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PARADISE LOST.

BOOK I.

THE ARGUMENT. THE FIRST BOOK proposes, first in brief, the whole subject, man's dis

obedience, and the loss thereupon of Paradise, wherein he was placed ; then touches the prime cause of his fall, the serpent, or rather Satan in the serpent, who, revolting from God, and drawing to his side many legions of angels, was, by the command of God, driven out of heaven, with all his crew, into the great deep. Which action passed over, the poem hastens into the midst of things, presenting Satan with his angels now fallen into Hell, described here, not in the centre, (for Heaven and Earth may be supposed as yet not made, certainly not yet accursed,) but in a place of utter darkness, fitliest called Chaos : here Satan, with his angels, lying on the burning lake, thunderstruck and astonished, after a certain space recovers, as from confusion ; calls up him who next in order and dignity lay by him ; they confer of their miserable fall; Satan awakens all his legions, who lay till then in the same manner confounded ; they rise ; their numbers ; array of battle ; their chief leaders named according to the idols known afterwards in Canaan and the countries adjoining. To these Satan directs his speech, comforts them with hope yet of regain ing heaven, but tells them lastly of a new world and a new kind of creature to be created according to an ancient prophecy or report in heaven ; for that angels were long before this visible creation was the opinion of many ancient fathers. To find out the truth of this prophecy, and what to determine thereon, he refers to a full council. What his associates thence attempt. Pandemonium, the palace of Satan, rises, suddenly built out of the deep; the infernal peers there sit in council.

Of man's first disobedience, and the fruit
Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste

Line 1. Of man's first disobedience, etc. The origin of evil, a problem of universal and never-failing interest, is here suggested. Like Homer, but unlike Virgil and Tasso, Milton combines the announcement of

Brought death into the world, and all our woe,
With loss of Eden till one greater Man
Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,
Sing, heavenly Muse, that on the secret top

the subject with the invocation of the Muse. Like Homer in the Iliad, but unlike the others, Milton keeps himself out of sight at the first. Observe, too, that Milton's opening, like that of Virgil's first Georgic, keeps the mind in suspense, the interest deepening, and the tone swelling through several lines. The accumulated emphasis falls on sing. For dignity, modesty, compactness, and comprehensiveness, compare these exordiums. Fruit. Is this word to be taken literally? or as equivalent to result ? 2. Tree. What trees are named in Genesis as having been in Eden? Mortal (Lat. mors, death, mortalis, subject to death ; mortalis in ecclesiastical Lat. means deadly, which is said to be the sense of mortal in this line. But is it likely that Milton repeats the notion of death-bringing? May 'mortal taste' mean taste by a mortal ?) — 3. Death. See Rom. v. 12; 1 Cor. xv. 21, 22; Gen. ii. 17. Woe. Note the order. Death precedes, it being the threatened penalty (moral death). — 4. Eden (a Hebrew word signifying pleasantness), paradise. Gen. ii. 8, “And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden." See Gen. iii. 23, 24. Where was Eden supposed to be ? Par. Lost, IV. 210-215. Till one greater man. Rom. v. 15, 19, 20; 1 Cor. xv. 45, 47. – 5. Restore us. Shall, or may, restore ? Seat. In Shakespeare (Richard II., Act II. Sc. 1) old Gaunt calls England,

"This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,

This other Eden, demi-paradise.' The student should notice how the place of the cæsura varies, the sense being 'variously drawn out from one verse into another.' Of lines four and five, Landor remarks that they are “incumbrances and deadeners of the harmony.' 'Incumbrances'? - to let the dark shadow give way to a moment's flash of restoration, a moment's glimpse of the great triumph of the Messiah portrayed in the twelfth book ? — Deadeners of the harmony'? De Quincey says, “ Be assured it is yourself that do not read with understanding; not Milton that by possibility can be found deaf to the demands of perfect harmony.” Blissful seat = Sedes beatas, blest seats, in Virgil's Æneid, VI. 639. — 6. Sing, heavenly Muse. The proper muse of epic poetry among the ancients was Calliope. Lucretius, however, begins his De Rerum Natura with, “O bountiful Venus.” Dante in his Paradiso invokes Apollo ; in his Purgatorio, the holy Muses '; in his Inferno, the ‘Muses,' the 'high Genius,' and “Memory.' Milton's muse is none of these, but the one that inspired Moses, David, and Isaiah. In this, Milton resembles Tasso. From Horeb or Sinai, from Sion hill and Siloa's brook, Milton calls upon a far loftier muse than “Dame Memory and her siren daughters.” In the beginning of the seventh book he names her Urania (i.e. the heavenly one), but he is careful to prevent her from being identified with the Urania of classic mythology ; thus:

Of Oreb or of Sinai, didst inspire
That shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed

“ Descend from heaven, Urania, by that name

If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine
Following, above the Olympian hill I soar,
Above the flight of Pegasean wing.

