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Of refuge, and concludes thee miserable
Beyond all past example and future;

840
To Satan only like, both crime and doom,
O Conscience! into what abyss of fears
And horrors hast thou driven me: out of which
I find no way, from deep to deeper plunged!
Thus Adam to himself lamented loud,

845 Through the still night, not now, as ere Man fell, Wholesome, and cool, and mild, but with black air Accompanied; with damps, and dreadful gloom; Which to his evil conscience represented All things with double terror: on the ground 850 Outstretch'd he lay, on the cold ground; and oft Cursed his creation; Death as oft accused Of tardy execution, since denounced The day of his offence. Why comes not Death, Said he, with one thrice-acceptable stroke

855 To end me? Shall Truth fail to keep her word, Justice Divine not hasten to be just? But Death comes not at call; Justice Divine Mends not her slowest pace for prayers or cries. O woods, O fountains, hillocks, dales, and bowers! 860 With other echo late I taught your shades To answer, and resound far other song:Whom thus afflicted when sad Eve beheld, Desolate where she sat, approaching nigh, Soft words to his fierce passion she essay'd: 865 But her with stern regard he thus repell’d:

Out of my sight, thou Serpent! That name best Befits thee with him leagued, thyself as false And hateful; nothing wants, but that thy shape, Like his, and color serpentine, may show

870 Thy inward fraud; to warn all creatures from thee Henceforth; lest that too heavenly form, pretended, To hellish falsehood snare them! But for thee I had persisted happy; had not thy pride

And wandering vanity, when least was safe, 875
Rejected my forewarning, and disdain'd
Not to be trusted; longing to be seen,
Though by the Devil himself; him overweening
To overreach; but, with the serpent meeting,
Fool'd and beguiled; by him thou, I by thee, 880
To trust thee from my side; imagined wise,
Constant, mature, proof against all assaults;
And understood not all was but a show,
Rather than solid virtue; all but a rib
Crooked by nature, bent, as now appears,

885
More to the part sinister, from me drawn;
Well if thrown out, as supernumerary
To my just number found. O! why did God,
Creator wise, that peopled highest Heaven
With Spirits masculine, create at last

890 This novelty on earth, this fair defect Of nature, and not fill the world at once With Men, as Angels, without feminine; Or find some other way to generate Mankind? This mischief had not then befallen, 895 And more that shall befal; innumerable Disturbances on earth through female snares, And strait conjunction with this sex: for either He never shall find out fit mate, but such As some misfortune brings him, or mistake; 900 Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain Through her perverseness, but shall see her gain'd By a far worse; or, if she love, withheld By parents; or his happiest choice too late Shall meet, already link'd and wedlock bound 905 To a fell adversary, his hate or shame: Which infinite calamity shall cause To human life, and household peace

confound. He added not, and from her turn'd; but Eve, Not so repulsed, with tears that ceased not flowing,

And tresses all disorder'd, at his feet

911 Fell humble; and embracing them, besought His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint:

Forsake me not thus, Adam! witness, Heaven, What love sincere and reverence in my heart 915 I bear thee, and unweeting have offended, Unhappily deceived! Thy suppliant I beg, and clasp thy knees; bereave me not, Whereon 1 live, thy gentle looks, thy aid, Thy counsel, in this uttermost distress,

920 My only strength and stay: forlorn of thee, Whither shall I betake me, where subsist? While yet we live, scarce one short hour perhaps, Between us two let there be peace; both joining, As join'd in injuries, one enmity

925 Against a foe by doom express assign'd us, That cruel Serpent: on me exercise not Thy hatred for this misery befallen; On me already lost, me than thyself More miserable! Both have sinn'd; but thou 930 Against God only; I against God'and thee; And to the place of judgment will return, There with my cries importune Heaven, that all The sentence, from thy head removed, may light On me, sole cause to thee of all this woe;

935 Me, me only, just object of his ire!

She ended weeping; and her lowly plight, Immoveable, till peace obtain’d from fault Acknowledged and deplored, in Adam wrought Commiseration: soon his heart relented

940 Towards her, his life so late, and sole delight Now at his feet submissive in distress; Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking, His counsel, whom she had displeased, his aid: As one disarm’d, his anger all he lost, And thus with peaceful words upraised her soon:

945

Unwary, and too desirous, as before,
So now of what thou know'st not, who desirest
The punishment all on thyself; alas!
Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain

950
His full wrath, whose thou feel’st as yet least part,
And my displeasure bear’st so ill. If prayers
Could alter high decrees, I to that place
Would speed before thee, and be louder heard,
That on my head all might be visited;

955 Thy frailty and infirmer sex forgiven, To me committed, and by me exposed. But rise;-Let us no more contend, nor blame Each other, blamed enough elsewhere; but strive In offices of love, how we may lighten

960 Each other's burden, in our share of woe; Since this day's death denounced, if aught I see, Will prove no sudden, but a slow-paced evil; A long day's dying, to augment our pain; And to our seed (O hapless seed!) derived.

965 To whom thus Eve, recovering heart, replied: Adam, by sad experiment I know How little weight my words with thee can find, Found so erroneous; thence by just event Found so unfortunate: nevertheless,

970 Restored by thee, vile as I am, to place Of new acceptance, hopeful to regain Thy love, the sole contentment of my heart Living or dying, from thee I will not hide What thoughts in my unquiet breast are risen, 975 Tending to some relief of our extremes, Or end; though sharp and sad, yet tolerable, As in our evils, and of easier choice. If care of our descent perplex us most, Which must be born to certain woe, devour'd 980 By Death at last; and miserable it is To be to others cause of misery,

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Our own begotten, and of our loins to bring
Into this cursed world a woful race,
That after wretched life must be at last

985
Food for so foul a monster; in thy power
It lies, yet ere conception, to prevent
The race unbless'd, to being yet unbegot.
Childless thou art, childless remain: so Death
Shall be deceived his glut, and with us two 990
Be forced to satisfy his ravenous maw.
But if thou judge it hard and difficult,
Conversing, looking, loving, to abstain
From love's due rights, nuptial embraces sweet;
And with desire to languish without hope, 995
Before the present object languishing
With like desire; which would be misery
And torment less than none of what we dread;
Then, both ourselves and seed at once to free
From what we fear for both, let us make short, 1000
Let us seek Death;—or, he not found, supply
With our own hands his office on ourselves;
Why stand we longer shivering under fears,
That show no end but death, and have the power,
Of many ways to die the shortest choosing, 1005
Destruction with destruction to destroy?-

She ended here, or vehement despair
Broke off the rest; so much of death her thoughts
Had entertain'd, as dyed her cheeks with pale.
But Adam, with such counsel nothing sway'd, 1010
To better hopes his more attentive mind
Laboring had raised; and thus to Eve replied:

Eve, thy contempt of life and pleasure seems
To argue in thee something more sublime
And excellent, than what thy mind contemns;

1015
But self-destruction therefore sought refutes
That excellence thought in thee; and implies,
Not thy contempt, but anguish and regret

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