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She gave him of that fair enticing fruit
With liberal hand: he scrupled not to eat
Against his better knowledge; not deceiv'd,
But fondly overcome with female charm.
Earth trembled from ber entrails, as again
In pangs, and Nature gave a second groan;
Sky lower'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 sooth
Him with her lov'd 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'd 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 seiz'd, and to a shady bank,
Thick overhead with verdant roof imbower'd
He led her, nothing loath; 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 exhilerating vapour bland
About their spirits had play'd, and inmost powers
Made err, was now exhal'd, 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
Uncover'd more. So rose the Danite strong,
Herculean Samson, from the harlot lap
Of Philistean Dalilah, and wak'd
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 constrain'd:
"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 promis'd 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
Obscur'd, 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 berdsman, shunning heat,
Shelters in cool, and tends his pasturing herds
At loop-holes cut thro' 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 th' American, so girt
With feather'd cincture, naked else and wild,
Among the trees on isles and woody shores.
Thus fenc'd, 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 toss'd and turbulent:
For understanding rul'd not, and the will
Heard not her lore; both in subjection now
To sensual appetite, who from beneath,
Usurping over sov'reign reason, claim'd
Superior sway: from this distemper'd breast,
Adam, estrang'd 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 wand'ring, 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, sham'd, naked, miserable.
Let none henceforth set k needless cause to' approve
The faith they owe; when earnestly they seek
Such proof, conclude they then begin to fail."
To whom, soon mov'd with touch of blame, thus
"What words have pass' thy lips, Adam, severe ! Imput'st thou that to my default, or will
Of wand'ring, as thou call'st it, which who knows
But might as ill have happen'd thou being by,
Or to thyself perhaps? Hadst thou been there,
Or here th' attempt, thou couldst not have discern'd
Fraud in the serpent, speaking as he spake;
No ground of enmity between us known,
Why he should mean me ill, or seek to harm.
Was I to' have never parted from thy side?
As good have grown there still a lifeless rib.
Being as I am, why didst not thou, the head,
Command me absolutely not to go,
Going into such danger as thou saidst?
Too facile then, thou didst not much gainsay,
Nay, didst permit, approve, and fair dismiss.
Hadst thou been firm and fix'd in thy dissent,
Neither had I transgress'd, nor thou with me."
To whom then first incens'd, Adam replied:
"Is this the love, is this the recompense
Of mine to thee, ingrateful Eve! express'd
Immutable, when thou wert lost, not 1;
Who might have liv'd and 'joy'd immortal bliss,
Yet willingly chose rather death with thee!
And am I now upbraided as the cause
Of thy transgressing? not enough severe,
It seems in my restraint: what could I more?
I warn'd thee, I admonish'd thee, foretold
The danger, and the lurking enemy
That lay in wait; beyond this had been force,
And force upon free will hath here no place.
But confidence then bore thee on, secure
Either to meet no danger, or to find
Matter of glorious trial; and perhaps
I also err'd in overmuch admiring
What seem'd in thee so perfect, that I thought
No, evil durst attempt thee; but I rue
That error now, which is become my crime,
And thou th' accuser. Thus it shall befall
Him who to worth in woman overtrusting
Lets her will rule; restraint she will not brook,
And left to' herself, if evil thence ensue,
She first his weak indulgence will accuse."
Thus they in mutual accusation spent
The fruitless hours, but neither self-condemning,
And of their vain contest appear'd no end.