Billeder på siden

And funk thee as thy fons; till gently rear'd
By th' angel, on thy feet thou ftood'ft at laft,
Tho' comfortless, as when a father mourns
His children, all in view deftroy'd at once;
And scarce to th' angel utter'dft thus thy plaint.
O vifions ill-forefeen! better had I
Liv'd ignorant of future, fo had borne
My part of evil only, each day's lot



Enough to bear; thofe now, that were difpens'd
The burthen of many ages, on me light

[ocr errors]

At once, by my foreknowledge gaining birth
Abortive, to torment me ere their being,

With thought that they must be. Let no man feek
Henceforth to be foretold what fhall befall


Him or his children; evil he may be fure,

Which neither his foreknowing can prevent,
And he the future evil fhall no lefs
In apprehenfion than in fubftance feel,
Grievous to bear; but that care now is past,
Man is not whom to warn: thofe few efcap'd
Famine and anguish will at last confume,
Wand'ring that wat'ry defert: I had hope,


When violence had ceas'd, and war on earth, 780
All would have then gone well, peace would have
With length of happy days the race of man: [crown'd
But I was far deceiv'd; for now I fee

Peace to corrupt no less than war to waste.
How comes it thus? unfold, celeftial guide,
And whether here the race of man will end.


To whom thus Michael. Those whom last thou faw'ft

In triumph and luxurious wealth, are they

First feen in acts of prowess eminent,

And great exploits, but of true virtue void;


Who having fpilt much blood, and done much wafte
Subduing nations, and achiev'd thereby




Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey,
Shall change their courfe to pleasure, eafe, and floth,
Surfeit and luft, till wantonnels and pride
Raife out of friendship hoftile deeds in peace.
The conquer'd alfo, and inflav'd by war,
Shall, with their freedom loft, all virtue lofe,
And fear of God, from whom their piety feign'd
In fharp conteft of battle found no aid
Againft invaders; therefore cool'd in zeal,
Thenceforth fhall practise how to live fecure,
Worldly or diffolute, on what their lords
Shall leave them to enjoy; for th' earth fhall bear
More than enough, that temp'rance may be try'd:
So all fhall turn degenerate, all deprav'd,
Juftice and temp'rance, truth and faith forgot:
One man except, the only fon of light
In a dark age, against example good,
Against allurement, cuftom, and a world
Offended; fearlefs of reproach and fcorn,
Or violence, he of their wicked ways



Shall them admonish, and before them fet
The paths of righteoufnefs, how much more fafe,
And full of peace, denouncing wrath to come 815
On their impenitence; and fhall return

Of them derided, but of God obferv'd

The one juft man alive; by his command

Shall build a wond'rous ark as thou beheldft,

To fave himself and household from amidst
A world devote to univerfal wrack.
No fooner he, with them of man and beast
Select for life, fhall in the ark be lodg'd,
And fhelter'd round, but all the cataracts
Of heav'n fet open on the earth fhall pour
Rain day and night; all fountains of the deep
Broke up, fhall heave the ocean to ufurp





Beyond all bounds, till inundations rife
Above the highest hills; then fhall this mount
Of Paradise by might of waves be mov'd
Out of his place, pufh'd by the horned flood,
With all his verdure spoil'd, and trees adrift,
Down the great river to the opening gulf,
And there take root, an island salt and bare,
The haunt of feals, and orcs, and fea-mews clang:
To teach thee that God attributes to place
No fanctity, if none be thither brought
By men who there frequent, or therein dwell.
And now what further shall enfue, behold.


He look'd, and faw the ark hull on the flood, 840
Which now abated; for the clouds were fled,
Driv'n by a keen north-wind, that blowing dry
Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decay'd;

And the clear fun on his wide watry glass
Gaz'd hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew, 845
As after thirst, which made their flowing shrink
From ftanding lake to tripping ebb, that stole
With foft foot tow'ards the deep, who now had stopt
His fluices, as the heav'n his windows fhut.
The ark no more now floats, but feems on ground, 850
Fast on the top of fome high mountain fix'd.
And now the tops of hills as rocks appear;
With clamour thence the rapid currents drive
Towards the retreating fea their furious tide.
Forthwith from out the ark a raven flies,
And after him, the furer meffenger,
A dove fent forth once and again to spy
Green tree or ground whereon his foot may light;
The fecond time returning, in his bill
An olive-leaf he brings, pacific fign:



Anon dry ground appears, and from his ark
The ancient fire defcends with all his train;


Then with uplifted hands, and eyes devout,
Grateful to heav'n, over his head beholds
A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow
Confpicuous, with three lifted colours gay,
Betok'ning peace from God, and cov'nant new.
Whereat the heart of Adam erft fo fad
Greatly rejoic'd, and thus his joy broke forth.
O thou who future things canft represent
As prefent, heavenly inftructor, I revive
At this laft fight, affur'd that man shall live
With all the creatures, and their feed preferve.
Far lefs I now lament for one whole world
Of wicked fons defroy'd, than I rejoice
For one man found fo perfect and so just,
That God vouchfafes to raise another world

From him, and all his anger to forget.





But fay, what mean these colour'd streaks in heaven,
Diftended as the brow of God appeas'd;
Or ferve they as a flow'ry verge to bind
The fluid fkirts of that fame watry cloud,

To whom th' archangel. Dextrously thou aim'ft;

Left it again diffolve and shower the earth?

So willingly doth God remit his ire,


Though late repenting him of man deprav'd, Griev'd at his heart, when looking down he faw The whole earth fill'd with violence, and all flesh Corrupting each their way; yet those remov'd, Such grace fhall one just man find in his fight, 890 That he relents, not to blot out mankind,

And makes a covenant never to destroy

The earth again by flood, nor let the fea

Surpafs his bounds, nor rain to drown the world, With man therein or beaft; but when he brings 895 Over the earth a cloud, will therein fet

His triple-colour'd bow, whereon to look,


[ocr errors]

And call to mind his covenant: day and night,
Seed-time and harvest, heat and hoary froft,
Shall hold their courfe, till fire purge all things new,
Both heav'n and earth, wherein the juft fhall dwell.



« ForrigeFortsæt »