Imatges de pÓgina

Are found eternal, and incorporate both;
Nor I on my part single, in me all
Posterity stands cursed. Fair patrimony
That I must leave ye, sons! O were I able
To waste it all myself, and leave ye none !
So disinherited, how would ye bless

Me, now your curse! Ah! why should all mankind,
For one man's fault, thus guiltless be condemn'd,

If guiltless? But from me what can proceed,
But all corrupt, both mind and will depraved,

Not to do only, but to will the same

With me? How can they then acquitted stand
In sight of God? Him after all disputes

Forced I absolve all my evasions vain

And reasonings, though through mazes, lead me still But to my own conviction: first and last

On me, me only, as the source and spring

Of all corruption, all the blame lights due ;

So might the wrath Fond wish! couldst thou support
That burden, heavier than the earth to bear,
Than all the world much heavier, though divided
With that bad woman? Thus what thou desirest,
And what thou fear'st, alike destroys all hope
Of refuge, and concludes thee miserable
Beyond all past example and future,

To Satan only like both crime and doom.
O conscience! into what abyss of fears

And horrors hast thou driven me, out of which
I find no way, from deep to deeper plunged !
Thus Adam to himself lamented loud

Through the still night, not now, as ere man fell,
Wholesome, and cool, and mild, but with black air
Accompanied, with damps and dreadful gloom,
Which to his evil conscience represented
All things with double terror. On the ground
Outstretch'd he lay, on the cold ground, and oft
Cursed his creation, death as oft accused
Of tardy execution, since denounced

The day of his offence. Why comes not death,
Said he, with one thrice acceptable stroke
To end me? Shall truth fail to keep her word,
Justice divine not hasten to be just?

But death comes not at call, justice divine
Mends not her slowest pace for prayers or cries.
O woods, O fountains, hillocks, dales, and bowers
With other echo late I taught your shades
To answer, and resound far other song.
Whom thus afflicted, when sad Eve beheld,
Desolate where she sat, approaching nigh,
Soft words to his fierce passion she essay'd;
But her with stern regard he thus repell'd:

Out of my sight, thou serpent! That name best

Befits thee with him leagued, thyself as false
And hateful; nothing wants, but that thy shape,
Like his, and colour serpentine, may show
Thy inward fraud, to warn all creatures from thee
Henceforth, lest that too heavenly form, pretended
To hellish falsehood, snare them. But for thee
I had persisted happy, had not thy pride
And wandering vanity, when least was safe,
Rejected my forewarning, and disdain'd
Not to be trusted, longing to be seen,
Though by the devil himself, him overweening
To over-reach; but, with the serpent meeting,
Fool'd and beguiled; by him thou, I by thee,
To trust thee from my side, imagined wise,
Constant, mature, proof against all assaults
And understood not all was but a show
Rather than solid virtue, all but a rib
Crooked by nature, bent, as now appears,
More to the part sinister from me drawn;
Well if thrown out, as supernumerary
To my just number found. Oh! why did God,
Creator wise, that peopled highest heaven
With spirits masculine, create at last
This novelty on earth, this fair defect
Of nature, and not fill the world at once
With men as angels without feminine,
Or find some other way to generate

Mankind? This mischief had not then befallen,
And more that shall befall, innumerable
Disturbances on earth through female snares,
And straight conjunction with this sex: for either
He never shall find out fit mate, but such
As some misfortune brings him, or mistake,
Or whom he wishes most shall seldom gain

Through her perverseness; but shall see her gain'd
By a far worse, or, if she love, withheld
By parents, or his happiest choice too late
Shall meet, already link'd and wedlock-bound
To a fell adversary, his hate or shame;
Which infinite calamity shall cause

To human life, and household peace confound.
He added not, and from her turn'd; but Eve,
Not so repulsed, with tears that ceased not flowing,
And tresses all disorder'd, at his feet

Fell humble, and, embracing them, besought
His peace, and thus proceeded in her plaint:

Forsake me not thus, Adam; witness, Heaven,
What love sincere and reverence in my heart
I bear thee, and unweeting have offended,
Unhappliy deceived! Thy suppliant

I beg, and clasp thy knees; bereave me not
Whereon I live, thy gentle looks, thy aid,

Thy counsel, in this uttermost distress,
My only strength and stay; forlorn of thee,
Whither shall I betake me, where subsist?
While yet we live, scarce one short hour perhaps,
Between us two let there be peace, both joining,
As join'd in injuries, one enmity

Against a foe by doom express assign'd us,
That cruel serpent. On me exercise not
Thy hatred for this misery befallen,
On me already lost, me than thyself

More miserable. Both have sinn'd, but thou
Against God only, I against God and thee,
And to the place of judgment will return,
There with my cries importune Heaven, that all
The sentence, from thy head removed, may light
On me, sole cause to thee of all this woe,
Me, me only, just object of his ire!

She ended, weeping, and her lowly plight,
Immovable till peace obtained from fault
Acknowledged and deplored, in Adam wrought
Commiseration; soon his heart relented
Towards her, his life so late, and sole delight,
Now at his feet submissive in distress,
Creature so fair his reconcilement seeking,
His counsel, whom she had displeased, his aid;
As one disarm'd, his anger all he lost,

And thus with peaceful words upraised her soon: Unwary and too desirous as before,

So now, of what thou know'st not, who desirest The punishment all on thyself; alas,

Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain

His full wrath, whose thou feel'st as yet least part,

And my displeasure bear'st so ill.

