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Mine own that bide upon me, all from me
Shall with a fierce reflux on me rebound;
On me, as on their natural centre light,
Heavy, though in their place. O fleeting joys
Of Paradise, dear bought with lasting woes!
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me man? did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me? or here place
In this delicious garden? As my will
Concurred not to my being, it were hut right
And equal to reduce me to my dust,
Desirous to resign and render back
All I received, unable to perform
Thy terms too hard, by which I was to hold
The good I sought not. To the loss of that,
Sufficient penalty! why hast thou added
The sense of endless woes? Inexplicable
Thy justice seems; yet, to say truth, too late
I thus contest; then should have been refused
Those terms, whatever, when they were proposed:
Thou didst accept them. Wilt thou enjoy the good,
Then cavil the conditions? and though God
Made thee without thy leave, what if thy son
Prove disobedient, and reproved, retort,
'Wherefore didst thou beget thee? I sought it not:'
Wouldst thou admit, for his contempt of thee,
That proud excuse? Yet him, not thy election,
But natural necessity, begot.
God made thee of choice his own, and of his own
To serve him: thy reward was of his grace;
Thy punishment then, justly, is at his will.
Be it so, for I submit: his doom is fair;
That dust I am, and shall to dust return.
O welcome hour whenever! Why delays
His hand to execute what his decree
Fixed on this day? Why do I over-live?
Why am I mocked with death, and lengthened out
To deathless pain? How gladly would I meet
Mortality my sentence, and be earth
Insensible! how glad would lay me down
As in my mother's lap! there I should rest
And sleep secure: his dreadful voice no more
Would thunder in my ears; no fear of worse
To me and to my offspring would torment me
With cruel expectation. Yet one doubt
Pursues me still, lest all I cannot die;1
Lest that pure breath of life, the spirit of man
Which God inspired, cannot together perish
With this corporeal clod; then in the grave,
Or in some other dismal place, who knows
But I shall die a living death? O thought
Horrid, if true! Yet why? It was but breath
Of life that sinned: what dies but what had life
And sin? The body properly had neither.
All of me then shall die: let this appease
The doubt, since human reach no further knows.
For though the Lord of all be infinite,
Is his wrath also? Be it; man is not so,
But mortal doomed. How can he exercise
Wrath without end on man whom death must end?
Can he make deathless death? That were to muke
Strange contradiction, which to God himself
Impossible is held, as argument
Of weakness, not of power. Will he draw out,
For anger's sake, finite to infinite
In punished man, to satisfy his rigour
Satisfied never? That were to extend
His sentence beyond dust and nature's law,
By which all causes else according still
To the reception of their matter act,
Not to the extent of their own sphere. But say
That death be not one stroke, as I supposed,
Bereaving sense, but endless misery
From this day onward, which I feel begun
Both in me, and without me, and so.last
To perpetuity: ay me! that fear
Comes thundering back with dreadful revolution
On my defenceless head; both Death and I
Ams found eternal, and incorporate both:
Nor I on my part single: in me all
Posterity stands cursed. Fair patrimony
That I must leave ye, sons. Oh! were I able
To waste it all myself, and leave ye none!
So disinherited, how would ye bless
Me now your curse! Ah! why should all mankind
For one man's fault thus guiltless be condemned,
'From Hor. Od. iii. xxx., 6, " non email moriar."
If guiltless? But from me what can proceed.
But all corrupt, both mind and will depraved,
Not to do only, but to will the same
Wifti me? How can they then acquitted stand
In sight of God? Him, after all disputes,
Forced I absolve: all my evasions vain;
And reasonings, though through mazes, lead me still
But to my own conviction: first and last
On me, me only, as the source and spring
Of all corruption, all the blame lights due;
So might the wrath! Fond wish! couldst thou support
That burden heavier than the earth to bear,
Than all the world much heavier, though divided
With that bad woman? Thus what thou desix'st,
And what thou fear'st, alike destroys all hope
Of refuge, and concludes thee miserable
Beyond all past example and future,
To Satan only like both crime and doom.
O conscience! into what abyss of fears
And horrors hast thou driven me, out of which
I find no way, from deep to deeper plunged!"
Through the still night; not now, as ere man fell,
Wholesome, and cool, and mild; but with black air
Accompanied, with damps and dreadful gloom,
Which to his evil conscience represented
All things with double terror: on the ground
Outstretched he lay, on the cold ground, and oft
Cursed his creation, death as oft accused
Of tardy execution, since denounced
The day of his offence. "Why comes not death,"
Said he, "with one thrice acceptable stroke
To end me? Shall truth fail to keep her word?
Justice divine not hasten to be just?
But death comes not at call; justice divine
Mends not her slowest pace for prayers or cries.
O woods! O fountains, hillocks, dales, and bowers 1
With other echo1 late I taught your shades
To answer, and resound far other song."
Whom thus afflicted, when sad Eve beheld,
"Out of my sight, thou serpent! that name hest Befits thee with him leagued, thyself as false And hateful; nothing wants but that thy shape, Like his, and colour serpentine, may show Thy inward fraud, to warn all creatures from thee Henceforth; lest that too heavenly form pretended To hellish falsehood snare them. But for thee I had persisted happy, had not thy pride And wandering vanity, when least was safe, Rejected my forewarning, and disdained Not to be trusted, longing to be seen, Though by the devil himself, him overweening To over-reach, but with the serpent meeting Fooled and beguiled; by him thou, I by thee; To trust thee from my side, imagined wise, Constant, mature, proof against all assaults; And understood5 not all was but a show, Rather than solid virtue; all but a rib, Crooked by nature; bent, as now appears, More to the part sinister, from me drawn; Well if thrown out, as supernumerary To my just number found. Oh! why did God, Creator wise, that peopled highest Heaven With spirits masculine, create at last This novelty on earth, this fair defect Of nature, and not fill the world at once With men, as angels, without feminine, Or find some other way to generate Mankind? This mischief had not then befallen, And more that shall befall, innumerable Disturbances on earth through female snares, And strait conjunction with this sex: for either He never shall find out fit mate, but such As some misfortune brings him, or mistake; Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain Through her perverseness, but shall see her gained By a far worse, or if she love, withheld' By parents; or his happiest choice too late Shall meet, already linked and wedlock-bound To a fell adversary, his hate or shame; Which infinite calamity shall cause To human life. and household peace confound."
He added not, and from her turned; but Eve, 1 i.e. held or placed before. 2 i.e. I understood.
Not so repulsed, with tears that ceased not flowing,
"Forsake me not thus, Adam! witness Heaven
She ended weeping, and her lowly plight, Immoveable till peace obtained from fault Acknowledged and deplored, in Adam wrought Commiseration; soon his heart relented Towards her, his life so late, and sole delight, Now at his feet submissive in distress, Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking, His counsel whom she had displeased, his aid; As one disarmed, his anger all he lost, And thus with peaceful words upraised her soon:
"Unwary, and too desirous, as before, So now of what thou know'st not, who desir'st The punishment all on thyself; alas! Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain His full wrath, whose thou feel'st as yet least part, And my displeasure bear'st so ill. If prayers Could alter high decrees, I to that place