« PreviousContinue »
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,
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 :
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 listed colours gay,
Betokening peace from God, and covenant new.
Greatly rejoiced; and thus his joy broke forth :
O thou, who future things canst represent 870 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 destroy'd, than I rejoice
875 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 colour'd streaks in Heaven Distended, as the brow of God appeased ?
880 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 Archangel · Dexterously thou aim'st; So willingly doth God remit his ire, Though late repenting him of Man depraved ; Grieved at his heart, when looking down he saw
Corrupting each their way ; yet, those removed,
Such grace shall one just man find in his sight, 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-colour'd 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.
The Angel Michael continues, from the Flood, to relate what shall succeed; then, in the mention of Abraham, comes by degrees to explain who that Seed of the Woman shall be, which was promised Adam and Eve in the Fall; his incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension; the state of the church till his second coming. Adam, greatly satisfied and recomforted by these relations and promises, descends the hill with Michael; wakens Eve, who all this while nad slept, but with gentle dreams composed to quietness of mind and submission. Michael in either hand leads them out of Paradise, the fiery sword waving behind them, and the Cherubim taking their stations to guard the place.
As one who in his journey bates at noon,
Though bent on speed; so here the Archangel paused
Betwixt the world destroy'd and world restored,
If Adam aught perhaps might interpose;
Then, with transition sweet, new speech resumes: 8
Thus thou hast seen one world begin and end;
And Man, as from a second stock, proceed.
Much thou hast yet to see ; but I perceive
Thy mortal sight to fail; objects divine
Must needs impair and weary human sense : 20
Henceforth what is to come I will relate;
Thou therefore give due audience, and attend.
This second source of Men, while yet but few,
And while the dread of judgment past remains
Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,
15 With some regard to what is just and right Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace; Labouring the soil, and reaping plenteous crop, Corn, wine, and oil; and, from the herd or flock, Of særificing bullock, lamb, or kid,
With large vine-offerings pour'd, and saered feast,
Shall spend their days in joy unblamed ; and dwell
Long time in peace, by families and tribes,
Under paternal rule : till one shall rise
Of proud ambitious heart; who, not content RS
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Will arrogate dominion undeserved
Over his brethren, and quite dispossess
Concord and law of nature from the eartha ;
Hunting (and men not beasts shall be his game) 30
With war and hostile snare such as refuse
Subjection to his empire tyrannous :
A mighty hunter thence he shall be styled
Before the Lord ; as in despite of Heaven,
Or from Heaven claiming second sovereignty; 35.
And from rebellion shall derive his name,
Though of rebellion others he accuse.
He with a crew, whom like ambition joins
With him or under him to tyrannizo,
Marching from Eden towards the west, shall find 40
The plain, wherein a black bituminous gurgo
Boils out from under ground, the mouth of Hell:
Of brick, and of that stuff, they cast to build
A city and tower, whose top may reach to Heaven;
And get themselves a name ; lest, får dispersed 45
In foreign lands, their memory be lost;
Regardless whether good or evil fame.
But God, who oft descends to visit men
Unseen, and through their habitations walks
To mark their doings, them beholding soon,
Comes down to see their city, ere the tower
Obstruct Heaven-towers; and in derision sets
Upon their tongues a various spirit, to rase
Quite out their native language ; and, instead,
To sow a jangling noise of words unknown:
Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud,
Among the builders ; each to cther calls
Not understood, till hoarse, and all in ragé,
As mock'd they storm : great laughte: was in Heaven,
And looking down, to see the hubbub strange,
And hear the din : thus was the building left
Ridiculous, and the work Confusion named.
Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeased :
O execrable son! 80 to aspire
Above his brethren; to himself assuming
Authority usurp'd, from God not given:
He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation ; but man over men .
He made not lord ; such title to himself
But this usurper his encroachment proud
Stays not on Man ; to God his tower intends
Siege and defiance : wretched man! what food
Will he convey up thither, to sustain
Above the clouds will pine his entrails gross,
And famish him of breath, if not of bread ?
To whom thus Michaël : Justly thou abhorr'st
That son, who on the quiet state of men
Such trouble brought, affecting to subdue
Rational liberty; yet know withal,
Since thy original lapse, true liberty
Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twinn'd, and from her hath no dividual being :
Reason in man obscured or not obey'd,
Immediately inordinate desires
And upstart passions catch the government
From reason; and to servitude reduce
Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits
Within himself unworthy powers to reign
Over free reason, God, in judgment just,
Subjects him from without to violent lords ;
Who oft as undeservedly enthral
His outward freedom : tyranny must be ;
Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse.