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With narrow search; and, with inspection deep,
Consider'd every creature, which of all .
Most opportune might serve his wiles; and found
The serpent subtlest beast of all the field.
Him, after long debate, irresolute,
Of thoughts revolved, his final sentence chose,
Fit vessel, fittest imp of fraud, in whom
To enter, and his dark suggestions hide
From sharpest sight: for, in the wily snake,
Whatever sleights, none would suspicious mark,
As from his wit and native subtlety
Proceeding; which, in other beasts observed,
Doubt might beget of diabolic power
Active within, beyond the sense of brute.
Thus he resolved; but first, from inward grief,
His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd:
“O earth, how like to heaven, if not preferr'd
More justly, seat worthier of gods, as built
With second thoughts, reforming what was old!
For what god, after better, worse would build ?
Terrestrial heaven, danced round by other heavens
That shine, yet bear their bright officious lamps,
Light above light, for thee alone, as seems
In thee concentring all their precious beams
Of sacred influence! As God in heaven
Is centre, yet extends to all; so thou,
Centring, receivest from all those orbs: in thee,
Not in themselves, all their known virtue appears
Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth
Of creatures animate with gradual life
Of growth, sense, reason, all summ'd up in man.
With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
If I could joy in aught! sweet interchange
Of hill, and valley, rivers, woods, and plains,
Now land, now sea, and shores with forest crown'd,
Rocks, dens, and caves! But I in none of these
Find place or refuge; and the more I see
Pleasures about me, so much more I feel
Torment within me, as from the hateful siege
Of contraries. All good to me becomes
Bane, and in heaven much worse would be my state.
But neither here seek I, no, nor in heaven,
To dwell, unless by mastering heaven's Supreme:
Nor hope to be myself less miserable
By what I seek, but others to make such
As I, though thereby worse to me redound:
For only in destroying I find ease
To my relentless thoughts; and, him destroy'd,
Or won to what may work his utter loss,
For whom all this was made, all this will soon
Follow, as to him link'd in weal or woe:
In woe then; that destruction wide may range.
To me shall be the glory sole among
The infernal powers, in one day to have marr'd
What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days
Continued making; and who knows how lony
Before had been contriving? though, perhaps,
Not longer than since I, in one night, freed,
From servitude inglorious, well nigh half
The angelic name, and thinner left the throng
Of his adorers: he, to be avenged,
And to repair his numbers thus impair'd,
Whether such virtue, spent of old, now fail'd More angels to create, if they at least Are his created; or, to spite us more, Determined to advance into our room A creature form'd of earth; and him endow, Exalted from so base original, With heavenly spoils, our spoils: what he decreed, He effected; man he made, and for him built, Magnificent, this world, and earth his seat, Him lord pronounced; and, O indignity! Subjected to his service, angel-wings, And flaming ministers, to watch and tend Their earthly charge: of these the vigilance I dread; and, to elude, thus wrapt in mist Of midnight vapour, glide obscure, and pry. In every bush and brake, where hap may find The serpent sleeping, in whose mazy folds To hide me, and the dark intent I bring. O foul descent! that I, who erst contended With gods to sit the highest, am now constrain'd Into a beast; and, mix'd with bestial slime, This essence to incarnate and imbrute, That to the height of deity aspired! But what will not ambition and revenge Descend to? Who aspires, must down as low As high he soar'd, obnoxious, first or last, To basest things. Revenge, at first though sweet, Bitter ere long, back on itself recoils: Let it; I reck not, so it light well aim'd, Since higher I fall short, on him who next Provokes my envy, this new favourite
Of heaven, this man of clay, son of despite; Whom, us the more to spite, his Maker raised From dust: spite then with spite is best repaid.”
So saying, through each thicket, dank or dry, Like a black mist, low creeping, he held on His midnight search, where soonest he might find The serpent: him, fast sleeping, soon he found In labyrinth of many a round, self-rolld, His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles: Not yet in horrid shade or dismal den, Nor nocent yet; but, on the grassy herb, Fearless, unfear'd, he slept: in at his mouth The devil enter'd, and his brutal sense, In heart or head, possessing, soon inspired With act intelligential; but his sleep Disturb’d not, waiting close the approach of morn.
Now, when as sacred light began to dawn In Eden on the humid flowers, that breathed Their morning incense, when all things that breathe, From the earth's great altar, send up silent praise To the Creator, and his nostrils fill With grateful smell, forth came the human pair, And join'd their vocal worship to the quire Of creatures wanting voice; that done, partake The season, prime for sweetest scents and airs : Then commune, how that day they best may ply Their growing work; for much their work outgrew The hands' dispatch of two, gardening so wide; And Eve first to her husband thus began :
“Adain, well may we labour still to dress This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flower,
Our pleasant task enjoin'd: but, till more hands
Aid us, the work under our labour grows,
Luxurious by restraint; what we by day
Lop, overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind,
One night or two with wanton growth derides,
Tending to wild. Thou, therefore, now advise, ',
Or hear what to my mind first thoughts present:
Let us divide our labours; thou, where choice
Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind
The woodbine round this arbour, or direct
The clasping ivy where to climb; while I, .
In yonder spring of roses intermix'd
With myrtle, find what to redress till noon:
For, while so near each other thus all day
Our task we choose, what wonder if, so near,
Looks intervene, and smiles, or object new
Casual discourse draw on; which intermits
Our day's work, brought to little, though begun
Early, and the hour of supper comes unearn'd ?”
To whom mild answer Adam thus return’d:
“Sole Eve, associate sole, to me, beyond
Compare, above all living creatures dear!
Well hast thou motion’d, wellthy thoughts employ'd,
How we might best fulfil the work which here
God hath assign'd us; nor of me shalt pass
Unpraised; for nothing lovelier can be found
In woman, than to study household good,
And good works in her husband to promote.
Yet not so strictly hath our Lord imposed
Labour, as to debar us when we need
Refreshment, whether food, or talk between,