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580

Ruddy and gold : I nearer drew to gaze;
When from the boughs a savoury odour blown,
Grateful to appetite, more pleas'd my sense
Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats
Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even,
Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play.
To satisfy the sharp desire I had
Of tasting those fair apples, I resolvid

585
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,
Pow'rful persuaders, quicken'd at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen.
About the mossy trunk I wound me soon,
For high from ground the branches would require 590
Thy utmost reach or Adam's: Round the tree
All other beasts that saw, with like desire
Longing and envying stood, but could not reach.
Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung
Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill 595
I spar'd not, for such pleasure till that hour
At feed or fountain never had I found.
Sated at length, ere long I might perceive
Strange alteration in me, to degree
of reason in my inward pow'rs, and speech 600
Wanted not long, though to this shape retain'd.
Thenceforth to speculations high or deep
I turn'd my thoughts, and with capacious mind
Consider'd all things visible in Heaven,
Or Earth, or Middle, all things fair and good :

605 But all that fair and good in thy divine Semblance, and in thy beauty's heav'nly ray

615

United I beheld; no fair to thine
Equivalent or second, which compellid
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come 610
And gaze, and worship thee of right declar'd
Sov'reign of creatures, universal Dame.

So talk'd the spirited sly Snake; and Eve
Yet more amaz'd unwary thus reply'd.
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
To us in such abundance lies our choice,

620 As leaves a greater store of fruit untouch'd, Still hanging incorruptible, till men Grow up to their provision, and more hands Help to disburden Nature of her birth.

To whom the wily Adder, blithe and glad.
Empress, the way is ready, and not long,
Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat,
Fast by a fountain, one small thicket past
Of blowing myrrh and balm; if thou accept
My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon. 630

Lead then, said Eve. He leading swiftly rollid
In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,
To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy
Brightens his crest; as when a wand'ring fire,
Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night
Condenses, and the cold environs round,
Kindled through agitation to a flame,

625

635

Which oft they say, some evil Spi'rit attends,
Hovering and blazing with delusive light,
Misleads th’amaz'd night-wand'rer from his way 640
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool,
There swallow'd up and lost, from succour far,
So glister'd the dire Snake, and into fraud
Led Eve our credulous mother, to the tree
Of prohibition, root of all our woe;

645 Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake.

SERPENT, we might have spar'd our coming hither, Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess, The credit of whose 'virtue rests with thee, Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects. 650 But of this tree we may not taste nor touch; God so commanded, and left that command Sole daughter of his voice; the rest, we live Law to ourselves, our reason is our law.

To whom the Tempter guilefully replied: 655 Indeed? Hath God then said that of the fruit Of all these garden trees ye shall not eat, Yet Lords declar'd of all in earth or air?

To whom thus Eve yet sinless. Of the fruit Of each tree in the garden we may eat,

660
But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst
The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat
Thereof, nor shall

ye
touch it, lest ye

die.
She scarce had said, though brief, when now more bold
The Tempter, but with show of zeal and love 665
To Man, and indignation at his wrong,
New part puts on, and as to passion mov'd,

680

Fluctuates disturb’d, yet comely and in act
Rais'd, as of some great matter to begin.
As when of old some orator renown'd
In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence
Flourish'd, since mute, to some great cause address'd
Stood in himself collected, while each part,
Motion, each act won audience ere the tongue,
Sometimes in height began, as no delay

675
Of preface brooking through his zeal of right:
So standing, moving, or to height up grown,
The Tempter all impassion'd thus began.

O SACRED, wise, and wisdom-giving Plant,
Mother of science, now I feel thy power
Within me clear, not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest agents, deem'd however wise.
Queen of this universe, do not believe
Those rigid threats of death; ye shall not die : 68;
How should ye? By the fruit? It gives you life
To knowledge; by the threat’ner? Look on me,
Me who have touch'd and tasted, yet both live,
And life more perfect have attain'd than fate

by vent'ring higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to Man, which to the Beast
Is open? Or will God incense his ire
For such a petty trespass, and not praise
Rather

your dauntless virtue, whom the pain
Of death denounc'd, whatever thing death be,
Deterr'd not from atchieving what might lead
To happier life, knowledge of good and evil;

Meant me,

693

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Of good, how just? Of evil, if what is evil
Be real, why not known, since easier shunn'd?
God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just; 700
Not just, not God; not fear'd then, nor obey'd :
Your fear itself of death removes the fear.
Why then was this forbid ? Why but to awe,
Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,
His worshippers? He knows that in the day 705
Ye eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear,
Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then
Open'd and clear'd, and ye shall be as Gods,
Knowing both good and evil as they know.
'That ye shall be as Gods, since I as Man, 710
Internal Man, is but proportion meet;
I of brute human, ye of human Gods.
So

ye shall die perhaps, by putting off
Human, to put on Gods; death to be wish'd,
Though threaten'd, which no worse than this can

bring.
And what are Gods that Man may not become
As they, participating God-like food ?
The Gods are first, and that advantage use
On our belief, that all from them proceeds;
I question it, for this fair earth I see,

720
Warm'd by the sun, producing every kind,
Them nothing : if they all things, who inclos'd.
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains
Wisdom without their leave? And wherein lies

725 Th' offence, that Man should thus attain to know? What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree

716

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