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From us no other service than to keep
This one, this easy charge, of all the trees
In Paradise that bear delicious fruit
So various, not to taste that only tree
Of knowledge, planted by the tree of life;'
So near grows death to life, whate'er death is,
Some dreadful thing no doubt; for well thou know'st
God hath pronounc'd it death to taste that tree,
The only sign of our obedience left,
Among so many signs of pow'r and rule
Conferr'd upon us, and dominion given
Over all other creatures that possess
Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think bard
One easy prohibition, who enjoy
Free leave so large to all things else, and choice
Unlimited of manifold delights:
But let us ever praise him, and extol
His bounty, following our delightful task,
To prune these growing plants, and tend these flowers,
Which, were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet."
To whom thus Eve reply'd. "O thou for whom 440
And from whom I was form'd, flesh of thy flesh,
And without whom am to no end, my guide
And head! what thou hast said is just and right.
For we to him indeed all praises owe,
And daily thanks; I chiefly, who enjoy
So far the bappier lot, enjoying thee
Pre-eminent by so much odds, while thou
Like consort to thyself canst nowhere find.
That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awak'd, and found myself repos'd
Under a shade on flow'rs, much wond'ring where
And what I was, whence thither brought, and how.
Not distant far from thence a murm'ring sound
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmov'd
Pure as th' expanse of Heav'n; I thither went
With unexperienc'd thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to me seem'd another sky
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the wat'ry gleam appear'd,
Bending to look on me: I started back,
It started back; but pleas'd I soon return'd,
Pleas'd it return'd as soon with answ'ring looks
Of sympathy and love: there I had fix'd
Mine eyes till now, and pin'd with vain desire,
Had not a voice thus warn'd me. "What thou seest,
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;
With thee it came and goes: but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming, and thy soft embraces, he
Whose image thou art; him thou shalt enjoy,
Inseparably thine, to him shalt bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be call'd
Mother of human race.' What could I do,
But follow straight, invisibly thus led?
Till I espy'd thee, fair indeed and tall,
Under a platane; yet methought less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Than that smooth wat'ry image: back I turn'd; 480
Thou following cry'dst aloud, Return, fair Eve;
Whom fly'st thou ? whom thou fly'st, of him thou art,
His flesh, his bone; to give thee be'ing I lent
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,
Substantial life, to have thee by my side
Henceforth an individual solace dear;
Part of my soul I seek thee, and thee claim
My other half.' With that thy gentle hand
Seiz'd mine; I yielded, and from that time see
How beauty is excell'd by manly grace,
And wisdom, which alone is truly fair."
So spake our general mother, and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction, unreprov'd,
And meek surrender, half-embracing lean'd
On our first father; half her swelling breast
Naked met his, under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses hid he, in delight
Both of her beauty and submissive charms,
Smil'd with superior love, as Jupiter
On Juno smiles, when he impregns the clouds
That shed May flow'rs; and press'd her matron lip
With kisses pure: aside the Devil turn'd
For envy, yet with jealous leer malign
Ey'd them askance, and to himself thus plain'd.
"Sight hateful, sight tormenting! thus these two,
Imparadis'd in one another's arms,
The happier Eden, shall enjoy their fill
Of bliss on bliss; while I to Hell am thrust,
Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,
Among our other torments not the least,
Still unfulfill'd, with pain of longing pines.
Yet let me not forget what I have gain'd
From their own mouths: ali is not theirs, it seems;
One fatal tree there stands, of knowledge call'd,
Forbidden them to taste: knowledge forbidden? 515
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? can it be sin to know?
Can it be death? and do they only stand
By ignorance? is that their happy state,
The proof of their obedience and their faith?
O fair foundation laid whereon to build
Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds
With more desire to know, and to reject
Envious commands, invented with design
To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt 525
Equal with Gods: aspiring to be such,
They taste and die; what likelier can ensue?
But first with narrow search I must walk round
This garden, and no corner leave unspy'd;
A chance but chance may lead where I may meet 530-
Some wand'ring spirit of Heav'n by fountain side,
Or in thick shade retir'd, from him to draw
What further would be learn'd. Live while ye may,
Yet happy pair; enjoy, till I return,
Short pleasures, for long woes are to succeed."
So saying, his proud step he scornful turn'd,
But with sly circumspection, and began,
Through wood, through waste, o'er hill, o'er dale, his
Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where Heaven
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Slowly descended. and with right aspéct
Against the eastern gate of Paradise
Level'd his evening rays: it was a rock
Of alabaster, pil'd up to the clouds,
Conspicuous far, winding with one ascent
Accessible from earth, one entrance high;
The rest was craggy cliff, that overhung
Still as it rose, impossible to climb.
Betwixt these rocky pillars Gabriel sat,
Chief of th' angelic guards, awaiting night:
About him exercis'd heroic games
Th' unarmed youth of Heav'n, but nigh at hand
Celestial armoury, shields, helms, and spears,
Hung high with diamond flaming, and with gold.
Thither came Uriel, gliding through the even
On a sun-beam, swift as a shooting star
In autumn thwarts the night, when vapours fir'd
Impress the air, and shows the mariner
From what point of his compass to beware
Impetuous winds: he thus began in haste.
"Gabriel, to thee thy course by lot hath given Charge and strict watch, that to this happy place No evil thing approach or enter in.
This day at height of noon came to my sphere
A spirit, zealous, as he seem'd, to know
More of the Almighty's works, and chiefly man,
God's latest image: I describ'd his way
Bent all on speed, and mark'd his airy gait;
But in the mount that lies from Eden north,
Where he first lighted. soon discern'd his looks
Alien from Heav'n, with passions foul obscur'd:
Mine eye pursu'd him still, but under shade
Lost sight of him: one of the banish'd crew,
I fear, hath ventur'd from the deep, to raise
New troubles; him thy care must be to find."
To whom the winged warrior thus return'd. "Uriel, no wonder if thy perfect sight, Amid the sun's bright circle where thou sitt'st,
See far and wide: in at this gate none pass
The vigilance here plac'd, but such as come
Well known from Heav'n; and since meridian hour
No creature thence: if spi'rit of other sort,
So minded, have o'er-leap'd these earthy bounds
On purpose, hard thou know'st it to exclude
Spiritual substance with corporeal bar.
But if within the circuit of these walks,
In whatsoever shape he lurk, of whom
Thou tell'st, by morrow dawning I shall know."
So promis'd he; and Uriel to his charge
Return'd on that bright beam, whose point now rais'd
Bore him slope downward to the sun now fall'n
Beneath th' Azores; whether the prime orb,"
Incredible how swift, had thither roll'd
Diurnal, or this less volúble earth,
By shorter flight to th' east, had left him there
Arraying with reflected purple' and gold
The clouds that on his western throne attend.
Now came still evening on, and twilight grey
Had in her sober livery all things clad;
Silence accompanied; for beast and bird,
They to their grassy couch, these to their nests
Were slunk, all but the wakeful nightingale ;
She all night long her amorous descant sung;
Silence was pleas'd: now glow'd the firmament
With living sapphires; Hesperus, that led
The starry host, rode brightest, till the moon,
Rising in clouded majesty, at length,
Apparent queen, unveil'd her peerless light,
And o'er the dark her silver mantle threw.
When Adam thus to Eve. "Fair consort, th' hour Of night, and all things now retir❜d to rest, 611 Mind us of like repose, since God hath set Labour and rest, as day and night, to men Successive; and the timely dew of sleep, Now falling with soft slumb'rous weight, inclines 615 Our eye-lids: other creatures all day long Rove idle, unemploy'd, and less need rest; Man bath his daily work of body' or mind