Verse > Anthologies > T. R. Smith, ed. > Poetica Erotica: A Collection of Rare and Curious Amatory Verse
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T. R. Smith, comp.  Poetica Erotica: Rare and Curious Amatory Verse.  1921–22.
 
The First Love of Adam and Eve
By John Milton (1608–1674)
 
(From Paradise Lost, 1674)

THUS talking, hand in hand alone they passed
On to their blissful bower. It was a place
Chosen by the sov’reign Planter, when he framed
All things to Man’s delightful use; the roof
Of thickest covert was inwoven shade,        5
Laurel and myrtle, and what higher grew
Of firm and fragrant leaf; on either side
Acanthus, and each odorous bushy shrub,
Fenced up the verdant wall; each beauteous flower,
Iris all hues, roses, and jessamine,        10
Rear’d high their flourished heads between, and wrought
Mosaic; under foot the violet,
Crocus, and hyacinth, with rich inlay
Broidered the ground, more coloured than the stone
Of costliest emblem: Other creature here,        15
Beast, bird, insect, or worm, durst enter none;
Such was their awe of Man. In shadier bower
More sacred and sequestered, though but feigned,
Pan or Sylvanus never slept, nor nymph,
Nor Faunus haunted. Here, in close recess,        20
With flowers, garlands, and sweet-smelling herbs,
Espousèd Eve decked first her nuptial bed
And heavenly quires the hymenean sung,
What day the genial Angel to our sire
Brought her, in naked beauty more adorned,        25
More lovely than Pandora, whom the Gods
Endowed with all their gifts, and, O! too like
In sad event, when to the unwiser son
Of Japhet brought by Hermes, she ensnared
Mankind with her fair looks, to be avenged        30
On him who had stole Jove’s authentic fire.
Thus at their shady lodge arrived, both stood,
Both turned, and under open sky adored
The God that made both sky, air, earth and heaven
Which they beheld, the moon’s resplendent globe,        35
And starry pole: “Thou also madest the night,
Maker Omnipotent; and thou the day,
Which we in our appointed work employed,
Have finished, happy in our mutual help
And mutual love, the crown of all our bliss        40
Ordained by thee; and this delicious place,
For us too large, where thy abundance wants
Partakers, and uncropt falls to the ground.
But thou hast promised from us two a race
To fill the earth, who shall with us extol        45
Thy goodness infinite, both when we wake
And when we seek, as now, the gift of sleep.”
 
  This said unanimous, and other rites
Observing none, but adoration pure
Which God likes best, into their inmost bower        50
Handed they went; and eased the putting off
Those troublesome disguises which we wear,
Straight side by side were laid; nor turned, I ween,
Adam from his fair spouse, nor Eve the rites
Mysterious of connubial love refused:        55
Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
Of purity, and place, and innocence,
Defaming as impure what God declares
Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
Our Maker bids increase; who bids abstain        60
But our destroyer, foe to God and Man?
Hail, wedded Love, mysterious law, true source
Of human offspring, sole propriety
In Paradise, of all things common else!
By thee adult’rous love was driven from men        65
Among the bestial herds to range; by thee,
Founded in reason, loyal, just and pure,
Relations dear, and all the charities
Of father, son, and brother, first were known.
Far be it that I should write thee sin or blame,        70
Or think the unbefitting holiest place
Perpetual fountain of domestic sweets,
Whose bed is undefiled and chaste pronounced,
Present or past, as saints and patriarchs used!
Here love his golden shafts employs, here lights        75
His constant lamp, and waves his purple wings,
Reigns here and revels; not in the bought smile
Of harlots, loveless, joyless, unendeared,
Casual fruition: nor in court amours
Mixed dance, or wanton mask, or midnight ball,        80
Or serenade, which the starved lover sings
To his proud fair, best quitted with disdain.
These lulled by nightingales embracing slept,
And on their naked limbs the flow’ry roof
Showered roses, which the morn repaired. Sleep on,        85
Blest pair! and, O! yet happiest if ye seek
No happier state, and know to know no more!
 
 
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