« PreviousContinue »
Of thy perfection, how shall I attain,
If any be, of tasting this fair fruit;
So saying, she embraced him, and for joy Tenderly wept; much won, that he his love 990 Had so ennobled, as of choice to incur Divine displeasure for her sake, or death. In recompense (for such compliance bad Such recompense best merits) from the bough She gave him of that fair enticing fruit
9951 With liberal hand : he scrupled not to eat, Against his better knowledge ; not deceived, But fondly overcome with female charm.' Earth trembled from her entrails, as again In pangs; and Nature gave a second groan; 1000
Sky lour'd; and, muttering thunder, some sad drops
Eve, now I see thou art exact of taste And elegant, of sapience no small part; Since to each meaning savour we apply, And palate call judicious; I the praise Yield thee, so well this day thou hast purvey'd. 1020 Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstain'd From this delightful fruit, nor known till now' True relish, tasting ; if such pleasure be In things to us forbidden, it might be wish'd For this one tree had been forbidden ten.'
1025 But come, so well refresh'd, now let us play, As meet is, after such delicious fare ; For never did thy beauty, since the day I saw thee first and wedded thee, adorn'd With all perfections, so inflame my sense 1030 With ardour to enjoy thee, fairer now Than ever; bounty of this virtuous tree!
So said he, and forbore not glance or toy Of amorous intent; well understood Of Eve, whose eye darted contagious fire. 1035 Her hand he seized ; and to a shady bank Thick overhead with verdant roof imbower'd, He led her nothing loath : flowers were the couch,
Pansies, and violets, and asphodel,
Oppress'd them, wearied with their amorous play.
1060 Shorn of his strength, They destitute and bare Of all their virtue: Silent, and in face Confounded, long they sat, as stricken mute : Till Adam, though not less than Eve abash'd, At length gave utterance to these words constrain’d:
O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear 1066 To that false worm, of whomsoever taught To counterfeit Man's voice ; true in our fall, False in our proinised rising ; since our eyes Open'd we find indeed, and find we know 1070 Both good and evil : good lost, and evil got ; Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know; Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void, Of innocence, of faith, of purity, Our wonted ornaments now soil'd and stain'd, 1075 And in our faces evident the signs
Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store ;
So counsel'd he, and both together went Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose The fig tree ; not that kind for fruit renown'd, 1100 But such as at this day, to Indians known, In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms Branching so broad and long, that in the ground The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow About the mother tree, a pillar'd shade
1105 High overarch'd, and echoing walks between : There oft the Indian herdsmen, shunning heat, Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds At loopholes cut through thickest shade : Those leaves They gather'd, broad as Amazonian targe; 1110 And, with what skill they had, together sew'd, To gird their waist; vain covering, if to hide Their guilt and dreaded shame! 0, how unlike To that first naked glory! Such of late
Columbus found the American, so girt
1115 With feather'd cincture ; naked else, and wild Among the trees on isles and woody shores. Thus fenced, and, as they thought, their shame in part. Cover'd, but not at rest or ease of mind, They sat them down to weep; nor only tears 1120 Rain'd at their eyes, but high winds worse within Began to rise, high passions, anger, hate, Mistrust, suspicion, discord ; and shook sore Their inward state of mind, calm region once And full of peace, now toss'd and turbulent: 1125 For Understanding ruled not, and the Will Heard not her lore; both in subjection now To sensual appetite, who from beneath Usurping over sov’reign Reason claim'd Superior sway: From thus distemper'd breast, 1130 Adam, estranged in look and alter'd style, Speech intermitted thus to Eve renew'd : · Would thou hadst hearken'd to my words, and staid With me, as I besought thee, when that strange Desire of wandering, this unhappy morn, 1135 I know not whence possess'd thee; we had then Remain'd still happy ; not as now, despoil'd Of all our good ; shamed, naked, miserable ! Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek 1140 Such proof, conclude, they then begin to fail. [Eve :
To whom, soon moved with touch of blame, thus What words have pass'd thy lips, Adam, severe ! Imputest thou that to my default, or will Of wandering as thou call'st it, which who knows 1145 But might as ill have happen'd thou being by, Or to thyself perhaps ? Hadst thou been there, Or here the attempt, thou couldst not have discern'd Fraud in the Serpent, speaking as he spake; No ground of enmity between us known, 1150 Why he should mean me ill, or seek to harm. Was I to have never parted from thy siļe ?