Abbildungen der Seite


may this mean? language oi mau pro nounc'd By tongue of brute, and human sense express'd ? The first, at least, of these I thought denied To heasts; whom God, on their creation-day, Created mute to all articulate sound: The latter I demur: for in their looks Much reason, and in their actions, oft appears. Thee, serpent, subtlest beast of all the field I knew, but not with human voice endued ; Redouble then this miracle, and say. How camest thou speakable of mute, and how To ine so friendly grown above the rest Of brutal kind, that daily are in sight? Say, for such wonder claims attention due."

To whom the guileful Tempter thus replieil : " Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve! Easy to me it is to tell thee all (be obey'd : What thou command'st ; and right thou shouldet I was at first as other beasts that graze The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, As was my food ; nor aught huit food discern'd Or sex, and apprehended nothing high : Till, on a day roving the field, I chanc'd A goodly tree far distarit to behold Loaden with fruit of faireșt colours mix'd, Ruddy and gold : I nearer drew to gaze; When from the boughs a savoury odour blown, Grateful to appetite, more pleas'd my sense Than smell of sweetest fennel, or the teats Of ewe or goat dropping with milk at even, Unsuck'd of lamb or kid, that tend their play To satisfy the sharp desire I had Of tasting those fair apples, I resolv'd Not to defer : hunger and thirst at once. Powerful persnaders, quicken'd at the scent Of that alluring fruit, urg d me so keen. About the mossy trunk I wound me soon ; For, high from ground, the branches would require

Thy utmost reach or Adam's : round the treo
All other beasts that saw, with like desire
Longing and envying stood, but could not reach.
Amid the tree now got, where plenty hung
Tempting so nigh, to pluck and eat my fill
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 speech
Wanted not long; though to this shape retain'd.
Thenceforth to speculations high or deep
I turn'd my thoughts, and with capacious mind
Consider'd all things visible in heaven,
Or earth, or middle; all things fair and good :
But all that fair and good in thy divine
Semblance, and in ray beauty's heavenly ray,
United I beheld ; no fair to thine
Equivalent or second ! which compellid
Me thus, though importune perhaps, to come
And gaze, and worship thee of right declar'd
Sovran of creatures, universal dame!”

So talk'd the spirited sly snake; and Eve,
Yet more amaz'd, unwary thus replied :

“ Serpent, thy overpraising leaves in doubt
The virtue of that fruit, in thee first pror'd :
But say, where grows the tree ? from hence how
For many are the trees of God that grow (far?
In Paradise, and various, yet unknown
To us; in such abundance lies our choice,
As leaves a greater store of fruit untouch'd,
Still hanging incorruptible, till men
Grow up to their provision, and more hands
Help to disburden Nature of her birth.”

To whom the wily adder, blithe and glad :
“ Empress, the way is ready, and not long ;
Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat,
Fast by a fountain, one small thicket past

Of blowing myrrh and báló : if thou accept My conduct, I can bring thee thither soon. « Lead then," said Eve. He, leading, swiftly

rollid In tangles, and made intricate seem straightg. To inischief swift. Hope elevates, and joy Brightens his crest. As when a wandering fire, Compact of unctuous vapour, which the night Condenses, and the cold environs round, Kindled through agitation to a flame, Which oft, they say, some evil spirit attends, Hovering and blazing with delusive light, Mislea is the amaz'd' night-wanderer from his way To bogs and mires, and oft through pond' or pool ; There swallow'd up and lost, from succour far: So glister'd the dire snake, and into fraud Led Eve, our credulous mother, to the tree Of prohibition, root of all our wve; Which when she saw, thus to her guide she spake: “ Serpent, we might have spar'd our coming

hither, Fruitless to me, though fruit be here to excess, The credit of whose virtue rests with thee; Wondrous indeed, if cause of such effects. But of this tree we may not taste nor touch ; God so '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 replied: “ 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: But of the fruit of this fuir tree amidst The garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat Thereof, nor shall ye touch it, lest


die.. She scarce bad said, though brief, when now

more bold

[ocr errors]

The Tempter, but with show of zeal and love
To man, and indignation at his wrong,
New part puts on; and as to passion mov'd,
Fluctuates disturb'd, yet comely and in act
Rais'd, as of some great matter to begin,
As when of old some orator renown'd,
In Athens or free Rome, where eloquence
Flourish'd, since mute, to some great cause ad.

Stood in himself collected; while each part,
Motion, each act, won audience ere the tongue ;
Sometimes in highth began, as no delay
Of preface brooking, through his zeal of right:
So standing, moving, or to highth up-grown,
The Tempter, all impassion'd, thus began :

“O sacred, wise, and wisdom-giving plant, Mother of science! now I feel thy power 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 : How should you ? by the fruit ? it gives you lise To knowledge; by the threatener? 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 venturing higher than my lot. Shall that be shut to man, which to the boast 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 denounc'd, whatever thing death bo, 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, since easier shunnid > 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

[ocr errors]

'lıy then this forbid ? Why, but to awe? Why, but to keep ye low and ignorant, His worshippers ? He knows that in the day l'e eat thereof, your eyes that seem so clear, V'et 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, That ye shall be as gods, since I as man, Internal man, is but proportion meet; 1, of brute buman ; ye, of human, gods. So

ye shall die perhaps, by putting off Human, to put on gods; death to be wishid, Though threaten'd, which no worse than this can

bring: And what are gods, that man may not become 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 see, Warm'd by the sun, producing every kind : Them, nothing: if they all things, who enclusid Knowledge of good and evil in this tree, That whoso eats thereof, forth with attains Wisdom without their leave? and wherein lies The offence, that man should thus attain to know? What can your knowledge hurt him, or this tree Impart against his will, if all be his ? Or is it envy ? and can envy dwell In heavenly breasts? These, these, and many more Causes import your need of this fair fruit. Goddess humane, reach then, and freely taste."

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 behold Might teinpt alone; and in her ears the sound Vet rung of his persuasive words, impregn'd With reason, to her seeming, and with truth: Meanwhile the hour of noon drew on, and wak'd 40 pager appetite, rais'd by the smell

« ZurückWeiter »