Paradise Lost: Book X

Meanwhile the heinous and despiteful act
Of Satan done in Paradise, and how
He, in the Serpent, had perverted Eve,
Her husband she, to taste the fatal fruit,
Was known in Heav’n; for what can scape the eye
Of God all—seeing, or deceive his heart
Omniscient? who, in all things wise and just,
Hinder’d not Satan to attempt the mind
Of Man, with strength entire and free will arm’d
Complete to have discover’d and repuls’d
Whatever wiles of foe or seeming friend.
For still they knew, and ought to have still remember’d,
The high injunction not to taste that fruit,
Whoever tempted; which they not obeying
Incurr’d (what could they less?) the penalty,
And manifold in sin deserv’d to fall.
Up into Heav’n from Paradise in haste
Th’ angelic guards ascended, mute and sad
For Man; for of his state by this they knew,
Much wond’ring how the subtle Fiend had stol’n
Entrance unseen. Soon as th’ unwelcome news
From Earth arriv’d at Heaven—gate, displeas’d
All were who heard; dim sadness did not spare
That time celestial visages, yet, mix’d
With pity, violated not their bliss.
About the new—arriv’d in multitudes
Th’ ethereal people ran to hear and know
How all befell. They towards the Throne Supreme,
Accountable, made haste to make appear
With righteous plea their utmost vigilance,
And easily approv’d; when the Most High,
Eternal Father, from his secret cloud
Amidst, in thunder utter’d thus his voice:
“Assembl’d Angels, and ye Powers return’d
From unsuccessful charge, be not dismay’d
Nor troubl’d at these tidings from the Earth,
Which your sincerest care could not prevent,
Foretold so lately what would come to pass,
When first this Tempter cross’d the gulf from Hell.
I told ye then he should prevail, and speed
On his bad errand: Man should be seduc’d,
And flatter’d out of all, believing lies
Against his Maker; no decree of mine,
Concurring to necessitate his fall,
Or touch with lightest moment of impulse
His free will, to her own inclining left
In even scale. But fall’n he is; and now
What rests, but that the mortal sentence pass
On his transgression, death denounc’d that day?
Which he presumes already vain and void
Because not yet inflicted, as he fear’d,
By some immediate stroke, but soon shall find
Forbearance no acquittance ere day end.
Justice shall not return, as bounty, scorn’d.
But whom send I to judge them? whom but thee,
Vicegerent Son? I’o thee I have transferr’d
All judgment, whether in Heav’n, or Earth, or Hell.
Easy it may be seen that I intend
Mercy colleague with justice, sending thee,
Man’s friend, his Mediator, his design’d
Both ransom and Redeemer voluntary,
And destin’d Man himself to judge Man fall’n.”
So spake the Father; and, unfolding bright
Toward the right hand his glory, on the Son
Blaz’d forth unclouded Deity. He full
Resplendent all his Father manifest
Express’d, and thus divinely answered mild:
“Father Eternal, thine is to decree;
Mine both in Heav’n and Earth to do thy will
Supreme, that thou in me, thy Son belov’d,
May’st ever rest well pleas’d. I go to judge
On Earth these thy transgressors; but thou know’st,
Whoever judg’d, the worst on me must light,
When time shall be—for so I undertook
Before thee, and, not repenting, this obtain
Of right, that I may mitigate their doom
On me deriv’d; yet I shall temper so
Justice with mercy as may illustrate most
Them fully satisfied, and thee appease.
Attendance none shall need, nor train, where none
Are to behold the judgment but the judg’d,
Those two; the third best absent is condemn’d:
Convict by flight, and rebel to all law,
Conviction to the Serpent none belongs.”
Thus saying, from his radiant seat he rose
Of high collateral glory. Him, Thrones and Powers,
Princedoms and Dominations, ministrant
Accompanied to Heaven—gate, from whence
Eden and all the coast in prospect lay.
Down he descended straight—the speed of Gods
Time counts not, though with swiftest minutes wing’d.
