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Like a dark ceiling stood; down rush'd the rain
Impetuous, and continued, 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, & then, with all their pomp,
Deep under water roll'd; sea covered sea,
Sea without shore; and in their palaces,
Where luxury late reign'd, sea monsters whelp'd,
And stabled of mankind, so numerous late,
All left, in one small bottom swum embark'd.
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 the 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 the Angel utter'dst thus thy plaint.
"O visions ill foreseen! better had I
Lived ignorant of future, so had borne
My part of evil only, each day's lot
Enough to bear; those now, that were dispensed
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 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 pass'd,
Man is not whom to warn those few, escaped
Famine and anguish will at last consume,
Wandering that watery desert. I had hope,
When violence was ceased, 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 deceived; for now I see
Peace to corrupt, no less than war to waste.
How comes it thus ? unfold, celestial guide;
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;
Who, having spill'd much blood, and done much waste,
Subduing nations, and achieved thereby
Fame in the world, high titles, and rich prey,
Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, & sloth,
Surfeit and lust; till wantonness and pride
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
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 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 wreck.
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
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, pushed 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 seamews' clang:
To teach thee, that God attributes to place

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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 stopp'd
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 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 Heaven, over his head beholds
A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow
Conspicuous, with three listed colours gay,
Betokening peace from God, & 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 destroyed, than I rejoice
For one man found so perfect, and so just,
That God vouchsafes to raise another world
From him, & 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 Archangel. "Dexterously thou aimst;
So willingly doth God remit his ire;
Though late repenting him of man depraved,
Grieved at his heart, when, looking down, he saw
The whole earth fill'd 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 coloured 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 & Earth, wherein the just shall dwell."







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