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Paradise Lost: Book 11 Analysis

Author: Poetry of John Milton Type: Poetry Views: 464

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Undoubtedly he will relent, and turnFrom his displeasure; in whose look serene,When angry most he seemed and most severe,What else but favour, grace, and mercy, shone?So spake our father penitent; nor EveFelt less remorse: they, forthwith to the placeRepairing where he judged them, prostrate fellBefore him reverent; and both confessedHumbly their faults, and pardon begged; with tearsWatering the ground, and with their sighs the airFrequenting, sent from hearts contrite, in signOf sorrow unfeigned, and humiliation meek.Thus they, in lowliest plight, repentant stoodPraying; for from the mercy-seat abovePrevenient grace descending had removedThe stony from their hearts, and made new fleshRegenerate grow instead; that sighs now breathedUnutterable; which the Spirit of prayerInspired, and winged for Heaven with speedier flightThan loudest oratory:Yet their portNot of mean suitors; nor important lessSeemed their petition, than when the ancient pairIn fables old, less ancient yet than these,Deucalion and chaste Pyrrha, to restoreThe race of mankind drowned, before the shrineOf Themis stood devout.To Heaven their prayersFlew up, nor missed the way, by envious windsBlown vagabond or frustrate: in they passedDimensionless through heavenly doors; then cladWith incense, where the golden altar fumed,By their great intercessour, came in sightBefore the Father's throne: them the glad SonPresenting, thus to intercede began.See$ Father, what first-fruits on earth are sprungFrom thy implanted grace in Man; these sighsAnd prayers, which in this golden censer mixedWith incense, I thy priest before thee bring;Fruits of more pleasing savour, from thy seedSown with contrition in his heart, than thoseWhich, his own hand manuring, all the treesOf Paradise could have produced, ere fallenFrom innocence.Now therefore, bend thine earTo supplication; hear his sighs, though mute;Unskilful with what words to pray, let meInterpret for him; me, his advocateAnd propitiation; all his works on me,Good, or not good, ingraft; my merit thoseShall perfect, and for these my death shall pay.Accept me; and, in me, from these receiveThe smell of peace toward mankind: let him liveBefore thee reconciled, at least his daysNumbered, though sad; till death, his doom, (which ITo mitigate thus plead, not to reverse,)To better life shall yield him: where with meAll my redeemed may dwell in joy and bliss;Made one with me, as I with thee am one.To whom the Father, without cloud, serene.All thy request for Man, accepted Son,Obtain; all thy request was my decree:But, longer in that Paradise to dwell,The law I gave to Nature him forbids:Those pure immortal elements, that know,No gross, no unharmonious mixture foul,Eject him, tainted now; and purge him off,As a distemper, gross, to air as gross,And mortal food; as may dispose him bestFor dissolution wrought by sin, that firstDistempered all things, and of incorruptCorrupted.I, at first, with two fair giftsCreated him endowed; with happiness,And immortality: that fondly lost,This other served but to eternize woe;Till I provided death: so death becomesHis final remedy; and, after life,Tried in sharp tribulation, and refinedBy faith and faithful works, to second life,Waked in the renovation of the just,Resigns him up with Heaven and Earth renewed.But let us call to synod all the Blest,Through Heaven's wide bounds: from them I will not hideMy judgements; how with mankind I proceed,As how with peccant Angels late they saw,And in their state, though firm, stood more confirmed.He ended, and the Son gave signal highTo the bright minister that watched; he blewHis trumpet, heard in Oreb since perhapsWhen God descended, and perhaps once moreTo sound at general doom.The angelick blastFilled all the regions: from their blisful bowersOf amarantine shade, fountain or spring,By the waters of life, where'er they satIn fellowships of joy, the sons of lightHasted, resorting to the summons high;And took their seats; till from his throne supremeThe Almighty thus pronounced his sovran will.O Sons, like one of us Man is becomeTo know both good and evil, since his tasteOf that defended fruit; but let him boastHis knowledge of good lost, and evil got;Happier! had it sufficed him to have knownGood by itself, and evil not at all.He sorrows now, repents, and prays contrite,My motions in him; longer than they move,His heart I know, how variable and vain,Self-left.Lest therefore his now bolder handReach also of the tree of life, and eat,And live for ever, dream at least to liveFor ever, to remove him I decree,And send him from the garden forth to tillThe ground whence he was