« PreviousContinue »
Remains, sufficient of itself to raise
The sun was sunk, and after him the star
50 'Twixt day and night, and now from end to end Night's hemisphere had veil'd th' horizon round, When Satan, who late fled before the threats Of Gabriel out of Eden, now improved In meditated fraud and malice, bent
55 On Man's destruction, maugre what might hap Of heavier on himself, fearless return’d. By night he fled, and at midnight return'd From compassing the earth, cautious of day, 60 Since Uriel, regent of the sun, descry'd His entrance, and forewarn'd the Cherubim That kept their watch : thence full of anguish driven, The space of sev'n continued nights he rode With darkness; thrice the equinoctial line He circled; four times cross'd the car of night 65 From pole to pole, travérsing each colúre; On th' eighth return'd, and on the coast averse From entrance or Cherubic watch, by stealth Found unsuspected way. There was a place, Now not, tho'sin, not time, first wrought the change, Where Tigris at the foot of Paradise
71 Into a gulf shot under ground, till part Rose up a fountain by the tree of life: In with the river sunk, and with it rose Satan involved in rising mist, then sought 75 Where to lie hid. Sea he had search'd and land From Eden over r'ontus, and the pool Mæotis, up beyond the river Ob; Downward as far antarctic; and in length West from Orontes to the ocean barr'd
80 At Darien, thence to the land where flows
77. Pontus, the Euxine or Black Sea.-The pool Meotis, Palus Mæotis, a lake on the coast of Crim Tartary-0b, a river of Muscovy. Orontes, a river of Syria.-Darin, the l'sthmus which loins North and South America. ---Ocean barr'd, see Job xxxviii, 10.
Ganges and Indus: thus the orb he roam'd
95 Active within beyond the sense of brute. Thus he resolved; but first from inward grief His bursting passion into plaints thus pour'd :
O Earth, how like to Heav'n, if not preferr'd More justly! seat worthier of Gods! as built 100 With second thoughts, reforming what was old ! For what God after better worse would build ! Terrestrial Heav'n, danced round by other Heav'ns That shine, yet bear their bright officious lampe, Light above light, for thee alone, as seems,
105 In thee concentring all their precious beams Of sacred influence! As God in Heav'n Is centre, yet extends to all, so thou Centring receiv’st from all those orbs ; in thee, Not in themselves, all their known virtue' appears Productive in herb, plant, and nobler birth 111 Of creatures animate with gradual life Of growth, sense, reason, all summ’d up in Man. With what delight could I have walk'd thee round,
86. The subtlety of the serpent has been always noticed. It is supposed, that Satan might choose this animal in preference to any other, for his purpose, since its subtlety being known it would excite less surprise in the minds of his victims, to find it speaking and reasoning, than would have been the case in respect to any other of the beasts of the field.
113. It were to be wished that Milton had not so nearly approached in expression the ideas of the materialists. He has been accused of formally supporting their doctrines, but the contents of the poem and the elevation of his sentiments on the mysteries of universal being tend greatly to prove he was by no means an advocate of opinions which are as insupportable by reason as they are by Christianity.
If I could joy in aught, sweet interchange 115
126 By what I seek, but others to make such As I, though thereby worse to me redound: For only in destroying I find ease To my relentless thoughts ; and him destroy'd, 130 Or won to what may work his utter loss, For whom all this was made, all this will soon Follow, as to him link'd in weal or woe; In woe then, that destruction wide may range. To me shall be the glory sole among
135 Th’infernal Pow'rs, in one day to have marr'd What he, Almighty styled, six nights and days Continued making, and who knows how long Before had been contriving, though perhaps Not longer than since I in one night freed From servitude inglorious well nigh half Th' angelic name, and thinner left the throng Of his adorers; he to be avenged, And to repair his numbers thus impair's, Whether such virtue spent of old now fail'd 145 More Angels to create, if they at least Are his created, or to spite us more, Determined to advance into our room A creature form'd of earth, and him endow, 150 Exalted from so base original, With heav'nly spoils, our spoils. What he decreed He' effected; Man he made, and for him built Magnificent this world, and earth his seat, Him lord pronounced, and, O indignity! Subjected to his service Angel wings,
155 And flaming ministers, to watch and tend
156. Ps. civ. 4.
Their earthly charge. Of these the vigilance
So saying, through each thicket dank or dry, Like a black mist low creeping, he held on 180 His midnight search, where soonest he might find The serpent : him fast sleeping soon he found, In labyrinth of many a round self-rollid, His head the midst, well stored with subtle wiles : Nor yet in horrid shade or dismal den,
185 Nor nocent yet, but on the grassy herb Fearless, unfear'd, he slept. In at his mouth The devil enter'd, and his brutal sense, In heart or head, possessing soon inspired With act intelligential ; but his sleep
190 Disturb'd not, waiting close th' approach of morn.
Now when as sacred light began to dawn In Eden on the humid flow'rs, that breathed
173. The character of Satan is finely managed in this passage ; the darkness of despair is made more Jark by the loftiness of thought and the gleam of arch-angel grandeur still remaining.
186. Nol nocent yet, in the first edition. 192. This is the morning of the ninth day. On the first Satan came to the earth; for spven he was voyaging round it, and is bere represented as entering Paradise on the ninth.
193. Breath, like the Latin spiro.
Their morning incense, when all things that breathe,
Adam, well may we labour still to dress 205 This garden, still to tend plant, herb, and flow'r, Our pleasant task enjoin'd ; but till more hands Aid us, the work under our labour grows, Luxurious by restraint; what we by day Lop overgrown, or prune, or prop, or bind, 210 One night or two with wanton growth derides Tending to wild. Thou therefore now advise, Or hear what to my mind first thoughts present : Let us divide our labours; thou where choice Leads thee, or where most needs, whether to wind The woodbine round this arbour, or direct 216 The clasping ivy where to climb; while I In yonder spring of roses, intermix'd With myrtle, find what to redress till noon: For while so near each other thus all day 220 Our task we choose, what wonder if so near Looks intervene and smiles, or object new Casual discourse draw on, which intermits Our day's work brought to little, though begun Early, and th' hour of supper comes unearu'd. 225
To whom mild answer Adam thus return'd: Sole Eve, associate sole; to me beyond Compare above all living creatures dear, Well hast thou motion’d, well thy thoughts employ'd How we might best fulfil the work which here 230 God hath assign'd us; nor of me shalt pass
200. Milton spells scent without the c, according to the
Italian Sentiendo. 213. Bear instead of hear, in some editions. 228. Compare for comparison ; a verb converted into a noun as adjectives sometimes are.