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In factious opposition; till at last,
Of middle age one rising, eminent
In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,
Oi justice, of religion. truth, and peace,
And judgment from above : him old and young
Exploded, and had seized with violent hands,
Had not a cloud descending snatch'd him thence 670
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 turn'd full sad: O! what are these, 675
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? 680
But who was that just man, whom had not Heaven
Rescued, had in his righteousness been lost ?
· To whom thus Michaël: These are the product
Of those ill mated marriages thou saw'st; [selves
Where good with bad were match'd, who of them-
Abhor to join ; and, by imprudence mix'd, 686
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 heroic virtue call’d; i
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 conquerors, 695
Patrons of mankind, Gods, and sons of Gods ;
Destroyers rightlier call’d, 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 perverse,
And therefore hated, therefore so beset
With foes, for daring single to be just,
And utter odious truth, that God would como '
To judge them with his Saints ; him the Most High
Wrapp'd in a balmy cloud with winged steeds 706
Did, as thou saw'st, 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; 710
Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold.
He look’d, and saw the face of things quite changed;
The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar;
All now was turn'd 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 preach'd
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison, under judgments imminent :
725 But all in vain : which when he saw, he ceased Contending, and removed his tents far off ; Then, from the mountain hiewing timber tall, Began to build a vessel of huge bulk; Measured by cubit, length, and breadth, and height, Smear'd round with pitch ; and in the side a door 731 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 enter'd in as taught 735 Their order : last thu sire and his three sons, With their four wives; and God made fast the door. Meanwhile the south-wind rose, and, with black wings Wide-hovering, all the clouds together drove
From under Heaven ; the hills to their supply 740
Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist,
Sent up amain; and now the thicken'd sky
Like a dark ceiling stood ; down rush'd the rain
Impetuous; and continued, till the earth
No more was seen; the floating vessel swum 745
Uplifted, and secure with beaked prow
Rode tilting o'er the waves ; all dwellings else
Flood overwhelm'd, and them with all their pomp
Deep under water roll d ; sea cover'd sea,
Sea without shore ; and in their palaces,
And stabled; of mankind, so numerous late,
All left in one small bottom swum embark’d.
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 drown'd,
And sunk thee as thy sons ; till, gently rear'd
Though comfortless ; as when a father mourns
His children, all in view destroy'd at once ;
O visions ill foreseen! Better had I Lived ignorant of future ! so had borne My part of evil only, each day's lot
765 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 befal
771 Him or his children ; evil he inay be sure, Which neither his foreknowing can prevent ; And he tne future evil shall no less In apprehension than in substance feel, Grievous to bear: but that care now is pass'd, Man is not whom to warn ; those few escaped
Famine and anguish will at last consume,
Wandering that watery desert: I had hope,
When violence was ceased, and war on earth, 780
All would have then gone well; peace would have
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, 785
And whether here the race of Man will end.
To whom thus Michael : Those, whom last thou
saw'st In triumph and luxurious wealth, are they First seen in acts of prowess eminent And great exploits, but of true virtue void ; 790 Who, having spilt much blood, and done much waste, 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 795 Raise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace. The conquer'd also, and enslaved by war, Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue lose And fear of God; from whom their piety feign'd In sharp contést of battle found no aid
800 Against invaders ; therefore, cool'd in zeal, Thenceforth shall practise 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 : 805 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 810 Offended : fearless of reproach and scorn, 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 815
On their impenitence; and shall return
Of them derided, but of God observed
The one just man alive ; by his command
Shall build a wondrous ark, as thou beheldst,
To save himself and household from amidst 820
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 shelter'd round, but all the cataracts
Of Heaven set open on the Earth shall pour 825
Rain, Jay 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 830
Out of his place, push'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 seamews' clang : 835
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 should ensue, behold.
He look’d, and saw the ark hull on the flood, 840
Which now abated ; for the clouds were fled,
Driven by a keen north wind, that, blowing dry,
Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decay'd;
And the clear sun on his wide watery glass
Gazed 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 soft foot towards the deep; who now had stopp'd.
His sluices, as the Heaven his windows shut.
The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground, 850
Fast on the top of some high mountain fix’d.