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Upon the wing, or in swift race contend,
545 Into th' Euboic soa. Others more mild, Retreated in a silent valley, sing With notes angelical to many a harp Their own heroic deeds and hapless fall By doom of battle ; and complain that Fate 550 Free virtue should inthrall to force or chance. Their song was partial, but the harmony (What could it less when Spirits immortal sing ?) Suspended Hell, and took with ravishment The thronging audience. In discourse more sweet 555 (For eloquence the soul, song charms the sense) Others apart sat on a hill retired, In thoughts more elerate, and reason's high Of providence, foreknowledge, will, and fate, Fix'd fate, free-will, foreknowledge absolute, 560 And found no end, in wand'ring mazes lost. Of good and evil much they argued then, Of happiness and final misery,
539. Typhean-Typhæus was one of the giants who warred against heaven.
542. Alcides-Hercules, so named from his ancestor Alcæus The allusion here made is familiar to every reader.
555. It has been observed, that Milton has here shewn the superiority of discourse and reasoning to song. 'The angels who reason are on a hill; those who sing are in a valley.---But it should have been observed, at the same time, that it is only when Hong is what Milton calls partial, or confined to selfish or ambitious themes, that it is thus inferior to, or different from wgh philosophy
Passion and apathy, glory and shame,
575 Into the burning lake their baleful streams; Abhorred Styx, the flood of deadly hate; Sad Acheron of sorrow, black and deep; Cocytus, named of lamentation loud Heard on the rueful stream ; fierce Phlegethon, 580 Whose waves of torrent fire inflame with rage. Far off from these a slow and silent stream, Lethe, the river of oblivion, rolls Her wat’ry labyrinth; whereof who drinks, Forth with his former state and being forgets, 585 Forgets both joy and grief, pleasure and pain. Beyond this flood a frozen continent Lies dark and wild, beat with perpetual storms Of whirlwind and dire hail, which on firm land Thaws not, but gathers heap, and ruin seems
590 Of ancient pile; all else deep snow and ice A gulf profound as that Serbonian bog Petwixt Damiata and Mount Casius old, Where armies whole have sunk: the parching air Burns frore, and cold performs th' effect of fire. 595 Thither, by harpy-footed furies haled,
577. Milton follows the Greeks in this description of the in. fernal rivers; but, as usual, improves upon the classical idea, as he represents them as emptying themselves into a vast and fearful lake of fire. Styx, according to its derivation, signifies hate; Acheron, flowing with pain; Cocytus, lamentation; Phlegethon, burning, and Lethe, forgetfulness.
592. Serbonis was a lake two hundred furlongs long, and one thousand round, between Mount Casius and Damiata, a city in Egypt. It was sometimes so covered by the loose sand of the reighbouring hills, as not to be distinguished from the land.See Herod. 1. 3. and Lucan. viii. 539.
595. Frore, frosty. See Virgil, Georg. i. 93. Ecclus. xlii. 20, 21. Ps. cxxi. 6.
At certain revolutions, all the damn'd
605 And wish and struggle, as they pass, to reach The tempting stream, with one small drop to lose In sweet forgetfulness all pain and woe, All in one moment, and so near the brink; But Fate withstands, and to oppose th' attempt 610 Medusa with Gorgonian terror guards The ford, and of itself the water flies All taste of living wight, as once it fled The lip of Tantalus. Thus roving on In confused march forlorn, th' advent'rous bands 615 With shudd'ring horror pale, and eyes aghast, View'd first their lamentable lot, and found No rest. Through many a dark and dreary vale They pass'd, and many a region dolorous, O'er many a frozen, many a fiery Alp,
620 Rocks, caves, lakes, fens, bogs, dens, and shades of
death, A universe of death, which God by curse Created evil, for evil only good, Where all life dies, death lives, and nature breeds, Perverse, all monstrous, all prodigious things, 625 Abominable, inutterable, and worse Than fables yet have feign'd, or fear conceived, Gorgons and Hydras, and Chimæras dire.
Meanwhile the adversary of God and Man, Satan, with thoughts inflamed of high'st design, 636 Puts on swift wings, and tow'rds the gates of Hell Explores his solitary flight. Sometimes He scours the right hand coast, sometimes the left, Now shaves with level wing the deep, then soars Up to the fiery concave tow'ring high.
603. See Job xxiv. in the Vulgate translation.-See also Shakspeare Measure for Measure, Act iii.
611. Medusa, one of the Gorgon monsters.
As when far off at sea a fleet descry'd
636. A noble comparison. But Dr. Bentley asks why would not one ship do as well as a fleet! It has been answered, that many ships are a more noble figure than one. This, however, is only the case when so seen at a distance, that they may appear as one grand, dark, and sublime object. Ternate and Tidore are two of the Molucca Islands.
648. This is one of the most sublime passages in the poem. Addison is generally ingenious in his criticisms, but not elevated, and when he objected to Milton's having introduced an allegory he shews he was incapable of entering into the magnificent conceptions of his author. Sin and Death are not allegorical Deings in Paradise Lost; but real and active existences. They would have been allegorical, speaking or contending anong men, but are not so in an abode of spirits, and addressing the Prince of darkness, sce James i. 15.
661. Calabria, the extreme part of Italy towards the Mediter. rauean. Trinacria, an ancient name of Sicily,
With Lapland witches, while the lab'ring moon 665
Whence and what art thou, execrable shape,
To whom the goblin full of wrath reply'd, Art thou that traitor Angel, art thou He, Who first broke peace in Heav'n and faith, till thed Unbroken, and in proud rebellious arms
691 Drew after him the third part of Heav'n's sons, Conjured against the High’st, for which both thou And they, outcast from God, are here condemn'd To waste eternal days in woe and pain?
695 And reckon'st thou thyself with Spirits of Heav'n, Hell-doom'd, and breath'st defiance here and scorn Where I reign king, and to enrage thee more, Thy king and lord ? Back to thy punishment, False fugitive, and to thy speed add wings, 700
665. It was formerly believed that the moon might be affected by incantations. 666. See Spenser, Faery Queen, Book vii. C. 7. 46.
678. The word ercept is here used with the same latitude as but m ver. 333. 336.
693. Conjured, from the Latin conjurare, to conspire or leagu. together.