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Veers oft, as oft so steers, and shifts her sail:
So varied he, and of his tortuous train
Curl'd many a wanton wreath in sight of Eve,
To lure her eye: she, busied, heard the sound
Of rustling leaves, but minded not, as used
To such disport before her through the field,
From

every beast; more duteous at her call,
Than at Circean call the herd disguised.
He, bolder

now,

uncall’d before her stood, But as in gaze admiring: oft he bow'd His turret crest, and sleek enamellid neck, Fawning; and lick'd the ground whereon she trod. His gentle dumb expression turn’d at length The eye of Eve to mark his play: he, glad Of her attention gain'd, with serpent-tongue Organic, or impulse of vocal air, His fraudulent temptation thus began:

“ Wonder not, sovran Mistress! if perhaps Thou canst, who art sole wonder! much less arm Thy looks, the heaven of mildness, with disdain, Displeased that I approach thee thus, and gaze Insatiate: I thus single; nor have fear'd Thy awful brow, more awful thus retired. Fairest resemblance of thy Maker fair! Thee all things living gaze on, all things thine By gift, and thy celestial beauty adore With ravishment beheld; there best beheld, Where universally admired: but here, In this inclosure wild, these beasts among, Beholders rude, and shallow to discern Half what in thee is fair, one man except, Who sees thee? (and what is one?) who should be A goddess among gods, adored and served [seen By angels numberless, thy daily train."

So glozed the Tempter, and his proem tuned : Into the heart of Eve his words made way, Though at the voice much marvelling; at length, Not unamazed, she thus in answer spake: " What

may

this mean? language of man pronounced By tongue of brute, and human sense express'd? The first, at least, of these I thought denied To beasts; 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 me 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 replied: “ Empress of this fair world, resplendent Eve! Easy to me it is to tell thee all What thou command'st; and right thou shouldst be' I was at first as other beasts that graze [obey'd. The trodden herb, of abject thoughts and low, As was my food; nor aught but food discern'd Or sex, and apprehended nothing high : Till, on a day roving the field, I chanced A goodly tree far distant to behold Loaden with fruit of fairest colors mix'd, Ruddy and gold: I nearer drew to gaze: When from the boughs a savory odor blown, Grateful to appetite, more pleased 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 resolved
Not to defer; hunger and thirst at once,
Powerful persuaders, quicken'd at the scent
Of that alluring fruit, urged 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 tree
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 spared 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 thy 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 declared
Sovran of creatures, universal Dame !"

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

Serpent! thy overpraising leaves in doubt

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