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Which I must keep till my appointed day
550 Of rendring up, and patiently attend My dissolution.' Michael repli’d.
Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou liv'st,
Live well; how long or short permit to Heav'n:
And now prepare thee for another sight.'
He look’d, and saw a spacious plain, whereon
Were tents of various hue; by some were herds
Of cattle grazing; others whence the sound
Of instruments that made melodious chime
Was heard, of harp and organ; and who mov'd
Their stops and chords was seen; his volant touch
Instinct, through all proportions low and high
Fled and pursu'd transverse the resonant fugue.
In other part stood one who at the forge
Labouring, two massy clods of iron and brass
565 Had melted, (whether found where casual fire Had wasted woods on mountain or in vale, Down to the veins of earth, thence gliding hot To some cave's mouth; or whether washt by stream From underground ;) the liquid ore he drain'd
570 Into fit moulds prepar'd: from which he form’d, First his own tools; then, what might else be wrought Fusil or grav’n in metal. After these, But on the hither side, a different sort From the high neighbouring hills, which was their seat, 575 Down to the plain descended: by their guise Just men they seem’d, and all their study bent To worship God aright, and know his works Not hid, nor those things last which might preserve Freedom and peace to men : they on the plain
580 Long had not walkt, when from the tents behold A bevy of fair women, richly gay In gems and wanton dress; to the harp they sung Soft amorous ditties, and in dance came on: The men though grave, ey'd them, and let their eyes 585 Rove without rein; till in the amorous net Fast caught, they lik’d, and each his liking chose;
And now of love they treat, till th' ev’ning star
Love's harbinger appear'd; then all in heat
They light the nuptial torch, and bid invoke
Hymen, then first to marriage rites invok't:
With feast and music all the tents resound.
Such happy interview and fair event
Of love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flow’rs,
And charming symphonies, attach'd the heart
Of Adam, soon inclin'd to admit delight,
The bent of Nature; which he thus express’d.
'True opener of mine eyes, prime angel blest,
Much better seems this vision, and more hope
Of peaceful days portends, than those two past;
Those were of hate, and death, or pain much worse,
Here Nature seems fulfill'd in all her ends.'
To whom thus Michael. "Judge not what is best
By pleasure, though to Nature seeming meet,
Created, as thou art, to nobler end,
Holy and pure, conformity divine.
Those tents thou saw'st so pleasant, were the tents
Of wickedness, wherein shall dwell his race
Who slew his brother; studious they appear
Of arts that polish life, inventors rare,
Unmindful of their Maker, though his Spirit
Taught them, but they his gifts acknowledg’d none.
Yet they a beauteous offspring shall beget;
For that fair female troop thou saw'st, that seem'd
Of goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay,
Yet empty of all good wherein consists
Woman's domestic honour and chief praise;
Bred only and completed to the taste
Of lustful appetence; to sing, to dance,
To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye ;
To these that sober race of men, whose lives
Religious titld them the sons of God,
Shall yield up all their virtue, all their fame
Ignobly, to the trains and to the smiles
Of these fair atheists, and now swim in joy,
(Ere long to swim at large) and laugh; for which
The world ere long a world of tears must weep.'
To whom thus Adam of short joy bereft.
O pity and shame, that they who to live well
Enter'd so fair, should turn aside to tread
Paths indirect, or in the mid way faint !
But still I see the tenor of Man's woe
Hold on the same, from Woman to begin.'
From Man's effeminate slackness it begins,'
Said th' angel, 'who should better hold his place,
By wisdom, and superior gifts receiv'd.
But now prepare thee for another scene.'
He look'd, and saw wide territory spread
Before him, towns, and rural works between,
Cities of men with lofty gates and towrs,
Concourse in arms, fierce faces threatning war,
Giants of mighty bone, and bold emprise ;
Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed,
Single or in array of battle rang’d,
Both horse and foot, nor idly mustring stood :
One way a band select from forage drives
A herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,
From a fat meadow ground; or fleecy flock,
Ewes and their bleating lambs over the plain,
Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly,
But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray;
With cruel tournament the squadrons join;
Where cattle pastur'd late, now scatter'd lies
With carcases and arms, th’ ensanguin'd field
Deserted. Others to a city strong
Lay siege, encampt; by battery, scale, and mine,
Assaulting; others from the wall defend
With dart and jav'lin, stones and sulphurous fire;
On each hand slaughter and gigantic deeds.
In other part the scepter'd heralds call
To council in the city gates: anon
Gray-headed men and grave, with warriors mixt,
Assemble, and harangues are heard; but soon
In factious opposition; till at last
Of middle age one rising, eminent
In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,
Of justice, of religion, truth and peace,
And judgment from above: him old and young
Exploded and had seiz'd with violent hands,
Had not a cloud descending snatch'd him thence 670
Unseen amid the throng : so violence
Proceeded, and oppression, and sword-law
Through all the plain, and refuge none was found.
Adam was all in tears, and, to his guide
Lamenting, turn’d full sad: 'O what are these,
Death's ministers, not Men, who thus deal Death
Inhumanly to men, and multiply
Ten thousand-fold the sin of him who slew
His brother; for of whom such massacre
Make they but of their brethren, men of men ?
680 But who was that just man, whom had not Heav'n Rescu’d, 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 matcht, who of themselves 685 Abhor to join ; and by imprudence mixt, 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;
690 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 styld 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 700 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
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 look’d, and saw the face of things quite chang’d.
The brazen throat of war had ceast to roar;
And all was turn'd to jollity and game,
To luxury and riot, feast and dance,
Marrying or prostituting, as befel,
Rape or adultery, where passing fair
Allur'd them; thence from cups to civil oils.
At length a reverend sire among them came,
And of their doings great dislike declar'd,
720 And testifi'd against their ways; he oft Frequented their assemblies, whereso met, Triumphs or 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 highth, 730 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
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