taken, fitter soil.Michael, this my behest have thou in charge;Take to thee from among the CherubimThy choice of flaming warriours, lest the Fiend,Or in behalf of Man, or to invadeVacant possession, some new trouble raise:Haste thee, and from the Paradise of GodWithout remorse drive out the sinful pair;From hallowed ground the unholy; and denounceTo them, and to their progeny, from thencePerpetual banishment.Yet, lest they faintAt the sad sentence rigorously urged,(For I behold them softened, and with tearsBewailing their excess,) all terrour hide.If patiently thy bidding they obey,Dismiss them not disconsolate; revealTo Adam what shall come in future days,As I shall thee enlighten; intermixMy covenant in the Woman's seed renewed;So send them forth, though sorrowing, yet in peace:And on the east side of the garden place,Where entrance up from Eden easiest climbs,Cherubick watch; and of a sword the flameWide-waving; all approach far off to fright,And guard all passage to the tree of life:Lest Paradise a receptacle proveTo Spirits foul, and all my trees their prey;With whose stolen fruit Man once more to delude.He ceased; and the arch-angelick Power preparedFor swift descent; with him the cohort brightOf watchful Cherubim: four faces eachHad, like a double Janus; all their shapeSpangled with eyes more numerous than thoseOf Argus, and more wakeful than to drouse,Charmed with Arcadian pipe, the pastoral reedOf Hermes, or his opiate rod.Mean while,To re-salute the world with sacred light,Leucothea waked; and with fresh dews imbalmedThe earth; when Adam and first matron EveHad ended now their orisons, and foundStrength added from above; new hope to springOut of despair; joy, but with fear yet linked;Which thus to Eve his welcome words renewed.Eve, easily my faith admit, that allThe good which we enjoy from Heaven descends;But, that from us aught should ascend to HeavenSo prevalent as to concern the mindOf God high-blest, or to incline his will,Hard to belief may seem; yet this will prayerOr one short sigh of human breath, upborneEven to the seat of God.For since I soughtBy prayer the offended Deity to appease;Kneeled, and before him humbled all my heart;Methought I saw him placable and mild,Bending his ear; persuasion in me grewThat I was heard with favour; peace returnedHome to my breast, and to my memoryHis promise, that thy seed shall bruise our foe;Which, then not minded in dismay, yet nowAssures me that the bitterness of deathIs past, and we shall live.Whence hail to thee,Eve rightly called, mother of all mankind,Mother of all things living, since by theeMan is to live; and all things live for Man.To whom thus Eve with sad demeanour meek.Ill-worthy I such title should belongTo me transgressour; who, for thee ordainedA help, became thy snare; to me reproachRather belongs, distrust, and all dispraise:But infinite in pardon was my Judge,That I, who first brought death on all, am gracedThe source of life; next favourable thou,Who highly thus to entitle me vouchsaf'st,Far other name deserving.But the fieldTo labour calls us, now with sweat imposed,Though after sleepless night; for see!the morn,All unconcerned with our unrest, beginsHer rosy progress smiling: let us forth;I never from thy side henceforth to stray,Where'er our day's work lies, though now enjoinedLaborious, till day droop; while here we dwell,What can be toilsome in these pleasant walks?Here let us live, though in fallen state, content.So spake, so wished much humbled Eve; but FateSubscribed not:Nature first gave signs, impressedOn bird, beast, air; air suddenly eclipsed,After short blush of morn; nigh in her sightThe bird of Jove, stooped from his aery tour,Two birds of gayest plume before him drove;Down from a hill the beast that reigns in woods,First hunter then, pursued a gentle brace,Goodliest of all the forest, hart and hind;Direct to the eastern gate was bent their flight.Adam observed, and with his eye the chasePursuing, not unmoved, to Eve thus spake.O Eve, some further change awaits us nigh,Which Heaven, by these mute signs in Nature, showsForerunners of his purpose; or to warnUs, haply too secure, of our dischargeFrom penalty, because from death releasedSome days: how long, and what till then our life,Who knows? or more than this, that we are dust,And thither must return, and be no more?Why else this double object in our sightOf flight pursued in the air, and o'er the ground,One way the self-same hour? why in the eastDarkness ere day's mid-course, and morning-lightMore orient in yon western cloud, that drawsO'er the blue firmament a radiant white,And slow descends with something heavenly fraught?He erred not; for by this the heavenly bandsDown from a sky of jasper lighted nowIn Paradise, and on a hill made halt;A glorious apparition, had not doubtAnd carnal fear