Imágenes de páginas

From a fat meadow ground; or fleecy flock,
Ewes and their bleating lambs, over the plain,
Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly, 650
But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray;
With cruel tournament the squadrons join;
Where cattle pastur'd late, now scatter'd lies
With carcasses and arms th' insanguin'd field,
Deserted: others to a city strong

Lay siege, encamp'd; by battery, scale, and mine,
Assaulting; others from the wall defend
With dart and javelin, stones and sulphurous fire;
On each hand slaughter, and gigantic deeds.
In other part the scepter'd heralds call
To council, in the city gates: anon
Grey-headed men and grave, with warriors mix'd,
Assemble, and harangues are heard, but soon
In factious opposition; till at last

Of midddle age one rising, eminent

In wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,
Of justice, of religion, truth, and peace,
And judgment from above: him old and young
Exploded, and had seiz'd with violent hands,
Had not a cloud descending snatch'd him thence 670
Unseen amid the throng: so violence
Proceeded, and oppression, and sword-law,

Through all the plain, and refuge none was found.




Adam was all in tears, and to his guide

Lamenting turn'd full sad ; “ O what are these, 675
Death's ministers, not men? who thus deal death
Inhumanly to men, and multiply

Ten thousand fold the sin of him who slew
His brother: for of whom such massacre
Make they, but of their brethren, men of men? 680
But who was that just man, whom had not Heav'n
Rescued, had in his righteousness been lost?"

To whom thus Michael. "These are the product
Of those ill-mated marriages thou saw'st;
Where good with bad were match'd, who of themselves
Abhor to join; and, by imprudence mix'd,


Produce prodigious births of body' or mind.
Such were these giants, men of high renown;
For in those days might only shall be' admir'd,
And valour and heroic virtue call'd;
To overcome in battle, and subdue
Nations, and bring home spoils with infinite
Man-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitch
Of human glory; and for glory done
Of triumph, to be styl❜d great conquerors,
Patrons of mankind, gods, and sons of gods;
Destroyers rightlier call'd, and plagues of men.
Thus fame shall be achiev'd, renown on earth,
And what most merits fame in silence hid.
But he, the sev'nth from thee, whom thou beheldst
The only righteous in a world perverse,
And therefore hated, therefore so beset
With foes, for daring single to be just,
And utter odious truth, that God would come
To judge them with his saints; him the most High,
Rapt in a balmy cloud, with winged steeds
Did, as thou saw'st, receive, to walk with God
High in salvation and the climes of bliss,
Exempt from death; to show thee what reward
Awaits the good, the rest what punishment;
Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold."


He look'd, and saw the face of things quite chang'd; The brazen throat of war had ceas'd to roar; All now was turn'd to jollity and game, To luxury and riot, feast and dance, Marrying or prostituting, as befel, Rape or adultery, where passing fair Allur'd them; thence from cups to civil broils. At length a reverend sire among them came, And of their doings great dislike declar'd, And testify'd against their ways; he oft Frequented their assemblies, whereso met, Triumphs or festivals; and to them preach'd Conversion and repentance, as to souls In prison under judgments imminent:









But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceas'd
Contending, and remov'd his tents far off;
Then, from the mountain hewing timber tall,
Began to build a vessel of huge bulk,
Measur'd by cubit, length, and breadth, and height,
Smear'd round with pitch, and in the side a door
Contriv'd, and of provisions laid in large

For man and beast: when lo, a wonder strange!
Of every beast, and bird, and insect small,

Came sev❜ns, and pairs, and enter'd in, as taught 735
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 hovering, all the clouds together drove
From under Heav'n; 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
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 roll'd; sea cover'd 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 th' angel, on thy feet thou stood'st 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'd
The burden of many ages, on me light

At once, by my for knowledge 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 befall


Him or his children; evil he may be sure,
Which neither his foreknowing can prevent,
And he the future evil 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'd,
Famine and anguish will at last consume,
Wand'ring that wat❜ry desert: I had hope,
When violence was ceas'd, and war on earth,
All would have then gone well; peace would have




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,
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,
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,



[ocr errors]


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 temp'rance may be try'd: So all shall turn degenerate, 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 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 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 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 ores, 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 shali ensue, behold."


He look'd, and saw the ark hull on the flood,







« AnteriorContinuar »