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And sunk thee as thy fons; till gently rear'd
By th' angel, on thy feet throu stood'st at last,
Though comfortless, as when a father mourns 760
His children, all in view destroy'd at once ;
And scarce to th' angel utter’dst thus thy plaint.
O visions ill-foreseen ! better had. I
Liv’d ignorant of future, so had borne
My part of evil only, each day's lot
Enough to bear ; those now, that were dispens'd
The burthen of many ages, on me light
At once, by my foreknowledge gaining birth
Abortive, to torment me ere their being,
With thought that they must be. Let no man seek
Henceforth to be foretold what shall befall 771
Him or his children; evil he may be sure,
Which neither his foreknowing can prevent,
And he the future evil shall no less
In apprehension than in fubstance feel,
Grievous to bear: but that care now is past,
Man is not whom to warn : those few escap'd:
Famine and anguish will at last consume,
Wand'ring that wat'ry desert. I had hope,
When violence was 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 see
Peace to corrupt no less than war to waste.
How comes it thus? unfold, celestial guide, 785
And whether here the race of man will end.
To whom thus Michael. Those whoin last thou saw'st
In triumph and luxurious wealth, are they
First feen in acts of prowess eminent,
And great exploits; but of true virtue void :
720 Who having spilt much blood, and done much walte Subduing nations, and achiev'd thereby
Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey,
Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and floth,
Surfeit, and lust, till wantonness and pride
Raise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace.
The conquer'd also, and inflay'd by war,
Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue lose,
And fear of God, from whom their piety feign'd
In sharp contest of battle found no aid
800 Against invaders; therefore cool'd in zeal, Thenceforth shall practise how to live fecure, Worldly or diffolute, on what their lords Shall leave them to enjoy; for the earth shall bear More than enough, that temp’rance may be try'd : So all shall turn degenerate, all deprav'd ; 806 Justice and temp'rance, truth and faith forgot : One man except, the only Son of Light In a dark age, against example good, Against allurement, custom, and a world 810 Offended; fearless of reproach and scorn, Or viclence, he of their wicked ways Shall them admonish, and before them fet The paths of righteousness, how much more safe, And full of peace, denouncing wrath to come 815 On their impenitence ; and shall return Of them derided, but of God obfery'd The one juft man alive; by his command Shall build a wondrous ark, as thou beheldit, To fave himself and household from amidit 820 A world devote to universal wrack. No sooner he, with them of man and beast Select for life, shall in the ark be lodge'd, And shelter'd round, but all the cataracts Of heaven set open on the earth shall pour Rain day and night ; all fountains of the deep Broke up, fhall heave the ocean to usurp
Beyond all bounds, till innundation rife
Above the highest hills : then shall this mount
Of Paradise by might of waves be mov’d 830
Out of his place, puth'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 seals, and orcs, and fea-mews clang :
To teach thee that God attributes to place 836
No sanctity, if none be thither brought
By men who there frequent, or therein dwell.
And now what further shall ensue, behold.
He look'd, and saw 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 sun on his wide watry glass
Gaze'd hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew, 845
As after thirst, which made their flowing shrink
From standing lake to tripping ebb, that stole
With sofr foot tow’ards the deep, who now had stopt
His sluices, as the heavens his windows fhut.
The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground, 850
Fast on the top of some high mountain fix'd.
And now the tops of hills as rocks appear ;
With clamour thence the rapid currents drive
Towards the retreating sea their furious tide.
Forthwith from out the ark a raven flies,
And after him, the surer messenger,
A dove sent forth once and again to spy
Green tree or ground whereon his foot may light;
The second time returning, in his bill
An olive-leaf he brings, pacific sign :
860 Anon dry ground appears, and from his ark The ancient Gre defcends with all his train;
Then with uplifted hands, and eyes devout,
Grateful to Heaven, over his head beholds
A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow
Conspicuous, with three listed colours gay,
Betok’ning peace from God, and cov'nant new.
Whereat the heart of Adam erit fo fad
Greatly rejoice'd, and thus his joy broke forth.
O thou who future things canst represent
As present, heavenly instructor, I revive
At this last sight, assur'd that man shall live
With all the creatures, and their feed preserve.
Far less I now lament for one whole world
Of wicked sons destroy'd, than I rejoice 875
For one man found so perfect and fo jait,
That God vouchfafes to raise another world
From him, and all his anger to forget.
But say, what mean those colour'd streaks in heaven,
Diftended as the brow of God appeas'd ;
880 Or serve they as a flowery verge to bind The fluid skirts of that same watry cloud, Let it again diffolve, and shower the earth?
To whom th' archangel. Dextrously thou aim't ; So willingly doth God remit his ire,
885 Though late repenting him of man deprav'd, Griev'd at his heart, when looking down he saw The whole earth fill’d with violence, and all Aeth Corrupting each their way; yet those remov'd, Such grace shall 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 sea Surpass his bounds, nor rain to drown the world, With man therein or beast ; but when he brings 895 Over the earth a cloud, will therein set His triple-colourd bow, whereon to look,
And call to mind his covenant : day and night,
Seed-time and harvest, heat and hoary frost, 899
Shall hold their course, till fire purge all things new,
Both heaven and earth, wherein the just shall dwell,
End of the ELEVENTH Book.