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Eve’s Apology in Defense of Women by Aemilia Lanyer

Now Pontius Pilate is to judge the cause
Of faultless Jesus, who before him stands,
Who neither hath offended prince, nor lawss,
Although he now be brought in woeful bands.
noble governor, make thou yet a pause,
Do not in innocent blood inbrue thy hands;
But hear the words of thy most worthy wife,
Who sends to thee, to beg her Savior’s life.

Let barb’rous cruelty far depart from thee,
And in true justice take affliction’s part;
Open thine eyes, that thou the truth may’st see.
Do not the thing that goes against thy heart,
Condemn not him that must thy Savior be;
But view his holy life, his good desert
Let not us women glory in men’s fall.
Who had power given to overrule us all.

Till now your indiscretion sets us free.
And makes our former fault much less appear;
Our mother Eve, who tasted of the tree,
Giving to Adam what she held most dear,
Was simply good, and had no power to see;
The after-coming harm did not appear:
The subtle serpent that our sex betrayed
Before our fall so sure a plot had laid.

That undiscerning ignorance perceived
No guile or craft that was by him intended;
For had she known of what we were bereaved,
To his request she had not condescended.
But she, poor soul, by cunning was deceived;
No hurt therein her harmless heart intended:
For she alleged God’s word, which he denies,
That they should die, but even as gods be wise.

But surely Adam can not be excused,
Her fault though great, yet he was most to blame;
What Weakness offered, Strength might have refused,
Being Lord of all, the greater was his shame:
Although the Serpent’s craft had her abused,
God’s holy word ought all his actions frame,
For he was Lord and King of all the earth,
Before poore Eve had either life or breath.
Who being framed by God’s eternal hand,
The perfectest man that ever breathed on earth;
And from God’s mouth received that straight command,
The breach whereof he knew was present death:
Yea having power to rule both Sea and Land,
Yet with one Apple won to loose that breath
Which God had breathed in his beauteous face,
Bringing us all in danger and disgrace.
And then to lay the fault on Patience’ back,
That we (poor women) must endure it all;
We know right well he did discretion lack,
Being not persuaded thereunto at all;
If Eve did err, it was for knowledge’ sake,
The fruit being fair persuaded him to fall:
No subtle Serpent’s falsehood did betray him,
If he would eat it, who had power to stay him?
Not Eve, whose fault was only too much love,
Which made her give this present to her Dear,
That what she tasted, he likewise might prove,
Whereby his knowledge might become more clear;
He never sought her weakeness to reprove,
With those sharp words, which he of God did hear:
Yet Men will boast of Knowledge, which he took
From Eve’s fair hand, as from a learned Book.

If any evil did in her remain,
Being made of him, he was the ground of all.
If one of many worlds could lay a stain
Upon our sex, and work so great a fall
To wretched man by Satan’s subtle train,
What will so foul a fault amongst you all?
Her weakness did the serpent’s words obey,
But you in malice God’s dear Son betray,

Whom, if was unjustly small to you what condemn you do to die, commit;
All mortal sins that do for vengeance cry
Are not to be compared unto it.
If many worlds would altogether try
By all their sins the wrath of God to get,
This sin of yours surmounts them all as far
As doth the sun another little star.

Then let us have our liberty again,
And challenge to yourselves no sovereignty
You came not in the world without our pain,
Make that a bar against your cruelty;
Your fault being greater, why should you disdain
Our being your equals, free from tyranny?
If one weak woman simply did offend,
This sin of yours hath no excuse nor end,

To which, poor souls, we never gave consent
Witness, thy wife, O Pilate, speaks for all,
Who did but dream, and yet a message sent
That thou shouldest have nothing to do at all
With that just man? which, if thy heart relent,
Why wilt thou be a reprobate with Saul
To seek the death of him that is so good
For thy soul’s health to shed his dearest blood?

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