Immagini della pagina
PDF
ePub

Alone as they

About them frisking play'd All beasts of ih' earth, since wild, and of all chase, In wood or wilderness, forest or den; Sporting the lion ramp'd, and in his paw Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards, Gamboll'd before them ; the unwieldy elephant, To make them mirth, us'd all his might, and wreath'd His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly, Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine His braided train, and of his fatal guile Gave proof unbeeded; others on the grass Coucb'd, and, now fill'd with pasiure, gazing sat, Or bedward ruininating; for the sun Declin'd was hasting now with prone career * To th' ocean isles, and in th' ascending scale Of heaven the stars that usher evening rose : When Satan, still in gaze as first he stood, Scarce thus at length fail'd speech recover'd said:

“O bell! what do mine eyes with grief behold ? Into our room of bliss thus high advanced Creatures of other mould; earth-born perhaps, Not spirits; yet to heavenly spirits bright Little inferior; whom my thoughts pursue With wonder, and could love, so lively shines In them divine resemblance, and such grace The band that form’d them on their shape hath pour'd. Ah, gentle pair! ye little think how nigla Your change approaches ! when all these delights Will vanish, and deliver ye to woe ; More woe, the more your taste is vow of joy. Happy! but for so bappy ill securd Long to continue; and this high seat your heaven, Ill-fenc'd for heaven, to keep out such a foe As now is enter'd : yet no purpos'd foe 'To you, whom I could pity thus forlorn, Though I unpitied. League with you I seek, And mutual amity, so strait, so close, That I with you must dwell, or you with me Henceforth. My dwelling haply may not please, Like this fair Paradise, your sense ; yet such

it

me, Accept your Maker's work ; le gave

Which I as freely give. Hell shall unfold,
To entertain you two, her widest gates,
And send forth all her kings: there will be room,
(Not like these narrow limits.) to receive
Your numerous offspring. If no better place,
Thank him who puts me loath to this revenge
On you, who wrong'd me not, for hiin who wrong'd.
And should I at your barmless innocence
Melt, (as I do,) yet public reason just,
Honour and empire with revenge enlarg'u,
By conqu’ring this new world, compels me now
To do, what else, though damn'd, I should abhor."

So spake the fiend, and with necessity,
(The tyrant's plea,) excus'd his devilish deeds.
Then from his lofty stand on that high tree,
Down he alights among the sportful herd
Of those four-footed kiuds; himself now one,
Now other, as their shape serv'd best his end
Nearer to view his prey, and unespied
To mark what of their state he more might learn
By word or action mark'd.' About them round
A lion now he stalks with fiery glare;
Then as a tiger, who by chance hath spied,
In some purlieu, two gentle fawns at play,
Strai, couches close, then rising changes oft
Iis couchant watch, as one who chose his ground,
Whence rushing he might surest seize them both,
Grip'd in each paw: when Adam, first of men,
To first of women, Eve, thus moving speech,
Turn'd'him, all ear, to hear new utterance flow :

“Sole partner, and sole part of all these joys! Dearer thyself than all: needs must the power That made us, and for us this ample world, Be infinitely good, and of his good As liberal, and free as infinite; That rais'd us from the dust, and plac’d'us here In all this happiness, who at bis band Ilave noihing merited, por can perform Ought whereof he hath need : be who requires From us no other service than to keep This one, this easy charge, Of all the trees

[ocr errors]

in Paradise that bear delicious fruit
So various, not to taste that only tree
Of knowledge, planted by the tree of life.'
So near grows death to life! whate'er death is;
Some dreadful thing no doubt: for well thou know'st
God bath pronounc'd it death to taste that tree,
The only sign of our obedience left
Among so many signs of power and rule,
Conferr'd upon us; and dominion given
Over all other creatures that possess
Earth, air, and sea. Then let us not think hard
One easy prohibition, who enjoy
Free leave so large to all things else, and choice
Unlimited of manifold delights:
But let us ever praise him, and extol
Ilis bounty, following our delightful task,
To prune these growing plants and tend these flowers,
Which were it toilsome, yet with thee were sweet.'

