תמונות בעמוד
PDF
ePub

Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves ;
There rest, if any rest can harbor there ;
And, re-assembling our afflicted powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our enemy; our own loss how repair;
How overcome this dire calamity;
What reinforcement we may gain from hope;
If not, what resolution from despair.”

Thus Satan talking to his nearest mate,
With head uplift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blazed ; his other parts besides
Prone on the flood, extended long and large, 195

Lay floating many a rood; in bulk as huge Abbott's Shakes. Gram. 342. – 180. Forlorn and wild. The 'waste and wild' of l. 60. Forlorn (Ger. verloren) is totally lost, abandoned, and hence desert, empty. Keightley. 183. Pale. Probably such a ghastly hue as livid (“black and blue ') flame casts on the face. “In Statius, Thebais, I. 57, the Styx is livida." Tend, extend our course (Lat. tendere, or tendere cursum). — Rest, etc.

“Here let us rest, if this rebellious earth

Have any resting.” Richard II., V. 1. 5, 6. Harbor. To take shelter ? or give shelter ? See Shakes. “Let's harbor here in York,” and 'any place that harbors men.' A. S. here, army, and beorgan, to shelter, lodge; 0. E. herbergage, lodging. — 186. Afflicted (Lat. affligěre, to dash down), beaten down. Powers (as in Macbeth, V. II. 1, “The English power is near,” and often in Shakes.), forces, troops. — 187. Offend. In what sense ? - 190. Reinforcement. What kind, moral or physical? – 191. If not. Supply “any.' Bentley would read “if none.' – 192. Thus. Adverbial możlifier of what ? Classic usage ? – 193. Uplift. See note on 179. The omission is for euphony. See Ps, xxiv. 7. – 195. Sparkling blazed. Of the Old Dragon, Spenser says ( Faerie Queene, III, XI. st. 46), “His blazing eyes ... sparkled living fire.” See Æneid, II. 206-210. – 194. Other parts besides. “Besides' seems to be superfluous after 'other'; but probably it would not have been so regarded in Milton's day. In Matt. xxv. 22, we read, “Thou deliveredst unto me two talents; behold, I have gained two other talents besides them.” We still use ‘moreover' in a similar way. – 196. 200

As whom the fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian or earth-born, that warred on Jove,
Briareos or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held; or that sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean-stream :
Him, haply, slumbering on the Norway foam,
The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff

Rood (Dutch roede, a measure of ten feet in land-surveying. Wedgwood). Often used in Old Eng. for rod. But square measure seems better here than long; as in Æneid, Vl. 596, the earth-born giant, Tityos, extends over nine jugera (a jugerum being about five eighths of an acre). — 197. Fables, Greek myths ? — 198. Titanian (“genus antiquum Terræ, Titania pubes,' the ancient race of earth, Titanian offspring, Æneid, VI. 580). The Titans were sons of Uranus (heaven) and Gaia (earth). They deposed Uranus, but were cast out of Olympus by Zeus (Jove). – 199. Briareos (the strong one, the mighty), quadrisyl, as the long o requires, though the old poets, for the sake of the metre, shortened reos to one syl. Says Keightley, “Milton makes a mistake as to Briareos, who was one of the hundred-handed (not of the Titans) and helped the gods.” But Milton follows the account in Virgil (Æneid, X. 567, 568), pretty good authority, who says expressly that Ægæon, the hundredhanded, fifty-mouthed (identified by Homer with Briareos), fought against Jove. His brothers were Gyges and Cottus, each hundred-handed and fiftyheaded. Hesiod makes them all sons of Uranus and Gaia, like the twelve Titans. Typhon (smoking), same as Typhoeus, youngest son of Gaia, located by Pindar and Æschylus in Cilicia. Briareos and Typhon we may regard as personifications of volcanic forces. Virgil calls the sun Titan, and the stars Titanian. — 201. Leviathan. This beast in Ps. civ. 26, seems to be some sea monster of the whale kind. In Job xli. it is much like the crocodile, though the description does not wholly suit. Perhaps Milton conceived of a monster like some whose gigantic remains are the wonder of geologists. — 202. Hugest. The movement in the rhythm of this line is happily analogous to that of the monster described ? Ocean-stream (the Homeric 'Ikeavós Totauós, okeanos potamos, which was supposed to encircle all the lands of the earth. Hazlitt thinks that in Milton's imagination the monster seemed so vast that the ocean dwindled to a stream!) – 203. Him. etc. Olaus Magnus (1490-1568), a Swede who wrote a Latin ‘History of the Northern Nations,'has much to say of anchoring on whales, kindling fires on them, etc. So in the first voyage of Sindbail in the Arabian Nights! See Ariosto's Orl, Fu. VI. 37. – 204. Pilot (Low Ger. peilen, to sound, measure ; Du. loot, plunimet; hence the thrower of the lead). Keightley suggests that it may be from meipaths, a pirate! Night-foundered (Fr. fondre, to sink ; to founder is to be filled with water and sick as a ship), sunk into darkness. This

