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Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail,
525 Fawning, and lick'd the ground whereon she trod. His gentle dumb expression turn'd at length The eye
of Eve to mark his play. He, glad Of her attention gain’d, with serpent-tongue Organic, or impulsс of vocal air,
530 His fraudulent temptation thus began:
Wonder not, sov’reign Mistress, if perhaps Thou can'st, who art sole wonder; much less arm Thy looks, the Heav'n 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
540 With ravishment beheld! there best beheld Where universally admir’d! but here In this inclosure wild, these beasts among, Beholders rude, and shallow to discern
Half what in thee is fair, one man except, 545 Who sees thee'? (and what is one ?) who should'st
A Goddess among Gods, ador'd and serv'd
So gloz’d the Tempter, and his
nounc'd By tongue of brute, and human sense express’d! The first at least of these I thought deny'd 555 To beasts, whom God on their creation-day Created mute to all artic'late sound: The latter I demur; for in their looks Much reas'n, and in their actions oft appears. Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field, I knew, but not with human voice endu'd. Redouble then this miracle, and say, How cam'st thou speakable of mute ; and how To me so friendly grown above the rest Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight! 565 Say; for such wonder claims attention due.
To whom the guileful Tempter thus reply'd: Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve, Easy to me it is to tell thee all What thou command'st; and right thou should'st be' obey'd.
570 I was at first as other beasts that graze
The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, As was my food: nor aught but food discern'd,
and apprehended nothing high; Till on a day roving the field, I chanc'd
575 A goodly tree far distant to behold, Loaden with fruit of fairest colours mix'd, Ruddy and gold. I nearer drew to gaze; When from the boughs a sav'ry odour blown, Grateful to appetite, more pleas'd my sense 580 Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at ev'n, Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play. To satisfy the sharp desire I had Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv’d 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 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
So talk'd the spirited sly Snake; and Eve,
615 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; 626 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. 639
Lead then, said Eve. He leading swiftly roll'd 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, 636 Kindled through agitation to a flame, Which oft, they say, some evil Sp’rit attends, Hov’ring and blazing with delusive light, Misleads th’amaz’d night-wand'rer from his way 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 cred’lous mother, to the tree Of prohibition, root of all our woe! 645 Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake:
Serpent, we mighthavespar'dour coming hither, Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to' excess, The credit of whose virtue rest 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 reply'd: 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;