Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VII. Descriptive: Narrative
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Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VII. Descriptive: Narrative.  1904.
 
Descriptive Poems: II. Nature and Art
Adam and Eve
John Milton (1608–1674)
 
From “Paradise Lost,” Book IV.

TWO of far nobler shape, erect and tall,
Godlike erect, with native honor clad
In naked majesty, seemed lords of all:
And worthy seemed; for in their looks divine
The image of their glorious Maker shone,        5
Truth, wisdom, sanctitude severe and pure,
(Severe, but in true filial freedom placed,)
Whence true authority in men; though both
Not equal, as their sex not equal, seemed;
For contemplation he and valor formed;        10
For softness she and sweet attractive grace;
He for God only, she for God in him:
His fair large front and eye sublime declared
Absolute rule; and hyacinthine locks
Round from his parted forelock manly hung        15
Clustering, but not beneath his shoulders broad;
She, as a veil, down to the slender waist
Her unadornèd golden tresses wore
Dishevelled, but in wanton ringlets waved
As the vine curls her tendrils; which implied        20
Subjection, but required with gentle sway,
And by her yielded, by him best received,
Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,
And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.
*        *        *        *        *
So passed they naked on, nor shunned the sight        25
Of God or angel; for they thought no ill:
So hand in hand they passed, the loveliest pair,
That ever since in love’s embraces met:
Adam the goodliest man of men since born
His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.        30
Under a tuft of shade that on a green
Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain side
They sat them down: and, after no more toil
Of their sweet gardening labor than sufficed
To recommend cool Zephyr, and made ease        35
More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite
More grateful, to their supper-fruits they fell,
Nectarine fruits which the compliant boughs
Yielded them, sidelong as they sat recline
On the soft downy banks damasked with flowers:        40
The savory pulp they chew, and in the rind,
Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream;
Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles
Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems
Fair couple, linked in happy nuptial league,        45
Alone as they. About them frisking played
All beasts of the Earth, since wild, and of all chase
In wood or wilderness, forest or den;
Sporting the lion ramped, and in his paw
Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,        50
Gambolled before them; the unwieldy elephant,
To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreathed
His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,
Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine
His braided train, and of his fatal guile        55
Gave proof unheeded; others on the grass
Couched, and now filled with pasture gazing sat,
Or bedward ruminating; for the Sun,
Declined, was hastening now with prone career
To the ocean isles, and in the ascending scale        60
Of Heaven the stars that usher evening rose.
 
 
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