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That cruel Serpent. On me exercise not
She ended, weeping; and her lowly plight,
“Unwary, and too desirous, as before So now, of what thou know'st not, who desir'st The punishment all on thyself! Alas! Bear thine own first, ill able to sustain His full wrauth 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 forgiven, To me committed, and by me exposed. But rise; let us no more contend, nor blame Each other, blamned enough elsewhere, but strive In offices of love how we may lighten Each other's burden in our share of woe; Since this day's death denounced, if aught I see, Will prove no sudden, but a slow-paced evil, A long day's dying, to auginent our pain, And to our seed (O hapless seed !) derived."
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, Restored 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 risen, 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, devoured 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 deceived his glut, and with us two Be forced to satisfy his ravenous maw. But, if thou judge it hard and difficult, Conversing, looking, loving, to abstain From love's due rites, nuptial imbraces 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 dreadThen, both our selves 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 shew 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 entertained as dyed her cheeks with pale. But Adam, with such counsel nothing swayed, To better hopes his more attentive mind Labouring had raised, 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 mind 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 overloved. Or, if thou covet death, as utmost end Of misery, so thinking to evade The penalty pronounced, doubt not but God Hath wiselier armed his vengeful ire than so To be forestalled. Much more I fear lest death So snatched 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 contrived Against us this deceit. To crush his head Would be revenge indeed—which will be lost By death brought on ourselves, or childless days Resolved as thou proposest; so our foe Shall scape his punishment ordained, and we Instead shall double ours upon our heads. No more be mentioned, 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. Remen.ber with what mild
In dust, our final rest and native home.
So spake our Father penitent; nor Eve
THE ELEVENTH BOOK
THE ARGUMENT.-The Son of God presents to his Father the prayers of our first parents now repenting, and intercedes for them. God accepts them, but declares that they must no longer abide in Paradise ; sends Michael with a band of Cherubim to dispossess them, but first to reveal to Adam future things: Michael's coming down. Adam shews to Eve certain ominous signs: he discerns Michael's approach; goes out to meet him : the Angel denounces their departure. Eve's lamentation. Adam pleads, but submits : the Angel leads him up to a high hill; sets before him in vision what shall happen till the Flood.
Thus they, in lowliest plight, repentant stood