that day dimmed Adam's eye.Not that more glorious, when the Angels metJacob in Mahanaim, where he sawThe field pavilioned with his guardians bright;Nor that, which on the flaming mount appearedIn Dothan, covered with a camp of fire,Against the Syrian king, who to surpriseOne man, assassin-like, had levied war,War unproclaimed.The princely HierarchIn their bright stand there left his Powers, to seisePossession of the garden; he alone,To find where Adam sheltered, took his way,Not unperceived of Adam; who to Eve,While the great visitant approached, thus spake.Eve$ now expect great tidings, which perhapsOf us will soon determine, or imposeNew laws to be observed; for I descry,From yonder blazing cloud that veils the hill,One of the heavenly host; and, by his gait,None of the meanest; some great PotentateOr of the Thrones above; such majestyInvests him coming! yet not terrible,That I should fear; nor sociably mild,As Raphael, that I should much confide;But solemn and sublime; whom not to offend,With reverence I must meet, and thou retire.He ended: and the Arch-Angel soon drew nigh,Not in his shape celestial, but as manClad to meet man; over his lucid armsA military vest of purple flowed,Livelier than Meliboean, or the grainOf Sarra, worn by kings and heroes oldIn time of truce; Iris had dipt the woof;His starry helm unbuckled showed him primeIn manhood where youth ended; by his side,As in a glistering zodiack, hung the sword,Satan's dire dread; and in his hand the spear.Adam bowed low; he, kingly, from his stateInclined not, but his coming thus declared.Adam, Heaven's high behest no preface needs:Sufficient that thy prayers are heard; and Death,Then due by sentence when thou didst transgress,Defeated of his seisure many daysGiven thee of grace; wherein thou mayest repent,And one bad act with many deeds well doneMayest cover:Well may then thy Lord, appeased,Redeem thee quite from Death's rapacious claim;But longer in this Paradise to dwellPermits not: to remove thee I am come,And send thee from the garden forth to tillThe ground whence thou wast taken, fitter soil.He added not; for Adam at the newsHeart-struck with chilling gripe of sorrow stood,That all his senses bound; Eve, who unseenYet all had heard, with audible lamentDiscovered soon the place of her retire.O unexpected stroke, worse than of Death!Must I thus leave thee$ Paradise? thus leaveThee, native soil! these happy walks and shades,Fit haunt of Gods? where I had hope to spend,Quiet though sad, the respite of that dayThat must be mortal to us both.O flowers,That never will in other climate grow,My early visitation, and my last;t even, which I bred up with tender handFrom the first opening bud, and gave ye names!Who now shall rear ye to the sun, or rankYour tribes, and water from the ambrosial fount?Thee lastly, nuptial bower! by me adornedWith what to sight or smell was sweet! from theeHow shall I part, and whither wander downInto a lower world; to this obscureAnd wild? how shall we breathe in other airLess pure, accustomed to immortal fruits?Whom thus the Angel interrupted mild.Lament not, Eve, but patiently resignWhat justly thou hast lost, nor set thy heart,Thus over-fond, on that which is not thine:Thy going is not lonely; with thee goesThy husband; whom to follow thou art bound;Where he abides, think there thy native soil.Adam, by this from the cold sudden dampRecovering, and his scattered spirits returned,To Michael thus his humble words addressed.Celestial, whether among the Thrones, or namedOf them the highest; for such of shape may seemPrince above princes! gently hast thou toldThy message, which might else in telling wound,And in performing end us; what besidesOf sorrow, and dejection, and despair,Our frailty can sustain, thy tidings bring,Departure from this happy place, our sweetRecess, and only consolation leftFamiliar to our eyes! all places elseInhospitable appear, and desolate;Nor knowing us, nor known:And, if by prayerIncessant I could hope to change the willOf Him who all things can, I would not ceaseTo weary him with my assiduous cries:But prayer against his absolute decreeNo more avails than breath against the wind,Blown stifling back on him that breathes it forth:Therefore to his great bidding I submit.This most afflicts me, that, departing hence,As from his face I shall be hid, deprivedHis blessed countenance:Here I could frequentWith worship place by place where he vouchsafedPresence Divine; and to my sons relate,'On this mount he appeared; under this tree'Stood visible; among these pines his voice'I heard; here with him at this fountain talked:So many grateful altars I would rearOf grassy turf, and pile up every stoneOf lustre from the brook, in memory,Or monument to ages; and theronOffer sweet-smelling gums, and fruits, and flowers:In yonder nether