Now was the sun in western cadence low
From noon, and gentle airs due at their hour
To fan the earth now wak’d, and usher in
The ev’ning cool, when he, from wrath more cool,
Came, the mild Judge and Intercessor both,
To sentence Man. The voice of God they heard
Now walking in the garden, by soft winds
Brought to their ears, while day declin’d: they heard,
And from his presence hid themselves among
The thickest trees, both man and wife, till God,
Approaching, thus to Adam call’d aloud:
“Where art thou, Adam, wont with joy to meet
My coming, seen far off? I miss thee here,
Not pleas’d, thus entertain’d with solitude,
Where obvious duty erewhile appear’d unsought.
Or come I less conspicuous, or what change
Absents thee, or what chance detains? Come forth!”
He came, and with him Eve, more loath though first
To offend, discount’nanc’d both and discompos’d.
Love was not in their looks, either to God
Or to each other, but apparent guilt,
And shame, and perturbation, and despair,
Anger, and obstinacy, and hate, and guile.
Whence Adam, falt’ring long, thus answer’d brief:
“I heard thee in the garden, and of thy voice
Afraid, being naked, hid myself.” To whom
The gracious Judge, without revile, replied:
“My voice thou oft hast heard, and hast not fear’d,
But still rejoic’d. How is it now become
So dreadful to thee? That thou art naked, who
Hath told thee? Hast thou eaten of the tree
Whereof I gave thee charge thou shouldst not eat?”
To whom thus Adam, sore beset, replied:
“O Heav’n! 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
Devolv’d—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 seem’d to justify the deed—
She gave me of the tree, and I did eat.”
To whom the sovran 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 excell’d
Hers in all real dignity? Adorn’d
She was indeed, and lovely, to attract
Thy love, not thy subjection; and her gifts
Were such as under government well seem’d,
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 overwhelm’d,
Confessing soon, yet not before her Judge
Bold or loquacious, thus abash’d replied,
“The Serpent me beguil’d, and I did eat.”
Which when the Lord God heard, without delay
To judgment he proceeded on th’ accus’d
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 accurs’d,
As vitiated in nature. More to know
Concern’d not Man (since he no further knew),
Nor alter’d his offence; yet God at last
To Satan, first in sin, his doom applied
(Though in mysterious terms, judg’d as then best),
And on the Serpent thus his curse let fall:
“Because thou hast done this, thou art accurs’d
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:
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 Heav’n,
Prince of the Air; then, rising from his grave,
Spoil’d Principalities and Powers, triumph’d
In open show, and, with ascension bright,
Captivity led captive through the Air,
The realm itself of Satan, long usurp’d,
Whom he shall tread at last under our feet,
Ev’n he who now foretold his fatal bruise
And to the Woman thus his sentence turn’d:
“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.”
On Adam last thus judgment he pronounc’d:
“Because thou hast heark’n’d to the voice of thy wife,
And eaten of the tree concerning which
I charg’d thee, saying, ‘Thou shalt not eat thereof,’
Curs’d 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 th’ herb of th’ field:
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou 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 judg’d he Man, both Judge and Saviour sent,
And th’ instant stroke of death, denounc’d that day,
Remov’d far off; then, pitying how they stood
Before him naked to the air, that now
Must suffer change, disdain’d not to begin
Thenceforth the form of servant to assume.
As when he wash’d 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, cover’d from his Father’s sight.
To him with swift ascent he up return’d,
Into his blissful bosom reassum’d
In glory as of old; to him, appeas’d,
All, though all—knowing, what had pass’d with Man
Recounted, mixing intercession sweet.
Meanwhile, ere thus was sinn’d and judg’d 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 pass’d through,
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 return’d, with fury driv’n
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 giv’n 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;
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
(Advent’rous 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 th’ 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 answer’d 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 death from all things there that live.
Nor shall I to the work thou enterprisest
Be wanting, but afford thee equal aid.”
So saying, with delight he snuff’d 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 encamp’d come flying, lur’d
With scent of living carcases design’d
For death the following day in bloody fight:
So scented the grim Feature, and upturn’d
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
Toss’d 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 th’ imagin’d 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 fix’d 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 gather’d beach
They fasten’d, and the mole immense wrought on
Over the foaming Deep high—arch’d, 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 compar’d,
Xerxes, the liberty of Greece to yoke,
From Susa, his Memnonian palace high,
Came to the sea, and over Hellespont
Bridging his way, Europe with Asia join’d,
And scourg’d with many a stroke th’ indignant waves.
