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Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv'd
385 Nor to defer ; hunger and thirst at once, Pow'rful persuaders, quicken'd at the scent Of that alluring fruit, urg'd me so keen. About the mosly trunk I wound me foon; For high from ground the branches would require 590 Thy utmost reach, or Adam's: round the tree All other bealts that faw, with like desire Longing and envying ftood, but could not reach. Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung Tempting fo nigh, to pluck and eat my fill 595 I spar'd 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 fpeech 600 Wanted not long, though to this shape retain'd. Thenceforth to speculations high or deep I turn'd my thoughts, and, with capacious mind, Confider'd all things vifible in heaven, Or earth, or middle, all things fair and good; 605 But all that fair and good in thy divine Semblance, and in thy beauty's heav'nly ray, United I beheld; no fair to thine Equivalent or second, which compell'd Me thus, tho' importune perhaps, to come 610 And gaze, and worship thee, of right declar'd Sov’reign of creatures, universal dame.
So talk'd the fpirited fly fnake; and Eve, Yet more amaz'd, unwary thus reply'd. Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt The virtue of that fruit, in thee first prov'd : 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, 620
To whom the wily adder, blithe and glad.
Lead then, said Eve. He leading swiftly roll'd In tangles, and made intricate seem ftrait, To mischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy Brightens his creft ; as when a wand'ring fire, Compact of un&uous vapour, which the night 635 Condenses, and the cold environs round, Kindled through agitation to a flame, Which oft, they say, some evil spi'rit attends, Hovering, and blazing with delufive light, Misleads th’amaz'd night-wand'rer from his way, 640 To bogs and mires, and oft through pond or pool, There swallow'd up and lost, from fuccour far. So glifter'd the dire snake, and into fraud Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree Of prohibition, root of all our woe ; Which when she saw, thus to her guide fe fpake.
Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming hither, Fruitless to me, tho’ fruit be here to’excess, The credit of whose virtue rest with thee, Wond'rous indeed, if cause of such effects. 650 But of this tree we may not tafte nor touch ; God fo 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 reply'd. 655
To whom thus Eve yet finless. Of the fruit
She scarce had faid, tho' brief, when now more bold
670 In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence Flourish’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 Of preface brooking, through his zeal of right: So standing, moving, or to height up grown, The tempter all impafliou'd thus began.
O facred, wife, and wisdom-giving plant, Mother of science, now I feel thy power 689 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 you ? by the fruit ? it gives you life To knowledge ; by the threat'ner? look on me, Me who have touch'd and tasted, yet both live, And life more perfect have attain'd than fate
Meant me, by vent'ring higher than my lot. 690
? or will God incense his ire
700 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 seem so clear, Yet are but dim, shall perfe&tly be then Open'd and clear'd, and ye shall be as gods, Knowing both good and evil as they know: That
ye shall be as gods, since I as man, 710 Internal man, is but proportion meet ; 1 of brute, human, ye of human, gods. So ye shall die perhaps, by putting off Human, to put on gods; death to be wish’d, Tho'threaten'd, which no worse than this can bring. And what are gods that man may not become 716 As they, participatiug 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,
720 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 lies 725
He ended ; and his words replete with guile
749 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 musid.
Great are thy virtues, doubtless, best of fruits, 745 Tho' kept from man, and worthy to be admir'd; Whose taste, too long førborn, 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,
750 Conceals not from us, naming thee the Tree Of Knowledge, knowledge both of good and evil; Forbids us then to taste; but this forbidding Commends thee more, while it infers the good By thee communicated, and our want : For good unknown, sure 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.? .