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To whom with healing wounds Adam replied: "Daughter of God and man, immortal Eve! 291 For such thou art, from sin and blame entire; Not diffident of thee do I dissuade

Thy absence from my sight, but to avoid
The attempt itself, intended by our foe.

For he who tempts, though in vain, at least asperses

The tempted with dishonour foul, supposed
Not incorruptible of faith, not proof
Against temptation; thou thyself with scorn
And wouldst resent the offered wrong, 300
anger
Though ineffectual found; misdeem not, then,
If such affront I labour to avert

From thee alone, which on us both at once
The enemy, though bold will hardly dare,
Or daring, first on me the assault shall light.
Nor thou his malice and false guile contemn,—
Subtle he needs must be, who could seduce
Angels, nor think superfluous others' aid.
I, from the influence of thy looks, receive
Accéss in every virtue, in thy sight

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More wise, more watchful, stronger, if need were Of outward strength; while shame, thou looking on,

Shame to be overcome or overreached,

Would utmost vigour raise, and raised unite. Why shouldst not thou like sense within thee

feel

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When I am present, and thy trial choose
With me, best witness of thy virtue tried?
So spake domestic Adam, in his care
And matrimonial love; but Eve, who thought
Less attribúted to her faith sincere,

Thus her reply with accent sweet renewed:

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'If this be our condition, thus to dwell

In narrow circuit, straitened by a foe,

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Subtle or violent, we not endued

Single with like defence wherever met,
How are we happy, still in fear of harm?
But harm precedes not sin; only our foe,
Tempting, affronts us with his foul esteem
Of our integrity; his foul esteem

Sticks no dishonour on our front, but turns 330 Foul on himself; then wherefore shunned or feared

By us? who rather double honour gain From his surmise proved false, find peace within,

Favour from Heaven, our witness, from the event.

And what is faith, love, virtue, unassayed
Alone, without exterior help sustained?
Let us not then suspect our happy state
Left so imperfect by the Maker wise,
As not secure to single or combined.
Frail is our happiness, if this be so;
And Eden were no Eden, thus exposed."
To whom thus Adam fervently replied:
O woman! best are all things as the will
Of God ordained them; his creating hand
Nothing imperfect or deficient left

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Of all that he created, much less man,
Or aught that might his happy state secure,
Secure from outward force; within himself
The danger lies, yet lies within his power;
Against his will he can receive no harm.
But God left free the will; for what obeys
Reason is free; and reason he made right,
But bid her well be ware, and still erect,
Lest by some fair-appearing good surprised,
She dictate false, and misinform the will
To do what God expressly hath forbid.
Not then mistrust, but tender love, enjoins

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That I should mind thee oft; and mind thou me.
Firm we subsist, yet possible to swerve;
Since Reason not impossibly may meet
Some specious object by the foe suborned,
And fall into deception unaware,

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Not keeping strictest watch, as she was warned.
Seek not temptation, then, which to avoid.
Were better, and most likely if from me
Thou sever not; trial will come unsought.
Wouldst thou approve thy constancy, approve
First thy obedience; the other who can know,
Not seeing thee attempted? who attest?
But, if thou think trial unsought may find 370
Us both securer than thus warned thou seem'st,
Go; for thy stay, not free, absents thee more.
Go in thy native innocence, rely

On what thou hast of virtue; summon all; For God towards thee hath done his part; do thine."

So spake the patriarch of mankind; but Eve Persisted; yet submiss, though last, replied: "With thy permission, then, and thus

forewarned,

Chiefly by what thy own last reasoning words
Touched only, that our trial, when least sought,
May find us both perhaps far less prepared 381
The willinger I go, nor much expect
A foe so proud will first the weaker seek;
So bent, the more shall shame him his repulse."
Thus saying, from her husband's hand her
hand

Soft she withdrew, and like a Wood-nymph light,

Oread or Dryad, or of Delia's train,

Betook her to the groves, but Delia's self

In gait surpassed and goddess-like deport 389 Though not, as she, with bow and quiver armed,

But with such gardening tools as art, yet rude,
Guiltless of fire, had formed, or angels brought.
To Pales, or Pomona, thus adorned,

Likest she seemed-Pomona, when she fled
Vertumnus-or to Ceres in her prime,
Yet virgin of Proserpina from Jove.
Her long with ardent look his eye pursued
Delighted, but desiring more her stay.
Oft he to her his charge of quick return
Repeated; she to him as oft engaged
To be returned by noon amid the bower,
And all things in best order to invite
Noontide repast, or afternoon's repose.

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O, much deceived, much failing, hapless Eve, Of thy presumed return! event perverse! Thou never from that hour in Paradise Found'st either sweet repast, or sound repose; Such ambush, hid among sweet flowers and shades,

Waited with hellish rancour imminent
To intercept thy way or send thee back
Despoiled of innocence, of faith, of bliss.
For now,
Fiend

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and since first break of dawn, the

Mere serpent in appearance, forth was come, And on his quest, where likeliest he might find

The only two of mankind, but in them

The whole included race, his purposed prey.
In bower and field he sought, where any tuft
Of grove or garden-plot more pleasant lay,
Their tendance or plantation for delight;
By fountain or by shady rivulet

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He sought them both, but wished his hap might find

Eve separate; he wished, but not with hope
Of what so seldom chanced; when to his wish,

Beyond his hope, Eve separate he spies, Veiled in a cloud of fragrance, where she stood,

Half spied so thick the roses bushing round About her glowed, oft stooping to support Each flower of tender stalk, whose head, though 428

gay, Carnation, purple, azure, or specked with gold, Hung drooping unsustained; them she upstays Gently with myrtle band, mindless the while Herself, though fairest unsupported flower, From her best prop so far, and storm so nigh. Nearer he drew, and many a walk traversed Of stateliest covert, cedar, pine, or palm; Then voluble and bold, now hid, now seen, Among thick-woven arborets, and flowers Imbordered on each bank, the hand of Eve; Spot more delicious than those gardens feigned, Or of revived Adonis, or renowned Alcinous, host of old Laërtes' son, Or that, not mystic, where the sapient king Held dalliance with his fair Egyptian spouse. Much he the place admired, the person more. As one who, long in populous city pent, Where houses thick and sewers annoy the air Forth issuing on a summer's morn to breathe Among the pleasant villages and farms Adjoined, from each thing met conceives delight

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The smell of grain, or tedded grass, or kine,
Or dairy, each rural sight, each rural sound;
If chance, with nymph-like step, fair virgin

pass,

What pleasing seemed for her now pleases

more;

She most, and in her look sums all delight;
Such pleasure took the Serpent to behold

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