Page images

By Fontarabbia. Thus far these beyond
Compare of mortal prowess yet observed.
Their dread commander. He, above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower; his form had yet not lost
All her original brightness, nor appeared
Less than archangel ruined, and the excess
Of glory obscured as when the sun new risen
Looks through the horizontal misty air
Shorn of his beams, or, from behind the moon,
In dim eclipse disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs: darkened so, yet shone
Above them all the Archangel; but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrenched, and care
Sat on his faded cheek, but under brows
Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride
Waiting revenge. Cruel his eye, but cast
Signs of remorse and passion to behold
The fellows of his crime, the followers rather
(Far other once beheld in bliss), condemned
For ever now to have their lot in pain;
Millions of spirits for his fault amerced
Of Heaven, and from eternal splendours flung
For his revolt yet faithful how they stood,
Their glory withered; as when Heaven's fire
Hath scathed the forest oaks or mountain pines,
With singed top their stately growth, though bare,
Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepared
To speak; whereat their doubled ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and half enclose him round.







591. His form had yet not lost. It did later; namely, his own particular form, from which he could change to others. See i. 428 and Introd., p. xxv.-xxxiii.

601. Intrenched, dug into.

603. Considerate, thoughtful.

609. Amerced, primarily fined; here punished by the loss of.


With all his peers; attention held them mute.
Thrice he assayed, and thrice, in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as angels weep, burst forth at last
Words, interwove with sighs, found out their way:
"O myriads of immortal spirits! O Powers
Matchless, but with the Almighty! and that strife
Was not inglorious, though the event was dire,
As this place testifies, and this dire change
Hateful to utter. But what power of mind,
Foreseeing or presaging, from the depth
Of knowledge, past or present, could have feared
How such united force of gods, how such
As stood like these, could ever know repulse?
For who can yet believe, though after loss,
That all these puissant legions, whose exile
Hath emptied Heaven, shall fail to reascend,
Self-raised, and repossess their native seat?
For me, be witness all the host of Heaven,
If counsels different, or dangers shunned
By me, have lost our hopes. But he who reigns
Monarch in Heaven, till then as one secure
Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,
Consent or custom, and his regal state
Put forth at full, but still his strength concealed,
Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.
Henceforth his might we know, and know our own,
So as not either to provoke, or dread
New war provoked. Our better part remains
To work in close design, by fraud or guile,
What force effected not; that he no less


646. Close, closed; secret.

647. What force, etc.; object of to work.






629. Feared how; feared that was more common even in Milton's day.

636. Different, differing; hence vacillating.

645. Better part, still used, although obsolescent, for "better course of conduct."

At length from us may find, who overcomes
By force hath overcome but half his foe.

Space may produce new worlds; whereof so rife 650
There went a fame in Heaven, that he ere long
Intended to create, and therein plant
A generation, whom his choice regard
Should favour equal to the sons of Heaven.
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
Our first eruption-thither or elsewhere;
For this infernal pit shall never hold
Celestial spirits in bondage, nor the Abyss
Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts
Full counsel must mature. Peace is despaired;
For who can think submission? War then, war
Open or understood, must be resolved."

He spake; and, to confirm his words, out-flew
Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
Of mighty Cherubim; the sudden blaze
Far round illumined Hell. Highly they raged
Against the Highest, and fierce, with graspèd arms,
Clashed on their sounding shields the din of war,
Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heaven.

There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top





650. Rife, of common report.

651. A fame, a rumor.

652. The Universe had actually been created since Satan had been cast out of heaven. The time now, it must be remembered, is eighteen days after the angels had been expelled from heaven. See vi. 871; i. 50. The six days of creation are said by Raphael in Book vii. to have followed immediately the expulsion of the rebels. And in Book iv., which, in time, follows directly the four succeeding books (see Introd., p. xxv.), Adam and Eve speak as though they had been in the Garden some time. The account of Creation is, however, deferred by Milton to Book vii.

653. Generation, race; offspring, as in "generation of vipers." 656. Eruption, bursting forth.

660. Peace is despaired. One of Milton's un-English constructions, as in the next lines.

670. Grisly, horrible.


Belched fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire
Shone with a glossy scurf, undoubted sign
That in his womb was hid metallic ore,

The work of sulphur. Thither, winged with speed,
A numerous brigad hastened: as when bands
Of pioneers, with spade and pickaxe armed,
Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,
Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on,
Mammon, the least erected Spirit that fell

From Heaven; for even in Heaven his looks and . thoughts


Were always downward bent, admiring more
The riches of Heaven's pavement, trodden gold,
Than aught divine or holy else enjoyed
In vision beatific. By him first
Men also, and by his suggestion taught,
Ransacked the centre, and with impious hands
Rifled the bowels of their mother earth
For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew
Opened into the hill a spacious wound,
And digged out ribs of gold. Let none admire
That riches grow in Hell: that soil may best
Deserve the precious bane. And here let those




675. Brigad. The word has, and had in the seventeenth century, a technical meaning. In common speech, however, it meant only a large body.

Forerunner is common; the verb means merely

677. Forerun. to go before.

678. Mammon has not been already mentioned in the list of chiefs, but comes to notice later in ii. 229-283, where he follows Belial in speaking to the assembled powers of Hell. Like Belial, Mammon was not the name of a heathen god it was a Chaldaic word for

hes. But the Saviour's words in Matt. vi. 24 have given it a universal personification, which Milton develops in the lines here succeeding.

688. Better hid, a rather severe ellipsis which cannot be readily expanded into a grammatical construction.

690. Admire, wonder.

Who boast in mortal things, and wondering tell
Of Babel, and the works of Memphian kings,
Learn how their greatest monuments of fame
And strength and art are easily outdone
By spirits reprobate, and in an hour,
What in an age they, with incessant toil
And hands innumerable, scarce perform.
Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepared,
That underneath had veins of liquid fire
Sluiced from the lake, a second multitude
With wondrous art founded the massy ore,
Severing each kind, and scummed the bullion dross;
A third as soon had formed within the ground
A various mould, and from the boiling cells
By strange conveyance filled each hollow nook;
As in an organ, from one blast of wind,
To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes.
Anon, out of the earth a fabric huge
Rose like an exhalation, with the sound
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet,
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid
With golden architrave; nor did there want
Cornice or frieze, with bossy sculptures graven;
The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon






694. Babel. Either the famous tower, or the later Babylon. Memphian: see note on 1. 307.

711. The building by music has been a favourite idea with poets from the time of Amphion to Tennyson's King Arthur.

714. Doric, the name of one of the divisions of the Greek people (see note on 1. 508): hence one of the styles of Greek archi


715. The architrave is the part of a pillared structure resting immediately upon the columns.

716. The frieze comes immediately above the architrave, and is often ornamented with figures or otherwise. Lastly, under the roof, comes the projecting cornice.

Bossy, embossed, in high relief.

« PreviousContinue »