Now had they brought the work by wondrous art
Pontifical—a ridge of pendent rock
Over the vex’d Abyss, following the track
Of Satan, to the self—same place where he
First lighted from his wing and landed safe
From out of Chaos—to the outside bare
Of this round World. With pins of adamant
And chains they made all fast, too fast they made
And durable. And now in little space
The confines met of empyrean Heav’n
And of this World, and on the left hand Hell
With long reach interpos’d: three sev’ral ways
In sight to each of these three places led.
And now their way to Earth they had descried,
To Paradise first tending, when, behold
Satan, in likeness of an Angel bright,
Betwixt the Centaur and the Scorpion steering
His zenith, while the Sun in Aries rose:
Disguis’d he came, but those his children dear
Their parent soon discern’d though in disguise.
He, after Eve seduc’d, unminded slunk
Into the wood fast by, and changing shape
To observe the sequel, saw his guileful act
By Eve, though all unweeting, seconded
Upon her husband, saw their shame that sought
Vain covertures; but, when he saw descend
The Son of God to judge them, terrified
He fled, not hoping to escape, but shun
The present, fearing, guilty, what his wrath
Might suddenly inflict; that past, return’d
By night, and list’ning where the hapless pair
Sat in their sad discourse and various plaint,
Thence gather’d his own doom, which understood
Not instant, but of future time.With joy
And tidings fraught, to Hell he now return’d,
And at the brink of Chaos, near the foot
Of this new wondrous pontifice, unhop’d
Met who to meet him came, his offspring dear.
Great joy was at their meeting, and at sight
Of that stupendous bridge his joy increas’d.
Long he admiring stood, till Sin, his fair
Enchanting daughter, thus the silence broke:
“O parent, these are thy magnific deeds,
Thy trophies! which thou view’st as not thine own:
Thou art their author and prime architect.
For I no sooner in my heart divin’d
(My heart, which by a secret harmony
Still moves with thine, join’d in connexion sweet)
That thou on Earth hadst prosper’d, which thy looks
Now also evidence, but straight I felt—
Though distant from thee worlds between, yet felt—
That I must after thee with this thy son.
Such fatal consequence unites us three,
Hell could no longer hold us in her bounds,
Nor this unvoyageable gulf obscure
Detain from following thy illustrious track.
Thou hast achiev’d our liberty, confin’d
Within Hell—gates till now: thou us empow’r’d
To fortify thus far, and overlay
With this portentous bridge the dark Abyss.
Thine now is all this World; thy virtue hath won
What thy hands builded not; thy wisdom gain’d
With odds what war hath lost, and fully aveng’d
Our foil in Heav’n. Here thou shalt monarch reign,
There didst not. There let him still victor sway,
As battle hath adjudg’d, from this new World
Retiring, by his own doom alienated,
And henceforth monarchy with thee divide
Of all things, parted by th’ empyreal bounds,
His quadrature, from thy orbicular World:
Or try thee now more dangerous to his throne.”
Whom thus the Prince of Darkness answer’d glad:
“Fair daughter, and thou son and grandchild both,
High proof ye now have giv’n to be the race
Of Satan (for I glory in the name,
Antagonist of Heav’n’s Almighty King),
Amply have merited of me, of all
Th’ Infernal Empire, that so near Heav’n’s door
Triumphal with triumphal act have met,
Mine with this glorious work, and made one realm
Hell and this World—one realm, one continent
Of easy thoroughfare. Therefore, while I
Descend through darkness, on your road with ease,
To my associate Powers, them to acquaint
With these successes, and with them rejoice,
You two this way, among these numerous orbs,
All yours, right down to Paradise descend;
There dwell, and reign in bliss; thence on the Earth
Dominion exercise and in the Air,
Chiefly on Man, sole lord of all declar’d;
Him first make sure your thrall, and lastly kill.
My substitutes I send ye, and create
Plenipotent on Earth, of matchless might
Issuing from me. On your joint vigour now
My hold of this new kingdom all depends,
Through Sin to Death expos’d by my exploit.
If your joint power prevail, th’ affairs of Hell
No detriment need fear. Go, and be strong.”