The meaning, not the name, I call." "By this Muse,” says Keightley, “ he probably means the genius and character, the divinely animated power, of the Hebrew poetry, as displayed in the Pentateuch by Moses, in the Psalms, etc., by David and others.” Professor Himes (Study of Par. Lost) remarks : “The Genius of sacred song is the sister and companion of eternal Wisdom, and gives to the language of the blessed that prompt eloquence and musical sweetness by which it is character. ized. She appears as the inspirer of the poetical language in versified portions of the Sacred Scripture, while the Holy Spirit is the Revealer of the truth.” Secret top. We may, with Cowper, Storr, and others, interpret secret in its ordinary sense, referring to the 'thick cloud' and 'smoke'(Exod. xix. 12, 13, 16, 18, etc., xxiv. 15, etc. ; Heb. xii. 18-21); or with Landor, R. C. Browue, and the majority of critics, we may take secret in its original Latin sense of apart, retired, separate ; as secreta in Æneid, II. 299, secretos, Æneid, VIII. 670 ; and as Milton perhaps uses the word in his verses Upon the Circumcision, 1. 19, he that dwelt above, high-throned in secret bliss.' See Par. Lost, V. 597 – 599. The two meanings are closely connected. Is it a plausible conjecture, that by the word 'secret’ Milton may have alluded to the impossibility of identifying the mountain ? — 7. Oreb. So the mountain is called in 2 Esdras ii. 33. Milton takes a poet's liberty in softening ‘Horeb' into

Oreb.' It is the mountain upon which God spake to Moses from the burn. ing bush, and must not be confounded with the 'rock Oreb' in Judges vii. 25; Isaiah x. 26. The word Horeb means dry. Sinai (usually a dissyl.) is interpreted to mean “jagged,' 'full of clefts.' See Dr. William Smith's Anc, Atlas, Map 39 ; and his Dict. of the Bible, under the word Sinai. The Sinaitic peninsula is triangular, about one hundred and forty miles from north to south, and nearly as broad. Here Moses had been a shepherd for forty years. The mountain-peaks are very numerous, and the whole group is sometimes called Sinai. Horeb was one of the most northerly of the cluster ; Sinai, in a restricted sense, one of the most southerly. In Deuteronomy, the 'mount of promulgation’ is called Horeb ; elsewhere, Sinai. The Greek form is Sina. That shepherd. So Moses is metaphorically called in Isaiah lxiii. 11. In Exod. iii. 1, he kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law. See Hesiod's Theog. 1. 21, etc. Inspire. What poetry did Moses write? See Exod. xv.; Ps. xc.; Deut. xxxii. 1-43, xxxiii.

“ This was the bravest warrior

That ever buckled sword;
This the most gifted poet
That ever breathed a word.”

MRS. ALEXANDER'S Burial of Moses.

IC

In the beginning how the heavens and earth
Rose out of chaos : or, if Sion hill
Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flowed
Fast by the oracle of God, I thence
Invoke thy aid to my adventurous song,
That with no middle flight intends to soar
Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues

