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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 man:
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 men 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 ;

799 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 practite how to live secure,

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Shall leave them to enjoy; for th' earth shall bear
More than enough, that temp'rance may be try'd:

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815

So all shall turn degenerate, all deprav'd,
Justice and temp’rance, truth and faith forgot; a
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 scom,
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 obsery'd
The one just man alive ; hy his command
Shall build a wond'rous ark, as thou beheldst,
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 Heav'n, 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,
Driv'n by a keen north-wind, that blowing dry

830

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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, 815
As after thirst, which made their flowing shrink
From standing lake to tripping ebb, that stole
With soft foot tow'ards the deep, who now had stopt
His sluices, as the Heav'n his windows shut. .
The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground 850
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’ards 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 Heav'n, 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 représent
As present, heav'nly 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.
Eut say, what mean those colour'd streaks in Hear'a

880

am'sts 885

Distended as the brow of God appeas’d,
Or serve they as a flow'ry verge to bind
The fluid skirts of that same wat’ry cloud,
Lest it again dissolve and show'r the earth?”

To whom the Archangel. “Dextrously thou aim'st;
So willingly doth God remit his ire,
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 remoy'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 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
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 hoary frost,
Shall hold their course, till fire purge all things new,
Both Heav'n and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell.”

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END OF THE ELEVENTII BOOK.

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