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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 saw'st;
Where good with bad were match'd, who of themselves
Abhor to join; and by imprudence mix'd,
Produce prodigious births of body' or mind.
Such were these giants, men of high renown;
For in those days might only shall be admir'd,
And valour and heroic virtue, call'd:
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 styl'd great conquerors,
Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of gods;
Destroyers.rightlier call'd, and plagues of men.
Thus fame shall be achiev'd, renown on earth,
And what most merits fame in silence hid.
But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou beheld'st
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 come
To judge them with his saints: him the Most High
Wrapp'd in a balmy cloud, with winged steeds,
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;
Which now direct thine eyes, and soon behold."
He look'd, and saw the face of things quite chang'd;
The brazen throat of war had ceas'd to roar;
All now was turn'd to jollity and game,
To luxury and riot, feast and dance;
Marrying or prostituting, as befell,
Rape or adultery, where passing fair
Allur'd them; thence from cups to civil broils.
At length a reverend sire among them came,
And of their doings great dislike declar'd,
And testified against their ways; he oft
Frequented their assemblies, where so met
Triumphs or festivals, and to them preach'd
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison under judgments imminent;
But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceas'd
Contending; and remov'd his tents far off;
Then from the mountain hewing timber tall,
Began to build a vessel of huge bulk;
Measur'd by cubit, length, and breadth, and height,
Smear'd round with pitch, and in the side a door
Contriv'd; 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
Their order; last the 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
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
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,
Where luxury late reign'd, sea-monsters whelp'd
And stabled; of mankind, so numerous late,
All left in one small bottom swum imbark'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
By th' angel, on thy feet thou stood'st at last,
Though comfortless; as when a father mourus
His children, all in view destroy'd at once;
And scarce to the 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 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 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,
All would have then gone well, peace would have crown'd,
With length of happy days the race of men.
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!
And whether here the race of man will end."
To whom thus Michael: "Those whom last
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 waste,
Subduing nations, and achiev'd 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 conquer'd also, and enslav'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
Against invaders; therefore cool'd in zeal,
Thenceforth shall practise how to live secure,
Worldy or dissolute, on what their lords
Shall leave them to enjoy; for th' earth shall bear
More than enough, that temp'rance may be tried:
So all shall turn degenerate, all deprav'd;
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
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
On their impenitence; and shall return
Of them derided, but of God observ❜d,
The one just man alive; by his command,
Shall build a wondrous ark, as thou bebeld'st,
To save himself and household 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 lodg'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, 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 mov'd
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 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 look'd, 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 decay'd;
And the clear sun on his wide wat❜ry glass
Gaz'd 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 tow'rds the deep, who now had
His sluices, as the heaven his windows shut.
The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground,
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
Tow'rds 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:
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 cov'nant new.
Whereat the heart of Adam, erst so sad;
Greatly rejoic'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 seed preserve.
Far less I now lament for one whole world
Of wicked sons destroy'd, 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 colour'd streaks in heaven,.
Distonded as the brow of God appeas'd ?;