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Their order: last the sire, and his three sons
Wide hov'ring, all the clouds together drove 740 From under heaven: the hills, to their supply,
Vapour and exhalation, dusk and moist,
Impetuous; and continued, till the earth
Uplifted, and secure with beaked prow
Deep under water rollid: sea covered sea750 Sea without shore: and in their palaces,
Where luxury late reign'd, sea-monsters whelp'd
How didst thou grieve then, Adam ! to behold 755 The end of all thy offspring ; end so sad
Depopulation! Thee another flood-
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 ;
“O visions ill foreseen! Better had I
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
“ And he the future evil shall, no less
“ Grievous to bear. But that care now is past;
“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."
“Those, whom last thou saw'st
“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
“ Offended: fearless of reproach and scorn,
“The paths of righteousness, how much more safe 815 “ And full of peace; denouncing wrath to come
“On their impenitence; and shall return
“ Shall build a wondrous ark, as thou beheld'st, 820 “ To save himself and household from amidst
“A world devote to universal wrack.
“ And shelter'd round, but all the cataracts
“Rain, day and night: all fountains of the deep,
shall heave the ocean to usurp
“ 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
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,
And the clear sun on his wide wat'ry glass
As after thirst; which made their flowing shrink
His sluices, as the heaven his windows shut.
Fast on the top of some high mountain fix'd.
Towards the retreating sea, their furious tide. 855 Forthwith from out the ark a raven flies,
And after him, the surer messenger,
The second time returning, in his bill 860 An olive-leaf he brings-pacific sign!
Anon dry ground appears, and from his ark
Grateful to Heav'n, over his head beholds 865 A dewy cloud, and in the cloud a bow
Conspicuous with three listed colours gay,
Whereat the heart of Adam, erst so sad,
“O thou, who future things canst represent
“ Of wicked sons destroy'd, than I rejoice 875
“For one man found so perfect, and so just,
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
Dext'rously thou aim'st: 885 “ So willingly doth God remit his ire,
Though late repenting him of man deprav'd-
“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;
“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
“ 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."