So saying, he dismiss’d them. They with speed
Their course through thickest constellations held,
Spreading their bane: the blasted stars look’d wan,
And planets, planet—struck, real eclipse
Then suffer’d. Th’ other way Satan went down
The causey to Hell—gate: on either side
Disparted Chaos overbuilt exclaim’d,
And with rebounding surge the bars assail’d,
That scorn’d his indignation. Through the gate,
Wide open and unguarded, Satan pass’d,
And all about found desolate; for those
Appointed to sit there had left their charge,
Flown to the upper World; the rest were all
Far to the inland retir’d, about the walls
Of Pandaemonium, city and proud seat
Of Lucifer, so by allusion call’d
Of that bright star to Satan paragon’d.
There kept their watch the legions, while the grand
In council sat, solicitous what chance
Might intercept their Emperor sent; so he
Departing gave command, and they observ’d.
As when the Tartar, from his Russian foe,
By Astracan over the snowy plains
Retires, or Bactrian Sophi, from the horns
Of Turkish crescent, leaves all waste beyond
The realm of Aladule in his retreat
To Tauris or Casbeen: so these, the late
Heav’n—banish’d host, left desert utmost Hell
Many a dark league, reduc’d in careful watch
Round their metropolis, and now expecting
Each hour their great adventurer from the search
Of foreign worlds. He through the midst unmark’d,
In show plebeian Angel militant
Of lowest order, pass’d, and from the door
Of that Plutonian hall invisible
Ascended his high throne, which, under state
Of richest texture spread, at th’ upper end
Was plac’d in regal lustre. Down awhile
He sat, and round about him saw, unseen.
At last, as from a cloud, his fulgent head
And shape star—bright appear’d, or brighter, clad
With what permissive glory since his fall
Was left him, or false glitter. All amaz’d
At that so sudden blaze, the Stygian throng
Bent their aspect, and whom they wish’d beheld,
Their mighty Chief return’d: loud was th’ acclaim.
Forth rush’d in haste the great consulting Peers,
Rais’d from their dark divan, and with like joy
Congratulant approach’d him, who with hand
Silence, and with these words attention, won:
“Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers!
For in possession such, not only of right,
I call ye and declare ye now, return’d
Successful beyond hope, to lead ye forth
Triumphant out of this infernal pit
Abominable, accurs’d, the house of woe,
And dungeon of our tyrant! Now possess
As lords a spacious World, to our native Heaven
Little inferior, by my adventure hard
With peril great achiev’d. Long were to tell
What I have done, what suffer’d, with what pain
Voyag’d th’ unreal, vast, unbounded Deep
Of horrible confusion—over which
By Sin and Death a broad way now is pav’d,
To expedite your glorious march; but I
Toil’d out my uncouth passage, forc’d to ride
Th’ untractable Abyss, plung’d in the womb
Of unoriginal Night and Chaos wild,
That, jealous of their secrets, fiercely oppos’d
My journey strange, with clamorous uproar
Protesting Fate supreme; thence how I found
The new—created World, which fame in Heav’n
Long had foretold, a fabric wonderful,
Of absolute perfection; therein Man
Plac’d in a Paradise, by our exile
Made happy. Him by fraud I have seduc’d
From his Creator, and, the more to increase
Your wonder, with an apple! He, thereat
Offended—worth your laughter!—hath giv’n up
Both his beloved Man and all his World
To Sin and Death a prey, and so to us,
Without our hazard, labour, or alarm,
To range in, and to dwell, and over Man
To rule, as over all he should have rul’d.
True is, me also he hath judg’d; or rather
Me not, but the brute serpent, in whose shape
Man I deceiv’d. That which to me belongs
Is enmity, which he will put between
Me and mankind: I am to bruise his heel:
His seed—when, is not set—shall bruise my head!
A world who would not purchase with a bruise,
Or much more grievous pain? Ye have th’ account
Of my performance. What remains, ye Gods,
But up and enter now into full bliss?”
