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Thou look'st almost a god; and
Lucifer. Thy sire's Maker and the earth's. Cain. And heaven's, And all that in them is. So I have heard His seraphs sing; and so my father saith. Lucifer. They say — what they must sing and say on pain
Of being that which I am
Are ye happy?
and thou art
His everlasting face, and tell him that
But, if he made us - he cannot unmake: We are immortal!-nay, he'd have us so, That he may torture:- let him! He is great
But, in his greatness, is no happier than We in our conflict! Goodness would not make
Evil; and what else hath he made? But let him
Sit on his vast and solitary throne,
And unparticipated solitude;
Save with the truth: was not the tree, the tree
Of knowledge? and was not the tree of life Still fruitful? Did I bid her pluck them
Did I plant things prohibited within
Gods; and even He who thrust ye forth, so thrust ye
Because 'ye should not eat the fruits of life,
And become gods as we.' Were those his words?
Cain. They were, as I have heard from those who heard them,
Lucifer. Then who was the demon? He Who would not let ye live, or he who would Have made ye live for ever in the joy And power of knowledge?
Cain. Would they had snatch'd both The fruits, or neither!
Lucifer. One is yours already; The other may be still. Cain.
Lucifer. By being Yourselves, in your resistance. Nothing
Quench the mind, if the mind will be itself
Cain. But didst thou tempt my parents?
Poor clay! what should I tempt them for, or how?
Cain. They say the serpent was a spirit. Lucifer. Who Saith that? It is not written so on high: The proud One will not so far falsify, Though man's vast fears and little vanity Would make him cast upon the spiritual
His own low failing. The snake was the snake
No more; and yet not tempted,
In nature being earth also more in wisdom, Since he could overcome them, and foreknew
The knowledge fatal to their narrow joys. Think'st thou I'd take the shape of things that die?
less than those he
Cain. But the thing had a demon? Lucifer. He but woke one In those he spake to with his forky tongue. I tell thee that the serpent was no more Than a mere serpent: ask the cherubim Who guard the tempting tree. thousand ages
Have roll'd o'er your dead ashes, and your seed's,
The seed of the then world may thus array Their earliest fault in fable, and attribute To them a shape I scorn, as I scorn all That bows to him who made things but to bend
I thought it was a being: who could do 261
The Maker - call him Which name thou wilt: he makes but to destroy.
Cain. I knew not that, yet thought it, since I heard
Thoughts unspeakable Crowd in my breast to burning, when I hear Of this almighty Death, who is, it seems, Inevitable. Could I wrestle with him? I wrestled with the lion, when a boy, In play, till he ran roaring from my gripe. Lucifer. It has no shape; but will absorb all things
That bear the form of earth-born being.
Of death; although I know not what it is,
And then I turn'd my weary eyes from off