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Shall build a wondrous ark, as thou beheld'st,
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 sheltered 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
830 Out of his place, pushed by the hornèd flood, With all his verdure spoiled, 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' clangTo 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 looked, and saw the ark hull on the flood,
840 Which now abated ; for the clouds were fled, Driven by a keen North-wind that, blowing dry, Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decayed ; 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, 850 Fast on the top of some high mountain fixed. 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, 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 870 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 voutsafes to raise another world From him, and all his anger to forget. But say what mean those coloured streaks in Heaven : Distended as the brow of God appeased ?
880 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 aim'st. 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 filled with violence, and all flesh
Corrupting each their way ; yet, those removed,
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-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, 900
Both Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell."
THE END OF THE ELEVENTH BOOK
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, baits at noon,
Though bent on speed, so here the Archangel paused
Betwixt the world destroyed 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,
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,
With large wine-offerings poured, and sacred feast,
Shall spend their days in joy unblamed, and dwell
Long time in peace, by families and tribes,
Under paternal rule, till one shall rise,
Of proud, ambitious heart, who, not content
With fair equality, fraternal state,
Will arrogate dominion undeserved
Over his brethren, and quite dispossess
Concord and law of Nature from the Earth-
Hunting (and men, not beasts, shall be his game)
With war and hostile snare such as refuse
Subjection to his empire tyrannous.
A mighty hunter thence he shall be styled
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 tyrannise,
Marching from Eden towards the west, shall find
The plain, wherein a black bituminous gurge
Boils out from under ground, 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 dispersed
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,