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Paradise lost (Book 11)

2006-08-28 21:49

  Book XI

  Undoubtedly he will relent, and turn From his displeasure; in whose look serene, When angry most he seemed and most severe, What else but favour, grace, and mercy, shone? So spake our father penitent; nor Eve Felt less remorse: they, forthwith to the place Repairing where he judged them, prostrate fell Before him reverent; and both confessed Humbly their faults, and pardon begged; with tears Watering the ground, and with their sighs the air Frequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in sign Of sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek. Thus they, in lowliest plight, repentant stood Praying; for from the mercy-seat above Prevenient grace descending had removed The stony from their hearts, and made new flesh Regenerate grow instead; that sighs now breathed Unutterable; which the Spirit of prayer Inspired, and winged for Heaven with speedier flight Than loudest oratory: Yet their port Not of mean suitors; nor important less Seemed their petition, than when the ancient pair In fables old, less ancient yet than these, Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha, to restore The race of mankind drowned, before the shrine Of Themis stood devout. To Heaven their prayers

  Flew up, nor missed the way, by envious winds Blown vagabond or frustrate: in they passed Dimensionless through heavenly doors; then clad With incense, where the golden altar fumed, By their great intercessour, came in sight Before the Father's throne: them the glad Son Presenting, thus to intercede began. See$ Father, what first-fruits on earth are sprung From thy implanted grace in Man; these sighs And prayers, which in this golden censer mixed With incense, I thy priest before thee bring; Fruits of more pleasing savour, from thy seed Sown with contrition in his heart, than those Which, his own hand manuring, all the trees Of Paradise could have produced, ere fallen From innocence. Now therefore, bend thine ear To supplication; hear his sighs, though mute; Unskilful with what words to pray, let me Interpret for him; me, his advocate And propitiation; all his works on me, Good, or not good, ingraft; my merit those Shall perfect, and for these my death shall pay. Accept me; and, in me, from these receive The smell of peace toward mankind: let him live Before thee reconciled, at least his days Numbered, though sad; till death, his doom, (which I To mitigate thus plead, not to reverse,) To better life shall yield him: where with me All my redeemed may dwell in joy and bliss;

  Made one with me, as I with thee am one. To whom the Father, without cloud, serene.All thy request for Man, accepted Son, Obtain; all thy request was my decree: But, longer in that Paradise to dwell, The law I gave to Nature him forbids: Those pure immortal elements, that know, No gross, no unharmonious mixture foul, Eject him, tainted now; and purge him off, As a distemper, gross, to air as gross, And mortal food; as may dispose him best For dissolution wrought by sin, that first Distempered all things, and of incorrupt Corrupted. I, at first, with two fair gifts Created him endowed; with happiness, And immortality: that fondly lost, This other served but to eternize woe; Till I provided death: so death becomes His final remedy; and, after life, Tried in sharp tribulation, and refined By faith and faithful works, to second life, Waked in the renovation of the just, Resigns him up with Heaven and Earth renewed.But let us call to synod all the Blest, Through Heaven's wide bounds: from them I will not hide My judgements; how with mankind I proceed, As how with peccant Angels late they saw, And in their state, though firm, stood more confirmed.

  He ended, and the Son gave signal high To the bright minister that watched; he blew His trumpet, heard in Oreb since perhaps When God descended, and perhaps once more To sound at general doom. The angelick blast Filled all the regions: from their blisful bowers Of amarantine shade, fountain or spring, By the waters of life, where'er they sat In fellowships of joy, the sons of light Hasted, resorting to the summons high; And took their seats; till from his throne supreme The Almighty thus pronounced his sovran will. O Sons, like one of us Man is become To know both good and evil, since his taste Of that defended fruit; but let him boast His knowledge of good lost, and evil got; Happier! had it sufficed him to have known Good by itself, and evil not at all. He sorrows now, repents, and prays contrite, My motions in him; longer than they move, His heart I know, how variable and vain, Self-left. Lest therefore his now bolder hand Reach also of the tree of life, and eat, And live for ever, dream at least to live For ever, to remove him I decree, And send him from the garden forth to till The ground whence he was taken, fitter soil. Michael, this my behest have thou in charge; Take to thee from among the Cherubim

