תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

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,

695
Patrons of mankind, Gods, and sons of Gods,
Destroyers rightlier callid, and plagues of men.
Thus fame shall be achiev'd, renown on earth,
And what most merits fame in silence hid.
But he the sev’nth from thee, whom thou beheldst
The only righteous in a world perverse,

701 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 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 shew 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,

706

710

715

720

And testify'd against their ways; he oft
Frequented their assemblies, whereso met,
Triumphs of festivals, and to them preach'd
Conversion and repentance, as to souls
In prison under judgments imminent:

725
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 731
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 sev'ns, and pairs, and enter'd in, as taught 735
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 Heav'n; the hills to their supply 740
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 carth
No more was seen; the floating vessel swum 745
[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

750

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,

755
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 mourns

760 His children, all in view.destroy'd at once; And scarce to th’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

765 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 771 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 : 1 had hope
When violence was ceas'd, and war on earth,

[ocr errors]

780 790

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, 785 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; Who having spilt much blood, and done much waste, Subduing nations, and achiev'd thereby Fame in the world, high titles, and richi prey, Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and sloth, Surfeit, and lust, till wantonness and pride 795 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

800 Against invaders; therefore cool'd in zeal Thenceforth shall practise how to live secure, Worldly or dissolute, on what their lords Shall leave them to enjoy; for th'earth shall bear More than enough, that temp’rance may be try'd: 805 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

810 815

825

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 beheldst,
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 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

836
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, 840 Which now abated ; for the clouds were fled,

830

« הקודםהמשך »