So having said, awhile he stood expecting
Their universal shout and high applause
To fill his ear; when, contrary, he hears
On all sides from innumerable tongues
A dismal universal hiss, the sound
Of public scorn. He wonder’d, but not long
Had leisure, wond’ring at himself now more:
His visage drawn he felt to sharp and spare,
His arms clung to his ribs, his legs entwining
Each other till, supplanted, down he fell
A monstrous serpent on his belly prone,
Reluctant but in vain: a greater power
Now rul’d him, punish’d in the shape he sinn’d,
According to his doom. He would have spoke,
But hiss for hiss return’d with forked tongue
To forked tongue; for now were all transform’d
Alike, to serpents all, as accessories
To his bold riot. Dreadful was the din
Of hissing through the hall, thick—swarming now
With complicated monsters, head and tail:
Scorpion and asp and amphisbaena dire,
Cerastes horn’d, hydrus, and ellops drear,
And dipsas (not so thick swarm’d once the soil
Bedropp’d with blood of Gorgon, or the isle
Ophiusa); but still greatest he, the midst,
Now dragon grown, larger than whom the sun
Engender’d in the Pythian vale on slime,
Huge Python; and his power no less he seem’d
Above the rest still to retain. They all
Him follow’d, issuing forth to th’ open field,
Where all yet left of that revolted rout,
Heav’n—fall’n, in station stood or just array,
Sublime with expectation when to see
In triumph issuing forth their glorious Chief.
They saw, but other sight instead—a crowd
Of ugly serpents. Horror on them fell,
And horrid sympathy; for what they saw
They felt themselves now changing. Down their arms,
Down fell both spear and shield, down they as fast;
And the dire hiss renew’d, and the dire form
Catch’d by contagion, like in punishment
As in their crime. Thus was th’ applause they meant
Turn’d to exploding hiss, triumph to shame
Cast on themselves from their own mouths. There stood
A grove hard by, sprung up with this their change
(His will who reigns above) to aggravate
Their penance, laden with fair fruit, like that
Which grew in Paradise, the bait of Eve
Us’d by the Tempter. On that prospect strange
Their earnest eyes they fix’d, imagining
For one forbidden tree a multitude
Now ris’n, to work them further woe or shame;
Yet, parch’d with scalding thirst and hunger fierce,
Though to delude them sent, could not abstain,
But on they roll’d in heaps, and up the trees
Climbing, sat thicker than the snaky locks
That curl’d Megaera. Greedily they pluck’d
The fruitage fair to sight, like that which grew
Near that bituminous lake where Sodom flam’d;
This, more delusive, not the touch, but taste
Deceiv’d; they, fondly thinking to allay
Their appetite with gust, instead of fruit
Chew’d bitter ashes, which th’ offended taste
With spattering noise rejected. Oft they assay’d,
Hunger and thirst constraining; drugg’d as oft,
With hatefulest disrelish writh’d their jaws
With soot and cinders fill’d; so oft they fell
Into the same illusion, not as Man,
Whom they triumph’d, once laps’d. Thus were they plagu’d,
And worn with famine long, and ceaseless hiss,
Till their lost shape, permitted, they resum’d—
Yearly enjoin’d, some say, to undergo
This annual humbling certain number’d days,
To dash their pride and joy for Man seduc’d.
However, some tradition they dispers’d
Among the heathen of their purchase got,
And fabl’d how the Serpent, whom they call’d
Ophion, with Eurynome (the wide—
Encroaching Eve perhaps), had first the rule
Of high Olympus, thence by Saturn driv’n
And Ops, ere yet Dictaean Jove was born.
Meanwhile in Paradise the hellish pair
Too soon arriv’d—Sin, there in power before
Once actual, now in body and to dwell
Habitual habitant; behind her Death,
Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet
On his pale horse; to whom Sin thus began:
“Second of Satan sprung, all—conquering Death!
What think’st thou of our empire now, though earn’d
With travail difficult? not better far
Than still at Hell’s dark threshold to have sat watch,
Unnam’d, undreaded, and thyself half—starv’d?”
Whom thus the Sin—born monster answer’d soon:
“To me, who with eternal famine pine,
Alike is Hell, or Paradise, or Heaven—
There best where most with ravin I may meet:
Which here, though plenteous, all too little seems
To stuff his maw, this vast un—hidebound corpse.”