If prayers

Could alter high decrees, I to that place

Would speed before thee, and be louder heard,
That on my head all might be visited,

Thy frailty and infirmer sex forgiven,

To me committed, and by me exposed.

But rise, let us no more contend, nor blame

Each other, blamed enough elsewhere, but strive, In offices of love, how we may lighten

Each other's burden in our share of woe;

Since this day's death denounced, if aught I see,
Will prove no sudden, but a slow-paced evil,
A long day's dying to augment our pain,
And to our seed, O hapless seed! derived.

To whom thus Eve, recovering heart, replied: Adam, by sad experiment I know

How little weight my words with thee can find
Found so erroneous, thence by just event
Found so unfortunate; nevertheless,

Restored by thee, vile as I am, to place

Of new acceptance, hopeful to regain
Thy love, the sole contentment of my heart,
Living or dying, from thee I will not hide
What thoughts in my unquiet breast are risen,
Tending to some relief of our extremes,
Or end, though sharp and sad, yet tolerable,
As in our evils, and of easier choice.

If care of our descent perplex us most,
Which must be born to certain woe, devour'd
By Death at last, and miserable it is
To be to others cause of misery,

Our own begotten, and of our loins to bring
Into this cursed world a woeful race,
That after wretched life must be at last
Food for so foul a monster, in thy power
It lies, yet ere conception to prevent
The race unblest, to being yet unbegot.
Childless thou art, childless remain: so Death
Shall be deceived his glut, and with us two
Be forced to satisfy his ravenous maw.
But if thou judge it hard and difficult,
Conversing, looking, loving, to abstain
From love's due rites, nuptial embraces sweet,
And, with desire to languish without hope,
Before the present object languishing
With like desire, which would be misery,
And torment less than none of what we dread,
Then both ourselves and seed at once to free
From what we fear for both, let us make short,
Let us seek Death, or, he not found, supply
With our own hands his office on ourselves.
Why stand we longer shivering under fears,
That show no end but death, and have the power,
Of many ways to die, the shortest choosing,
Destruction with destruction to destroy?

She ended here, or vehement despair

Broke off the rest; so much of death her thoughts
Had entertain'd, as dyed her cheeks with pale.
But Adam, with such counsel nothing sway'd,
To better hopes his more attentive mind
Labouring had raised, and thus to Eve replied:
Eve, thy contempt of life and pleasure seems
To argue in thee something more sublime
And excellent than what thy mind contemns;
But self-destruction therefore sought refutes
That excellence thought in thee, and implies,
Not thy contempt, but anguish and regret
For loss of life and pleasure overloved
Or if thou covet death, as utmost end
Of misery, so thinking to evade

The penalty pronounced, doubt not but God
Hath wiselier arm'd his vengeful ire than so


To be forestall'd; much more I fear lest death
So snatch'd will not exempt us from the pain
We are by doom to pay; rather, such acts
Of contumacy will provoke the Highest
To make death in us live: then let us seek
Some safer resolution, which methinks
I have in view, calling to mind with heed
Part of our sentence, that thy seed shall bruise
The serpent's head: piteous amends, unless
Be meant, whom I conjecture, our grand foe,
Satan, who in the serpent hath contrived
Against us this deceit. To crush his head
Would be revenge indeed; which will be lost
By death brought on ourselves, or childless days
Resolved, as thou proposest; so our foe
Shall 'scape his punishment ordain'd, and we
Instead shall double ours upon our heads.
No more be mention'd then of violence
Against ourselves, and wilful barrenness,
That cuts us off from hope, and savours only
Rancour and pride, impatience and despite,
Reluctance against God, and his just yoke
Laid on our necks. Remember with what mild
And gracious temper he both heard and judged
Without wrath or reviling; we expected
Immediate dissolution, which we thought
Was meant by death that day, when, lo! to thee
Pains only in child-bearing were foretold,
And bringing forth, soon recompensed with joy,
Fruit of thy womb. On me the curse aslope
Glanced on the ground, with labour I must earn
My bread; what harm? Idleness had been worse;
My labour will sustain me; and, lest cold
Or heat should injure us, his timely care
Hath unbesought provided, and his hands
Clothed us unworthy, pitying while he judged.
How much more, if we pray him, will his ear
Be open, and his heart to pity incline,
And teach us further by what means to shun
The inclement seasons, rain, ice, hail, and snow,
Which now the sky with various face begins
To show us in this mountain, while the winds
Blow moist and keen, shattering the graceful locks
Of these fair-spreading trees, which bids us seek
Some better shroud, some better warmth to cherish
Our limbs benumb'd, ere this diurnal star
Leave cold the night, how we his gather'd beams
Reflected may with matter sere foment,
Or, by collision of two bodies, grind

The air attrite to fire, as late the clouds

Justling, or push'd with winds rude in their shock,

Tine the slant lightning, whose thwart flame driven down

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