To whom thus Eve replied : “O, thou for whom,
And from whom, I was form'd; flesh of thy flesh ;
And without whom am to no end; my guide
And head! what thou hast said is just and right..
For we to him indeed all praises owe,
And daily thanks; I chiefly, who enjoy
So far the happier lot, enjoying thee
Pre-eminent by so much odds; while thou
Like consort to thyself canst no where find.
That day I oft remember, when from sleep
I first awak'd, and found myself repos'd
Under a shade on flowers; much wond'ring where
And what I was, whence thither brought and how.
Not distant far from thence a murm’ring sound
Of waters issued from a cave, and spread
Into a liquid plain, then stood unmoy'd,
Pure as th' esparse of heaven : I. thither went,
With unexperienc'd thought, and laid me down
On the green bank, to look into the clear
Smooth lake, that to me seem'd another sky.
As I bent down to look, just opposite
A shape within the wat’ry gleam appear’d,

Bending to look on me: I started back ;
It started back : but pleas'd I soon return'd ;
Pleas'd it return'd as soon ; with answering looks
Of sympathy' and love. There I liad fix'd
Mine eyes till now, and pin’d with vain desire,
Plad not a voice thus warn’d me: "What thou seest,
What there thou seest, fair creature, is thyself;
With thee it came and goes : but follow me,
And I will bring thee where no shadow stays
Thy coming, and thy soft embraces; be
Whose image thou art : him thou shalt enjoy,
Joseparably thine, to bim shalt bear
Multitudes like thyself, and thence be callid
Mother of human race.' What could I do
But follow straight, invisibly thus led ?
Till I espied thee, fair indeed, and tall
Under a platane ; yet, methought, less fair,
Less winning soft, less amiably mild,
Than that smooth wat’ry image : back. I turn'd ;
Thou following cried'st aloud, “Return, fair Eve,
Whom Aiest thou? Whoin thou fliest, of him thou art,
His flesh, his bone; to give thee being 1 lent
Out of my side to thee, nearest my heart,
Substantial-life, to have thee by my side
Henceforth an individual solace dear;
Part of my soul, I seek thee; and thee claim,
My other half.'-With that, thy gentle hand
Seiz'd mine; I yielded ; and from that time see
How beauty is excell’d by manly grace,
And wisdom which alone is truly fair."

So spake our general mother; and with eyes
Of conjugal attraction unreprov'd,
And meek surrender, half embracing lean'd
On our first father: half her swelling breast
Naked met bis, under the flowing gold
Of her loose tresses bid. He in delight
Both of her beauty and submissive charms,
Smil'd with superior love; as Jupiter
On Juno smiles, when be impregns the clouds,
That slied May flowers; and press'd ber matron lip

6

With kisses pure : aside the Devil lurn'd
For envy, yet with jealous leer malign
Eyed them askance; and to bimself thus plaio’il:

“ Sight hateful, sight tormenting! Thus these two
Iinparadis'd in one another's arms,
(The happier Eden !) shall enjoy their fill
Or bliss on bliss ; while I to hell am thrust,
Where neither joy nor love, but fierce desire,
Among our other torments not the least,
Still unfulfill'd with pain of longing, pines.
Yet let me not forget what I have gain'd
From their own mouths: all is ot theirs it seems;
One fatal tree there stands, of knowleilge call’d,
Forbidden them to taste. Knowledge forbidden?
Suspicious, reasonless. Why should their Lord
Envy them that? Can it be sin to know?
Can it be death? And do they only stand
By ignorance? Is that their bappy state,

The proof of their obedience and their faith? O fair foundation laid whereon to build Their ruin! Hence I will excite their minds With more desire to know, and to reject Envious commands, in vented with design To keep them low, whom knowledge might exalt Equal with gods. Aspiring

Aspiring to be such, They taste and die; what likelier can ensue? But first with narrow search I must walk round This garden, and no corner leave unspied; A chance but chance may lead where I may meet Some wand'ring spirit of heaven, by fountain side Or in thick shade retir'd, from him to draw What further would be learn'd.

Live while ye may, Yet happy pair! Enjoy, till I return, Short pleasures; for long woes are to succeed !”

So saying liis proud step he scornful turn'd, But with sly circumspection, and began, Through wood, brough waste, o'er hill, o'er dale,

his roam.

Meanwhile in utmost longitude, where beaven
With earth and ocean meets, the setting sun
Slowly descended ; and with right aspect

« IndietroContinua »