world where shall I seekHis bright appearances, or foot-step trace?For though I fled him angry, yet recalledTo life prolonged and promised race, I nowGladly behold though but his utmost skirtsOf glory; and far off his steps adore.To whom thus Michael with regard benign.Adam, thou knowest Heaven his, and all the Earth;Not this rock only; his Omnipresence fillsLand, sea, and air, and every kind that lives,Fomented by his virtual power and warmed:All the earth he gave thee to possess and rule,No despicable gift; surmise not thenHis presence to these narrow bounds confinedOf Paradise, or Eden: this had beenPerhaps thy capital seat, from whence had spreadAll generations; and had hither comeFrom all the ends of the earth, to celebrateAnd reverence thee, their great progenitor.But this pre-eminence thou hast lost, brought downTo dwell on even ground now with thy sons:Yet doubt not but in valley, and in plain,God is, as here; and will be found alikePresent; and of his presence many a signStill following thee, still compassing thee roundWith goodness and paternal love, his faceExpress, and of his steps the track divine.Which that thou mayest believe, and be confirmedEre thou from hence depart; know, I am sentTo show thee what shall come in future daysTo thee, and to thy offspring: good with badExpect to hear; supernal grace contendingWith sinfulness of men; thereby to learnTrue patience, and to temper joy with fearAnd pious sorrow; equally inuredBy moderation either state to bear,Prosperous or adverse: so shalt thou leadSafest thy life, and best prepared endureThy mortal passage when it comes.--AscendThis hill; let Eve (for I have drenched her eyes)Here sleep below; while thou to foresight wakest;As once thou sleptst, while she to life was formed.To whom thus Adam gratefully replied.Ascend, I follow thee, safe Guide, the pathThou leadest me; and to the hand of Heaven submit,However chastening; to the evil turnMy obvious breast; arming to overcomeBy suffering, and earn rest from labour won,If so I may attain. -- So both ascendIn the visions of God.It was a hill,Of Paradise the highest; from whose topThe hemisphere of earth, in clearest ken,Stretched out to the amplest reach of prospect lay.Not higher that hill, nor wider looking round,Whereon, for different cause, the Tempter setOur second Adam, in the wilderness;To show him all Earth's kingdoms, and their glory.His eye might there command wherever stoodCity of old or modern fame, the seatOf mightiest empire, from the destined wallsOf Cambalu, seat of Cathaian Can,And Samarchand by Oxus, Temir's throne,To Paquin of Sinaean kings; and thenceTo Agra and Lahor of great Mogul,Down to the golden Chersonese; or whereThe Persian in Ecbatan sat, or sinceIn Hispahan; or where the Russian KsarIn Mosco; or the Sultan in Bizance,Turchestan-born; nor could his eye not kenThe empire of Negus to his utmost portErcoco, and the less maritim kingsMombaza, and Quiloa, and Melind,And Sofala, thought Ophir, to the realmOf Congo, and Angola farthest south;Or thence from Niger flood to Atlas mountThe kingdoms of Almansor, Fez and Sus,Morocco, and Algiers, and Tremisen;On Europe thence, and where Rome was to swayThe world: in spirit perhaps he also sawRich Mexico, the seat of Montezume,And Cusco in Peru, the richer seatOf Atabalipa; and yet unspoiledGuiana, whose great city Geryon's sonsCall El Dorado.But to nobler sightsMichael from Adam's eyes the film removed,Which that false fruit that promised clearer sightHad bred; then purged with euphrasy and rueThe visual nerve, for he had much to see;And from the well of life three drops instilled.So deep the power of these ingredients pierced,Even to the inmost seat of mental sight,That Adam, now enforced to close his eyes,Sunk down, and all his spirits became entranced;But him the gentle Angel by the handSoon raised, and his attention thus recalled.Adam, now ope thine eyes; and first beholdThe effects, which thy original crime hath wroughtIn some to spring from thee; who never touchedThe excepted tree; nor with the snake conspired;Nor sinned thy sin; yet from that sin deriveCorruption, to bring forth more violent deeds.His eyes he opened, and beheld a field,Part arable and tilth, whereon were sheavesNew reaped; the other part sheep-walks and folds;I' the midst an altar as the land-mark stood,Rustick, of grassy sord; thither anonA sweaty reaper from his tillage broughtFirst fruits, the green ear, and the yellow sheaf,Unculled, as came to hand; a shepherd next,More meek, came with the firstlings of his flock,Choicest and best; then, sacrificing, laidThe inwards and their fat, with incense strowed,On the cleft wood, and all due rights performed:His offering soon propitious fire from HeavenConsumed with nimble glance, and grateful steam;The other's not, for his was not