To whom th’ incestuous mother thus replied:
“Thou, therefore, on these herbs, and fruits, and flow’rs,
Feed first, on each beast next, and fish, and fowl—
No homely morsels; and whatever thing
The scythe of Time mows down devour unspar’d,
Till I, in Man residing through the race,
His thoughts, his looks, words, actions, all infect,
And season him thy last and sweetest prey.”
This said, they both betook them several ways,
Both to destroy, or unimmortal make
All kinds, and for destruction to mature
Sooner or later; which th’ Almighty seeing,
From his transcendent seat the Saints among,
To those bright Orders utter’d thus his voice:
“See with what heat these dogs of Hell advance
To waste and havoc yonder World, which I
So fair and good created, and had still
Kept in that state, had not the folly of Man
Let in these wasteful furies, who impute
Folly to me (so doth the Prince of Hell
And his adherents), that with so much ease
I suffer them to enter and possess
A place so heav’nly and, conniving, seem
To gratify my scornful enemies,
That laugh as if, transported with some fit
Of passion, I to them had quitted all,
At random yielded up to their misrule,
And know not that I call’d and drew them thither,
My Hell—hounds, to lick up the draff and filth
Which Man’s polluting sin with taint hath shed
On what was pure; till, cramm’d and gorg’d, nigh burst
With suck’d and glutted offal, at one sling
Of thy victorious arm, well—pleasing Son,
Both Sin and Death, and yawning Grave, at last
Through Chaos hurl’d, obstruct the mouth of Hell
For ever, and seal up his ravenous jaws.
Then Heav’n and Earth, renew’d, shall be made pure
To sanctity that shall receive no stain:
Till then the curse pronounc’d on both precedes.”
He ended, and the Heav’nly audience loud
Sung Halleluiah, as the sound of seas
Through multitude that sung: “Just are thy ways,
Righteous are thy decrees on all thy works;
Who can extenuate thee?” Next, to the Son:
“Destin’d restorer of Mankind, by whom
New Heav’n and Earth shall to the ages rise,
Or down from Heav’n descend.” Such was their song,
While the Creator, calling forth by name
His mighty Angels, gave them several charge,
As sorted best with present things. The Sun
Had first his precept so to move, so shine,
As might affect the Earth with cold and heat
Scarce tolerable, and from the north to call
Decrepit winter, from the south to bring
Solstitial summer’s heat. To the blank Moon
Her office they prescrib’d; to th’ other five
Their planetary motions and aspects,
In sextile, square, and trine, and opposite,
Of noxious efficacy, and when to join
In synod unbenign; and taught the fix’d
Their influence malignant when to show’r—
Which of them, rising with the Sun or falling,
Should prove tempestuous. To the winds they set
Their corners, when with bluster to confound
Sea, air, and shore; the thunder when to roll
With terror through the dark aerial hall.
Some say he bid his Angels turn askance
The poles of Earth twice ten degrees and more
From the Sun’s axle: they with labour push’d
Oblique the centric globe; some say the Sun
Was bid turn reins from th’ equinoctial road,
Like distant breadth, to Taurus with the seven
Atlantic Sisters, and the Spartan Twins,
Up to the Tropic Crab, thence down amain,
By Leo and the Virgin and the Scales,
As deep as Capricorn, to bring in change
Of seasons to each clime. Else had the spring
Perpetual smil’d on Earth with vernant flow’rs,
Equal in days and nights, except to those
Beyond the polar circles—to them day
Had unbenighted shone, while the low Sun,
To recompense his distance, in their sight
Had rounded still th’ horizon, and not known
Or east or west, which had forbid the snow
From cold Estotiland, and south as far
Beneath Magellan. At that tasted fruit,
The Sun, as from Thyestean banquet, turn’d
His course intended; else how had the world
Inhabited, though sinless, more than now
Avoided pinching cold and scorching heat?
