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At first the one who sought access, but feard
To interrupt sidelong he works his way
As when a ship by skilful steersmen 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 torturous 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
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 :

“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
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,
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

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A goddess among gods, adored and served
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
Not unamazed, she in answer spake:

“What may this mean ? language of man pronounced By tougue of brute, and human sense express’d? The first, at least, of these I thought denied To beasts; whom God, on their creation-day, Created mute to all articulate sound : The latter I demur ; for in their looks Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears. The serpent, subtlest beast of all the field I knew, but not with human voice endued; Redouble then this miracle, and say, How camest 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.”

To whom the guileful tempter thus replied;
Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve!
Easy it is to me to tell thee all
What thou command'st; and right thou shouldest be

obey'd :
I was at first as other beasts that graze
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 beholdt
Loaded 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 feasts
Ofewe 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,
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
All other beasts that saw, with like desire
Longing and envying stood, but could not reack.
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,
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 his shape retain'd.
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
Equivolent or second! which compellid
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come
And gaze, and worship thee of right declared
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 in doubt
The virtue of that fruit, in thee first proved:
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,
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;
Empress the way is ready, and not long ;
Beyond a row of myrtles on a flat,
Fast by a fountain, one small thicket pass’d
Of blowing myrrh and balm : if thou accept
My conduct, I bring thee thither soon.”

Lead then, said Eve. He, leading swiftly roll’d
In tangles, and made intricate seem straight,
To mischief swift. elevates, and joy
Brightens his crest; as when a wandering fire,
Compact of unctuos vapor, which the night
Condenses, and the cold environs round,
Kindled through agitation to a flame,
Which oft, they say, some evil Spirit attends,
Covering and blazing with delusive light,
Misleads the amazed night-wanderer from his way
To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool,
There swallow'd up and lost, from succour far :
So glister'd the dire snake, and into fraud
Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree
of prohibition, root of all our wo;
Which when she saw thus to her guide she spake:

“Serpent, we might have spared our coming hither,
Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess,
The credit of whose virtue rest with thee;
Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects.
But of this tree we may not taste nor touch;
God so commanded, and left that command
Sole daughter of his voice: the rest, we live
Law to ourselves ; our reason is our law."

To whom the tempter guilefully replied :
"Indeed ! hath God then said that of the fruit
Of all these garden-trees ye shall not eat,
Yet Lords declared of all in Earth or air ?"

To man,

To whom thus Eve, yet sinless : “Of the fruit
Of each tree in the garden we may eat;
But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst
The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat
Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest ye die."

She scarce had said, though brief, when now more bold The tempter, but with show of zeal and love

and indignation at his wrong,
New part puts on; and, as to passion moved,
Fluctuates disturb’d, yet comely and in act
Raised, as of some great matter to begin.
As when of old some orator renown'd,
In Athens of free Rome, where eloquence
Flourish'd, since mute! to some great cause address’l. ,
Stood in himself collected ; while each part
Motion, each act won audience ere the tongue ;
Sometimes in heighth began, as no delay
Of preface brooking, through his zeal of right :
So standing, moving, or to heighth up grown,
The tempter, all impassion'd, thus began :

“O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving plant,
Mother of science! now I feel thy power
Within me clear; not only to discern
Things in their causes, but to trace the ways
Of highest agents deem'd however wise.
Queen of this universe ! do not believe
Those rigid threats of Death : ye shall not die :
How should you ? by the fruit ? it gives you

life
To knowledge ; by the threatner ? look on me,
Me, who have touch'd and tasted; yet both live,
And life more perfect have attained than fate
Meant me, by venturing higher than my lot.
Shall that be shut to man, which to the beast
Is open! or will God incense his ire
For such a petty trespass ? and not praise
Rather your dauntless virtue, whom the pain,

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