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as they go a perpetual pathway from Hell to the Universe (ii. 1024). But also we have Death threatened by the Almighty as a punishment of disobedience (v. 542-546), and afterward we have the Sin of Adam and Eve in disobeying the command of God, and the anticipation of Death (x. 814.) That Milton was aware of the inconsistency, if such it be, is obvious from x. 585 :
"Meanwhile in Paradise the Hellish pair
Too soon arrived-Sin, there in power before
Close following pace for pace, not mounted yet
One greater man. "For as through the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the one shall the many be made righteous" (Rom. v. 19, and see also 1 Cor. xv. 22).
6. Note the accent on the first syllable instead of on the second as usual. The more unusual the inversion of accent, the more marked or emphatic the word on which the accent falls. This particular inversion is common; still it serves for slight emphasis on the word Sing. So in l. 10 Rose; in 1. 21 Dove-like ; in l. 87 Myriads; in l. 197, Prone, and in many other places.
Secret. Bentley, who made a good many emendations to Paradise Lost to correct supposed misprints, changed this word to sacred. The change may seem at first to be to the point, and yet the difference, though slight, does much to give an idea of the real Miltonic quality. The expression "sacred top" is on the whole conventional; if it suggest anything, it is merely the idea "holy." Secret," however, may not at once give any meaning at all; but on a moment's thought we begin to see that it implies all the remoteness, mysteriousness, and awfulness, perhaps even sacredness too, of the great mountain where Moses went apart from the people to talk with God. And when once established in meaning, the word becomes one of those truly poetical words, which by themselves do much to create an emotional atmosphere.
9. Heavens. In our ordinary sense; not the abode of God and the angels, which is usually called, not the Heavens, but Heaven or the Heaven of Heavens. (With perhaps one or two exceptions, e. g., vi. 567.)
10-12. Sion's hill and Siloa's brook were probably mentioned by Milton with a recollection of Mount Helicon, the abode of the classical Muses, and the spring Aganippe. Compare the lines in the beginning of Book iii.
"Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
12. Thence. The word must be emphasized, for otherwise the parenthetic " or if Sion hill," etc., will not seem to have any connection with what has gone before.
14. No middle flight
above the Aonian mount. That
is to say, his theme, at least, was to be far higher than those of the great Greek poets. With the same idea in ll. 515–517, he speaks of the gods of Greece, who
"On the snowy top
Of cold Olympus ruled the middle air,
The Heaven which Milton conceived was far higher.
16. In prose or rhyme. It is possible that Milton meant to indicate here that Paradise Lost was itself in form neither prose nor rhyme, for blank verse is neither one nor the other. Look on p. lviii. for Milton's opinion of rhyme, and you will see why it was that he thought blank verse to be the form best suited to so high a theme as his.
17. And chiefly thou, O Spirit. Turn to the Invocation of Paradise Regained, as quoted in Appendix, A 5, and the quotation on p. xi. The earnest, devoted way in which Milton regarded his vocation as poet, almost as a divine calling, is manifest in many parts of his work.
21. Brooding is said to be a more exact rendering of the Hebrew in Gen. i. 2, than the word moved in the King James version of the Bible.
23. Raise. The inversion of accent makes the word emphatic. Inversion in the third or fourth foot is not so common as in the
first, and so gives more emphasis. It is more common, however, than in the second or fifth foot.
26. Pope in the Essay on Man assumes the same high purpose, using in fact the same verse with a slight variation :
"Laugh where we must, be candid where we can,
But justify the ways of God to Man." (Essay on Man, i. 16.)
28. The scansion of this line is worth noting. The first two accents, instead of coming on the second and fourth syllables, come on the third and fourth, giving rather a peculiar effect. So 1. 55:
“Both of lost happiness and lasting pain.”
This grouping of accented syllables gives a considerable addition of emphasis, which in this case and in l. 55 gives a good effect. 29. Grand parents, our ancestors; with something of the idea of the compound word.
38. Aspiring. The extra syllable on the end of the line is to be read rapidly, as if it came in the middle.
40. Look at Isaiah xiv. 13.
48. Chains. The word is probably used loosely for "imprisonment," ""confinement," and so probably in 1. 210. Absolute chains were among the possibilities of additional punishment; see ii. 183.
