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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
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
Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen;
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
The first, at least, of these I thought denied
To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied:
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.