sincere;Whereat he inly raged, and, as they talked,Smote him into the midriff with a stoneThat beat out life; he fell;and, deadly pale,Groaned out his soul with gushing blood effused.Much at that sight was Adam in his heartDismayed, and thus in haste to the Angel cried.O Teacher, some great mischief hath befallenTo that meek man, who well had sacrificed;Is piety thus and pure devotion paid?To whom Michael thus, he also moved, replied.These two are brethren, Adam, and to comeOut of thy loins; the unjust the just hath slain,For envy that his brother's offering foundFrom Heaven acceptance; but the bloody factWill be avenged; and the other's faith, approved,Lose no reward; though here thou see him die,Rolling in dust and gore.To which our sire.Alas! both for the deed, and for the cause!But have I now seen Death?Is this the wayI must return to native dust?O sightOf terrour, foul and ugly to behold,Horrid to think, how horrible to feel!To whom thus Michael.Death thou hast seenIn his first shape on Man; but many shapesOf Death, and many are the ways that leadTo his grim cave, all dismal; yet to senseMore terrible at the entrance, than within.Some, as thou sawest, by violent stroke shall die;By fire, flood, famine, by intemperance moreIn meats and drinks, which on the earth shall bringDiseases dire, of which a monstrous crewBefore thee shall appear; that thou mayest knowWhat misery the inabstinence of EveShall bring on Men.Immediately a placeBefore his eyes appeared, sad, noisome, dark;A lazar-house it seemed; wherein were laidNumbers of all diseased; all maladiesOf ghastly spasm, or racking torture, qualmsOf heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds,Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs,Intestine stone and ulcer, colick-pangs,Demoniack phrenzy, moaping melancholy,And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy,Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence,Dropsies, and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums.Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; DespairTended the sick busiest from couch to couch;And over them triumphant Death his dartShook, but delayed to strike, though oft invokedWith vows, as their chief good, and final hope.Sight so deform what heart of rock could longDry-eyed behold?Adam could not, but wept,Though not of woman born; compassion quelledHis best of man, and gave him up to tearsA space, till firmer thoughts restrained excess;And, scarce recovering words, his plaint renewed.O miserable mankind, to what fallDegraded, to what wretched state reserved!Better end here unborn.Why is life givenTo be thus wrested from us? rather, whyObtruded on us thus? who, if we knewWhat we receive, would either no acceptLife offered, or soon beg to lay it down;Glad to be so dismissed in peace.Can thusThe image of God in Man, created onceSo goodly and erect, though faulty since,To such unsightly sufferings be debasedUnder inhuman pains?Why should not Man,Retaining still divine similitudeIn part, from such deformities be free,And, for his Maker's image sake, exempt?Their Maker's image, answered Michael, thenForsook them, when themselves they vilifiedTo serve ungoverned Appetite; and tookHis image whom they served, a brutish vice,Inductive mainly to the sin of Eve.Therefore so abject is their punishment,Disfiguring not God's likeness, but their own;Or if his likeness, by themselves defaced;While they pervert pure Nature's healthful rulesTo loathsome sickness; worthily, since theyGod's image did not reverence in themselves.I yield it just, said Adam, and submit.But is there yet no other way, besidesThese painful passages, how we may comeTo death, and mix with our connatural dust?There is, said Michael, if thou well observeThe rule of Not too much; by temperance taught,In what thou eatest and drinkest; seeking from thenceDue nourishment, not gluttonous delight,Till many years over thy head return:So mayest thou live; till, like ripe fruit, thou dropInto thy mother's lap; or be with easeGathered, nor harshly plucked; for death mature:This is Old Age; but then, thou must outliveThy youth, thy strength, thy beauty; which will changeTo withered, weak, and gray; thy senses then,Obtuse, all taste of pleasure must forego,To what thou hast; and, for the air of youth,Hopeful and cheerful, in thy blood will reignA melancholy damp of cold and dryTo weigh thy spirits down, and last consumeThe balm of life.To whom our ancestor.Henceforth I fly not death, nor would prolongLife much; bent rather, how I may be quit,Fairest and easiest, of this cumbrous charge;Which I must keep till my appointed dayOf rendering up, and patiently attendMy dissolution.Michael replied.Nor love thy life, nor hate; but what thou livestLive well; how long, or short, permit to Heaven:And now prepare