Page images
PDF
EPUB

With liberal hand: he scrupled not to eat,
Against his better knowledge: not deceived,
But fondly overcome with female charm.
Earth trembled from her entrails, as again
In pangs; and Nature gave a second groan ;
Sky lour'd, and, muttering thunder, some sad drops
Wept at completing of the mortal sin
Original: while Adam took no thought,
Eating his fill; nor Eve to iterate
Her former trespass fear'd, the more to soothe
Him with her loved society; that now,
As with new wine intoxicated both,
They swim in mirth, and fancy that they feel
Divinity within them breeding wings,
Wherewith to scorn the earth: but that false fruit
Far other operation first display’d,
Carnal desire inflaming: he on Eve
Began to cast lascivious eyes; she him
As wantonly repaid; in lust they burn:
Till Adam thus 'gan Eve to dalliance move:
“Eve, now I see thou art exact of taste,
And elegant, of sapience no small part;
Since to each meaning savour we apply,
And palate call judicious; I the praise
Yield thee, so well this day thou hast purvey’d.
Much pleasure we have lost, while we abstain’d
From this delightful fruit, nor known till now
True relish, tasting. If such pleasure be
In things to us forbidden, it might be wish'd,
For this one tree had been forbidden ten;
But come, so well refresh'd, now let us play, ,

As meet is, after such delicious fare;
For never did thy beauty, since the day
I saw thee first, and wedded thee, adorn’d
With all perfections, so inflame my sense
With ardour to enjoy thee, fairer now
Than ever; bounty of this virtuous tree
So said he, and forbore not glance or toy
Of amorous intent, well understood
Of Eve, whose eye darted contagious fire.
Her hand he seized; and to a shady bank,
Thick overhead with verdant roof embower'd,
He led her, nothing loth; flowers were the couch,
Pansies, and violets, and asphodel,
And hyacinth; earth's freshest, softest lap.
There they their fill of love and love's disport
Took largely, of their mutual guilt the seal,
The solace of their sin; till dewy sleep
Oppress'd them, wearied with their amorous play.
Soon as the force of that fallacious fruit,
That, with exhilarating vapour bland,
About their spirits had play’d, and inmost powers
Made err, was now exhaled; and grosser sleep,
Bred of unkindly fumes, with conscious dreams
Encumber'd, now had left them: up they rose
As from unrest; and, each the other viewing,
Soon found their eyes how open'd, and their minds
How darken'd; innocence, that, as a veil,
Had shadow’d them from knowing ill, was gone;
Just confidence, and native righteousness,
And honour, from about them, naked left
To guilty shame: he cover'd, but his robe

122

[ocr errors]

Uncover'd more. So rose the Danite strong,
Herculean Samson, from the harlot-lap
Of Philistean Dalilah, and waked
Shorn of his strength; they, destitute and bare
Of all their virtue, silent, and in face
Confounded; long they sat, as stricken mute:
Till Adam, though not less than Eve abash'd,
At length gave utterance to these words constraind:

“O Eve, in evil hour thou didst give ear
To that false worm, of whomsoever taught
To counterfeit man's voice; true in our fall,
False in our promised rising ; since our eyes
Open’d we find, indeed, and find we know
Both good and evil; good lost and evil got;
Bad fruit of knowledge, if this be to know;
Which leaves us naked thus, of honour void,
Of innocence, of faith, of purity,
Our wonted ornaments now soil'd and stain'd,
And in our faces evident the signs
Of foul concupiscence; whence evil store;
Even shame, the last of evils; of the first
Be sure then. How shall I behold the face
Henceforth of God or angel, erst with joy
And rapture so oft beheld ? Those heavenly shapes
Will dazzle now this earthly, with their blaze
Insufferably bright. O! might I here
In solitude live savage, in some glade
Obscured, where highest woods, impenetrable
To star or sun light, spread their umbrage broad
And brown as evening! Cover me, ye pines!
Ye cedars, with innumerable boughs

Hide me, where I may never see them more!
But let us now, as in bad plight, devise
What best may, for the present, serve to hide
The parts of each from other, that seem most
To shame obnoxious, and unseemliest seen;
Some tree, whose broad smooth leaves, together

sew'd,
And girded on our loins, may cover round
Those middle parts; that this new comer, Shame,
There sit not, and reproach us as unclean.”

So counsell’d he, and both together went Into the thickest wood; there soon they chose The fig-tree, not that kind for fruit renown'd, But such as, at this day, to Indians known, In Malabar or Decan spreads her arms, Branching so broad and long, that in the ground The bended twigs take root, and daughters grow About the mother tree, a pillar'd shade, High overarch’d, and echoing walks between: There oft the Indian herdsman, shunning heat, Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds At loop-holes cut through thickest shade: those

leaves They gather’d, broad as Amazonian targe; And, with what skill they had, together sew'd, To gird their waist: vain covering, if to hide Their guilt and dreaded shame! O, how unlike To that first naked glory! Such, of late, Columbus found the American, so girt With feather'd cincture; naked else, and wild Among the trees on isles and woody shores.

Thus fenced, and, as they thought, their shame in

part
Cover'd, but not at rest or ease of mind,
They sat them down to weep: nor only tears
Rain'd at their eyes, but high winds worse within
Began to rise; high passions, anger, hate,
Mistrust, suspicion, discord; and shook sore
Their inward state of mind, calm region once,
And full of peace, now tost and turbulent:
For understanding ruled not, and the will
Heard not her lore; both in subjection now
To sensual appetite, who, from beneath,
Usurping over sovereign reason, claim'd
Superior sway: from thus distemper'd breast,
Adam, estranged in look and alter'd style,
Speech intermitted thus to Eve renew'd :
“ Would thou hadst hearken'd to my words, and

stay'd
With me, as I besought thee, when that strange
Desire of wandering, this unhappy morn,
I know not whence possess’d thee; we had then
Remain'd still happy; not as now, despoil'd
Of all our good; shamed, naked, miserable!
Let none henceforth seek needless cause to approve
The faith they owe: when earnestly they seek
Such proof, conclude they then begin to fail.”
To whom, soon moved with touch of blame, thus

Eve:
“What words have pass'd thy lips, Adam, severe ?
Imputest thou that to my default, or will
Of wandering, as thou call'st it, which who knows

N

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »