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every air

Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air, 445
Forth issuing on a summer's morn, to breathe
Among the pleasant villages and farms
Adjoin'd, from each thing met conceives delight;
The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound; 450
If chance, with nymphlike step, fair virgin pass,
What pleasing seem'd, for her now pleases more;
She most, and in her look sums all delight:
Such pleasure took the Serpent to behold
This flowery plat, the sweet recess of Eve; 455
Thus early, thus alone: her heavenly form
Angelic, but more soft and feminine,
Her graceful innocence,
Of gesture, or least action, overawed
His malice, and with rapine sweet bereaved 460
His fierceness of the fierce intent it brought:
That space the Evil One abstracted stood
From his own evil, and for the time remain'd
Stupidly good; of enmity disarm’d,
Of guile, of hate, of envy, of revenge:

But the hot Hell that always in him burns,
Though in mid Heaven, soon ended his delight,
And tortures him now more, the more he sees
Of pleasure, not for him ordain'd: then soon
Fierce hate he recollects, and all his thoughts 470
Of mischief, gratulating, thus excites.

Thoughts, whither have ye led me! with what sweet Compulsion thus transported, to forget What hither brought us! hate, not love; nor hope Of Paradise for Hell, hope here to taste

475 Of pleasure; but all pleasure to destroy, Save what is in destroying; other joy To me is lost. Then, let me not let pass Occasion which now smiles; behold alone The woman, opportune to all attempts,





Her husband, for I view far round, not nigh,
Whose higher intellectual more I shun,
And strength, of courage haughty, and of limb
Heroic built, though of terrestrial mould;
Foe not informidable! exempt from wound,
I not; so much hath Hell debased, and pain
Enfeebled me, to what I was in Heaven,
She fair, divinely fair, fit love for Gods!
Not terrible, though terror be in love
And beauty, not approach'd by stronger hate,
Hate stronger, under show of love well feign’d;
The way which to her ruin now I tend.

So spake the enemy of mankind, enclosed
In serpent, inmate bad! and towards Eve
Address'd his way: not with indented wave,
Prone on the ground, as since; but on his rear,
Circular base of rising folds, that tower'd
Fold above fold, a surging maze! his head
Crested aloft, and carbuncle his

With burnish'd neck of verdant gold, erect
Amidst his circling spires, that on the grass
Floated redundant: pleasing was his shape
And lovely; never since of serpent-kind
Lovelier, not those that in Illyria changed
Hermione and Cadmus, or the god
In Epidaurus; nor to which transform'd
Ammonian Jove, or Capitoline, was seen;
He with Olympias; this with her who bore
Scipio, the height of Rome. With tract oblique
At first, as one who sought access, but fear'd
To interrupt, sidelong he works his way,
As when a ship, by skilful steersman wrought
Nigh river's mouth or foreland, where the wind
Veers oft, as oft so steers and shifts her sail:
So varied he, and of his tortuous train
Curl'd many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,






To lure her eye; she, busied, heard the sound
Of rustling leaves, but minded not, as used
To such disport before her through the field,
From every beast; more duteous at her call
Than at Circean call the herd disguised.
He, bolder now,

uncall'd before her stood,
But as in gaze admiring: oft he bow'd
His turret crest, and sleek enamel neck,
Fawning; and lick'd the ground whereon she trod.
His gentle dumb expression turn’d at length 526
The eye of Eve to mark his play: he, glad
Of her attention gain'd, with serpent-tongue
Organic, or impulse of vocal air,
His fraudulent temptation thus began:

530 Wonder not, sov’reign Mistress, if perhaps Thou canst, who art sole wonder! much less arm Thy looks, the Heaven of mildness, with disdain, Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze Insatiate; I thus single; nor have fear’d

535 Thy awful brow more awful, thus retired. Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair! Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore With ravishment beheld! there best beheld, 540 Where universally admired; but here In this enclosure wild, these beasts among, Beholders rude, and shallow to discern Half what in thee is fair, one man except, Who sees thee? (and what is one?) who should be seen A Goddess among Gods, adored and served 546 By Angels numberless, thy daily train.

So glozed the Tempter, and his proem tuned: Into the heart of Eve his words made way, Though at the voice much marveling; at length 550 Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake:

What may this mean? language of man pronounced

By tongue of brute, and human sense express’d?
The first, at least, of these I thought denied
To beasts; whom God, on their creation-day, 555
Created mute to all articulate sound:
The latter I demur; for in their looks
Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears.
Thee, Serpent, subtlest beast of all the field
I knew, but not with human voice endued; 560
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?
Say, for such wonder claims attention due. 565

To whom the guileful Tempter thus replied:
Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve!
Easy to me it is to tell thee all

[obey'd: What thou command’st; and right thou shouldst be I was at first as other beasts that graze

570 The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, As was my food: nor aught but food discern'd Or sex, and apprehended nothing high: Till, on a day roving the field, I chanced A goodly tree far distant to behold,

575 Loaden with fruit of fairest colors mix’d, Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze; When from the boughs a savory odor blown, Grateful to appetite, more pleased my sense Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats 580 Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even, Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play. To satisfy the sharp desire I had Of tasting those fair apples, I resolved Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,

585 Powerful persuaders, quicken’d at the scent Of that alluring fruit, urged 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 590
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
I spared not; for, such pleasure till that hour, 595
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 powers; and speech
Wanted not long; though to this shape retain'd. 600
Thenceforth to speculations high or deep.
I turn'd my thoughts, and with capacious mind
Consider'd all things visible in Heaven,
Or Earth, or Middle; all things fair and good:
But all that fair and good in thy divine

Semblance, and in thy beauty's heavenly ray,
United I beheld; no fair to thine
Equivalent or second! which compellid
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come
And gaze, and worship thee of right declared 610
Sov’reign of creatures, universal Dame!

So talk'd the spirited sly Snake: and Eve, Yet more amazed, unwary thus replied: Serpent, thy overpraising leaves no doubt The virtue of that fruit, in thee first proved: 615 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, As leaves a greater store of fruit untouchd, 620 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:

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