210

Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,

205
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind,
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays.
So stretched out huge in length the arch-fiend lay,
Chained on the burning lake ; nor ever thence
Had risen or heaved his head, but that the will
And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs,
That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
Evil to others; and, enraged, might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth
Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shown
On man by him seduced, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured. 220

Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flames,
Driven backward, slope their pointing spires, and, rolled

215

220

beautifully poetic epithet (used also in Comus, 483) is censured as improper by some of the prosy critics. They talk of 'foundered horses,' and ships' springing a leak'! Skiff. Kind of craft ? — 206. Scaly, incrusted. “Bentley justly observes that whales have no scales”! Keightley. Poets fare hard at the hands of ichthyologists and learned Dundrearies. Olaus (see 1. 203) says the whale 'has on his hide a surface like the gravel on the sea-shore.' – 207. Under the lee (A. S. hléo, shelter), under the shelter of the shore, on the side sheltered from the wind. Yet half the critics make it the other side, and censure Milton for 'affectation' or impropriety’in the use of nautical ternis !— 208. Invests (Lat. vestis ; Sans. vas; Gr. Feoons, garment), robes. In Par. Lost, III. 10, 11, light invests, 'as with a mantle,' the world of waters. So IV. 609. Wished. With transitive verbs we use the preposition more than the Elizabethan writers did. Abbott's Shakes. Gram. 200. — 209. This line analogous to what it describes ? — 210. Chained. “Servile adherence to the letter of Scripture." Keightley. See 2 Pet. ii. 4 ; Jude 6 ; Rev. xx. 1; Par. Lost, I. 48, II. 169, IV. 965. Is the conception incongruous ? What are symbolized by chains ? Remorse? fear ? shame ? — 211-213. Satan must be free, for the reasons so concisely and sublimely stated. — 219. On man. Why on rather than to ? — 220. Rom. ii. 5, “Treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath.'— 221. Pool. Etymology of the word ? Milton several times calls the Sea of Azof a pool; also the Dead Sea. — 223. Spires (Gr. oreipa, Lat.

In billows, leave i' the midst a horrid vale.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight 225
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air
That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
He lights ; if it were land that ever burned
With solid, as the lake with liquid fire,
And such appeared in hue, as when the force 1 230
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side
Of thundering Ætna, whose combustible
And fuelled entrails, thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,

