Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

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
Subduing nations, and achieved thereby (waste
Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey,
Shall change their course to pleasure, case, and
Surfeit, and lust; till wantonness and pride (sloth,
Raise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace.
The conquer'd also, and enslaved by war,
Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue lose
And fear of God; from whom their piety feign'd
In sharp contést of battle found no aid
Against invaders: therefore, cool'd in zeal,
Thenceforth shall practice how to live secure,
Worldly or dissolute, on what their lords
Shall leave them to enjoy; for the earth shall bear
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 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 observed
The one just man alive; by his command
Shall build a wondrous 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 lodged,
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 moved 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 áttributes 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 watery glass Gazed 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 towards the deep; who now had stopt 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 clamor thence the rapid currents drive, Towards 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 covenant new.
Whereat the heart of Adam, erst so sad,
Greatly rejoiced ; and thus his joy broke forth :

O thou, who future things canst represent
As present, heavenly Instructor! I revive
At this last sight; assured 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 color'd streaks in heaven
Distended, as the brow of God appeased ?
Or serve they, as a flowery verge, to bind
The fluid skirts of that same watery cloud,
Lest it again dissolve, and shower the earth ?"

To whom the archangel. “ Dextrously thou So willingly doth God remit his ire, [aim'st; Though late repenting him of man depraved; Grieved at his heart

, when looking down he saw The whole earth filld with violence, and all flesh Corrupting each their way; yet, those removed,

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-color'd bow, whereon to look, And call to mind his covenant. Day and night, Seed-time and harvest, heat and hoary frost, Shall hold their course; till fire purge all things

new, *Both heaven and earth, wherein the just shall

dwell.”

END OF BOOK XI.

BOOK XII.

The argument. The angel Michael continues, 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 bill 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 bates at noon,
Though bent on speed; so here the archangel

paused
Betwixt the world destroy'd and world restored,
If Adam aught 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 few, And while the dread of judgment past remains Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,

« ZurückWeiter »