15

Chosen seed. Deut. iv. 37, “He chose their seed.” So Deut. x. 15, and 1 Chron. xvi. 13. — 9. In the beginning. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Gen. i. 1. The phrase modifies what ? — 10. Rose out of chaos (Gr. xéos, fr. xáokw, xaivw, to open wide, to yawn ; xáos, a vast, yawning abyss, gulf, or chasm). So in Par. Lost, 111. 12, “The rising world of waters' is represented as “won from the void and formless infinite.' Sion (the Greek form of the Hebrew name Zion), one of the hills on which Jerusalem was built. See Smith's Dictionary of the Bible, Vol. IV. pp. 3632-4, under the word • Zion.' -- 11. Siloa's brook. (Siloa seems to be here accented on the first syllable ; but see note on spirit' line 17.) The Clar. Press ed. has this note : “Sion was the hill opposite to Moriah, on which latter the Temple was built. In the valley beside them was the Pool (not brook) of Siloam, -- an intermittent well, ebbing and flowing at irregular intervals.” But in Isaiah viii. 6, we are told of the waters of Shiloah that go softly.' “The word ‘softly' does not seem to refer to the secret transmission of the waters, but to the quiet gentleness with which the rivulet steals on its mission of beneficence. Thus ‘Siloa's brook' of Milton, and cool Siloam's shady rill,' are not mere poetical fancies. The 'fountain' and the 'pool' and the 'rill’of Siloam are all visible to this day, each doing its old work beneath the high rock of Moriah, and almost beneath the shadow of the Temple wall.” Smith's Dict. of the Bible, p. 3040, sub voce ‘Siloam.' See, “Go wash in the pool of Siloam,' John ix. 7. – 12. Fast by (A. S. fäst; Ger. fest; firm, closely adhering), close by. So Par. Lost, II. 725 ; X. 333. Oracle. The Temple, or the Holy of Holies in the Temple ? 2 Sam. xvi. 23, 'as if a man had inquired at the oracle of God'; so 1 Kings vi. 16; viii. 6 ; 2 Chron. iv. 20 ; Ps. xxviii. 2. (Lat. oraculum, oracle, fr. os, oris, mouth.) — 14–16. That with, etc. These three lines are condemned by Landor as useless and inharmonious. Is the criticism just ? Was the loftiness of the theme a sufficient reason for specially invoking aid ? Middle. Middling, mediocre ? Horace, Oles, II. 20, says, “I shall be conveyed through the liquid air with no vulgar or humble wing." But see 'middle' in l. 516. Intends. Spoken elegantly as well as modestly of his song rather than himself? 15. Aonian. Aon, son of Poseidon (Neptune), was the reputed ancestor of some of the most ancient inhabitants of Bæotia, who were called from him Aðnes. Hence Aonia, the name of a part, and often of the whole of Bæotia. The Muses, who frequented Mount Helicon in Bæotia, were often called

Things unattempted yet in prose or rhime.
And chiefly Thou, 0 Spirit, that dost prefer 17

Before all temples the upright heart and pure, 'Aonian Sisters.' "The Aonian mount is here used for the productions of the Greek poets, which Milton intends to surpass in boldness of conception." R. C. Browne. In Milton only, first and last, is the power of the sublime revealed. In Milton only does this great agency blaze and glow as a furnace kept up to a white heat — without suspicion of collapse.” De Quincey. Pursues, traces in song. Lat. prosequi ; e. g. in Virgil, Georgics, III. 340, “Why should I pursuie (in song) the shepherds and pastures?” etc. Sequi is thus used in Horace, Art of Poetry, l. 240. Milton, like Shakespeare, is fond of using words in their Latin sense. — 16. A similar line is pointed out in Ariosto's Orlando Furioso, Canto I. st. 2. So in Comus, l. 44. Unattempted. Says Masson, “A great deal has been written concerning the 'origin' of Paradise Lost. Some thirty authors have been cited as entitled to the credit of having probably or possibly contributed something to the conception, the plan, or the execution of Milton's great poem. .... What is to be said of all this? For the most part, it is laborious nonsense. That in any of the books, or in all of them together, there is to be found 'the origin of Paradise Lost,' in any intelligible sense of the phrase, is utterly preposterous.” Rhime is Milton's spelling here, and as he uses rime in his prefatory remarks on the verse, it is supposed that the two spellings indicate different meanings; rime (rhyme' in niodern orthography) meaning the jingling sound of like endings'; and rhime (rhythm) meaning verse in general as distinguished from prose. (A. S. riman, to number, seems to be the original of rime ; whereas rhythm is the Greek övõuós). – 17. Spirit. In his Reason of Church Government Urged against Prelaty (1641), Milton gives intimation of his intention to write a great poem, and for the aflatus he relies upon no ordinary means, but upon 'devout prayer to that Eternal Spirit that can enrich with all utterance and all knowledge.' Observe that he invokes the Holy Spirit to instruct; the Muse to sing. Keightley suggests that in this double invocation Milton had in view something similar in Fletcher's Purple Island (VI. 25). In Job xxxii. 8, we read, “But there is a spirit in man; and the inspiration of the Almighty giveth them understanding.” Did Milton regard himself as inspired ? Isaiah lvii. 15; Luke xvii. 21. Scan this line as follows:

And chiefly Thou | 0 Spirit thăt dost | prěfēr. There is no need of reducing spirit' to a monosyllable. Regular pentameters, composed exclusively of iambics, would soon become monotonous. Milton introduces occasionally pyrrhics [vul, trochees (-u), spondees [--), anapests (VU-), amphibrachs (u-u], and perhaps tribrachs [uuu) and dactyls [-UU]. He always, or nearly always, gives us five accented syllables ; but he disposes the accent according to his own sense of fitness. 18. — Before all temples. “Know ye not that ye are the

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