Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

Of force believe almighty, since no less
Than such could have o'erpowered such force as ours)
Have left us this our spirit and strength entire, 146
Strongly to suffer and support our pains,
That we may so suffice his vengeful ire,
Or do him mightier service, as his thralls
By right of war, whate'er his business be,

150
Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,
Or do his errands in the gloomy Deep?
What can it then avail, though yet we feel
Strength undiminished, or eternal being,
To undergo eternal punishment ?”

155 Whereto with speedy words the Arch-Fiend replied : “Fallen Cherub! to be weak is miserable, Doing or suffering ; but of this be sure, To do aught good never will be our task, But ever to do ill our sole delight,

160 As being the contrary to his high will, Whom we resist. If then his providence Out of our evil seek to bring forth good, Our labour must be to pervert that end, And out of good still to find means of evil;

165 Which oft-times may succeed, so as perhaps Shall grieve him, if I fail not, and disturb His inmost counsels from their destined aim. But see ! the angry Victor hath recalled His ministers of vengeance and pursuit

170

152. Deep. Chaos, as in Gen. i. 2, “darkness was upon the face of the deep.” Cf. i. 177, and indeed many other lines in our books. Chaos, as will be seen when we get to ii. 79, lay between Heaven and Hell.

156. Arch-Fiend. The chief enemy : I make no doubt that Milton had in mind the older meaning of “fiend,” which was the opposite of “friend.”

157. Cherub. Like Seraphim just above and elsewhere, the term is used generally.

165. Still, always.

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

Back to the gates of Heaven ; the sulphurous hail,
Shot after us in storm, o'erblown hath laid
The fiery surge, that from the precipice
Of Heaven received us falling; and the thunder,
Winged with red lightning and impetuous rage,
Perhaps hath spent his shafts, and ceases now
To bellow through the vast and boundless Deep.
Let us not slip the occasion, whether scorn
Or satiate fury yield it from our foe.
Seest thou yon dreary plain, forlorn and wild,
The seat of desolation, void of light,
Save what the glimmering of these livid flames
Casts pale and dreadful ? Thither let us tend
From off the tossing of these fiery waves,
There rest, if any rest can harbour there,
And, reassembling our afflicted powers,
Consult how we may henceforth most offend
Our Enemy, our own loss how repair,
How overcome this dire calamity,
What re-enforcement we may gain from hope,
If not, what resolution from despair.”

Thus Satan, talking to his nearest mate,
With head uplift above the wave, and eyes
That sparkling blazed ; his other parts besides,
Prone on the flood, extended long and large,
Lay floating many a rood, in bulk as huge
As whom the fables name of monstrous size,
Titanian or Earth-born, that warred on Jove,

185

190

195

171-3. As hard rain beats down the surf on the beach.

178. Slip. “Let slip” would be more common nowadays. The meaning is, Let us take the chance, however we have come by it.

186. Powers, forces, i. e., the other fallen angels.
187. Offend, more serious in meaning than at present.
191. An ellipsis : what resolution we may gain from despair.
197. As whom. As those whom.

198. The Titans of Greek mythology, the older deities, who heaped Mt. Pelion upon Mt. Ossa in their attempt to scale Heaven and

200

205

Briareos or Typhon, whom the den
By ancient Tarsus held, or that sea-beast
Leviathan, which God of all his works
Created hugest that swim the ocean stream ;
Him, haply, slumbering on the Norway foam,
The pilot of some small night-foundered skiff
Deeming some island, oft, as seamen tell,
With fixed anchor in his scaly rind
Moors by his side under the lee, while night
Invests the sea, and wished morn delays :
So stretched out huge in length the Arch-Fiend lay,
Chained on the burning lake ; nor ever thence
Had risen, or heaved his head, but that the will
And high permission of all-ruling Heaven
Left him at large to his own dark designs,
That with reiterated crimes he might
Heap on himself damnation, while he sought
Evil to others, and, enraged, might see
How all his malice served but to bring forth

210

215

cast down Zeus, or Jove, as Milton calls him, using his Latin name. Briareos and Typhon were not Titans, but giants or earth-born monsters : the first had a hundred arms, the second a hundred heads.

200. Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, Asia Minor.

201. Leviathan. The reference is to Job xli. It is now supposed that the animal there described was the crocodile. But Milton had obviously no such idea. He conceived of the Leviathan as being some great sea monster.

203–208. These lines are like the similes of Homer, each of which presents a picture complete in itself. See Introd., p. xlv. and Appendix B.

204. Night-foundered, sunk in night. 208. Invests, clothes, and so covers.

210. Chained. It is not clear what Milton had in mind here (cf. 48 above), unless he conceived of Satan as being that moment loosed, according to the next lines.

214. Reiterated, repeated.
215. Damnation, in its earlier sense of condemnation.
217. But, only.

Infinite goodness, grace, and mercy, shewn
On man by him seduced, but on himself
Treble confusion, wrath, and vengeance poured. 220

Forthwith upright he rears from off the pool
His mighty stature; on each hand the flames,
Driven backwards, slope their pointing spires, and, rolled
In billows, leave in the midst a horrid vale.
Then with expanded wings he steers his flight 225
Aloft, incumbent on the dusky air,
That felt unusual weight, till on dry land
He lights; if it were land that ever burned
With solid, as the lake with liquid fire,
And such appeared in hue, as when the force
Of subterranean wind transports a hill
Torn from Pelorus, or the shattered side
Of thundering Ætna, whose combustible
And fuelled entrails thence conceiving fire,
Sublimed with mineral fury, aid the winds,

235 And leave a singéd bottom all involved With stench and smoke : such resting found the sole Of unblest feet. Him followed his next mate, Both glorying to have 'scaped the Stygian flood, As gods, and by their own recovered strength, 240 Not by the sufferance of supernal power.

[ocr errors]

218. See Book xii., in which the Redemption of man is shown to Adam.

220. See x. 504-584.
226. Incumbent, lying upon ; cf. recumbent.

232. Pelorus, Ætna, mountains in Sicily ; the former a promontory, the latter as appears in the lines following, a volcano.

235. Sublimed. The word has a definite chemical meaning, or rather the noun sublimate has. Here sublimed means no more than “ brought to its essential strength.”

238. Next mate. Nearest companion ; nearest actually, and nearest in rank.

239. Stygian. The Styx was in classical mythology one of the rivers of Hades, cf. ii. 577 and note. Milton takes the adjective as appropriate to Hell,

“Is this the region, this the soil, the clime," Said then the lost Archangel, “ this the seat That we must change for Heaven ? this mournful gloom, For that celestial light? Be it so, since he,

245 Who now is Sovran, can dispose, and bid What shall be right; farthest from him is best, Whom reason hath equalled, force hath made supreme Above his equals. Farewell, happy fields, Where joy forever dwells ! hail, horrors ! hail, 250 Infernal world ! and thou, profoundest Hell, Receive thy new possessor; one who brings A mind not to be changed by place or time. The mind is its own place, and in itself Can make a Heaven of Hell, a Hell of Heaven. 255 What matter where, if I be still the same, And what I should be, all but less than he Whom thunder hath made greater ? Here at least We shall be free; the Almighty hath not built Here for his envy, will not drive us hence :

260 Here we may reign secure; and, in my choice To reign is worth ambition, though in Hell : Better to reign in Hell than serve in Heaven. But wherefore let we then our faithful friends, The associates and co-partners of our loss,

265

242. Is this. With emphasis on this. We have no demonstrative (Lat. iste) which indicates contempt.

243. Archangel. According to popular conception there were seven archangels, or chiefs among the angels. See Introd., p. xxiii.

246. Sovran, Milton's customary spelling : he derives the word from his favourite Italian, sovrano.

248. Satan imagines himself quite equal to God in everything but power ; cf. 1. 258.

252. He is no longer speaking to Beëlzebub, but to himself, following his own thoughts. 263. A famous line with which one must compare :

“ It is better to be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness."

« ForrigeFortsæt »