  Thy choice of flaming warriours, lest the Fiend, Or in behalf of Man, or to invade Vacant possession, some new trouble raise: Haste thee, and from the Paradise of God Without remorse drive out the sinful pair; From hallowed ground the unholy; and denounce To them, and to their progeny, from thence Perpetual banishment. Yet, lest they faint At the sad sentence rigorously urged, (For I behold them softened, and with tears Bewailing their excess,) all terrour hide. If patiently thy bidding they obey, Dismiss them not disconsolate; reveal To Adam what shall come in future days, As I shall thee enlighten; intermix My covenant in the Woman's seed renewed; So send them forth, though sorrowing, yet in peace: And on the east side of the garden place, Where entrance up from Eden easiest climbs, Cherubick watch; and of a sword the flame Wide-waving; all approach far off to fright, And guard all passage to the tree of life: Lest Paradise a receptacle prove To Spirits foul, and all my trees their prey; With whose stolen fruit Man once more to delude. He ceased; and the arch-angelick Power prepared For swift descent; with him the cohort bright Of watchful Cherubim: four faces each Had, like a double Janus; all their shape

  Spangled with eyes more numerous than those Of Argus, and more wakeful than to drouse, Charmed with Arcadian pipe, the pastoral reed Of Hermes, or his opiate rod. Mean while, To re-salute the world with sacred light, Leucothea waked; and with fresh dews imbalmed The earth; when Adam and first matron Eve Had ended now their orisons, and found Strength added from above; new hope to spring Out of despair; joy, but with fear yet linked; Which thus to Eve his welcome words renewed. Eve, easily my faith admit, that all The good which we enjoy from Heaven descends; But, that from us aught should ascend to Heaven So prevalent as to concern the mind Of God high-blest, or to incline his will, Hard to belief may seem; yet this will prayer Or one short sigh of human breath, upborne Even to the seat of God. For since I sought By prayer the offended Deity to appease; Kneeled, and before him humbled all my heart; Methought I saw him placable and mild, Bending his ear; persuasion in me grew That I was heard with favour; peace returned Home to my breast, and to my memory His promise, that thy seed shall bruise our foe; Which, then not minded in dismay, yet now Assures me that the bitterness of death Is past, and we shall live. Whence hail to thee,

  Eve rightly called, mother of all mankind, Mother of all things living, since by thee Man is to live; and all things live for Man. To whom thus Eve with sad demeanour meek. Ill-worthy I such title should belong To me transgressour; who, for thee ordained A help, became thy snare; to me reproach Rather belongs, distrust, and all dispraise: But infinite in pardon was my Judge, That I, who first brought death on all, am graced The source of life; next favourable thou, Who highly thus to entitle me vouchsaf'st, Far other name deserving. But the field To labour calls us, now with sweat imposed, Though after sleepless night; for see!the morn, All unconcerned with our unrest, begins Her rosy progress smiling: let us forth; I never from thy side henceforth to stray, Where'er our day's work lies, though now enjoined Laborious, till day droop; while here we dwell, What can be toilsome in these pleasant walks? Here let us live, though in fallen state, content. So spake, so wished much humbled Eve; but Fate Subscribed not: Nature first gave signs, impressed On bird, beast, air; air suddenly eclipsed, After short blush of morn; nigh in her sight The bird of Jove, stooped from his aery tour, Two birds of gayest plume before him drove; Down from a hill the beast that reigns in woods,

  First hunter then, pursued a gentle brace, Goodliest of all the forest, hart and hind; Direct to the eastern gate was bent their flight. Adam observed, and with his eye the chase Pursuing, not unmoved, to Eve thus spake. O Eve, some further change awaits us nigh, Which Heaven, by these mute signs in Nature, shows Forerunners of his purpose; or to warn Us, haply too secure, of our discharge From penalty, because from death released Some days: how long, and what till then our life, Who knows? or more than this, that we are dust, And thither must return, and be no more? Why else this double object in our sight Of flight pursued in the air, and o'er the ground, One way the self-same hour? why in the east Darkness ere day's mid-course, and morning-light More orient in yon western cloud, that draws O'er the blue firmament a radiant white, And slow descends with something heavenly fraught? He erred not; for by this the heavenly bands Down from a sky of jasper lighted now In Paradise, and on a hill made halt; A glorious apparition, had not doubt And carnal fear that day dimmed Adam's eye. Not that more glorious, when the Angels met Jacob in Mahanaim, where he saw The field pavilioned with his guardians bright; Nor that, which on the flaming mount appeared