These changes in the heav’ns, though slow, produc’d
Like change on sea and land—sideral blast,
Vapour and mist and exhalation hot,
Corrupt and pestilent. Now from the north
Of Norumbega, and the Samoed shore,
Bursting their brazen dungeon, arm’d with ice
And snow and hail and stormy gust and flaw,
Boreas and Caecias and Argestes loud
And Thrascias rend the woods and seas upturn;
With adverse blasts upturns them from the south
Notus and Afer, black with thund’rous clouds
From Serraliona; thwart of these, as fierce
Forth rush the Levant and the Ponent winds,
Eurus and Zephyr, with their lateral noise,
Sirocco and Libecchio. Thus began
Outrage from lifeless things; but Discord first,
Daughter of Sin, among th’ irrational
Death introduc’d through fierce antipathy:
Beast now with beast 'gan war, and fowl with fowl,
And fish with fish. To graze the herb all leaving
Devour’d each other; nor stood much in awe
Of Man, but fled him, or with count’nance grim
Glar’d on him passing. These were from without
The growing miseries; which Adam saw
Already in part, though hid in gloomiest shade,
To sorrow abandon’d, but worse felt within,
And, in a troubl’d sea of passion tost,
Thus to disburden sought with sad complaint:
“O miserable of happy! Is this the end
Of this new glorious World, and me so late
The glory of that glory? who now, become
Accurs’d of blessed, hide me from the face
Of God, whom to behold was then my highth
Of happiness—yet well, if here would end
The misery! I deserv’d it, and would bear
My own deservings; but this will not serve:
All that I eat or drink, or shall beget,
Is propagated curse. O Voice, once heard
Delightfully, 'Increase and multiply’,
Now death to hear! for what can I increase
Or multiply but curses on my head?
Who of all ages to succeed, but feeling
The evil on him brought by me, will curse
My head? ‘Ill fare our ancestor impure!
For this we may thank Adam!’ but his thanks
Shall be the execration. So, besides
Mine own that bide upon me, all from me
Shall with a fierce reflux on me redound,
On me as on their natural centre light,
Heavy though in their place. O fleeting joys
Of Paradise, dear bought with lasting woes!
Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay
To mould me Man? Did I solicit thee
From darkness to promote me, or here place
In this delicious garden? As my will
Concurr’d not to my being, it were but right
And equal to reduce me to my dust,
Desirous to resign and render back
All I receiv’d, unable to perform
Thy terms too hard by which I was to hold
The good I sought not. To the loss of that,
Sufficient penalty, why hast thou added
The sense of endless woes? Inexplicable
Thy justice seems. Yet, to say truth, too late
I thus contest; then should have been refus’d
Those terms, whatever, when they were propos’d.
Thou didst accept them: wilt thou enjoy the good,
Then cavil the conditions? And though God
Made thee without thy leave, what if thy son
Prove disobedient and, reprov’d, retort,
‘Wherefore didst thou beget me? I sought it not!’
Wouldst thou admit for his contempt of thee
That proud excuse? Yet him not thy election,
But natural necessity, begot:
God made thee of choice his own, and of his own
To serve him; thy reward was of his grace:
Thy punishment, then, justly is at his will.
Be it so, for I submit; his doom is fair,
That dust I am, and shall to dust return.
O welcome hour, whenever! Why delays
His hand to execute what his decree
Fix’d on this day? Why do I overlive?
Why am I mock’d with death, and length’n’d out
To deathless pain? How gladly would I meet
Mortality, my sentence, and be earth
Insensible! how glad would lay me down
As in my mother’s lap! There I should rest,
And sleep secure; his dreadful voice no more
Would thunder in my ears; no fear of worse
To me and to my offspring would torment me
With cruel expectation. Yet one doubt
Pursues me still: lest all I cannot die,
Lest that pure breath of life, the Spirit of Man
Which God inspir’d, cannot together perish
With this corporeal clod. Then, in the grave,
Or in some other dismal place, who knows
But I shall die a living death? O thought
Horrid, if true! Yet why? It was but breath
Of life that sinn’d: what dies but what had life
And sin? The body properly hath neither.
All of me, then, shall die: let this appease
The doubt, since human reach no further knows.
For though the Lord of all be infinite,
Is his wrath also? Be it, Man is not so,
But mortal doom’d. How can he exercise
Wrath without end on Man whom death must end?
