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The Serpent subtlest beast of all the field.
Him after long debate, irresolute
Of thoughts revolved, his final sentence chose
Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide

90
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 observed,
Doubt might beget of diabolic power

95 Active within, beyond the sense of brute. Thus he resolved, but first from inward grief His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd:

O Earth, how like to Heaven, 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 Heaven, danced round by other Heavens That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps, Light above light, for thee alone, as seems, 105 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 110 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 aught, sweet interchange

115 Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains, Now land, now sea, 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

120 Torrent within me, as from the hatefu) siege

Of contraries: all good in me becomes
Bane, and in Heaven much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no nor in Heaven
To dwell, unless by mastering Heaven'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:
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts; and, him destroy'd, 130
Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him link'd in weal or woe;
In woe then; that destruction wide may range:
To me shall be the glory sole among

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The infernal Powers, in one day to have marr’d
What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days
Continued making; and who knows how long
Before had been contriving? though perhaps
Not longer since than I, in one night, freed 140
From servitude inglorious, well nigh half
The angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers: He to be avenged,
And to repair his numbers thus impair’d,
Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd 145
More Angels to create, if they at least
Are his created, or, to spite us more,
Determined to advance into our room
A creature form’d of earth, and him endow,
Exalted from so base original,

150 With heavenly spoil, our spoils: What he decreed, He effected, Man he made, and for him built Magnificent this world, and earth his seat, Him lord pronounced; and, O indignity! Subjected to his service angel-wings,

155 And flaming ministers to watch and tend Their earthly charge: Of these the vigilance

I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapp'd in mist
Of midnight vapor glide obscure, and pry
In every bush and brake, where hap may find 160
The serpent sleeping; in whose mazy folds
To hide me, and the dark intent I bring.
O foul descent! that I, who erst contended
With Gods to sit the highest, am now constrain'd
Into a beast; and, mix'd with bestial slime, 165
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the height of Deity aspired!
But what will not ambition and revenge
Descend to? Who aspires must down as low
As high he soar'd; obnoxious, first, or last 170
To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet,
Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils:
Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd,
Since higher I fall short, on him who next
Provokes my envy, this new favorite

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Of Heaven, this man of clay, son of despite,
Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised
From dust: Spite then with spite is best repaid.

So saying, through each thicket, dank or dry, Like a black mist low creeping, he held on 180 His midnight search, where soonest he might find The serpent; him fast sleeping soon he found In labyrinth of many a round self-rolld, His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles. Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den,

185 Nor nocent yet; but on the grassy herb, Fearless, unfear’d, he slept: in at his mouth The Devil enter'd; and his brutal sense, In heart or head, possessing, soon inspired With act intelligential; but his sleep

190 Disturb'd not, waiting close the approach of morn. Now, when as sacred light began to dawn In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed

Their morning incense, when all things that breathe,
From the Earth's great altar send up silent praise 195
To the Creator, and his nostrils fill
With grateful smell, forth came the human pair,
And join'd their vocal worship to the choir
Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake
The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs: 200
Then commune, how that day they best may ply
Their growing work: for much their work outgrew
The hands' despatch of two gardening so wide,
And Eve first to her husband thus began:
Adam, well may we labor still to dress

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This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,
Our pleasant task enjoin’d; but till more hands
Aid us, the work under our labor grows,
Luxurious by restraint; what we by day
Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, 210
One night or two with wanton growth derides,
Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise,
Or bear what to my mind first thoughts present:
Let us divide our labors; thou, where choice
Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind 215
The woodbine round this arbor, or direct
The clasping ivy where to climb; while I,
In yonder spring of roses intermix'd
With myrtle, find what to redress till noon:
For, while so near each other thus all day 220
Our task we choose, what wonder if, so near,
Looks intervene and smiles, or object new
Casual discourse draw on; which intermits
Our day's work, brought to little, though begun
Early, and the hour of supper comes unearn’d? 225

To whom mild answer Adam thus return'd: Sole Eve, associate sole, to me beyond Compare above all living creatures dear! Well hast thou motion'd, well thy thoughts employ'd,

How we might best fulfil the work which here 230
God hath assign'd us; nor of me shalt pass
Unpraised: for nothing lovelier can be found
In woman, than to study household good,
And good works in her husband to promote.
Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposed

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Labor, as to debar us when we need
Refreshment, whether food or talk between,
Food of the mind, or this sweet intercourse
Of looks and smiles; for smiles from reason flow,
To brute denied, and are of love the food;

240 Love, not the lowest end of human life. For not to irksome toil, but to delight, He made us, and delight to reason join’d. These baths and bowers doubt not but our joint hands Will keep from wilderness with ease, as wide 245 As we need walk, till younger hands ere long Assist us: but, if much converse perhaps Thee satiate, to short absence I could yield: For solitude sometimes is best society, And short retirement urges sweet return.

250 But other doubt possesses me, lest harm Befal thee sever'd from me; for thou know'st What hath been warn'd us, what malicious foe Envying our happiness, and of his own Despairing, seeks to work us woe and shame 255 By sly assaults; and somewhere nigh at hand Watches, no doubt, with greedy hope to find His wish and best advantage, us asunder; Hopeless to circumvent us join'd, where each To other speedy aid might lend at need:

260 Whether his first design be to withdraw Our fealty from God, or to disturb Conjugal love, than which perhaps no bliss Enjoy'd by us excites his envy more; Or this, or worse, leave not the faithful side 265

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