  In Dothan, covered with a camp of fire, Against the Syrian king, who to surprise One man, assassin-like, had levied war, War unproclaimed. The princely Hierarch In their bright stand there left his Powers, to seise Possession of the garden; he alone, To find where Adam sheltered, took his way, Not unperceived of Adam; who to Eve, While the great visitant approached, thus spake. Eve$ now expect great tidings, which perhaps Of us will soon determine, or impose New laws to be observed; for I descry,From yonder blazing cloud that veils the hill, One of the heavenly host; and, by his gait, None of the meanest; some great Potentate Or of the Thrones above; such majesty Invests him coming! yet not terrible, That I should fear; nor sociably mild, As Raphael, that I should much confide; But solemn and sublime; whom not to offend, With reverence I must meet, and thou retire. He ended: and the Arch-Angel soon drew nigh, Not in his shape celestial, but as manClad to meet man; over his lucid arms A military vest of purple flowed, Livelier than Meliboean, or the grain Of Sarra, worn by kings and heroes old In time of truce; Iris had dipt the woof; His starry helm unbuckled showed him prime

  In manhood where youth ended; by his side, As in a glistering zodiack, hung the sword, Satan's dire dread; and in his hand the spear. Adam bowed low; he, kingly, from his state Inclined not, but his coming thus declared. Adam, Heaven's high behest no preface needs: Sufficient that thy prayers are heard; and Death, Then due by sentence when thou didst transgress, Defeated of his seisure many days Given thee of grace; wherein thou mayest repent, And one bad act with many deeds well done Mayest cover: Well may then thy Lord, appeased, Redeem thee quite from Death's rapacious claim;But longer in this Paradise to dwell Permits not: to remove thee I am come, And send thee from the garden forth to till The ground whence thou wast taken, fitter soil. He added not; for Adam at the news Heart-struck with chilling gripe of sorrow stood, That all his senses bound; Eve, who unseen Yet all had heard, with audible lament Discovered soon the place of her retire. O unexpected stroke, worse than of Death! Must I thus leave thee$ Paradise? thus leave Thee, native soil! these happy walks and shades, Fit haunt of Gods? where I had hope to spend, Quiet though sad, the respite of that day That must be mortal to us both. O flowers, That never will in other climate grow,

  My early visitation, and my last ;t even, which I bred up with tender hand From the first opening bud, and gave ye names! Who now shall rear ye to the sun, or rank Your tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount? Thee lastly, nuptial bower! by me adorned With what to sight or smell was sweet! from thee How shall I part, and whither wander down Into a lower world; to this obscure And wild? how shall we breathe in other air Less pure, accustomed to immortal fruits? Whom thus the Angel interrupted mild. Lament not, Eve, but patiently resign What justly thou hast lost, nor set thy heart, Thus over-fond, on that which is not thine: Thy going is not lonely; with thee goes Thy husband; whom to follow thou art bound; Where he abides, think there thy native soil. Adam, by this from the cold sudden damp Recovering, and his scattered spirits returned, To Michael thus his humble words addressed. Celestial, whether among the Thrones, or named Of them the highest; for such of shape may seem Prince above princes! gently hast thou told Thy message, which might else in telling wound, And in performing end us; what besides Of sorrow, and dejection, and despair, Our frailty can sustain, thy tidings bring, Departure from this happy place, our sweet

