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That gave thee being, still shades thee, and protects.
The wife, where danger or dishonor lurks,
Safest and seemliest by her husband stays,
Who guards her, or with her the worst endures.
To whom the virgin majesty of Eve,

270 As one who loves, and some unkindness meets, With sweet austere composure thus replied:

Offspring of Heaven and Earth, and all Earth's Lord! That such an enemy we have, who seeks Our ruin, both by thee inform'd I learn,

275 And from the parting Angel overheard, As in a shady nook I stood behind, Just then return'd at shut of evening flowers. But, that thou shouldst my firmness therefore doubt To God or thee, because we have a foe

280 May tempt it, I expected not to hear. His violence thou fear’st not, being such As we, not capable of death or pain, Can either not receive, or can repel. His fraud is then thy fear; which plain infers 285 Thy equal fear, that my firm faith and love Can by his fraud be shaken or seduced; Thoughts, which how found they harbor in thy breast, Adam, misthought of her to thee so dear?

To whom with healing words Adam replied: 290 Daughter of God and Man, immortal Eve! For such thou art; from sin and blame entire: Not diffident of thee do I dissuade Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid The attempt itself, intended by our foe.

295 For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses The tempted with dishonor foul; supposed Not incorruptible of faith, not proof Against temptation: thou thyself with scorn And anger wouldst resent the offer'd wrong,

300 Though ineffectual found: misdeem not then,

Ifsuch affront I labor to avert
From thee alone, which on us both at once
The enemy, though bold, will hardly dare,
Or daring, first on me the assault shall light. 305
Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn;
Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce
Angels; nor think superfluous others' aid.
I, from the influence of thy looks, receive
Access in every virtue; in thy sight

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More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were
Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking on,
Shame to be overcome or overreach'd,
Would utmost vigor raise, and raised unite.
Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee feel 315
When I am present, and thy trial choose
With me, best witness of thy virtue tried?

So spake domestic Adam in his care
And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought
Less attributed to her faith sincere,

320 Thus her reply with accent sweet renew'd:

If this be our condition, thus to dwell
In narrow circuit straiten'd by a foe,
Subtle or violent, we not endued
Single with like defence, wherever met;

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How are we happy, still in fear of harm?
But harm precedes not sin: only our foe,
Tempting, affronts us with his foul esteem
Of our integrity: his foul esteem
Sticks no dishonor on our front, but turns

330 Foul on himself; then wherefore shunnid or fear'd By us? who rather double honor gain From his surmise proved false; find peace within, Favor from Heaven, our witness, from the event. And what is faith, love, virtue, unassay'd 335 Alone, without exterior help sustain’d? Let us not then suspect our happy state

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Left so imperfect by the Maker wise,
As not secure to single or combined.
Frail is our happiness, if this be so,
And Eden were no Eden, thus exposed.

To whom thus Adam fervently replied:
O Woman, best are all things as the will
Of God ordain'd them: His creating hand
Nothing imperfect or deficient left
Of all that he created, much less Man,
Or aught that might his happy state secure,
Secure from outward force; within himself
The danger lies, yet lies within his power:
Against his will he can receive no harm.
But God left free the will; for what obeys
Reason, is free; and Reason he made right,
But bid her well beware, and still erect;
Lest, by some fair-appearing good surprised,
She dictate false; and misinform the will
To do what God expressly hath forbid.
Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins,
That I should mind thee oft; and mind thou me,
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve;
Since Reason not impossibly may meet
Some specious object by the foe suborn'd,
And fall into deception unaware,
Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warn’d.
Seek not temptation then, which to avoid
Were better, and most likely if from me
Thou sever not: trial will come unsought.
Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approve
First thy obedience; the other who can know,
Not seeing thee attempted, who attest?
But if thou think, trial unsought may find
Us both securer than thus warn'd thou seem'st
Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more;
Go in thy native innocence, rely

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On what thou hast of virtue; summon all!
For God towards thee hath done his part: do thine.

So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve 375 Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied:

With thy permission then, and thus forewarn'd Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words Touch'd only; that our trial, when least sought, May find us both perhaps far less prepared, 380 The willinger I go, nor much expect A foe so proud will first the weaker seek; So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse.

Thus saying, from her husband's hand her hand Soft she withdrew; and, like a Woodnymph light, 385 Oread or Dryad, or of Delia's train, Betook her to the groves; but Delia's self In gait surpass’d and goddesslike deport, Though not as she with bow and quiver arm’d, But with such gardening tools as Art yet rude, 390 Guiltless of fire, had form’d, or Angels brought. To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorn'd, Likest she seem'd Pomona when she fled Vertumnus, or to Ceres in her prime, Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.

395 Her long with ardent look his eye pursued Delighted, but desiring more her stay. Oft he to her his charge of quick return Repeated; she to him as oft engaged To be return’d by noon amid the bower,

400 And all things in best order to invite Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose. O much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve, Of thy presumed return! event perverse! Thou never from that hour in Paradise

405 Found'st either sweet repast or sound repose; Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades, Waited with hellish rancor imminent

For now,

To intercept thy way, or send thee back
Despoild of innocence, of faith, of bliss!

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and since first break of dawn, the Fiend,
Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come;
And on his quest, where likeliest he might find
The only two of mankind, but in them
The whole included race, his purposed prey. 415
In bower and field he sought, where any tuft
Of grove or garden plot more pleasant lay,
Their tendance, or plantation for delight;
By fountain or by shady rivulet
He sought them both, but wish'd his hap might find
Eve separate; he wish'd but not with hope 421
Of what so seldom chanced; when to his wish,
Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies,
Veil'd in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,
Half spied, so thick the roses blushing round 425
About her glow'd, oft stooping to support
Each flower of slender stalk, whose head, though gay
Carnation, purple, azure, or speck’d with gold,
Hung drooping unsustain'd; them she upstays
Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while 430
Herself, though fairest unsupported flower,
From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh.
Nearer he drew, and many a walk traversed
Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm;
Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen,

435 Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers Embroider'd on each bank, the hand of Eve: Spot more delicious than those gardens feign'd Or of revived Adonis, or renown'd Alcinous, host of old Laertes' son;

440 Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse. Much he the place admired, the person more. As one who long in populous city pent,

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