Billeder på siden
[ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]



Nor the deep tract of Hell—say first, what cause
Moved our grand parents, in that happy state,
Favoured of Heaven so highly, to fall off
From their Creator and transgress his will
For one restraint, lords of the world besides ?
Who first seduced them to that foul revolt ?
The infernal Serpent; he it was, whose guile,


revenge, deceived
The mother of mankind, what time his pride
Had cast him out from Heaven, with all his host
Of rebel angels, by whose aid, aspiring
To set himself in glory above his peers,
He trusted to have equalled the Most High,
If he opposed ; and, with ambitious aim
Against the throne and monarchy of God
Raised impious war in Heaven and battle proud,
With vain attempt. Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from the ethereal sky,
With hideous ruin and combustion, down
To bottomless perdition; there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy the Omnipotent to arms.

Nine times the space that measures day and night




32. For one restraint. Because of one restraint, following to fall off and transgress.

32. Besides, in all other respects.

34. “Now the serpent was more subtle than any beast of the field." Gen. iii. 1.

36. What time, at that time when. In the following lines Milton gives in a few words, what he subsequently relates in two books, v. 577-907, vi.

39. His peers, those who were rightfully his equals.

50. Nine times. “Nine days they fell,” vi. 871, and nine days more they lay confounded. Milton here takes up the action where he means to leave it later,

“ Hell at last Yawning, received them whole, and on them closed.” vi. 874, 875.



To mortal men, he with his horrid crew
Lay vanquished, rolling in the fiery gulf,
Confounded, though immortal. But his doom
Reserved him to more wrath ; for now the thought
Both of lost happiness and lasting pain,
Torments him. Round he throws his baleful eyes,
That witnessed huge affliction and dismay,
Mixed with obdurate pride, and steadfast hate.
At once, as far as angels ken, he views
The dismal situation waste and wild :
A dungeon horrible on all sides round
As one great furnace flamed; yet from those flames
No light; but rather darkness visible
Served only to discover sights of woe,
Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace
And rest can never dwell ; hope never comes,
That comes to all ; but torture without end
Still urges, and a fiery deluge, fed
With ever-burning sulphur unconsumed.
Such place Eternal Justice had prepared
For those rebellious, here their prison ordained
In utter darkness, and their portion set



51. Horrid crew. This is a case where we must rid our minds of the present meanings of words and try to get at them more as they were in Milton's mind. For horrid, cf. i. 83, 392 ; i. 63, 676.

53. Doom, judgment; sentence.
56. Baleful, full of pain.
59. Angels ken. As far as the knowledge of angels extends.

63. Darkness visible. One of Milton's imaginative phrases which have become famous.

64. Discover, uncover, render visible.

68. Urges, presses on. The word was used intransitively in Milton's day.

70. Had prepared. Before Lucifer's transgression we may suppose that Hell had not existed. In Raphael's story (v. 577) it seems as though the universe consisted of Heaven and Chaos only.

72. Utter, probably used by Milton in the meaning absolute and outer, of which last utter is a doublet.


As far removed from God and light of Heaven,
As from the center thrice to the utmost pole.
Oh, how unlike the place from whence they fell ! 75
There the companions of his fall, o'erwhelmed
With floods and whirlwinds of tempestuous fire,
He soon discerns, and, weltering by his side,
One next himself in power and next in crime,
Long after known in Palestine and named
Beëlzebub. To whom the Arch-Enemy,-
And thence in Heaven called Satan,—with bold words
Breaking the horrid silence, thus began :

“If thou heest he,-but 0, how fallen ! how changed From him, who, in the happy realms of light,

85 Clothed with transcendent brightness, didst outshine Myriads though bright !-if he, whom mutual league, United thoughts and counsels, equal hope And hazard in the glorious enterprise, Joined with me once, now misery hath joined

90 In equal ruin ; into what pit, thou seest, From what highth fallen! so much the stronger proved He with his thunder : and till then who knew The force of those dire arms? Yet not for those, Nor what the potent Victor in his rage

95 Can else inflict, do I repent or change,


74. As from the center, etc. Usually taken to mean that the distance from Heaven to Hell was half as far again as across the uni

If this were in Milton's mind he must have had another idea when he wrote, ii. 1052.