  Recess, and only consolation left Familiar to our eyes! all places else Inhospitable appear, and desolate; Nor knowing us, nor known: And, if by prayer Incessant I could hope to change the will Of Him who all things can, I would not cease To weary him with my assiduous cries: But prayer against his absolute decree No more avails than breath against the wind, Blown stifling back on him that breathes it forth: Therefore to his great bidding I submit. This most afflicts me, that, departing hence, As from his face I shall be hid, deprived His blessed countenance: Here I could frequent With worship place by place where he vouchsafed Presence Divine; and to my sons relate, 'On this mount he appeared; under this tree 'Stood visible; among these pines his voice 'I heard; here with him at this fountain talked: So many grateful altars I would rear Of grassy turf, and pile up every stone Of lustre from the brook, in memory, Or monument to ages; and theron Offer sweet-smelling gums, and fruits, and flowers: In yonder nether world where shall I seek His bright appearances, or foot-step trace? For though I fled him angry, yet recalled To life prolonged and promised race, I now Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts

  Of glory; and far off his steps adore. To whom thus Michael with regard benign. Adam, thou knowest Heaven his, and all the Earth; Not this rock only; his Omnipresence fills Land, sea, and air, and every kind that lives, Fomented by his virtual power and warmed: All the earth he gave thee to possess and rule, No despicable gift; surmise not then His presence to these narrow bounds confined Of Paradise, or Eden: this had been Perhaps thy capital seat, from whence had spread All generations; and had hither come From all the ends of the earth, to celebrate And reverence thee, their great progenitor. But this pre-eminence thou hast lost, brought down To dwell on even ground now with thy sons: Yet doubt not but in valley, and in plain, God is, as here; and will be found alike Present; and of his presence many a sign Still following thee, still compassing thee round With goodness and paternal love, his face Express, and of his steps the track divine. Which that thou mayest believe, and be confirmed Ere thou from hence depart; know, I am sent To show thee what shall come in future days To thee, and to thy offspring: good with bad Expect to hear; supernal grace contending With sinfulness of men; thereby to learn True patience, and to temper joy with fear

  And pious sorrow; equally inured By moderation either state to bear, Prosperous or adverse: so shalt thou lead Safest thy life, and best prepared endure Thy mortal passage when it comes.-Ascend This hill; let Eve (for I have drenched her eyes) Here sleep below; while thou to foresight wakest; As once thou sleptst, while she to life was formed. To whom thus Adam gratefully replied. Ascend, I follow thee, safe Guide, the path Thou leadest me; and to the hand of Heaven submit, However chastening; to the evil turn My obvious breast; arming to overcome By suffering, and earn rest from labour won, If so I may attain. - So both ascend In the visions of God. It was a hill, Of Paradise the highest; from whose top The hemisphere of earth, in clearest ken, Stretched out to the amplest reach of prospect lay. Not higher that hill, nor wider looking round, Whereon, for different cause, the Tempter set Our second Adam, in the wilderness; To show him all Earth's kingdoms, and their glory. His eye might there command wherever stood City of old or modern fame, the seat Of mightiest empire, from the destined walls Of Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can, And Samarchand by Oxus, Temir's throne, To Paquin of Sinaean kings; and thence

  To Agra and Lahor of great Mogul, Down to the golden Chersonese; or where The Persian in Ecbatan sat, or since In Hispahan; or where the Russian Ksar In Mosco; or the Sultan in Bizance, Turchestan-born; nor could his eye not ken The empire of Negus to his utmost port Ercoco, and the less maritim kings Mombaza, and Quiloa, and Melind, And Sofala, thought Ophir, to the realm Of Congo, and Angola farthest south; Or thence from Niger flood to Atlas mount The kingdoms of Almansor, Fez and Sus, Morocco, and Algiers, and Tremisen; On Europe thence, and where Rome was to sway The world: in spirit perhaps he also saw Rich Mexico, the seat of Montezume, And Cusco in Peru, the richer seat Of Atabalipa; and yet unspoiled Guiana, whose great city Geryon's sons Call El Dorado. But to nobler sights Michael from Adam's eyes the film removed, Which that false fruit that promised clearer sight Had bred; then purged with euphrasy and rue The visual nerve, for he had much to see; And from the well of life three drops instilled. So deep the power of these ingredients pierced, Even to the inmost seat of mental sight, That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes,