50. With Satan on the burning lake the poem begins, and it is worth while to consider why it should begin just here. In the Introduction will be found an account of the events of the poem in chronological order, from which it will be seen that in point of time the events of Book v., from 1. 577 to the end, and of Books vi., vii., viii., all precede the opening of the poem. Why did Milton choose just this moment for beginning? Or in other words, the action of the poem stretches over more than thirtytwo days why does Milton begin on the twenty-second day? In part the reason is that which led Homer to begin in the ninth year of the siege. But this particular point of time is suitable for several reasons. In the first place, it fixes the interest of the reader, though not his sympathy, on Satan, who is the chief actor in the poem, although not the hero. Then it enables Milton to narrate very easily the twofold line of events following the
casting out of Satan,—the Creation, in Books vii., viii., and the plot of Satan and his flight to the earth, in Books i., ii. The account of the strife in Heaven is rather the weakest part of the poem. Milton may have felt the subject to be the most difficult to deal with, and so thought it best not to begin with it. And, lastly, the defeat of Satan is now placed, in the narration of Raphael, where it serves as a warning to Adam.
55. Pain means actual physical pain. When Satan in the battle in Heaven is cut down by Michael, Milton says
"Then Satan first knew pain." (vi. 327.)
And in this book, 125, 147, 336, he insists upon the capacity of the fallen angels for suffering.
61. Cf. 64, 74. These three lines are cases where there are really only four accented syllables. In reading we cannot really emphasize the last syllable of horrible, for instance, or certainly not in any marked way. But the mind, accustomed to the rhythm, hears the unaccented syllable as though it were accented.
63. Darkness visible. It is best not to tamper with this phrase by way of explanation. One must feel its power or let it go. I cannot think Mr. Verity is right in saying "the gloom which half conceals and half reveals objects."
70. Had prepared. As to the time of the creation of Hell, see the note to the argument of Book i.
79. Next himself in power. In Raphael's account of Satan's rebellion, it is Beelzebub to whom Lucifer first confides his plan, it is he who, at his order, collects a third part of the angels and carries them off into rebellion. In Matt. x. 24, Beëlzebub is called "The prince of the devils.”
82. Thence, therefore.
Satan. The Hebrew word for opposer or adversary has, in the Book of Job, where most of us recollect it, a meaning somewhat different from what would be in keeping here. Job, Satan is that one of "the sons of God" who opposes the pretensions of man to self-righteousness, and although he displays rather too keen a zeal in opposing Job, he is by no means a fallen angel, or one who is doing other than the behests of God. In Paradise Lost, however, Satan is the adversary in a very different sense, as appears from the use of the term in one or two places, e. g., ii. 629. Question has arisen as to Satan's former name.
For us the question is merely one of curious speculation, except in so far as it determines whether Milton conceived of Lucifer as that former name. The word means “Light-bearer,” and would be eminently appropriate to one of the chief of Angels. Probably, however, Milton did not so regard it; in vii. 131, Raphael tells Adam that he is now to be called Lucifer, and the other passages where the name is used refer to Satan after his rebellion. It may be added that Satan was one of the seven Archangels (v. 660), and would in all probability have been thought of under a name similar to theirs. We hear of Michael, Gabriel, Raphael, Uriel, meaning respectively the Sword, the Man, the Health, the Light of God; one would expect that Satan's name would have been of like nature, that he too would have represented one of the attributes of the Most High. So it seems best to give up Satan's heavenly name; let it be with the name of Achilles while he was among the maidens. Milton tells us that the names of the rebellious angels were "rased from the Books of Life" (ii. 363).
84. Addison, who was a great admirer of Paradise Lost, makes especial allusion to this speech in his criticisms in the Spectator. "The thoughts in the first Speech and Description of Satan, who is one of the principal actors in this Poem, are wonderfully proper to give us a full idea of him. His Pride, Envy and Revenge, Obstinacy, Despair and Impenitence, are all of them very artfully interwoven. In short, his first speech is a complication of all those Passions which discover themselves separately in several other of his speeches in the Poem." Spec., No. 303. It hardly seems, however, that Satan here displays all the qualities he afterward possesses. Compare Introd., p. xxxii.
97. Changed in outward lustre. The angels could assume any form at will; yet each had a form peculiarly his own. The individual aspect of Satan had sadly changed since his fall although it had not yet "lost all her original brightness" (1. 591). See Introd., p. xxix.
102. The line has an extra syllable at the end.
110. That glory. Apparently the glory of forcing Satan to submit or yield.
116. By fate. Satan would seem to recognize fate as the only omnipotent power.
124. Another four-stressed line.
128. Throned powers. Throne and Power were angelic titles,