« IndietroContinua »
Or serve they as a flowery verge to bind
The fluid skirts of that same wat'ry cloud,
Lest it again dissolve and shower the earth?".
To whom the archangel: “ Dextrously thou So willingly doth God remit his ire, Laim'st; 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 flesh
Corrupting each their way; yet, those remov'd,
Such grace shall one just man find in his sight,
That he relents, not to blot out mankind,
And makes a covenant never to dest
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-colour'd bow, whereon to look,
And call to mind his cov'nant: day and night,
Seed-time and harvest, heat and boary frost,
Shall hold their course, till fire purge all things new,
Both heaven and.earth, wherein the just shall dwell.:**
THE ARGUMENT. The angel Michael continnes 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 had 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 baits at noon,
Tho' bent on speed; so here the archangel paus d
Betwixt the world destroy'd and world restord,
If Adam ought perhaps might interpose;
Then with transition sweet new speech resumes.
“ 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.
Henceforth what is to come I will relate;
Thou therefore give due audience, and attend.
“ This second source of men, while yet but fer, And while the dread of judgment past remains Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity, With some regard to what is just and right Shall lead their lives and multiply apace, Lab'ring the soil and reaping plenteous crop, Corn, wive, and oil; and, from the herd or flock, Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid, With large wine-offerings pour'd, and sacred feast, Shall spend their days in joy unblam'd, and dwell Long time in peace, by families and tribes,
Under paternal rule: till one shall rise
Of proud ambitious heart, who, not content
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Will arrogate dominion undeserv'd
Over his brethren, and quite dispossess
Concord and law of nature from the earth,
Hunting (and men, not beasts, shall be bis game).
With war and hostile snare such as refuse
Subjection to his empire tyrannous:
A mighty hunter thence he shall be styl’d
Before the Lord, as in despite of heaven,
Or from heaven claiming second sow'reignty ;
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 hiin to tyrannize,
Darching from Eden towards the west, shall find
The plain wherein a black bituminous gurge
Boils out from under ground, the mouth of hell:
Of briek, and of that stuff, they cast to build
A city' and tower, whose top may reach to heaven,
And get themselves a name; lest, far dispers'd:
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 raze
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 other calls
Not understood, till hoarse, and all inr rage,
As mock’d, they storın: great laughter was in heaven,
And looking down to see the hubbub strange,
And hear the din ; ilus was the building left
Ridiculous, and the work Confusion nam’d."
Whereto thus Adam fatherly displcas'd : “ O execrable son, so 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
Reserving, human left from human free.
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
Himself and bis rash army; where thin air
Above the clouds will pine his entrails gross,
And famish bim of breath, if not of bread?”
To whom thus Michael: “Justly thou abhorr'st
"That son, who on the quiet state of men
Such trouble brought, affecting 10 subdue
Rational liberty; yet know withal,
Since thy original lapse, true liberty
Is lost, which always with right reason dwells
Twin'd, and from her hath no dividual being.
Reason in man obscur'd, 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, bim from without to violent lords;
Who oft as undeservedly inthral
His outward freedom: tyranny must be,
Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse.
Yet sometimes nations will decline so low
From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,
But justice, and some fatal curse annex'd,
Deprives them of their outward liberty,
Their inward lost. Witness th' irreverent son
Of him who built the ark: who, for the shame
Done to his father, heard his heavy curse,
Servant of servants,' on bis vicious race. Thus will this latter, as the former world,
Still tend from bad to worse, till God at last,
Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw
His presence from among them, and avert
His holy eyes, resolving from thencefortha
To leave them to their own polluted ways,
And one peculiar nation to select
From all the rest, of whom to be invok’d,
A nation from one faithful man to spring.
Him on this side Euphrates yet residing,
Bred up in idol-worship (O, that men,
Canst thou believe? should be so stupid grown,
While yet the patriarch liv'd who scap'd the flood,
As to forsake the living God, and fall
To worship their own work in wood and stone
For gods!) yet him God the Most High vouchsafes
To call by vision from bis father's house,
His kindred and false gods, into a land
Which he will show him, and from him will raise
A mighty nation, and upon him shower
His benediction so, that in his seed
All nations shall be bless'd. He straight obeys,
Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes.
I see him, but thou canst not, with what faith
He leaves his gods, his friends, and native soil,
Ur of Chaldea, passing now the ford
To Haran ; after him a cumbrous train
Of berds, and Bocks, and numerous servitude;
Not wand'ring poor, but trusting all his wealth
With God, who call him, in a land unknown.
Canaan he now attains; I see his tents
Pitch'd about Sechem, and the neighb'ring plain
Of Moreh : there by promise be receives
Gift to his progeny of all that land,
From Hamath northward to the desert south,
(Things by their names I call, though yet unnam'd)
From Hermon east to the great western sea;
Mount Hermon, yonder sea; each place behold
In prospect, as I point them; on the shore
Mount Carmel; here the double-founted stream
Jordan, true limit eastward ; but his sons
Shall dwell to Seir, that long ridge uf hills.