  Sunk down, and all his spirits became entranced; But him the gentle Angel by the hand Soon raised, and his attention thus recalled. Adam, now ope thine eyes; and first behold The effects, which thy original crime hath wrought In some to spring from thee; who never touched The excepted tree; nor with the snake conspired; Nor sinned thy sin; yet from that sin derive Corruption, to bring forth more violent deeds. His eyes he opened, and beheld a field, Part arable and tilth, whereon were sheaves New reaped; the other part sheep-walks and folds;I' the midst an altar as the land-mark stood, Rustick, of grassy sord; thither anon A sweaty reaper from his tillage brought First fruits, the green ear, and the yellow sheaf, Unculled, as came to hand; a shepherd next, More meek, came with the firstlings of his flock, Choicest and best; then, sacrificing, laid The inwards and their fat, with incense strowed, On the cleft wood, and all due rights performed: His offering soon propitious fire from Heaven Consumed with nimble glance, and grateful steam; The other's not, for his was not sincere;Whereat he inly raged, and, as they talked, Smote him into the midriff with a stone That beat out life; he fell;and, deadly pale, Groaned out his soul with gushing blood effused. Much at that sight was Adam in his heart

  Dismayed, and thus in haste to the Angel cried. O Teacher, some great mischief hath befallen To that meek man, who well had sacrificed; Is piety thus and pure devotion paid? To whom Michael thus, he also moved, replied. These two are brethren, Adam, and to come Out of thy loins; the unjust the just hath slain, For envy that his brother's offering found From Heaven acceptance; but the bloody fact Will be avenged; and the other's faith, approved, Lose no reward; though here thou see him die, Rolling in dust and gore. To which our sire. Alas! both for the deed, and for the cause! But have I now seen Death? Is this the way I must return to native dust? O sight Of terrour, foul and ugly to behold, Horrid to think, how horrible to feel! To whom thus Michael. Death thou hast seen In his first shape on Man; but many shapes Of Death, and many are the ways that lead To his grim cave, all dismal; yet to sense More terrible at the entrance, than within. Some, as thou sawest, by violent stroke shall die; By fire, flood, famine, by intemperance more In meats and drinks, which on the earth shall bring Diseases dire, of which a monstrous crew Before thee shall appear; that thou mayest know What misery the inabstinence of Eve Shall bring on Men. Immediately a place

  Before his eyes appeared, sad, noisome, dark; A lazar-house it seemed; wherein were laid Numbers of all diseased; all maladies Of ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualms Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds, Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs, Intestine stone and ulcer, colick-pangs, Demoniack phrenzy, moaping melancholy, And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy, Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence, Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums. Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; Despair Tended the sick busiest from couch to couch; And over them triumphant Death his dart Shook, but delayed to strike, though oft invoked With vows, as their chief good, and final hope. Sight so deform what heart of rock could long Dry-eyed behold? Adam could not, but wept, Though not of woman born; compassion quelled His best of man, and gave him up to tears A space, till firmer thoughts restrained excess; And, scarce recovering words, his plaint renewed. O miserable mankind, to what fall Degraded, to what wretched state reserved! Better end here unborn. Why is life given To be thus wrested from us? rather, why Obtruded on us thus? who, if we knew What we receive, would either no accept Life offered, or soon beg to lay it down;

  Glad to be so dismissed in peace. Can thus The image of God in Man, created once So goodly and erect, though faulty since, To such unsightly sufferings be debased Under inhuman pains? Why should not Man, Retaining still divine similitude In part, from such deformities be free, And, for his Maker's image sake, exempt? Their Maker's image, answered Michael, then Forsook them, when themselves they vilified To serve ungoverned Appetite; and took His image whom they served, a brutish vice, Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve. Therefore so abject is their punishment, Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own; Or if his likeness, by themselves defaced; While they pervert pure Nature's healthful rules To loathsome sickness; worthily, since they God's image did not reverence in themselves. I yield it just, said Adam, and submit. But is there yet no other way, besides These painful passages, how we may come To death, and mix with our connatural dust? There is, said Michael, if thou well observe The rule of Not too much; by temperance taught, In what thou eatest and drinkest; seeking from thence Due nourishment, not gluttonous delight, Till many years over thy head return: So mayest thou live; till, like ripe fruit, thou drop

  Into thy mother's lap; or be with ease Gathered, nor harshly plucked; for death mature: This is Old Age; but then, thou must outlive Thy youth, thy strength, thy beauty; which will change To withered, weak, and gray; thy senses then, Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forego, To what thou hast; and, for the air of youth, Hopeful and cheerful, in thy blood will reign A melancholy damp of cold and dry To weigh thy spirits down, and last consume The balm of life. To whom our ancestor. Henceforth I fly not death, nor would prolong Life much; bent rather, how I may be quit, Fairest and easiest, of this cumbrous charge; Which I must keep till my appointed day Of rendering up, and patiently attend My dissolution. Michael replied. Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou livest Live well; how long, or short, permit to Heaven: And now prepare thee for another sight. He looked, and saw a spacious plain, whereon Were tents of various hue; by some, were herds Of cattle grazing; others, whence the sound Of instruments, that made melodious chime, Was heard, of harp and organ; and, who moved Their stops and chords, was seen; his volant touch, Instinct through all proportions, low and high, Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue. In other part stood one who, at the forge

  Labouring, two massy clods of iron and brass Had melted, (whether found where casual fire Had wasted woods on mountain or in vale, Down to the veins of earth; thence gliding hot To some cave's mouth; or whether washed by stream From underground;) the liquid ore he drained Into fit moulds prepared; from which he formed First his own tools; then, what might else be wrought Fusil or graven in metal. After these, But on the hither side, a different sort From the high neighbouring hills, which was their seat, Down to the plain descended; by their guise Just men they seemed, and all their study bent To worship God aright, and know his works Not hid; nor those things last, which might preserve Freedom and peace to Men; they on the plain Long had not walked, when from the tents, behold! A bevy of fair women, richly gay In gems and wanton dress; to the harp they sung Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on: The men, though grave, eyed them; and let their eyes Rove without rein; till, in the amorous net Fast caught, they liked; and each his liking chose; And now of love they treat, till the evening-star, Love's harbinger, appeared; then, all in heat They light the nuptial torch, and bid invoke Hymen, then first to marriage rites invoked: With feast and musick all the tents resound. Such happy interview, and fair event

  Of love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flowers, And charming symphonies, attached the heart Of Adam, soon inclined to admit delight, The bent of nature; which he thus expressed. True opener of mine eyes, prime Angel blest; Much better seems this vision, and more hope Of peaceful days portends, than those two past; Those were of hate and death, or pain much worse; Here Nature seems fulfilled in all her ends. To whom thus Michael. Judge not what is best By pleasure, though to nature seeming meet; Created, as thou art, to nobler end Holy and pure, conformity divine. Those tents thou sawest so pleasant, were the tents Of wickedness, wherein shall dwell his race Who slew his brother; studious they appear Of arts that polish life, inventers rare; Unmindful of their Maker, though his Spirit Taught them; but they his gifts acknowledged none. Yet they a beauteous offspring shall beget; For that fair female troop thou sawest, that seemed Of Goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay, Yet empty of all good wherein consists Woman's domestick honour and chief praise; Bred only and completed to the taste Of lustful appetence, to sing, to dance, To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye: To these that sober race of men, whose lives Religious titled them the sons of God,

  Shall yield up all their virtue, all their fame Ignobly, to the trains and to the smiles Of these fair atheists; and now swim in joy, Erelong to swim at large; and laugh, for which The world erelong a world of tears must weep. To whom thus Adam, of short joy bereft. O pity and shame, that they, who to live well Entered so fair, should turn aside to tread Paths indirect, or in the mid way faint! But still I see the tenour of Man's woe Holds on the same, from Woman to begin. From Man's effeminate slackness it begins, Said the Angel, who should better hold his place By wisdom, and superiour gifts received. But now prepare thee for another scene. He looked, and saw wide territory spread Before him, towns, and rural works between; Cities of men with lofty gates and towers, Concourse in arms, fierce faces threatening war, Giants of mighty bone and bold emprise; Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed, Single or in array of battle rangedBoth horse and foot, nor idly mustering stood; One way a band select from forage drives A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine, From a fat meadow ground; or fleecy flock, Ewes and their bleating lambs over the plain, Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly, But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray;

