Page images
PDF

Of thy perfection, how shall I attain,
Adam, from whose dear side I boast me sprung,
And gladly of our union hear thee speak, 965
One heart, one soul in both ; whereof good proof
This day affords, declaring thee resolved,
Rather than death, or aught than death more dread,
Shall separate us, link'd in love so dear,

If any be, of tasting this fair fruit;
Whose virtue (for of good still good proceeds,
Direct, or by occasion) hath presented
This happy trial of thy love, which else
So eminently never had been known?

975
Were it I thought death menaced would ensue
This my attempt, I would sustain alone
The worst, and not persuaded thee, rather die
Deserted, than oblige thee with a fact
Pernicious to thy peace; chiefly assured 980
Remarkably so late of thy so true,
So faithful, love unequal'd: but I feel
Far otherwise the event ; not death, but life
Augmented, open'd eyes, new hopes, new joys,
Taste so divine that what of sweet before 985
Hath touch'd my sense flat seems to this, and harsh.
On my experience, Adam, freely taste,
And fear of death deliver to the winds.

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
Wept at completing of the mortal sin
Original: while Adam took no thought,
Eating his fill; nor Eve to iterate
Her former trespass fear'd, the more to sooth 1005
Him with her loved society ; that now,
As with new wine intoxicated both,
They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel
Divinity within them breeding wings,
Wherewith to scorn the earth : But that false fruit
Far other operation first display'd,

1011
Carnal desire inflaming; he on Eve
Began to cast lascivious eyes; she him
As wantonly repaid ; in lust they burn:
Till Adam thus 'gan Eve to dalliance move: 1015

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,
And hyacinth ; Earth's freshest softest lap.
There they their fill of love and love's disport
Took largely, of their mutual guilt the seal,

1040

Oppress'd them, wearied with their amorous play.
Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,

1045
That with exhilarating vapour bland
About their spirits had play'd, and inmost powers
Made err, was now exhaled ; and grosser sleep,
Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams
Incumber'd, now bad left them : up they rose 1050
As from unrest; and, each the other viewing,
Soon found their eyes how open'd, and their minds
How darken'd ; innocence, that as a veil
Had shadow'd them from knowing ill, was gone :
Just confidence, and native righteousness,
And honour, from about them, naked left
To guilty Shame; he cover'd, but his robe
Uncover'd more. So rose the Danite strong,
Herculean Samson, from the harlot lap
Of Philistéan Dalilah, and waked'

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 ;
Even shame, the last of evils ; of the first
Be sure then.--How shall I behold the face
Henceforth of God or Angel, erst with joy 1080
And rapture so oft beheld ? Those heavenly shapes
Will dazzle now this earthly with their blaze
Insufferably bright. O! might I here
In solitude live savage ; in some glade
Obscured, where highest woods, impenetrable 1085
To star or sunlight, spread their umbrage broad
And brown as evening : Cover me, ye Pines !
Ye Cedars, with innumerable boughs
Hide me, where I may never see them more!
But let us now, as in bad plight, devise

1090
What best may for the present serve to hide
The parts of each from other, that seem most
To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen;
Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves together sew'd,
And girded on our loins, may cover round 1095
Those middle parts ; that this n'ew comer, Shame, .
There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.

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 ?

« PreviousContinue »