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To whom the tempter guilefully reply'd.
Indeed ! hath God then said that of the fruit
Of all these garden-trees ye shall not eat,
Yet lords declar'd of all in earth or air?
To whom thus Eve yet sinless. Of the fruit
Of each tree in the garden we may eat;
660 But of the fruit of this fair tree amidst The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, leit ye die. She scarce had said, tho’ brief, when now more bold The tempter, but with show of zeal and love 665 To man, and indignation at his wrong, New part puts on ; and as to paflion mov’d, Fluctuates disturb’d, yet comely and in act Rais’d, as of some great matter to begin. As when of old fome orator renown'd
670 In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence Flourith’d, since mute, to some great cause address’d Stood in himself collected, while each part, Motion, each act won audience ere the tongue, Sometimes in height began, as no delay
675 Of preface brooking through his zeal of right: So standing, moving, or to height up grown, The tempter all impaffion'd thus began.
O sacred, wife, and wisdom-giving plant, Mother of science, now I feel thy power
680 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:
685 How should ye? 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 attain’d thap fate
Meant me, by vent'ring higher than my lot. 690
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
Of death denounce'd, whatever thing death be, 695
Deterr'd not from achieving what might lead
To-happier life, knowledge of good and evil;
Of good, how just ? of evil, if what is evil
Be real, why not known, fince easier fhunn'd?
God therefore cannot hurt ye, and be just ;
Not just, not God; not fear'd then, nor obey'd :
Your fear itself of death removes the fear.
Why then was this forbid? Why but to awe,
Why but to keep ye low and ignorant,
His worshippers: he knows, that in the day 705
Ye eat thereof, your eyes that feem so clear,
Yet are but dim, shall perfectly be then
Open'd and clear'd, and ye shall be as gods,
Knowing both good and evil as they know.
ye shall be as gods, since I as man, 710
Internal man, is but proportion meet ;
I of brute, human ; ye of human, gods.
So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off
Human, to put on gods ; death to be wishid,
Tho' threaten'd, which no worse than this can bring.
And what are gods that man may not become 716
As they, participating godlike food ?
The gods are first, and that advantage use
On our belief, that all from them proceeds:
I question it ; for this fair earth I fee;
Warm'd by the fun, producing every kind,
Them nothing : if they all things, who inclos'd
Knowledge of good and evil in this tree,
That whoso eats thereof, forth with attains
Wisdom without their leave? and wherein fies
Th' offence, that man should thus attain to know?
What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree
Impart againit his will, if all be his?
Or is it envy? and can envy dwell
In heavenly breasts? these, these, and many more 730
Causes, import your need of this fair fruit.
Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taite.
He ended; and his words replete with guile
Into her heart too easy entrance won:
Fix'd on the fruit she gaz'd, which to behoid 7399
Might tempt alone ; and in her ears the found
Yet rung of his persuasive words, impregn'd
With reason, to her feeming, and with truth;
Meanwhile the hour of noon drew on, and wak'd
An eager appetite; rais'd by the smell
So favoury of that fruit, which with desire,
Inclinable now grown to touch or taste;.
Solicited her longing eye : yet first
Pausing a while, thus to herself she mus'a,
Great are thy virtues, doubtless; best of fruits, 740
Tho' kept from man, and worthy to be admir'd;
Whofe taste, too long forborn, at first affay
Gave elocution to the mute, and taught
The tongue not made for speech to speak thy praise:
Thy praise he also who forbids thy use,
Conceals not from us, naming thee the Tree
Of Knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil;
Forbids us then to tafte ; but this forbidding
Commends thee: more, while it infers the good
By thee communicated, and our want :
For good unknown, fure is not had; or had,
And yet unknown, is as not had at all.
In plain then, what forbids he but to know,
Forbids us good, forbids us to be wise
Such prohibitions bind not. But if death
Binds us with after-bands, what profits then
Our inward freedom? In the day we eat
Of this fair fruit, our doom is, we shall die.
How. dies the serpent? he hath eat'n and lives,
And knows, and speaks, and reasons, and discerns, 765
Irrational till then. For us alone
Was death invented ? or to us deny'd
This intellectual food, for beasts reserv'd?'
For beasts it seems : yet that one beast which first
Hath taited, envies not, but brings with joy 770
The good befall’n him, author unsuspect,
Friendly to man, far from deceit or guile.
What fear I then, rather what know to fear
Under this ignorance of good and evil
Of God or death, of law or penalty.?:
Here grows the cure of all, this fruit divine,
Fair to the eye, inviting to the taste,
Of virtue to make wise: what hinders then
To reach, and fced at once borli bodo' and mind?
So saying, her rash hand in evil hour
Forth reaching to the fruit, she pluck’d, she eat:
Earth felt the wound ; and Nature from her seat,
Sighing through all her works, gave signs of woe,
That all was lost. Back to the thicket flunk
The guilty ferpent: and well might ; for Eve 785
Intent now. wholly on her tafte, nought else
Regarded, fuch delight till then, as feem'd,
In fruit she never tasted, whether true
Or fancy'd so, through expectation high
Of knowledge; nor was God head from her thought,
Greedily the ingorge'd without restraint,
And knew not eating death. Satiate at length,
And heighten'd as with wine, jocund and boonen
Thus to herself the pleasingly began.
O fov’reign, virtuous, precious of all trees 795 In Paradise, of operation bless'd To sapience, hitherto obscur'd, infam'd, And thy fair fruit let hang, as to no end Created ; but henceforth my early care, Not without song, each morning, and due praise, 800 Shall tend thee, and the fertile burden ease Of thy full branches, offer'd free to all; Till dieted by thee I grow mature In knowledge, as the gods, who all things know; Though others envy what they cannot give; 805 For had the gift been theirs, it had not here Thus grown. Experience, next to thee I owe, Best guide; not following thee, I had remain'd In ignorance ; thou open'st wisdom's way, And giv't accefs, though secret fhe retire. 810 And I perhaps am fecret; heaven is high, High, and remote to fee from thence distinct Each thing on earth; and other care perhaps may have uiverice from continua watch Our great forbidder, safe with all his spies. About him. But to Adam in what fort Shall I appear? Shall I to him make known As yet my change, and give him to partake Full happiness with me; or rather not, But keep the odds of knowledge in my power 820 Without eopartner? fo to add what wants In female sex, the more to draw his love, And render me more.equal, and perhaps, A thing not undefirable, sometime Superiour ; for inferiour who is free? This may be well. But what if God have seen, And death ensue ? then I shall be no more, And Adam, wedded to another Eve, Shall live with her enjoying, I extinct ;