  With cruel tournament the squadrons join; Where cattle pastured late, now scattered lies With carcasses and arms the ensanguined field, Deserted: Others to a city strong Lay siege, encamped; by battery, scale, and mine, Assaulting; others from the wall defend With dart and javelin, stones, and sulphurous fire; On each hand slaughter, and gigantick deeds. In other part the sceptered heralds call To council, in the city-gates; anon Gray-headed men and grave, with warriours mixed, Assemble, and harangues are heard; but soon, In factious opposition; till at last, Of middle age one rising, eminent In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong, Of justice, or religion, truth, and peace, And judgement from above: him old and young Exploded, and had seized with violent hands, Had not a cloud descending snatched him thence Unseen amid the throng: so violence Proceeded, and oppression, and sword-law, Through all the plain, and refuge none was found. Adam was all in tears, and to his guide Lamenting turned full sad; O!what are these, Death's ministers, not men? who thus deal death Inhumanly to men, and multiply Ten thousandfold the sin of him who slew His brother: for of whom such massacre Make they, but of their brethren; men of men

  But who was that just man, whom had not Heaven Rescued, had in his righteousness been lost? To whom thus Michael. These are the product Of those ill-mated marriages thou sawest; Where good with bad were matched, who of themselves Abhor to join; and, by imprudence mixed, Produce prodigious births of body or mind. Such were these giants, men of high renown; For in those days might only shall be admired, And valour and heroick virtue called; To overcome in battle, and subdue Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite Man-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitch Of human glory; and for glory done Of triumph, to be styled great conquerours Patrons of mankind, Gods, and sons of Gods; Destroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men. Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth; And what most merits fame, in silence hid. But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou beheldst The only righteous in a world preverse, And therefore hated, therefore so beset With foes, for daring single to be just, And utter odious truth, that God would come To judge them with his Saints; him the Most High Rapt in a balmy cloud with winged steeds Did, as thou sawest, receive, to walk with God High in salvation and the climes of bliss, Exempt from death; to show thee what reward

  Awaits the good; the rest what punishment; Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold. He looked, and saw the face of things quite changed; The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar; All now was turned to jollity and game, To luxury and riot, feast and dance; Marrying or prostituting, as befel, Rape or adultery, where passing fair Allured them; thence from cups to civil broils. At length a reverend sire among them came, And of their doings great dislike declared, And testified against their ways; he oft Frequented their assemblies, whereso met, Triumphs or festivals; and to them preached Conversion and repentance, as to souls In prison, under judgements imminent: But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceased Contending, and removed his tents far off; Then, from the mountain hewing timber tall, Began to build a vessel of huge bulk; Measured by cubit, length, and breadth, and highth; Smeared round with pitch; and in the side a door Contrived; and of provisions laid in large, For man and beast: when lo, a wonder strange! Of every beast, and bird, and insect small, Came sevens, and pairs; and entered in as taught Their order: last the sire and his three sons, With their four wives; and God made fast the door. Mean while the south-wind rose, and, with black wings

  Wide-hovering, all the clouds together drove From under Heaven; the hills to their supply Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist, Sent up amain; and now the thickened sky Like a dark cieling stood; down rushed the rain Impetuous; and continued, till the earth No more was seen: the floating vessel swum Uplifted, and secure with beaked prow Rode tilting o'er the waves; all dwellings else Flood overwhelmed, and them with all their pomp Deep under water rolled; sea covered sea, Sea without shore; and in their palaces, Where luxury late reigned, sea-monsters whelped And stabled; of mankind, so numerous late, All left, in one small bottom swum imbarked. How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to behold The end of all thy offspring, end so sad, Depopulation! Thee another flood, Of tears and sorrow a flood, thee also drowned, And sunk thee as thy sons; till, gently reared By the Angel, on thy feet thou stoodest at last, Though comfortless; as when a father mourns His children, all in view destroyed at once; And scarce to the Angel utter'dst thus thy plaint. O visions ill foreseen! Better had I Lived ignorant of future! so had borne My part of evil only, each day's lot Enough to bear; those now, that were dispensed The burden 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 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 substance feel, Grievous to bear: but that care now is past, Man is not whom to warn: those few escaped Famine and anguish will at last consume, Wandering that watery desart: I had hope, When violence was ceased, and war on earth, All would have then gone well; peace would have crowned With length of happy days the race of Man; But I was far deceived; for now I see Peace to corrupt no less than war to waste. How comes it thus? unfold, celestial Guide, And whether here the race of Man will end. To whom thus Michael. Those, whom last thou sawest In triumph and luxurious wealth, are they First seen in acts of prowess eminent And great exploits, but of true virtue void; Who, having spilt much blood, and done much wast Subduing nations, and achieved thereby Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey; Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and sloth, Surfeit, and lust; till wantonness and pride