thee for another sight.He looked, and saw a spacious plain, whereonWere tents of various hue; by some, were herdsOf cattle grazing; others, whence the soundOf instruments, that made melodious chime,Was heard, of harp and organ; and, who movedTheir stops and chords, was seen; his volant touch,Instinct through all proportions, low and high,Fled and pursued transverse the resonant fugue.In other part stood one who, at the forgeLabouring, two massy clods of iron and brassHad melted, (whether found where casual fireHad wasted woods on mountain or in vale,Down to the veins of earth; thence gliding hotTo some cave's mouth; or whether washed by streamFrom underground;) the liquid ore he drainedInto fit moulds prepared; from which he formedFirst his own tools; then, what might else be wroughtFusil or graven in metal.After these,But on the hither side, a different sortFrom the high neighbouring hills, which was their seat,Down to the plain descended; by their guiseJust men they seemed, and all their study bentTo worship God aright, and know his worksNot hid; nor those things last, which might preserveFreedom and peace to Men; they on the plainLong had not walked, when from the tents, behold!A bevy of fair women, richly gayIn gems and wanton dress; to the harp they sungSoft amorous ditties, and in dance came on:The men, though grave, eyed them; and let their eyesRove without rein; till, in the amorous netFast caught, they liked; and each his liking chose;And now of love they treat, till the evening-star,Love's harbinger, appeared; then, all in heatThey light the nuptial torch, and bid invokeHymen, then first to marriage rites invoked:With feast and musick all the tents resound.Such happy interview, and fair eventOf love and youth not lost, songs, garlands, flowers,And charming symphonies, attached the heartOf Adam, soon inclined to admit delight,The bent of nature; which he thus expressed.True opener of mine eyes, prime Angel blest;Much better seems this vision, and more hopeOf peaceful days portends, than those two past;Those were of hate and death, or pain much worse;Here Nature seems fulfilled in all her ends.To whom thus Michael.Judge not what is bestBy pleasure, though to nature seeming meet;Created, as thou art, to nobler endHoly and pure, conformity divine.Those tents thou sawest so pleasant, were the tentsOf wickedness, wherein shall dwell his raceWho slew his brother; studious they appearOf arts that polish life, inventers rare;Unmindful of their Maker, though his SpiritTaught them; but they his gifts acknowledged none.Yet they a beauteous offspring shall beget;For that fair female troop thou sawest, that seemedOf Goddesses, so blithe, so smooth, so gay,Yet empty of all good wherein consistsWoman's domestick honour and chief praise;Bred only and completed to the tasteOf lustful appetence, to sing, to dance,To dress, and troll the tongue, and roll the eye:To these that sober race of men, whose livesReligious titled them the sons of God,Shall yield up all their virtue, all their fameIgnobly, to the trains and to the smilesOf these fair atheists; and now swim in joy,Erelong to swim at large; and laugh, for whichThe world erelong a world of tears must weep.To whom thus Adam, of short joy bereft.O pity and shame, that they, who to live wellEntered so fair, should turn aside to treadPaths indirect, or in the mid way faint!But still I see the tenour of Man's woeHolds on the same, from Woman to begin.From Man's effeminate slackness it begins,Said the Angel, who should better hold his placeBy wisdom, and superiour gifts received.But now prepare thee for another scene.He looked, and saw wide territory spreadBefore him, towns, and rural works between;Cities of men with lofty gates and towers,Concourse in arms, fierce faces threatening war,Giants of mighty bone and bold emprise;Part wield their arms, part curb the foaming steed,Single or in array of battle rangedBoth horse and foot, nor idly mustering stood;One way a band select from forage drivesA herd of beeves, fair oxen and fair kine,From a fat meadow ground; or fleecy flock,Ewes and their bleating lambs over the plain,Their booty; scarce with life the shepherds fly,But call in aid, which makes a bloody fray;With cruel tournament the squadrons join;Where cattle pastured late, now scattered liesWith carcasses and arms the ensanguined field,Deserted:Others to a city strongLay siege, encamped; by battery, scale, and mine,Assaulting; others from the wall defendWith dart and javelin, stones, and sulphurous fire;On each hand slaughter, and gigantick deeds.In other part the sceptered heralds callTo council, in the city-gates; anonGray-headed men and grave, with warriours mixed,Assemble, and harangues are heard; but soon,In factious opposition; till at last,Of middle age one rising, eminentIn wise