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Knowing both good and evil, as they know.
That ye shall be as Gods, since I as Man,
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
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
Warm'd by the sun, producing every kind;
Them, nothing: if they all things, who enclos'd
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,
That whoso eats thereof, forthwith attains
Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies
The offence, that Man should thus attain to know?
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree
Impart against his will, if all be his ?
Or is it envy? and can envy dwell
In heavenly breasts? --These, these, and many more
Causes import your need of this fair fruit.
Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste.
He ended; and his words, replete with guile,
Into her heart too easy entrance won:
Fix'd on the fruit she gaz’d, which to behold
Might tempt alone; and in her ears the sound
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregn'd
With reason, to her seeming, and with truth :
Mean while the hour of noon drew on, and wak'd
An eager appetite, rais’d by the smell
So savoury of that fruit, which with desire,
Inclinable now grown to touch or taste,
Solicited her longing eye; yet first
Pausing a while, thus to herself she mus'd.
Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits,
Though kept from man, and worthy to be admir’d;
Whose taste, too long forborn, at first assay
Gave elocution to the mute, and taught
The tongue not made for speech, to speak thy praise:
Thy praise he also, who forbids thy use,
Conceals not from us, naming thee the tree
Of knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;
Forbids us then to taste! but his forbidding
Commends thee more, while it infers the good
By thee communicated, and our want :
For good unknown sure is not had; or, had
And yet unknown, is as not had at all.
In plain then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise ?
Such prohibitions bind not. But, if death
Bind us with after-bands, what profits then
Our inward freedom? In the day we eat
Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we shall die!
How dies the serpent ? he hath eat'n and lives,
And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns,
Irrational till then. For us alone
Was death invented ? or to us denied
This intellectual food for beasts reserv'd ?
For beasts it seems : yet that one beast which first
Hath tasted envies not, but brings with joy
The good befall’n him, author unsuspect,
Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile.
What fear I then? rather what know to fear
Under this ignorance of good and evil,
Of God or death, of law or penalty ;
Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine,
Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste,
Of virtue to make wise: What hinders then
To reach, and feed at once both body and mind?
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck’d, she eat!
Earth felt the wound, and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,
That all was lost. Back to the thicket slunk
The guilty Serpent; and well might; for Eve,
Intent now wholly on her taste, nought else
Regarded; such delight till then, as seem'd,
In fruit she never tasted, whether true
Or fancied so, through expectation high
Of knowledge; nor was Godhead from her thought.
Greedily she ingorg’d without restraint,
And knew not eating death : Satiate at length, And highten’d as with wine, jocund and boon, Thus to herself she pleasingly began.
O sovran, virtuous, precious of all trees In Paradise ! of operation blest To sapience, hitherto obscur'd, infam'd, And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no end Created; but henceforth my early care, Not without song, each morning, and due praise, Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease Of thy full branches offer'd free to all ; Till, dieted by thee, I grow mature In knowledge, as the Gods, who all things know; Though others envy what they cannot give : For, had the gift been theirs, it had not here Thus grown. Experience, next, to thee I owe, Best guide; not following thee, I had remain'd In ignorance; thou open'st wisdom's way, And giv'st access, though secret she retire. And I perhaps am secret : Heaven is high, High, and remote to see from thenee distinct Each thing on Earth ; and other care perhaps May have diverted from continual watch Our great Forbidder, safe with all his spies About him. But to Adam in what sort Shall I appear? shall I to him make known As yet my change, and give him to partake Full happiness with me, or rather not,
But keep the odds of knowledge in my power
Without copartner? so to add what wants
In female sex, the more to draw his love,
And render me more equal; and perhaps
A thing not undesirable, sometime
Superiour; for, inferiour, who is free?
be well : but what if God have seen,
And death ensue ? then I shall be no more!
And Adam, wedded to another Eve,
Skall live with her enjoying, I extinct;
A death to think! Confirm'd then I resolve,
Adam shall share with me in bliss or woe:
So dear I love him, that with him all deaths
I could endure, without him live no life.
So saying, from the tree her step she turn'd; But first low reverence done, as to the Power That dwelt within, whose presence had infus'd Into the plant sciential sap deriv'd From nectar, drink of Gods. Adam the while, Waiting desirous her return, had wove Of choicest flowers a garland to adorn Her tresses, and her rural labours crown: As reapers oft are wont their harvest-queen. Great joy he promis’d to his thoughts, and new Solace in her return, so long delay'd : Yet oft his heart, divine of something ill, Misgave him; he the faltering measure felt; And forth to meet her went, the way she took