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although here used loosely, as Seraphim in the next line. See Introd., p. xxxiii.
139. Remains. Singular, for mind and spirit together constitute a singular subject.
159. The gathering of accent on the third and fourth syllables gives the words aught good additional force.
167. If I fail not. As in his first rebellion, Satan has a plan in mind, to which he must bring his followers to agree. So in this case also, Beelzebub serves as his instrument of persuasion.
170. This line is noted by Mr. Bridges (Milton's Prosody, p. 19) as having but three real accents: cf. ll. 306, 329.
176. His its, as often in Shakespeare and contemporary writers. His is the older possessive both for he and it. Its is modern; it was, indeed, just coming into use at this time. See 1.
182. Livid. The word originally meant black and blue, ghastly, or something like it, and was applied to the color of the face. It was then applied to anything giving such a light that the face seemed livid.
197. Fables. Milton usually speaks of the mythology of the classics as fabulous.
210. Compare the note on 1. 48. 215. Heap on himself damnation. We miss one of the most important things about Paradise Lost, if we do not see that it has for a subject not only the Fall of Man, but the Fall of Satan, and not merely his first fall from heaven, but his constant degradation lower and lower, until the absolute wreck of his physical beauty was a true index to the utter evil of his character.
225. The dusky air. Compare 1. 63, the "darkness visible,” which "served only to discover sights of woe."
228. That burned with solid
fire. Cf. "to burn
Walter Pater: The
always with this hard gem-like flame."
242. Clime. This word, like seat (1. 243) or fields (1. 249) or vales (1. 321), is used loosely for place. Such a use of absolutely general terms instead of specific, concrete expressions is not in itself poetic. Milton's poetry has, however, other poetic elements, so that this really prosaic usage serves a good purpose in tempering what might otherwise be a heaping together of too effective material. In other words, the attempt always to find specific expressions, full of meaning and suggestion, would have
interfered with the grand, magnificent, and therefore somewhat vague and indefinite tone of Paradise Lost.
253. The reversal of accent in the second foot gives especial emphasis to not.
254. Its. One of the few cases in Milton's poetry where the pronoun occurs. Dr. Bradshaw, in his concordance, notes three cases. The form was only just coming into use, displacing his (1. 176) and her (1. 592).
255. Satan has here reached a point in thought which the world has not yet passed. He sees that in spite of the actuality and the pain of the real fire and torment in which he is, the true Hell is inward. In a later book we come to a fuller expression of the idea (cf. p. xxxviii.) :
"Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath and infinite despair?
To which the Hell I suffer seems a Heaven." (iv. 73–78.)
263. We get here Satan's real ambition. Afterward, in his speech to his followers, he finds it convenient to dissemble.
Will envy whom the highest place exposes
288. Optic glass. Mr. Verity remarks that the expression is not uncommon for the telescope, and quotes Giles Fletcher, Christ's Victory on Earth, 60, "all her optique glasses shattered," and Henry More, Song of the Soul, "The opticke glass has shown to sight the dissolution of the starrie clouds." Milton thought naturally of Galileo (with whose name the telescope was commonly associated), for he had visited him in Florence on his Italian journey. Hence came the reminiscence of Fiesole and Valdarno, and the figure a little below of the autumnal leaves of Vallombrosa.
291. Spotty globe. The effect is very marked in a photograph of the moon, although Milton's idea, of course, did not come by this
293. Norway was then as now a great place for firs and pines, and exported many masts.
302. The brooks of Vallombrosa. The name Vallombrosa (the shady vale) is given not only to the valley, but to the hill rising from it, which is said to have many streams. The leaves fall from the chestnut and beech trees in such profusion as often to choke up the brooks in their course.
309. The sójourners of Góshen who beheld.
See p. liii.
317. Astonishment, with the sense rather of being astounded or stunned than of being astonished, in our sense of the word.
326. Discern the advantage. Satan always keeps up the fiction that he and his horde are in some degree real antagonists of the Almighty.
335. Nor did they not. A somewhat stately way of putting the matter; a recollection of the Latin.
338. The figure, drawn from the last plague of Egypt, is appropriate to the tone of the poem. It may have come to Milton's mind from the allusion to the passage of the Red Sea immediately before.
341. Warping. To warp a ship is to get her forward by means of warps or hawsers. Milton may have had the process in mind, or he may merely have meant to indicate a twisting and turning line of flight.
345. Cope of Hell. The conception of Hell would seem to have been much like that of the earth some time since, a flat plain and over it
"This inverted bowl we call the sky,"
as Omar Khayyam says. Only in the case of Hell, the earth and the sky which separated it from the Abyss were both fire. Hence the upper and nether fires.
351. Mr. Verity calls attention to the appropriate character of the similes: floating on the fiery lake the fallen angels are compared to leaves in the brook and seaweed in the sea (11. 302–306); rising in the air they are like the swarms of locusts (11. 338–343) ; once on solid ground they are the innumerable hordes of barbarians (11. 351–355).
361. Though of their names. It would then seem as though their names in Heaven were lost and Satan's among them. See note on 1. 82.
363. Books of Life. The common term now is Book of Life, and it may be that this plural is a mistake of the copyist.
371. The tendency to conceive of gods in animal form was strong among the Egyptians (see 1. 481), whence the idea of the Golden Calf. And so also among the deities of the peoples surrounding the Israelites,-Dagon had a fish's tail, Moloch a calf's head, 329 ff. The Hymn on the Nativity, written by Milton long before, presents to us these same deities, now preparing to begin their reign on earth, put to flight and scattered at the birth of Christ :
"Peor and Baälim
Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice battered god of Palestine ;
And mooned Ashtaroth,
Heaven's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers holy shine;
The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn;
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thamuz mourn;
"And sullen Moloch, fled, Hath left in shadows dread
His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In vain with cymbals ring
They call the grisly King
In dismal dance about the furnace blue;
Isis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis haste.
"Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove or green,
Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud; Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest ;
Naught but profoundest Hell can be his shroud ;
In vain with timbreled anthems dark
The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipped ark.
"He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded Infant's hand;
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Longer dare abide,
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine :
Our Babe, to show his Godhead true,
Can in his swaddling bands control the damnèd crew."
395. That passed through fire. The expression seems to have been a euphemism for burning to death. The popular tradition was to the effect that the brazen figure of Moloch, heated blazing hot by fires within, received its victims in its outstretched arms.
398. Basan. Bashan in the authorized version. So Chemos for Chemosh (1. 406), Hesebon for Heshbon (1. 408), Sittim for Shittim (1.413). It would seem that Milton was something of an Ephraimite. Judges xii. 6.
423. See note on 1. 97, and Introd., p. xxix.
498. A four-stressed line, like i. 74.
507. Far renowned, widely famed.
513. Like measure found, i. e., were treated in the same manner. 528. Recollecting, not remembering, but actually re-collecting, getting back again.
Emblazon is the technical term for painting a
coat of arms.
542. As though it tore through the sky of Hell (note on 1. 345), and reached the Deep beyond, the realm of Chaos and old Night (ii. 970).
550. Keightly calls attention to Thucydides' account of the Spartans' advance at the battle of Mantinea "to the strains of many flute players." The recorder, as will be remembered from Hamlet, iii. 2, 360, was a sort of flute. The Dorian mood was grave and serious, as compared with the more sprightly Phrygian, and the more soft and melting Lydian (L'Allegro, 136). The little excursus on the effect of music is characteristic. Milton had a delicate ear and loved music, which, especially in his later days, was one of his chief diversions.
569. Battalions. The word now means a definite body of men, although the particular constitution of the battalion is different