deport, spake much of right and wrong,Of justice, or religion, truth, and peace,And judgement from above: him old and youngExploded, and had seized with violent hands,Had not a cloud descending snatched him thenceUnseen amid the throng: so violenceProceeded, and oppression, and sword-law,Through all the plain, and refuge none was found.Adam was all in tears, and to his guideLamenting turned full sad; O!what are these,Death's ministers, not men? who thus deal deathInhumanly to men, and multiplyTen thousandfold the sin of him who slewHis brother: for of whom such massacreMake they, but of their brethren; men of menBut who was that just man, whom had not HeavenRescued, had in his righteousness been lost?To whom thus Michael.These are the productOf those ill-mated marriages thou sawest;Where good with bad were matched, who of themselvesAbhor to join; and, by imprudence mixed,Produce prodigious births of body or mind.Such were these giants, men of high renown;For in those days might only shall be admired,And valour and heroick virtue called;To overcome in battle, and subdueNations, and bring home spoils with infiniteMan-slaughter, shall be held the highest pitchOf human glory; and for glory doneOf triumph, to be styled great conqueroursPatrons of mankind, Gods, and sons of Gods;Destroyers rightlier called, and plagues of men.Thus fame shall be achieved, renown on earth;And what most merits fame, in silence hid.But he, the seventh from thee, whom thou beheldstThe only righteous in a world preverse,And therefore hated, therefore so besetWith foes, for daring single to be just,And utter odious truth, that God would comeTo judge them with his Saints; him the Most HighRapt in a balmy cloud with winged steedsDid, as thou sawest, receive, to walk with GodHigh in salvation and the climes of bliss,Exempt from death; to show thee what rewardAwaits the good; the rest what punishment;Which now direct thine eyes and soon behold.He looked, and saw the face of things quite changed;The brazen throat of war had ceased to roar;All now was turned to jollity and game,To luxury and riot, feast and dance;Marrying or prostituting, as befel,Rape or adultery, where passing fairAllured them; thence from cups to civil broils.At length a reverend sire among them came,And of their doings great dislike declared,And testified against their ways; he oftFrequented their assemblies, whereso met,Triumphs or festivals; and to them preachedConversion and repentance, as to soulsIn prison, under judgements imminent:But all in vain: which when he saw, he ceasedContending, and removed his tents far off;Then, from the mountain hewing timber tall,Began to build a vessel of huge bulk;Measured by cubit, length, and breadth, and highth;Smeared round with pitch; and in the side a doorContrived; and of provisions laid in large,For man and beast: when lo, a wonder strange!Of every beast, and bird, and insect small,Came sevens, and pairs; and entered in as taughtTheir order: last the sire and his three sons,With their four wives; and God made fast the door.Mean while the south-wind rose, and, with black wingsWide-hovering, all the clouds together droveFrom under Heaven; the hills to their supplyVapour, and exhalation dusk and moist,Sent up amain; and now the thickened skyLike a dark cieling stood; down rushed the rainImpetuous; and continued, till the earthNo more was seen: the floating vessel swumUplifted, and secure with beaked prowRode tilting o'er the waves; all dwellings elseFlood overwhelmed, and them with all their pompDeep under water rolled; sea covered sea,Sea without shore; and in their palaces,Where luxury late reigned, sea-monsters whelpedAnd stabled; of mankind, so numerous late,All left, in one small bottom swum imbarked.How didst thou grieve then, Adam, to beholdThe end of all thy offspring, end so sad,Depopulation!Thee another flood,Of tears and sorrow a flood, thee also drowned,And sunk thee as thy sons; till, gently rearedBy the Angel, on thy feet thou stoodest at last,Though comfortless; as when a father mournsHis children, all in view destroyed at once;And scarce to the Angel utter'dst thus thy plaint.O visions ill foreseen!Better had ILived ignorant of future! so had borneMy part of evil only, each day's lotEnough to bear; those now, that were dispensedThe burden of many ages, on me lightAt once, by my foreknowledge gaining birthAbortive, to torment me ere their being,With thought that they must be.Let no man seekHenceforth to be foretold, what shall befallHim or his children; evil he may be sure,Which neither his foreknowing can prevent;And he the future evil shall no lessIn apprehension than in substance feel,Grievous to bear: but that care now is past,Man is not whom to warn: those few escapedFamine and anguish will at last consume,Wandering that watery desart:I