« PreviousContinue »
His stature reach'd the sky, and on his crest
Sat horror plumed; nor wanted in his grasp [deeds
In this commotion, but the starry cope
At least had gone to wrack, disturb'd and torn
Hung forth in Heav'n his golden scales, yet seen
Wherein all things created first he weigh'd,
The pendulous round earth with balanced air 1000 In counterpoise, now ponders all events,
Battles, and realms: in these he put two weights,
The latter quick up flew, and kick'd the beam;
989. A powerful personification of horror.
1002. The same allegory is employed by both Homer and Virgil, and in Scripture we find Daniel informing Belshazzar that he was weighed in the balances: for illustrations of this passage, see Job xxviii. xxxvii. Isa. xl. 1. Sam. ii. 3. Proverbs xvi. 2. and Dan. v.
1003. Bentley proposes to read signal instead of sequel, but the latter is preferable, see Hom. II. viii. 69. also Virgil, Æn. xii. 725. 1012. Milton follows Scripture and not the poets in making the scale ascend in token of victory.
Morning approached, Eve relates to Adam her troublesom dream; he likes it not, yet comforts her: They come forth to their day labours: Their morning hymn at the door of their bower. God, to render man inexcusable, sends Raphael to admonish him of his obedience, of his free estate, of his enemy near at hand, who he is, and why his enemy, and whatever else may avail Adam to know. Raphael comes down to Paradise, his appearance described, his coming discerned by Adam afar off, sitting at the door of his bower; he goes out to meet him, brings him to his lodge, entertains him with the choicest fruits of Paradise got together by Eve; their discourse at t.ble: Raphael performs his message, minds Adam of his state and of his enemy; relates, at Adam's request, who that enemy is, and how he came to be so, beginning from his first revolt in Heaven, and the occasion thereof; how he drew his legions after him to the parts of the north, and there incited them to rebel with him, persuading all but only Abdiel a Seraph; who in argument dissuades and opposes him, then forsakes him.
Now morn her rosy steps in th' eastern clie
And temp'rate vapours bland, which th' only sound 5
1. This is a lovely description of morning, and the more beautiful because not separated from the consideration of the actors in the poem.-1 think it will be generally found that poets of great eminence seldom indulge themselves in pure description, or rather, that their descriptions are almost always mixed up with circumstance and detail.
5. Which refers to sleep, not to vapours.
Calls us; we lose the prime, to mark how spring
Such whisp'ring waked her, but with startled eye On Adam, whom embracing, thus she spake : O sole in whom my thoughts find all repose, My glory, my perfection, glad I see Thy face, and morn return'd; for I this night (Such night till this I never pass'd) have dream'd, If dream'd, not as I oft am wont, of thee, Works of day past, or morrow's next design, But of offence and trouble, which my mind
Knew never till this irksome night. Methought, 35
I rose as at thy call, but found thee not;
And on, methought, alone I pass'd through ways 50
24. I am inclined to think that this mention of nature is the only blemish in the passage: none of Adam's curious questionings which have been reprobated by writers, were unnatural in a being continually contemplating the universe with an undimmed eye; but it is very inconsistent to suppose he would personify the principle of things, and separate its operation from the immediate action of the divine hand.-Nature was a noble and splendid conception in the mind of the heathen poets and philosopners, but it is a puerile contradiction after the thoughts have been long fixed on a personal Deity.
41. His and her are applied by Milton to the nightingale
One shaped and wing'd, like one of those from Heav'n
And O fair plant, said he, with fruit surcharged,
For Gods, yet able to make Gods of Men:
And why not Gods of Men, since good, the more
The Author not impair'd, but honour'd more?
Here, happy creature, fair angelic Eve,
My guide was gone, and I, methought, sunk down,
Best image of myself and dearer half,
This uncouth dream, of evil sprung I fear;
May come and go, so unapproved, and leave
No spot or blame behind: Which gives me hope
Be not dishearten'd then, nor cloud those looks
So cheer'd he his fair spouse, and she was cheer'd; But silently a gentle tear let fall From either eye, and wiped them with her hair. Two other precious drops that ready stood, Each in their crystal sluice, he ere they fell Kiss'd, as the gracious signs of sweet remorse And pious awe, that fear'd to have offended. So all was clear'd, and to the field they haste. But first, from under shady arborous roof Soon as they forth were come to open sight
117. God in this line means angel; the word is so applied la Scripture sometimes: see also John x. 35. and refer to line 60.