Imatges de pÓgina
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BOOK XII.

THE ARGUMENT.

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 bates at noon,

Though bent on speed, so here the Archangel paused
Betwixt the world destroy'd 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 pour'd, and sacred feast,
Shall spend their days in joy unblamed, and dwell

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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 tyrannize,
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,
Comes down to see their city, ere the tower
Obstruct Heaven towers, and in derision sets
Upon their tongues a various spirit, to rase
Quite out their native language, and, instead,
To sow a jangling noise of words unknown.
Forthwith a hideous gabble rises loud
Among the builders; each to other calls,
Not understood, till hoarse, and all in rage,
As mock'd they storm. Great laughter was in Heaven,
And looking down, to see the hubbub strange
And hear the din; thus was the building left
Ridiculous, and the work Confusion_named."

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By me the Promised Seed shall all restore."
So spake our mother Eve, and Adam heard
Well pleased, but answer'd not; for now too nigh
The Archangel stood, and from the other hill
To their fix'd station, all in bright array,
The Cherubim descended; on the ground
Gliding meteorous, as evening mist

Risen from a river o'er the marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the labourer's heel
Homeward returning. High in front advanced,
The brandish'd sword of God before them blazed,
Fierce as a comet; which with torrid heat,
And vapour as the Libyan air adust,
Began to parch that temperate clime; whereat
In either hand the hastening angel caught
Our lingering parents, and to the eastern gate
Led them direct, and down the cliff as fast
To the subjected plain; then disappear'd.
They, looking back, all the eastern side beheld
Of Paradise, so late their happy seat,

Waved over by that flaming brand; the gate
With dreadful faces throng'd and fiery arms.

Some natural tears they dropp'd, but wiped them soon;
The world was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide. `
They, hand in hand, with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.

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PARADISE REGAINED.

BOOK I.

I, WHO erewhile the happy Garden sung
By one man's disobedience lost, now sing
Recover'd Paradise to all mankind,

By one man's firm obedience fully tried
Through all temptation, and the Tempter foil'd
In all his wiles, defeated and repulsed,
And Eden raised in the waste Wilderness.

Thou Spirit, who led'st this glorious Eremite
Into the desert, his victorious field

Against the spiritual foe, and brought'st him thence.
By proof the undoubted Son of God, inspire,

As thou art wont, my prompted song, else mute,
And bear through highth or depth of Nature's bounds,
With prosperous wing full summ'd, to tell of deeds
Above heroic, though in secret done,

And unrecorded left through many an age:
Worthy to have not remain'd so long unsung.

Now had the great Proclaimer, with a voice
More awful than the sound of trumpet, cried
Repentance, and Heaven's kingdom nigh at hand
To all baptized. To his great baptism flock'd
With awe the regions round, and with them came
From Nazareth the son of Joseph deem'd
To the flood Jordan, came as then obscure,
Unmark'd, unknown. But him the Baptist soon
Descried, divinely warn'd, and witness bore
As to his worthier, and would have resign'd

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To him his heavenly office, nor was long
His witness unconfirm'd: on him baptized
Heaven open'd, and in likeness of a dove
The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice
From Heaven pronounced him his beloved Son.
That heard the Adversary, who, roving still
About the world, at that assembly famed
Would not be last, and, with the voice divine
Nigh thunder-struck, the exalted man, to whom
Such high attest was given, a while survey'd
With wonder; then with envy fraught and rage
Flies to his place, nor rests, but in mid air
To council summons all his mighty peers,
Within thick clouds and dark tenfold involved,
A gloomy consistory; and them amidst,
With looks agast and sad, he thus bespake:

"O ancient Powers of Air and this wide World
(For much more willingly I mention Air,
This our old conquest, than remember Hell,
Our hated habitation), well ye know
How many ages, as the years of men,
This Universe we have possess'd, and ruled
In manner at our will the affairs of Earth,
Since Adam and his facile consort Eve
Lost Paradise, deceived by me, though since
With dread attending when that fatal wound
Shall be inflicted by the seed of Eve
Upon my head. Long the decrees of Heaven
Delay, for longest time to him is short;
And now too soon for us the circling hours

This dreaded time have compass'd, wherein we

Must bide the stroke of that long-threaten'd wound
(At least, if so we can, and by the head
Broken be not intended all our power

To be infringed, our freedom and our being
In this fair empire won of Earth and Air)—
For this ill news I bring: The Woman's Seed,
Destined to this, is late of woman born.

His birth to our just fear gave no small cause;
But his growth now to youth's full flower, displaying

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