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Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.
Nearer he drew, and many a walk travérsed
440 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, 455 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
460 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:
465 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 470 Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites.
Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what swoet Campulsion 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,
which to her ruin now I tend.
505 In Epidaurus ; nor to which transform'd
Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen ;
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 Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake :
What may this mean? language of man pronounced 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, 555 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 ; 560 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. 565
To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied: Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve! 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 bat 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.