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That God vouchsafes to raise another world 877
From him, and all his anger to forget.
But say, what mean those colour'd streaks in heaven,
Distended, as the brow of God appeas'd?
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 Arch-Angel. Dexterously 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 remov’d,
Such grace shall one just man find in His sight, 890
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 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.

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 hill 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 Arch-Angel paus'd,
Betwixt the world destroy'd and world restor'd,
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: 10
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 judgement past remains
Fresh in their minds, fearing the Deity,
With some regard to what is just and right
Shall lead their lives, and multiply apace;
Labouring the soil, and reaping plenteous crop,
Corn, wine, and oil; and, from the herd or flock
Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid, 20
With large wine-offerings pour'd, and sacred feast,

Shall spend their days in joy unblam'd; and dwell 22
Long time in peace, by families and tribes,
Under paternal rule: till onel shall rise
Of proud ambitious heart, who, not content
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Will arrogate dominion undeserv'd
Over his brethren, and quite dispossess
Concord and love of nature from the earth;
Hunting (and men not beasts shall be his game) 30
With war and hostile snare such as refuse
Subjection to his empire tyrannous:
A mighty hunter thence he shall be styl'd
Before the Lord; as in despite of Heaven,
Or from Heaven, claiming second sovranty;
And from rebellion shall derive his name,
Though of rebellion others he accuse.
He with a crew, whom like ambition joins
With him or under him to tyrannize,
Marching from Eden towards the west, shall find 40
The plain, wherein a black bituminous gurge
Boils out from underground, the mouth of Hell:
Of brick, and of that stuff, they cast to build
A city and tower whose top may reach to Heaven;
And get themselves a name; lest, far dispers'd
In foreign lands, their memory be lost;
Regardless whether good or evil fame.
But God, who oft descends to visit men
Unseen, and through their habitations walks
To mark their doings, them beholding soon, 50
Comes down to see their city, ere the tower
Obstruct Heaven-towers; and in derision sets
Upon their tongues a various spirit,” to rase

** One:’ Nimrod.—” “Warious spirit:” a spirit varying and confusing the sounds by which they would express their thoughts.

Quite out their native language; and, instead, 54 To sow a jangling noise of words unknown: Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud Among the builders; each to other calls Not understood; till hoarse, and all in rage, As mock'd they storm: great laughter was in Heaven, And looking down, to see the hubbub strange, 60 And hear the din: Thus was the building left Ridiculous, and the work Confusion nam'd. Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeas'd. O execrable son! so to aspire Above his brethren; to himself assuming Authority usurp'd, from God not given: He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl, Dominion absolute; that right we hold By his donation; but Man over men He made not lord; such title to Himself 70 Reserving, human left from human free. But this usurper his encroachment proud Stays not on Man; to God his tower intends Siege and defiance: Wretched man! what food Will he convey up thither, to sustain Himself and his rash army; where thin air Above the clouds will pine his entrails gross, And famish him of breath, if not of bread 2 To whom thus Michael. Justly thou abhorr'st That son, who on the quiet state of men 80 Such trouble brought, affecting to subdue Rational liberty; yet know withal, Since thy original lapse, true liberty Is lost, which always with right reason dwells Twinn'd, and from her hath no dividual being: Reason in man obscur'd, or not obey'd, Immediately inordinate desires,

And upstart passions, catch the government 88
From reason; and to servitude reduce
Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits
Within himself unworthy powers to reign
Over free reason, God, in judgement just,
Subjects him from without to violent lords;
Who oft as undeservedly enthral
His outward freedom: Tyranny must be;
Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse.
Yet sometimes nations will decline so low
From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,
But justice, and some fatal curse annex’d,
Deprives them of their outward liberty; 100
Their inward lost: Witness the irreverent son
Of him who built the ark; who for the shame
Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,
Servant of servants, on his vicious race.
Thus will this latter, as the former world,
Still tend from bad to worse; till God at last,
Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw
His presence from among them, and avert
His holy eyes; resolving from thenceforth
To leave them to their own polluted ways; 110
And one peculiar nation to select
From all the rest, of whom to be invok'd,
A nation from one faithful man' to spring:
Him, on this side Euphrates yet residing,
Bred up in idol-worship: 0 that men,
(Canst thou believe?) should be so stupid grown,
While yet the patriarch lived who 'scaped the flood,
As to forsake the living God, and fall
To worship their own work in wood and stone
For gods ! Yet him God the Most High vouchsafes
* “One faithful man:” Abraham.

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