« AnteriorContinuar »
From under Heav'n; the hills to their supply
Vapour, and exhalation dusk and moist
Sent up amain; and now the thick’nd sky
Like a dark ceiling stood; down rush'd the rain
Impetuous, and continu'd 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 overwhelm’d, and them with all their pomp
Deep under water rolld; sea cover'd sea,
Sea without shore; and in their palaces
Where luxury late reign’d, sea monsters whelp'd
And stabld; of Mankind, so numerous late,
All left, in one small bottom swum embark't.
How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to behold
The end of all thy offspring, end so sad,
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 stoodst at last,
Though comfortless; as when a father mourns
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
Enough to bear; those now, that were dispens't
The burd'n 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 befal
Him or his children; evil he may be sure,
Which neither his foreknowing can prevent,
And he the future evils 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't
Famine and anguish will at last consume,
Wand'ring that wat’ry desert. I had hope,
When violence was ceas't, 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;
785 And whether here the race of Man 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 ;
790 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 sure, 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 temperance may be tri'd. So all shall turn degenerate, all deprav'd, 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
810 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
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 spoild, and trees adrift
Down the great river to the op’ning gulf,
And there take root an iland salt and bare,
The haunt of seals and orcs, and seamews' 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,
Driven by a keen north-wind, that blowing dry
Wrinkld the face of Deluge, as decay'd;
And the clear sun on his wide watry glass
Gaz'd 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 heav'n his windows shut.
The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground
Fast on the top of some high mountain fixt.
And now the tops of hills as rocks appear;
With clamour 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 Heav'n, over his head beholds
A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow
Conspicuous with three listed colours gay,
Betok’ning 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 represent
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 perfet and so just,
That God voutsafes to raise another world
From him, and all his anger to forget.
But say, what mean those colour'd streaks in heav'n,
Distended as the brow of God appeas'd ?
Or serve they as a flow'ry verge to bind
The fluid skirts of that same watry cloud,
Lest it again dissolve and show'r the earth ?'
To whom th' archangel. "Dextrously thou aim'st;
So willingly doth God remit his ire;
Though late repenting him of Man depravid,
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 remov’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.'