Imatges de pÓgina



Whereof I gave thee charge thou shouldst not eat?”
To whom thus Adam, sore beset, replied :-

O Heaven ! in evil strait this day I stand
Before my Judge-either to undergo
Myself the total crime, or to accuse
My other self, the partner of my life,
Whose failing, while her faith to me remains,
I should conceal, and not expose to blame
By my complaint. But strict necessity
Subdues me, and calamitous constraint,
Lest on my head both sin and punishment,
However insupportable, be all
Devolved; though, should I hold my peace, yet Thou
Wouldst easily detect what I conceal.
This woman, whom Thou mad'st to be my help,
And gav'st me as Thy perfect gift, so good,
So fit, so acceptable, so divine,
That from her hand I could suspect no ill,
And what she did, whatever in itself,
Her doing seemed to justify the deed-
She gave me of the tree, and I did eat."
To whom the Sovereign Presence thus replied :-

“Was she thy God, that her thou didst obey
Before His voice? or was she made thy guide,
Superior, or but equal, that to her
Thou didst resign thy manhood, and the place
Wherein God set thee above her, made of thee
And for thee, whose perfection far excelled
Hers in all real dignity ? Adorned
She was indeed, and lovely, to attract
Thy love, not thy subjection; and her gifts
Were such as under government well seemed-
Unseemly to bear rule; which was thy part
And person, hadst thou known thyself aright."

So having said, He thus to Eve in few :-
Say, woman, what is this which thou hast done?”
To whom sad Eve, with shame nigh overwhelmed,


Confessing soon, yet not before her Judge

160 Bold or loquacious, thus abashed replied :“The serpent me beguiled, and I did eat.”

Which, when the Lord God heard, without delay
To judgment He proceeded on the accused
Serpent, though brute, unable to transfer
The guilt on him who made him instrument
Of mischief and polluted from the end
Of his creation-justly then accursed,
As vitiated in nature. More to know
Concerned not man (since he no further knew),

Nor altered his offence; yet God at last
To Satan, first in sin, his doom applied,
Though in mysterious terms, judged as then best;
And on the serpent thus His curse let fall :-

“Because thou hast done this, thou art accursed
Above all cattle, each beast of the field;
Upon thy belly grovelling thou shalt go,
And dust shalt eat all the days of thy life.
Between thee and the woman I will put
Enmity, and between thine and her seed;

180 Her seed shall bruise thy head, thou bruise his heel.”

So spake this oracle—then verified
When Jesus, Son of Mary, second Eve,
Saw Satan fall like lightning down from Heaven,
Prince of the air; then, rising from His grave,
Spoiled principalities and powers, triumphed
In open show, and, with ascension bright,
Captivity led captive through the air,
The realm itself of Satan, long usurped,
Whom He shall tread at last under our feet,

190 Even He who now foretold his fatal bruise, And to the woman thus His sentence turned :

“Thy sorrow I will greatly multiply
By thy conception; children thou shalt bring
In sorrow forth, and to thy husband's will
Thine shall submit; he over thee shall rule."

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On Adam last thus judgment He pronounced :-
“ Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy wife,
And eaten of the tree concerning which
I charged thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat thereof,'
Cursed is the ground for thy sake; thou in sorrow
Shalt eat thereof all the days of thy life;
Thorns also and thistles it shall bring thee forth
Unbid ; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat bread,
Till thou return unto the ground; for thou
Out of the ground wast taken: know thy birth,
For dust thou art, and shalt to dust return."

So judged He man, both Judge and Saviour sent,
And the instant stroke of death, denounced that day,
Removed far off ; then, pitying how they stood
Before Him naked to the air, that now
Must suffer change, disdained not to begin
Thenceforth the form of servant to assume.
As when He washed His servants' feet, so now,
As Father of His family, He clad
Their nakedness with skins of beasts, or slain,
Or, as the snake, with youthful coat repaid ;
And thought not much to clothe His enemies.
Nor He their outward only with the skins
Of beasts, but inward nakedness, much more
Opprobrious, with His robe of righteousness
Arraying, covered from His Father's sight.
To Him with swift ascent He up returned,
Into His blissful bosom reassumed,
In glory, as of old ; to Him, appeased,
All, though all-knowing, what had passed with man
Recounted, mixing intercession sweet.

Meanwhile, ere thus was sinned and judged on earth,
Within the gates of Hell sat Sin and Death,
In counterview within the gates, that now
Stood open wide, belching outrageous flame
Far into Chaos, since the fiend passed through,



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Sin opening; who thus now to Death began :

O son, why sit we here, each other viewing
Idly, while Satan, our great author, thrives
In other worlds, and happier seat provides
For us, his offspring dear? It cannot be
But that success attends him; if mishap,
Ere this he had returned, with fury driven

By his avengers, since no place like this
Can fit his punishment, or their revenge.
Methinks I feel new strength within me rise,
Wings growing, and dominion given me large
Beyond this deep—whatever draws me on,
Or sympathy, or some connatural force,
Powerful at greatest distance to unite
With secret amity things of like kind
By secretest conveyance. Thou, my shade
Inseparable, must with me along;

250 For Death from Sin no power can separate. But, lest the difficulty of passing back Stay his return perhaps over this gulf Impassable, impervious, let us try Adventurous work, yet to thy power and mine Not unagreeable, to found a path Over this main from Hell to that new world Where Satan now prevails—a monument Of merit high to all the infernal host, Easing their passage hence, for intercourse

Or transmigration, as their lot shall lead.
Nor can I miss the way, so strongly drawn
By this new-felt attraction and instinct."

Whom thus the meagre shadow answered soon:
“Go whither fate and inclination strong
Leads thee; I shall not lag behind, nor err
The way, thou leading : such a scent I draw
Of carnage, prey innumerable, and taste
The savour of Jeath from all things there that live.
Nor shall I to the work thou enterprisest

270 280

Be wanting, but afford thee equal aid.”

So saying, with delight he snuffed the smell
Of mortal change on earth. As when a flock
Of ravenous fowl, though many a league remote,
Against the day of battle, to a field
Where armies lie encamped come flying, lured
With scent of living carcasses designed
For death, the following day, in bloody fight;
So scented the grim feature, and upturned
His nostril wide into the murky air,
Sagacious of his quarry from so far.
Then both, from out Hell-gates, into the waste
Wide anarchy of Chaos, damp and dark,
Flew diverse, and, with power (their power was great)
Hovering upon the waters, what they met
Solid or slimy, as in raging sea
Tossed up and down, together crowded drove,
From each side shoaling, towards the mouth of Hell;
As when two Polar winds, blowing adverse
Upon the Cronian sea, together drive
Mountains of ice, that stop the imagined way
Beyond Petsora eastward to the rich
Cathaian coast. The aggregated soil
Death, with his mace petrific, cold and dry,
As with a trident smote, and fixed as firm
As Delos, floating once; the rest his look
Bound with Gorgonian rigour not to move,
And with asphaltic slime; broad as the gate,
Deep to the roots of Hell the gathered beach
They fastened, and the mole immense wrought on
Over the foaming deep high-arched, a bridge
Of length prodigious, joining to the wall
Immovable of this now fenceless world,
Forfeit to death ; from hence a passage broad,
Smooth, easy, inoffensive, down to Hell.
So, if great things to small may be compared,
Xerxes, the liberty of Greece to yoke,



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