  Raise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace. The conquered also, and enslaved by war, Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue lose And fear of God; from whom their piety feigned In sharp contest of battle found no aid Against invaders; therefore, cooled in zeal, Thenceforth shall practice how to live secure, Worldly or dissolute, on what their lords Shall leave them to enjoy; for the earth shall bear More than enough, that temperance may be tried: So all shall turn degenerate, all depraved; Justice and temperance, 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 Offended: fearless of reproach and scorn, The grand-child, with twelve sons encreased, departs From Canaan, to a land hereafter called Egypt, divided by the river Nile; See where it flows, disgorging at seven mouths Into the sea: To sojourn in that land He comes, invited by a younger son In time of dearth; a son, whose worthy deeds Raise him to be the second in that realm Of Pharaoh: There he dies, and leaves his race Growing into a nation, and now grown Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests Or violence, he of their wicked ways

  Shall them admonish; and before them set The paths of righteousness, how much more safe And full of peace; denouncing wrath to come On their impenitence; and shall return Of them derided, but of God observed The one just man alive; by his command Shall build a wonderous ark, as thou beheldst, To save himself, and houshold, from amidst A world devote to universal wrack. No sooner he, with them of man and beast Select for life, shall in the ark be lodged, And sheltered 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, shall heave the ocean to usurp Beyond all bounds; till inundation rise Above the highest hills: Then shall this mount Of Paradise by might of waves be moved Out of his place, pushed by the horned flood, With all his verdure spoiled, 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 sea-mews' clang: To teach thee that God attributes to place No sanctity, if none be thither brought By men who there frequent, or therein dwell. And now, what further shall ensue, behold. He looked, and saw the ark hull on the flood, Which now abated; for the clouds were fled,

  Driven by a keen north-wind, that, blowing dry, Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decayed; And the clear sun on his wide watery glass Gazed hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew, As after thirst; which made their flowing shrink From standing lake to tripping ebb, that stole With soft foot towards the deep; who now had stopt His sluces, as the Heaven his windows shut. The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground, Fast on the top of some high mountain fixed. 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, pacifick sign: Anon dry ground appears, and from his ark The ancient sire descends, 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 lifted colours gay, Betokening peace from God, and covenant new. Whereat the heart of Adam, erst so sad, Greatly rejoiced; and thus his joy broke forth. O thou, who future things canst represent

  As present, heavenly Instructer! I revive At this last sight; assured that Man shall live, With all the creatures, and their seed preserve. Far less I now lament for one whole world Of wicked sons destroyed, than I rejoice For one man found so perfect, and so just, That God vouchsafes to raise another world From him, and all his anger to forget. But say, what mean those coloured streaks in Heaven Distended, as the brow of God appeased? Or serve they, as a flowery verge, to bind The fluid skirts of that same watery cloud, Lest it again dissolve, and shower the earth? To whom the Arch-Angel. Dextrously thou aimest; So willingly doth God remit his ire, Though late repenting him of Man depraved; Grieved at his heart, when looking down he saw The whole earth filled with violence, and all flesh Corrupting each their way; yet, those removed, Such grace shall one just man find in his sight, 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 Over the earth a cloud, will therein set His triple-coloured bow, whereon to look, And call to mind his covenant: Day and night, Seed-time and harvest, heat and hoary frost,

  Shall hold their course; till fire purge all things new, Both Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell.

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