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Under spread ensigns marching, might pass through
With horse and chariots ranked in loose array :
So wide they stood, and like a furnace-mouth
Cast forth redounding smoke and ruddy flame.
Before their eyes in sudden view appear

890
The secrets of the hoary deep, a dark
Illimitable ocean, without bound,
Without dimensions; where length, breadth, and hightlı,
And time, and place, are lost; where eldest Night
And Chaos, ancestors of Nature, hold
Eternal anarchy amidst the noise
Of endless wars, and by confusion stand.
For Hot, Cold, Moist, and Dry, four champions fierce,
Strive here for mastery, and to battle bring
Their embryon atoms : they, around the flag
Of each, his faction, in their several clans,

195

900

ing (Lat. re, back ; unda, wave), curling over and over like waves. Are we to suppose that a kind of volcanic force burst open the doors, and that the pent-up gases were belched out with explosions ? — 892. Illimitable, like infinite space. Is the word to be taken literally? See 1. 976, 1038 ; III. 538. Why does he add without bound'? See next note. — 895. Nature, our visible universe (and perhaps we should add hell ?) formed from chaos and darkness. Masson points out how carefully Milton has accumulated perplexing thoughts in this description of chaos (891-916) for the purpose of producing the conception of sheer inconceivability.' The astounding denial of bound, dimension, length, breadth, height, time, and place! the eternal anarchy of ancestral Night and Chaos, darkness, noise, war, and confusion! the atomic theory of Democritus! the struggle of the four champions, the strife-doctrine of Heraclitus! the umpireship of indecisive Chaos and lawless Chance! the hopeless mixture of the seeds or pregnant causes of sea, shore, air, and fire! the possibility, on the one hand, of more worlds to be framed out of this mixture, and on the other, of all nature sinking into chaos again! The mind flounders, balked, baffled, puzzled, stunned, till introspection of itself gives a better idea of chaos than it ever had before! The art of the poet is here wonderful. See the quotation from Coleridge, in note, 1. 666. - 898. In Ovid, Met. I. 19, we read, “Cold contended with warm, moist with dry, soft with hard, heavy with light.” – 900. Embryon atoms, atons that make up the rudiments of an unborn organism or embryo (év, en, within, Bpúelv, bruein, to swell). Around the flag of. each, they, his faction, swarm; or they, around the flag of each, who consti

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Light-armed or heavy, sharp, smooth, swift, or slow,
Swarm populous, unnumbered as the sands
Of Barca or Cyrene's torrid soil,
Levied to side with warring winds, and poise
Their lighter wings. To whom these most adhere,
He rules a moment. Chaos umpire sits,
And by decision more embroils the fray
By which he reigns. Next him, high arbiter,
Chance governs all. Into this wild abyss,
The womb of Nature and perhaps her grave,
Of neither sea, nor shore, nor air, nor fire,
But all these in their pregnant causes mixed
Confusedly, and which thus must ever fight,
Unless the Almighty Maker thein ordain
His dark materials to create more worlds —
Into this wild abyss the wary fiend
Stood on the brink of hell and looked a while,
Pondering his voyage ; for no narrow frith
He had to cross. Nor was his ear less pealed
With noises loud and ruinous (to compare
Great things with small) than when Bellona storms
With all her battering engines, bent to rase
Some capital city; or less than if this frame
Of heaven were falling, and these elements
In mutiny had from her axle torn

915

920

925

tute his faction. The commentators raise difficulties needlessly here. — 904. Barca or Cyrene. "The African deserts to the west of Egypt.' — 905. Levied. In its military sense ? or simply raised? or both ? Poise, to balance, or hold in equilibrium? or to give weight to, to ballast? Shakes. uses poise = weigh ; also = counterbalance. — 906. These most. Most of these? or these in greatest numbers? or most adhere? — 912. Sea, nor shore, water nor land. — 917–8. Into . . . stood and looked = standing, looked into. — 919. Frith (Gaelic frith, little ; Lat. fretum, narrow sea), arm of the sea, strait. -- 920. Pealed (Norweg. bylia, to resound, bellow), dinned, assailed. — 921. Ruinous, crashing. See I. 46. — 922. Bellona, Roman goddess of war, sister or wife of Mars. The tremendous din of the bombardment and storning of a great city is a small matter to this. — 924-5. If this frame, etc. Like Horace's si fractus illabatur orbis,' if a crushed world should fall upon (him). Odes, III.