78. Weltering, rolling about.

81. Beëlzebub. Called in Matt. xii. 24 " the prince of the devils.” The first part of the name is the same as Baal, cf. i. 422. 82. Satan. “So call him now ; his former name

Is heard no in heaven.” v. 659. In Hebrew the name means adversary or opposer; in which character Satan appears throughout the poem.

84. How changed. Satan was also changed. See i. 97 and Introd., pp. xxix.-xxxiii.

94. Dire, dreadful.

Though changed in outward lustre, that fixed mind,
And high disdain from sense of injured merit,
That with the Mightiest raised me to contend,
And to the fierce contention brought along

Innumerable force of spirits armed,
That durst dislike his reign, and, me preferring,
His utmost power with adverse power opposed
In dubious battle on the plains of Heaven,
And shook his throne. What though the field be lost ?
All is not lost; the unconquerable will,

106 And study of revenge, immortal hate, And courage never to submit or yield : And what is else not to be overcome ? That glory never shall his wrath or might

110 Extort from me.

To bow and sue for grace With suppliant knee, and deify his power, Who, from the terror of this arm, so late Doubted his empire,—that were low indeed, That were an ignominy and shame beneath

115 This downfall; since, by Fate, the strength of gods And this Empyreal substance cannot fail, Since, through experience of this great event, In arms not worse, in foresight much advanced,

102. That durst dislike his reign. Satan had rebelled against what he chose to consider the tyranny of God. He speaks here as though his companions had also rebelled of their own accord; but in Book v. Milton points out that he himself had aroused their discontent.

104. In dubious battle. These battles are described in Book vi. The battles of immortal beings have not the interest given by the chance of death, nor can strife against Omnipotence ever be doubtful. In spite of this, however, the rebellious angels had gained a temporary advantage by their invention of cannon and gunpowder. vi. 470-634.

109. The line is a little obscure. It seems to mean, what else is there in not being overcome, except will, revenge, hate, courage ?

111. Sue, beg.
114. Doubted his empire, doubted whether it were still his.




We may, with more successful hope, resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal war,
Irreconcilable to our grand foe,
Who now triumphs, and in the excess of joy
Sole reigning holds the tyranny of Heaven.'

So spake the apostate Angel, though in pain,
Vaunting aloud, but racked with deep despair;
And him thus answered soon his bold compeer :

“O Prince ! O chief of many thronèd Powers !
That led the embattled Seraphim to war
Under thy conduct, and, in dreadful deeds
Fearless, endangered Heaven's perpetual King,
And put to proof his high supremacy,
Whether upheld by strength, or chance, or fate;
Too well I see and rue the dire event,
That with sad overthrow and foul defeat
Hath lost us Heaven, and all this mighty host
In horrible destruction laid thus low,
As far as gods and heavenly essences
Can perish : for the mind and spirit remains
Invincible, and vigor soon returns,
Though all our glory extinct, and happy state
Here swallowed up in endless misery.
But what if he our Conqueror (whom I now



121. To wage, etc. In ii. 1-506 Satan and the chiefs of the fallen angels consult how best to accomplish their end.

125. Apostate. An apostate is one who abandons his religious allegiance.

127. Compeer here means merely companion.

128. Thronèd powers. Thrones and Powers were titles in the Heavenly Hierarchy. See Introd., p. xxxiii.

129. Seraphim. The word is here used loosely to mean angels. The Seraphim were really the angels of the highest rank.

130. Conduct, guidance.

133. Whether upheld. An un-English construction which we owe to Milton's familiarity with Greek.

138. This is a difficulty which Milton finds it hard to surmount. Cf. note on 104 supra.

« ForrigeFortsæt »