'd his way: not with indented wave, 495 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 changed, Hermione and Cadmus, or the god In Epidaurus ; nor to which transform'd

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Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen;
He with Olympias ; this with her who bore
Scipio, the height of Rome. With tract oblique
At first, as one who sought access, but fear'd 510
To interrupt, sidelong he works his way,
As when a ship, by skilful steersmen wrought
Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind
Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail :
So yaried he, and of his tortuous train

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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 used
To such disport before her through the field,
From every beast; more duteous at her call 520
Than at Circean call the herd disguised.
He, bolder now, uncall'd before her stood,
But as in gaze admiring : oft he bow'd
His turret crest, and sleek enamel neck,
Fawning; and lick'd the ground whereon she trod. 525
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
Organic, or impulse of vocal air,
His fraudulent temptation thus began: . : 530

Wonder not, sov’reign Mistress, if perhaps Thou canst, who art sole wonder ! much less arm Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain, Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze Insatiate ; I thus single ; nor have fear'd 535 Thy awful brow, more awful thus retired. 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, 540 Where universally admired; 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 seen A Goddess among Gods, adored and served 546 By Angels numberless, thy daily train

So glozed the Tempter, and his proem tuned: Into the heart of Eve his words made way, Though at the voice much marveling; at length 550

What may this mean? language of man pronounced

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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 camest 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. 1

To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied:

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Easy to me it is to tell thee all

[obey'd : What thou command'st; and right thou shouldst be I was at first as other beasts that graze : 570 The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, As was my food ; nor aught but food discern'd Or sex, and apprehended nothing high : Till, on a day roving the field, I chanced A goodly tree far distant to behold

575 Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mix’d, Ruddy and gold : I nearer drew to gaze; When from the boughs a savoury odour blown, Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats 580 Of owe or goat dropping with milk at even, Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play.

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