235
And leave a singèd bottom all involved
With stench and smoke. Such resting found the sole

Of unblest feet. Him followed his next mate, spira, a coil, or spire, any body that shoots out taperingly to a point). — 227. Felt unusual weight. Thyer quotes Faerie Queene, I. xi. 18, where the air is almost 'too feeble' to 'bear so great a weight' as the Old Dragon flying. 230. Hue. What hue ? — 231. Wind in this line, winds in 1. 235 ; because in the latter verse the winds rush in from every side and are aided' [increased] ; in the former the wind is single. — Pelorus. The N. E. cape of Sicily, now Cape Faro, not far from Ætna, and the place where, according to Ovid, the right hand of Typhon (or Typhoeus) is buried. The Clar. Press. ed. cites approvingly Keightley's assertion that there is no 'account of Pelorus being affected by earthquakes or by the eruptions of Ætna'! They forget their Virgil. “These places, once convulsed with violence and with vast ruin, leaped apart, the sea came violently between them, and severed the Italian from the Sicilian shore.” See Æneid, III. 411, 414, 416, etc. The strait is now about a mile and a half wide. — 233. Thundering Ætna. Tonat Ætna, Ætna thunders, says Virgil. See the passage, Æneid, III. 571 to 578. – 234. Fuelled (Gr. Tüp ; A. S. fyr ; Ger. feuer ; Fr. feu, fire ; Lat. focus, fireplace ; Low Lat. focale ; Nor. Fr. fuayl, fuel), supplied with fuel. Thence. Whence ? Conceiving fire, 'catching fire' (as in Lat. concipăre ignem). - 235. Sublimed (Lat. sublimis, lifted, high; to sublime is to bring by heat into a state of vapor and condense again by cold), forced aloft (or, perhaps, reduced by sublimation to a powder, as flowers of sulphur). 236. Involved with. Shakes. uses with for in (Sonnet XXIII.). The meaning of the two expressions is slightly different : with implies a more confused mixture of solids with gases; in, an enveloping of solids by gases. Which better suits Milton's idea? — 238. Unblest feet. Ignoring Milton's purpose to assenıble the rebel army on this burning soil, Ruskin says (and the Clar.

240

Both glorying to have scaped the Stygian flood
As gods, and by their own recovered strength,
Not by the sufferance of supernal power.

“Is this the region, this the soil, the clime,”
Said then the lost archangel, “this the seat
That we must change for heaven ? — this mournful gloom
For that celestial light ? Be it so! since he

245 Who now is sovran can dispose and bid What shall be right : farthest from him is best,

Press ed. quotes it without comment) as follows : “ All this [lines 228 to 238] is far too detaileil, and deals too much with externals; we feel rather the form of the fire-waves than their fury; we walk upou them too securely, and the fuel, sublimation, smoke, and singeing, seem to me images of only partial conibustion ; they vary and extend the conception, but they lower the thermometer ... fail of making us thoroughly unendurably hot. The essence of fire is not there. Now hear Dante" (the italics are Ruskiu's) –

" Feriami 'l Sole in su l'omero destro

Che già, raggiando, tutto l'Occidente
Mutava in bianco aspetto di cilestro :
Ed io fucea con l'ombra più rovente

Parer la fiamma." - Purg. XXVI. 4-8. [On the right shoulder smote me now the sun, that, raying out, changed all the West from azure aspect into white, and with my shadow I niade the name appear more red.] Ruskin continues : “This is a slight touch ; he has not gone to Ætna nor Pelorus for fuel ; but we shall not soon recover from it, he has taken our breath away and leaves us gasping. No smoke or cinders there. Pure, white, hurtling, forniless flame; very fire-crystal, we cannot make spires nor waves of it, nor divide it, nor walk on it; there is no question about singeing soles of feet. It is lambent annibilation.” (Ruskin's Mod. Painters, Part III. 2, 3.) Whatever may be thought of Ruskin's extraordinary interpretation of Dante, it is not clear that he understands Milton! As if degree of hotness were the thing that Milton should have aimed to depict ! (Milton seenis to have had the passage from Dante in mind in Par. Lost, XI. 205-6.) - 239. Stygian. The Styx (hate) being a river of hell, Stygian is infernal. — 240. Sufferance. So Ajax (in Odyssey, IV. 503) declared that he woulil escape the great gulf of the sea in spite of the gods ! - 244. Change for heaven, a Latinism for change heaven for,''change' being equivalent to receive in exchange' (like Lat. mutare). See Hor. Oiles, I. XVII. 1 ; III. . 47. – 246. Sovran (Lat. supernus, superus, above ; super, over ; Fr. souverain ; Sp. soberano ; It. sovrano), sovereign). - 247. Farthest. The Greeks had a proverb, “ Far from Jupiter,

« הקודםהמשך »