Can he make deathless death? That were to make
Strange contradiction; which to God himself
Impossible is held, as argument
Of weakness, not of power. Will he draw out,
For anger’s sake, finite to infinite
In punish’d Man, to satisfy his rigour
Satisfied never? That were to extend
His sentence beyond dust and Nature’s law,
By which all causes else, according still
To the reception of their matter, act—
Not to th’ extent of their own sphere. But say
That death be not one stroke, as I suppos’d,
Bereaving sense, but endless misery
From this day onward, which I feel begun
Both in me and without me, and so last
To perpetuity—Ay me! that fear
Comes thundering back with dreadful revolution
On my defenceless head! Both Death and I
Am found eternal, and incorporate both;
Nor I on my part single: in me all
Posterity stands curs’d. 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 deprav’d
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,
Forc’d 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 desir’st
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 driv’n me; out of which
I find no way, from deep to deeper plung’d!”
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
Curs’d his creation; Death as oft accus’d
Of tardy execution, since denounc’d
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 hast’n 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 bow’rs!
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 assay’d;
But her, with stern regard, he thus repell’d:
“Out of my sight, thou serpent! That name best
Befits thee, with him leagu’d, 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 heav’nly form, pretended
To hellish falsehood, snare them. But for thee
I had persisted happy, had not thy pride
And wand’ring 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 overreach, but with the Serpent meeting,
Fool’d and beguil’d—by him thou; I by thee,
To trust thee from my side, imagin’d 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! O why did God,
Creator wise, that peopl’d highest Heav’n
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 befall’n,
And more that shall befall: innumerable
Disturbances on earth through female snares,
And strait 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 repuls’d, with tears that ceas’d 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 Heav’n
What love sincere and reverence in my heart
I bear thee, and unweeting have offended,
Unhappily deceiv’d! 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 befall’n—
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 remov’d, may light
On me, sole cause to thee of all this woe,
Me, me onely, just object of his ire.”
She ended, weeping; and her lowly plight,
Immovable till peace obtain’d from fault
Acknowledg’d and deplor’d, 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 displeas’d, his aid.
As one disarm’d, his anger all he lost,
And thus with peaceful words uprais’d her soon:
Unwary, and too desirous, as before
So now, of what thou knowst not, who desir’st
The punishment all on thy self! 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 forgiv’n,
To me committed and by me expos’d.
But rise. Let us no more contend, nor blame
Each other, blam’d enough elsewhere, but strive
In offices of love how we may light’n
Each other’s burden in our share of woe,
Since this day’s death denounc’d, if aught I see,
Will prove no sudden, but a slow—pac’d evil,
A long day’s dying, to augment our pain,
And to our seed (O hapless seed!) deriv’d."
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,
Restor’d 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 ris’n,
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 deceiv’d his glut, and with us two
Be forc’d to satisfy his rav’nous 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 dy’d her cheeks with pale.
But Adam, with such counsel nothing sway’d,
To better hopes his more attentive mind
Labouring had rais’d, 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 minde 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 overlov’d;
Or, if thou covet death as utmost end
Of misery, so thinking to evade
The penalty pronounc’d, 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 contriv’d
Against us this deceit. To crush his head
Would be revenge indeed! which will be lost
By death brought on ourselves, or childless days
Resolv’d 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 judg’d,
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 recompens’d with joy,
Fruit of thy womb. On me the curse aslope
Glanc’d 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
Cloth’d us unworthy, pitying while he judg’d.
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
Th’ 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 driv’n down
Kindles the gummy bark of fir or pine,
And sends a comfortable heat from far—
Which might supply the sun. Such fire to use,
And what may else be remedy or cure
To evils which our own misdeeds have wrought,
He will instruct us praying and of grace
Beseeching him: so as we need not fear
To pass commodiously this life, sustain’d
By him with many comforts, till we end
In dust, our final rest and native home.
What better can we do than, to the place
Repairing where he judg’d us, prostrate fall
Before him reverent, and there confess
Humbly our faults, and pardon beg, with tears
Wat’ring the ground, and with our sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite in sign
Of sorrow unfeign’d and humiliation meek?
Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn
From his displeasure, in whose look serene,
When angry most he seem’d and most severe,
What else but favour, grace, and mercy shone?”
So spake our Father penitent; nor Eve
Felt less remorse. They, forthwith to the place
Repairing where he judg’d them, prostrate fell
Before him reverent, and both confess’d
Humbly their faults, and pardon begg’d, with tears
Wat’ring the ground, and with their sighs the air
Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign
Of sorrow unfeign’d and humiliation meek.
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