Слике страница
PDF
ePub

PARADISE LOST.

BOOK XII.

THE ARGUMENT.

A

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.

S one who, in his journey, bates at noon,
Though bent on speed, so here the Archangel

paused
Betwixt the world destroyed 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.

IO
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

20

Oft sacrificing bullock, lamb, or kid,
With large wine-offerings poured, and sacred feast,
Shall spend their days in joy unblamed, and dwell
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) 30
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 under him to tyrannize,
Marching from Eden towards the west, shall find 40
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,

50 70

As mocked they storm. Great laughter was in Heaven,
And looking down to see the hubbub strange 60
And hear the din. Thus was the building left
Ridiculous, and the work Confusion named.”

Whereto thus Adam, fatherly displeased :-
“O execrable son, so to aspire
Above his brethren, to himself assuming
Authority usurped, from God not given!
He gave us only over beast, fish, fowl,
Dominion absolute; that right we hold
By his donation : but man over men
He made not lord-such title to himself
Reserving, human left from human free.
But this usurper his encroachment proud
Stays not on Man; to God his tower intends
Siege and defiance. Wretched man! what food
Will he convey up thither, to sustain
Himself and his rash army, where thin air
Above the clouds will pine his entrails gross,
And famish him of breath, if not of bread?”

To whom thus Michael :-“ Justly thou abhorr'st
That son, who on the quiet state of men

80 Such trouble brought, affecting to subdue Rational liberty; yet know withal, Since thy original lapse, true liberty Is lost, which always with right reason dwells Twinned, and from her hath no dividual being. Reason in Man obscured, or not obeyed, Immediately inordinate desires And upstart passions catch the government From Reason, and to servitude reduce Man, till then free. Therefore, since he permits Within himself unworthy powers to reign Over free reason, God, in judgment just, Subjects him from without to violent lords, Who oft as undeservedly enthral His outward freedom. Tyranny must be, Though to the tyrant thereby no excuse. Yet sometimes nations will decline so low

90

100

IIO

From virtue, which is reason, that no wrong,
But justice and some fatal curse annexed,
Deprives them of their outward liberty,
Their inward lost: witness the irreverent son
Of him who built the ark, who, for the shame
Done to his father, heard this heavy curse,
Servant of servants, on his vicioụs race.
Thus will this latter, as the former world,
Still tend from bad to worse, till God at last,
Wearied with their iniquities, withdraw
His presence from among them, and avert
His holy eyes, resolving from thenceforth
To leave them to their own polluted ways,
And one peculiar nation to select
From all the rest, of whom to be invoked
A nation from one faithful man to spring.
Him on this side Euphrates yet residing,
Bred

up.

in idol-worship-Oh, that men (Canst thou believe?) should be so stupid grown, While yet the patriarch lived who scaped the Flood, As to forsake the living God, and fall To worship their own work in wood and stone For gods !--yet him God the Most High voutsafes 120 To call by vision from his father's house, His kindred, and false gods, into a land Which he will show him, and from him will raise A mighty nation, and upon him shower His benediction so that in his seed All nations shall be blest. He straight obeys; Not knowing to what land, yet firm believes. I see him, but thou canst not, with what faith He leaves his gods, his friends, and native soil, Ur of Chaldæa, passing now the ford

130 To Haran-after him a cumbrous train Of herds and flocks, and numerous servitudeNot wandering poor, but trusting all his wealth With God, who called him, in a land unknown. Canaan he now attains; I see his tents Pitched about Sechem, and the neighbouring plain

Of Moreh. There, by promise, he receives
Gift to his progeny of all that land,
From Hamath northward to the Desert south
(Things by their names I call, though yet unnar

named),
From Hermon east to the great western sea ; 141
Mount Hermon, yonder sea, each place behold
In prospect, as I point them : on the shore,
Mount Carmel ; here, the double-founted stream,
Jordan, true limit eastward; but his sons
Shall dwell to Senir, that long ridge of hills.
This ponder, that all nations of the Earth
Shall in his seed be blessed. By that seed
Is meant thy great Deliverer, who shall bruise
The Serpent's
head ; whereof to thee anon

150 Plainlier shall be revealed. This patriarch blest, Whom faithful Abraham due time shall call, A son, and of his son a grandchild, leaves, Like him in faith, in wisdom, and renown. The grandchild, with twelve sons increased, departs From Canaan to a land hereafter called Egypt, divided by the river Nile ; See where it flows, disgorging at seven mouths Into the sea. To sojourn in that land He comes, invited by a younger son

160 In time of dearth-a son whose worthy deeds Raise him to be the second in that realm Of Pharaoh. There he dies, and leaves his race Growing into a nation, and now grown Suspected to a sequent king, who seeks To stop their overgrowth, as inmate guests Too numerous ; whence of guests he makes them

slaves Inhospitably, and kills their infant males : Till, by two brethren (those two brethren call Moses and Aaron) sent from God to claim 170 His people from enthralment, they return, With glory and spoil, back to their promised land. But first the lawless tyrant, who denies To know their God, or message to regard,

« ПретходнаНастави »