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The Verse. Perhaps the best illustration of Milton's meaning may be found in a comparison of a passage from Paradise Lost with Dryden's imitation of it in The Fall of Man. The lines are, P. L. 1: 315-325:
The passage from Dryden is:
Dominions, Powers, ye chiefs of Heaven's bright host
One should especially note whether Dryden has here expressed anything 'otherwise, and for the most part worse,' than else he would have expressed it; whether Dryden's rime is 'trivial and of no true musical delight;' and whether Milton has, in addition to 'apt numbers,' and 'fit quantity of syllables,' the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another.'
Note the cæsuras of the successive Miltonic lines, then of those by Dryden.
What sort of readers did Milton expect and desire? See P. L. 7: 23-39.
6. For the beginning cf. Homer, Il. 1:1-9: ‘Sing, goddess, the wrath of Achilles, Peleus' son, the ruinous wrath that brought on the Achaians woes innumerable, and hurled down into Hades many strong souls of heroes, and gave their bodies to be a prey to dogs and all winged fowls; and so the counsel of Zeus wrought out its accomplishment from the day when first strife parted Atreides, king of men, and noble Achilles. Who then among the gods set the twain at strife and variance? Even the son of Leto and of Zeus; for he,' etc. Milton may also have had in mind Tasso's Jerusalem Delivered, Book I, stanza 2, which runs thus in Fairfax's translation:
O Heavenly Muse, that not with fading bays
Why should the theme be announced at the beginning? Why, (a) according to ancient ideas, (6) according to modern ideas, should a muse or a goddess be invoked ? What, if anything, would be gained by abandoning the formula?
What is here effected by inversion ?
Where in the Bible is this theme treated ? Transcribe the verses which relate to it. Is there any distinction between Eden and Paradise ?
2. Mortal. See P. L. 2:653, 729, 813.
4-5. Landor would omit these (and so vv. 14–16), 'as incumbrances, and deadeners of the harmony.' Is there any reason why they should be retained ?
5. Restore. Why subjunctive? Blissful seat. Cf. P. L. 1:
2 : 347; 3 : 527; Virgil, Æn. 6 : 639, 'sedes beatas.'
6. Secret. What is the meaning of the Latin verb secernere ? Ovid has (Met. 11 : 765) 'secretos montes colebat;' how should this be translated ?
Top. Milton is here speaking of mountains and brooks. What reason might he have for introducing them? Cf. note on v. 15.
7. Oreb. For Horeb; see Exod. 3:1; Deut. 4:10-14. Sinai. See Exod. 19: 16–23.
8. Chosen seed. Deut. 10 : 15; 1 Chron. 16 : 13.
14–16. 'Supposing the fact to be true,' says Landor, 'the mention of it is unnecessary and unpoetical. Little does it become Milton to run in debt with Ariosto for his
Cose non dette mai nè in prose o in rima.'
Cf. note on 4-5.
15. Aonian. Define. Aonian mount Parnassus, a high mountain in Phocis, with two peaks, sacred to Apollo and the Muses, at whose foot was the city of Delphi and the Castalian spring. Aonian mount is a figurative expression; what does it signify ?
Pursues. A Latinism; so in Virgil, Georg. 3 : 339-340, 'Quid pascua versu prosequar?'
16. Rhyme. Perhaps not to be confounded with rime. The latter is O E. rim, but this etymology was obscured by the Greek gu Auós, from which the rh seems to have come. Hence two senses, as well as two forms. See my edition of Sidney's Defense of Poesy, note on 5627. Is it true that this theme had never been attempted before ?
17. For the divine mission of the poet, see Sidney, Defense of Poesy, 58-626
18. Heart. 1 Cor. 3 : 16.
21. Dove-like. Luke 3 : 22. Brooding. This is the meaning of the Hebrew word rendered moved in Gen. 1:2. See P. L. 7: 235; Hymn on Nativity 68. Abyss. See P. L. 2 : 910-916. 22-26. What .
Landor would omit these lines; but memorize, for they are famous.
