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BOOK THE NINTH.
THE ARGUMENT. Satan having compassed the Earth, with meditated guile returns as a mist by
night into Paradise, enters into the serpent sleeping. Adam and Eve in the morning go forth to their labours, which Eve proposes to divide in several places, each labouring apart : Adam consents not, alledging the danger, lest that enemy, of whom they are forewarned, should attempt her found alone: Eve, loath to be thought not circumspect or firm enough, urges hier going apart, the rather desirous to make trial of her 'strength; Adam at last yields: The Serpent finds her alone; his subtle approach, first gazing, then speaking, with much flattery extolling Eve above all other creatures. Eve, wondering to hear the Serpent speak, asks how he attained to human speech and such under. standing not till now; the Serpent answers, that by tasting of a certain tree in the garden he attained both to speech and reason, till then void of both: Eve requires him to bring her to that tree, and finds it to be the tree of knowIedge forbidden: The Serpent now grown bolder, with many wiles and argu. ments induces her at length to eat; she, pleased with the taste, deliberates a while whether to impart thereof to Adam or not, at last brings him of the fruit, relates what persuaded her to eat thereof: Adam at first amazed, but perceiving her lost, resolves through vehemence of love to perish with her ; and extenuating the trespass eats also of the fruit : The effects thereof in them both; they seek to cover their nakedness; then fall to variance and accusation of one another.
No more of talk where God or Angel guest
Anger and just rebuke, and judgment given,
Not that which justly gives heroic name
The sun was sunk, and after him the star
Twilight upon the earth, short arbiter
- 65 From pole to pole, travérsing each colúre; On th' eighth return'd, and on the coast averse From entrance or Cherubic watch, by stealth Found unsuspected way. There was a place,
Now not, though sin, not time, first wrought the
change, Where Tigris at the foot of Paradise Into a gulf shot under ground, till part Rose up a fountain by the tree of life; In with the river sunk, and with it rose Satan involv'd in rising mist, then sought Where to lie hid; sea he had search'd and land From Eden over Pontus, and the pool Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob; Downward as far antarctic; and in length West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd At Darien, thence to the land where flows Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roam'd With narrow search, and with inspection deep Consider'd every creature, which of all Most opportune might serve his wiles, and found 8; The serpent subtlest beast of all the field. Him after long debate, irresolute Of thoughts revolv'd, his final sentence chose Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom To enter, and his dark suggestions hide From sharpest sight: for in the wily snake, Whatever sleights none would suspicious-mark, As from his wit and native subtlety Proceeding, which in other beasts observid Doubt might beget of diabolic power Active within beyond the sense of brute. Thus he resolv'd, but first from inward grief His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd.
O Earth, how like to Heav'n, if not preferr'd More justly, seat worthier of Gods, as built 100 With second thoughts, reforming what was old! For what God after better worse would build ? Terrestrial Heav'n, danc'd round by other Heavens That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps, Light above light, for thee alone, as seems In thee concentring all their precious beams Of sacred influence ! As God in Heaven Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou Centring receiv'st from all those orbs; in thee, Not in themselves, all their known virtue' appears Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth Of creatures animate with gradual life Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in Man. With what delight could I have walk'd thee round, If I could joy in ought, sweet interchange 115 Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains, Now land, now sca, and shores with forests crown'd, Rocks, dens, and caves! but I in none of these Find place or refuge; and the more I see Pleasures about me, so much more I feel Torment within me', as from the hateful siege. Of contraries; all good to me becomes Bane, and in Heav'n much worse would be my state. But neither here seek I, no nor in Heav'n To dwell, unless by mast'ring Heav'n's supreme ; 125 Nor hope to be myself less miserable By what I seek, but others to make such As I, though thereby worse to me redound :