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His malice, and with rapine sweet bereav'd
But the hot Hell that always in him burns,
"Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what
Compulsion thus transported, to forget
What hither brought us! hate, not love; nor hope
Hate stronger, under show of love well feign'd; The way which to her ruin now I tend."
So spake the enemy of mankind, enclos'd In serpent, inmate bad! and toward Eve Address'd his way: not with indented wave, 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 chang'd Hermione and Cadmus, or the god In Epidaurus; nor to which transform'd Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline was seen; He with Olympias; this with her who bore Scipio, the height of Rome. With tract oblique At first, as one who sought access, but fear'd To interrupt, side long he works his way. As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail : So varied he, and of his tortuous train Curl'd many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve, To lure her eye; she, busied, heard the sound Of rustling leaves, but minded not, as us'd To such disport before her through the field, From every beast; more duteous at her call, Than at Circean call the herd disguis'd. He, bolder now, uncall'd before her stood,
But as in gaze admiring: oft he bow'd
His fraudulent temptation thus began.
"Wonder not, sovran mistress, if perhaps Thou canst who art sole wonder! much less arm Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain, Displeas'd that I approach thee thus, and gaze Insatiate; I thus single; nor have fear'd Thy awful brow, more awful thus retir'd. 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, Where universally admir'd; 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 A goddess among gods, ador'd and serv'd By angels numberless, thy daily train."
So gloz'd the tempter, and his proem tun'd: Into the heart of Eve his words made way, Though at the voice much marvelling; at length, Not unamaz'd, she thus in answer spake. [nounc'd
"What may this mean? language of man proBy 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,
The latter I demur; for in their looks
To whom the guileful tempter thus replied.
The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low,
Till, on a day roving the field, I chanc'd
Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv'd
Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen.
For, high from ground, the branches would require
Of reason in my inward powers; and speech
I turn'd my thoughts, and with capacious mind
So talk'd the spirited sly snake; and Eve. Yet more amaz'd, unwary thus replied.
"Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt The virtue of that fruit, in thee first prov'd: But say, where grows the tree? from hence how far? For many are the trees of God that grow
In Paradise, and various, yet unknown