24. Highth. Milton's spelling, and so better: OE. hiehthu. Argument. Theme.
25. Assert. Defend, champion; a Latinism. 26. See note on vv. 214–215. 27. Cf. Il. 2 : 484-487 : 'Tell me now, ye Muses that dwell in the mansions of Olympus seeing that ye are goddesses and are at hand and know all things, but we hear only a rumor and know not anything, who were the captains of the Danaans and their lords.' Cf. Ps. 139 : 7, 8.
28. Cause. So Æn. 1:8: 'O Muse, relate to me the causes, tell me in what had her will been thwarted,' etc.
29. Meaning of grand?
34. 'I am sorry that Milton did not always keep separate the sublime Satan and “the infernal serpent.'
"'! – LANDOR. But see Rev. 12:9; 20 : 2.
35. Envy. See P. L. 9 : 466; p. 191, v. 2 ff. Revenge. This word occurs ten times more in the first two books.
36. What is the meaning of the word Eve? See Gen. 3 : 20.
What time. This seems to be of Northern origin. It is found in the Ormulum (ca. 1200), and in Coverdale's Bible. It has been retained in the Bible, as, e.g., Ps. 56 : 3.
37. Cast out. See note on v. 34.
38. Cf. p. 192, v. 45. Metrically considered, how does this line differ from any which have preceded it ? Landor says: 'It is much to be regretted, I think, that he admits this metre into epic poetry. It is often very efficient in the dramatic, at least in Shakespeare, but hardly ever in Milton. He indulges in it much less fluently in Paradise Lost than in the Paradise Regained.'
39. Cf. P. L. 5 : 725; 6 : 88; 7: 140.
40. Isa. 14 : 14. To have equaled; is this grammatically correct ?
43. Cf. p. 193, v. 60.
... arms. Memorize. 45. See Isa. 14 : 12, 15; Luke 10 : 18; and cf. P. L. 6 : 824-874, and note on v. 745. Define ethereal; cf. P. L. 3 : 716 ff.; 5 : 267.
47. Bottomless. Inexhaustible; with a suggestion of 'bottomless pit,' P. L. 6 : 866 (from Rev. 20 : 3).
48. Adamantine chains. From the Prometheus Bound of Æschylus, v. 6. Meaning ? Cf. P. L. 2 : 646, 853.
49. Durst. The invariable preterit in Milton; OE. dorste. What is the modern preterit ?
51. Crew. See vv. 477, 688, 751. 52. Gulf. Define.
53. Confounded. May there not be two or three meanings blended in this word ? Study it in a good dictionary.
56. Define baleful; cf. P. L. 2 : 576; Comus 255. 57. Witnessed. Bore witness to.
58. Pronounce obdurate. On Satan as the hero of Paradise Lost, see Introduction, p. 35.
59. Define ken. 60. Waste and wild. Note the alliteration, and cf. P. L. 3 : 424. 61. Dungeon. So P. L. 2 : 317, 1003. 61-67. A dungeon to all. Memorize. 62. Great furnace. See Rev. 9:2.
63. Cf. p. 194, v. 96. Darkness visible. The ultimate source of this thought may be Job 10 : 22: ‘A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness. Upon this is based the Chaucerian passage in the Parson's Tale : 'The derke light that shal come out of the fyr that evere shal brenne shal turne hym al to peyne.' Milton may have had Spenser in mind, as frequently (F. Q. I. i. 14): –
His glistring armor made
Cf. also Il Pens. 79-80:
Where glowing embers through the room
Sallust, Jugurtha 21 : 2, has 'obscuro lumine.' Lucan, too, has a striking passage concerning a stormy night, which Milton may have noted (5 : 630-631):
Nec fulgura currunt
*(The lightnings run without flame, and, though the cloud bursts, it remains dark ').
64. Discover. Cf. v. 724.
66. Hope never comes. What are the famous words of Dante (Inf. 3:9) ? Was Milton a student of Dante ? Cf. Introduction,
68. Urges. A Latinism. Define.