Paradise Lost "She Gave Me Of The Tree, And I Did Eat"

John Milton

"She Gave Me Of The Tree, And I Did Eat"

Context: This is one of the saddest lines of poetry in Christian literature; the utter finality of the statement, with all the implications it has when spoken by Adam, symbol of all mankind, is forceful to the point of brutality: the deed of disobedience, bringing death, disaster, and dreadful woe, is done. And yet there is more in the statement, as Adam is immediately shown by his judge, the Messiah. Adam says that Eve, "whom thou madest to be my help,/ And gavest me as thy perfect gift, so good,/ So fit, so acceptable, so divine," gave him from her own hand the fruit to eat, the hand from which he "could suspect no ill." The implication of Adam's statement is that the fault is not really his own, that blame rests on Eve, perhaps even on God Himself. The Messiah tells Adam, however, that the blame must be Adam's alone, that Adam had a choice to make and of his own free will made that choice. And so the line rings in the reader's ear with the pathetic tones of the guilty one who would, if he could, deny the reality of his deed:

". . . from her hand I could suspect no ill,
And what she did, whatever in itself,
Her doing seemed to justify the deed;
She gave me of the tree, and I did eat."