had hope,When violence was ceased, and war on earth,All would have then gone well; peace would have crownedWith length of happy days the race of Man;But I was far deceived; for now I seePeace 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 sawestIn triumph and luxurious wealth, are theyFirst seen in acts of prowess eminentAnd great exploits, but of true virtue void;Who, having spilt much blood, and done much wastSubduing nations, and achieved therebyFame in the world, high titles, and rich prey;Shall change their course to pleasure, ease, and sloth,Surfeit, and lust; till wantonness and prideRaise out of friendship hostile deeds in peace.The conquered also, and enslaved by war,Shall, with their freedom lost, all virtue loseAnd fear of God; from whom their piety feignedIn sharp contest of battle found no aidAgainst invaders; therefore, cooled in zeal,Thenceforth shall practice how to live secure,Worldly or dissolute, on what their lordsShall leave them to enjoy; for the earth shall bearMore 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 lightIn a dark age, against example good,Against allurement, custom, and a worldOffended: fearless of reproach and scorn,The grand-child, with twelve sons encreased, departsFrom Canaan, to a land hereafter calledEgypt, divided by the river Nile;See where it flows, disgorging at seven mouthsInto the sea:To sojourn in that landHe comes, invited by a younger sonIn time of dearth; a son, whose worthy deedsRaise him to be the second in that realmOf Pharaoh:There he dies, and leaves his raceGrowing into a nation, and now grownSuspected to a sequent king, who seeksTo stop their overgrowth, as inmate guestsOr violence, he of their wicked waysShall them admonish; and before them setThe paths of righteousness, how much more safeAnd full of peace; denouncing wrath to comeOn their impenitence; and shall returnOf them derided, but of God observedThe one just man alive; by his commandShall build a wonderous ark, as thou beheldst,To save himself, and houshold, from amidstA world devote to universal wrack.No sooner he, with them of man and beastSelect for life, shall in the ark be lodged,And sheltered round; but all the cataractsOf Heaven set open on the Earth shall pourRain, day and night; all fountains of the deep,Broke up, shall heave the ocean to usurpBeyond all bounds; till inundation riseAbove the highest hills:Then shall this mountOf Paradise by might of waves be movedOut of his place, pushed by the horned 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' clang:To teach thee that God attributes to placeNo sanctity, if none be thither broughtBy men who there frequent, or therein dwell.And now, what further shall ensue, behold.He looked, 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 decayed;And the clear sun on his wide watery glassGazed hot, and of the fresh wave largely drew,As after thirst; which made their flowing shrinkFrom standing lake to tripping ebb, that stoleWith soft foot towards the deep; who now had stoptHis sluces, as the Heaven his windows shut.The ark no more now floats, but seems on ground,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 spyGreen tree or ground, whereon his foot may light:The second time returning, in his billAn olive-leaf he brings, pacifick sign:Anon dry ground appears, and from his arkThe ancient sire descends, with all his train;Then with uplifted hands, and eyes devout,Grateful to Heaven, over his head beholdsA dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bowConspicuous with three lifted 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 representAs present, heavenly Instructer!I reviveAt this last sight; assured that Man shall live,With all the creatures, and their seed preserve.Far less I now lament for one whole worldOf wicked sons destroyed, than I rejoiceFor one man found so perfect, and so just,That God vouchsafes to raise another worldFrom him, and all his anger to forget.But say, what mean those coloured streaks in HeavenDistended, as the brow of God appeased?Or serve they, as a flowery verge, to bindThe fluid skirts of that same watery cloud,Lest it again dissolve, and shower the earth?To whom the Arch-Angel.Dextrously thou aimest;So willingly doth God remit his ire,Though late repenting him of Man depraved;Grieved at his heart, when looking down he sawThe whole earth filled with violence, and all fleshCorrupting 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 destroyThe earth again by flood; nor let the seaSurpass his bounds; nor rain to drown the world,With man therein or beast; but, when he bringsOver the earth a cloud, will therein setHis 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 and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell.


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