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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 hov'ring, all the clouds together drove 740 From under heaven: the hills, to their supply,

Vapour and exhalation, dusk and moist,
Sent up amain. And now the thicken'd sky
Like a dark ceiling stood : down rush'd the rain

Impetuous; and continued, till the earth
745 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 rollid: sea covered sea 750 Sea without shore: and in their palaces,

Where luxury late reign'd, sea-monsters whelp'd
And stabled: of mankind (so num'rous late)
All left, in one small bottom swum embark’d.

How didst thou grieve then, Adam ! to behold 755 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 stood'st at last, 760 Though comfortless; as when a father mourns

His children, all in view destroy'd at once ;
And scarce to th' angel utter'd'st thus thy plaint:

“ O visions ill foreseen! Better had I

“Liv'd ignorant of future! so had borne 765 My part of evil only—each day's lot

“Enough to bear: those now, that were dispens'd
“ The burden of many ages, on me light
At once, by my foreknowledge gaining birth

Abortive, to torment me, ere their being, 770 “ 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 ;

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And he the future evil shall, no less
775 “ In apprehension than in substance, feel,

“ Grievous to bear. But that care now is past;
“ Man is not whom to warn : those few escap'd
“ Famine and anguish will at last consume,
“ Wandering that watery desert. I had hope,
“ When violence was ceas'd and war on earth,
“ All would have then gone well-peace would havecrown'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. 785 “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 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 pleasure, ease, and sloth, 795 “ 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 contést 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 temp’rance may be tried : “ So all shall turn degen'rate--all deprav'd,

(Justice and temp'rance, truth and faith, forgot,) “One man except, the only son of light

“ In a dark age—against example good810 Against allurement, custom, and a world

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“ 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 815 “ 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 beheld'st, 820 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
825“ 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 mov'd
“Out of his place, push'd 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, 835 “ The haunt of seals, and orcs, and sea-mews' 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." 840 He look'd, and saw the ark hull on the flood,

Which now abated; for the clouds were fled,
Driv'n by a keen north-wind, that, blowing dry,
Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decay'd ;

And the clear sun on his wide wat'ry glass
845 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 stopp'd

830

His sluices, as the heaven his windows shut.
850 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. 855 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 860 An olive-leaf he brings-pacific sign!

Anon dry ground appears, and from his ark
The ancient sire descends with all bis train :
Then, with uplifted hands, and eyes devout,

Grateful to Heav'n, over his head beholds 865 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, heavenly 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 875

“For one man found so perfect, and so just,
" That God vouchsafes to raise another world
“ 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 ? 880

“ Or serve they, as a flowery verge, to bind
“ The fluid skirts of that same wat'ry cloud,
“ Lest it again dissolve, and shower the earth ?"
To whom the archangel :

Dext'rously thou aim'st: 885 “ So willingly doth God remit his ire,

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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, 890 “Such grace shall one just man find in his sight,

“ That he relents, not to blot out mankind;
“ And makes a cov'nant, never to destroy
“ The earth again by flood; nor let the sea

Surpass his bounds; nor rain to drown the world, 895 “ 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 cov’nant. Day and night,

“Seed-time and harvest, heat and hoary frost, 900 “ Shall hold their course ; till fire purge all things new,

“ Both heaven and earth, wherein the just shall dwell.”

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