930

935

The steadfast earth. At last his sail-broad vans
He spreads for flight, and in the surging smoke
Uplifted spurns the ground; thence many a league,
As in a cloudy chair, ascending rides
Audacious; but, that seat soon failing, meets
A vast vacuity : all unawares,
Fluttering his pennons vain, plumb down he drops
Ten thousand fathom deep, and to this hour
Down had been falling, had not, by ill chance,
The strong rebuff of some tumultuous cloud,
Instinct with fire and nitre, hurried him
As many miles aloft. That fury stayed,
Quenched in a boggy syrtis, neither sea
Nor good dry land — nigh foundered, on he fares,
Treading the crude consistence, half on foot,
Half flying : behoves him now both oar and sail.
As when a gryphon, through the wilderness
With winged course, o'er hill or moory dale
Pursues the Arimaspian, who by stealth
Had from his wakeful custody purloined

940

945

III. 7. Elements. Which ? - 927. Vans (Lat. vannus, a winnowing fan). — 929. Spurns (A. S. spura, a spur, heel ; spurnan, to kick, thrust with the foot). — 931. Audacious = boldly. So in Shakes. — 933. Pennons (Lat. penna, wing). Notice the alliteration, and the correspondence of sound with sense, in this and the next line. — 934. To this hour. Because there is no end to infinite space ? and nothing to lessen his momentum ? his gravitation woulil be away from God and heaven ?-- 936. Rebuff (buff, `a blow, from imitation of the sound of a blow,' says Wedgwood), backward stroke, beating back. — 937. Instinct, inflamed, animated. — 938. As many. Ten thousand ? or as niany miles as he fell? Fury stayed, the fury of the rebuff being stopped ? — 939– 940. Quenched ... land, explaining stayed; Foundered. See I. 204. Fares (A.S. faran, to go), travels, goes. See IV. 131. Hence farewell=go well (on the journey of life). — 941. Consistence, substance. -- 942. Behoves (Wedgwood makes it from 'heave,' “heaving,' or throwing at a mark'), befits (are meet sor, are fit for, are needful to). “The Saxon behofian has both meanings, to be necessary, and to stand in need of.” Storr. Oar and sail, a proverbial phrase? — 943-5. Gryphon ... Arimaspian. Gryphons, or griffins, in the upper part like an eagle, in the lower resembling a lion, are said to guard gold mines. The Ari. maspians were a one-eyed people of Scythia, who adorned their hair with gold, * for which they had continual battle with the guardian gryphons. Herodotus,

950

The guarded gold ; so eagerly the fiend
O'er bog, or steep, through strait, rough, dense, or rare,
With head, hands, wings, or feet, pursues his way,
And swims, or sinks, or wades, or creeps, or flies.
At length a universal hubbub wild
Of stunning sounds and voices all confused,
Borne through the hollow dark, assaults his ear
With loudest vehemence. Thither he plies
Undaunted, to meet there whatever power

955
Or spirit of the nethermost abyss
Might in that noise reside, of whom to ask
Which way the nearest coast of darkness lies
Bordering on light; when straight behold the throne
Of Chaos, and his dark pavilion spread

960
Wide on the wasteful deep! With him enthroned
Sat sable-vested Night, eldest of things,
The consort of his reign ; and by them stood
Orcus and Ades, and the dreaded name
Of Demogorgon; Rumor next, and Chance,

