Page images

Jollity Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite and riot Manslaughter, shall be held the highest pitch Of human glory, and, for glory done, Of triumph to be styled great conquerors, Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of godsDestroyers 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 beheld'st



The only righteous in a world
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

Rapt 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; 710
Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold.'

He looked, and saw the face of things quite

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 befell,
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, 720
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


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

Meanwhile the South-wind rose, and, with black

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 thickened sky
Like a dark ceiling 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



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,




Fore- All left in one small bottom swum embarked. know How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to behold ledge of The end of all thy offspring, end so sad, evil is grievous 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 stood'st at last,
Though comfortless, as when a father mourns 760
His children, all in view destroyed at once,
And scarce to the Angel utter'dst thus thy


"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


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 desert. I had hope,
When violence was ceased and war on Earth, 780
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, corrup tion of And whether here the race of Man will end.' the world 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

Subduing nations, and achieved thereby
Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey,
Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and

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 practise how to live secure,
Worldly or dissolute, on what their lords
Shall leave them to enjoy; for the Earth shall



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,
Or violence, he of their wicked ways
Shall them admonish, and before them set


The The paths of righteousness, how much more safe one man And full of peace, denouncing wrath to come righteous On their impenitence, and shall return found Of them derided, but of God observed The one just man alive: by his command Shall build a wondrous ark, as thou beheld'st,

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 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 830
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'

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


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,

« PreviousContinue »