965

Pliny, and Æschylus are referred to as authorities on this point. - 948–9, 950. Note the richness of our language in monosyllables. Which of them are A. S. ir: origin? Does the sound bear analogy to the sense ? — 951. Hubbub. “A repetition of hoop! representing a cry.' Wedgwood. Keightley derives it from the Irish aboo, a war-cry. “The word is onomatopætic, the reduplication of the syllable producing the sense of confusion or number. Coni pare mur-mur, bar-bar-oi.Ross. - 954. Plies. See l. 642. --- 956. Nethermost, * as being without bottom or termination ; ' Abyss, .merely the Abyss or Chaos in general.' Keightley. Nethermost abyss, “the lowest portion of the Abyss.' Masson. Choose ! -961. Wasteful(A. S. westen, desert; Lat. vastus, waste, desolate), vast, desolate. “ The proper meaning of waste is empty." Wedgwood. — 962. Sable-vested Night, like the uendu-tenlos Núč, blackrobed Night, of Euripides, Ion, 1150 ; so sable-vested Death, Alc. 844. — 964. Orcus and Ades. “Milton seems to mean the Death and Hell of the Apocalypse, xx. 13.” Keightley. “Orcus is properly the God of death.” Allen and Greenough on Vir. Æn. II. 398. “From expyw, eirgo, pyw, ergo (to shut in or out), and so, properly, that which restrains men from doing ; hence Lat. Orcus, the bourne from which no traveller returns.'” Liddell and Scott. Original of our ogre! Ades (Gr. a privative ; ideiv, to see ; hence Aides, or Ades, or later, Hades), the god of the unseen nether world, Pluto. — 964-5. Dreaded name of Demogorgon. “The expression cannot be justified by rules of reason, but

970

And Tumult, and Confusion, all embroiled,
And Discord with a thousand various mouths.

To whom Satan, turning boldly, thus : “ Ye powers
And spirits of this nethermost abyss,
Chaos and ancient Night, I come no spy
With purpose to explore or to disturb
The secrets of your realm ; but, by constraint
Wandering this darksome desert, as my way
Lies through your spacious empire up to light,
Alone and without guide, half lost, I seek

975 What readiest path leads where your gloomy bounds Confine with heaven : or, if some other place, From your dominion won, the ethereal king Possesses lately, thither to arrive : I travel this profound. Direct my course. Directed, no mean recompense it brings To your behoof, if I that region lost, All usurpation thence expelled, reduce To her original darkness and your sway, (Which is my present journey,) and once more 985 Erect the standard there of ancient Night. Yours be the advantage all, mine the revenge!"

980

it is nevertheless as magnificent as words can make it.” Moir. This mysterious and terrible being, whose name no one dared to pronounce till Lactantius uttered it in the fourth century, is supposed to be the one whom Lucan's witch Erictho threatened to call against the infernal powers, “a being at whose name the earth always trembled.' Lucan, Pharsalia VI. 744. See Shelley's Prometheus Unbound, Act II. sc. Iv. So Spenser F. Q., I. 1. 37. This use of the word name is classic, and Shakes. makes Cæsar say, 'If my name were liable to fear.' Jul. Cæs. I. 2. Rumor. Virgil's Fama? Æn. IV. 173–189. Shakes. quaintly personifies Rumor. Induction, 2 Henry IV.-967. Discord (Æn. VI. 280). — 972. Secrets. Used like Lat. secreta = secret places ? Æn. VI. 10 ; Geor. IV. 403. — 977. Confine = have a common boundary? Con, together ; finis, boundary. Or, if, etc. Note the adroitness of Satan in the next ten lines. “As this new universe is a space seized and subtracted from the ancient dominion of Chaos .... Satan naturally appeals to the resentment of the powers of Chaos, and promises, etc. Masson.- 984–5. Her. Why not its ? I. 254. Which is my present journey. Syntax}–988. Anarch.

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