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Lie thus astonished on the oblivious pool,
So Satan spake, and him Beëlzebub
He scarce had ceased when the superior Fiend
266. Oblivious pool. It was not, of course, the pool which forgot, but those lying upon it. Milton is thinking of Lethe, the river of forgetfulness in Hades, as afterward ii. 583-586.
268. Mansion, abiding place, as in John xiv. 2 : “In my Father's house are many mansions."
274. Pledge, that which has assured them of hope.
The Tuscan artist, Galileo, the astronomer, whom Milton had seen on his Italian journey.
289. Fesole, a village on a hill near Florence.
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
290 Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe. His spear, to equal which the tallest pine, Hewn on Norwegian hills, to be the mast Of some great ammiral, were but a wand, He walked with, to support uneasy steps
295 Over the burning marle, not like those steps On Heaven's azure; and the torrid clime Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire : Nathless he so endured, till on the beach Of that inflamèd sea he stood, and called
300 His legions, angel forms, who lay entranced, Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks In Vallombrosa, where the Etrurian shades, High over-arched embower; or scattered sedge Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion armed
305 Hath vexed the Red-Sea coast, whose waves o’erthrew Busiris and his Memphian chivalry, While with perfidious hatred they pursued The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld From the safe shore their floating carcases
290. Valdarno, the valley of the Arno, in which Florence is situated.
294. Ammiral. An obsolete form of “admiral” ; an obsolete use also, meaning the ship and not the commander.
301. Entranced, a little different in meaning from our present use ; in a stupor.
302–4. These lines are well known. Vallombrosa,“ the shady vale,” is not far from Florence. Etruria was the ancient name for a great part of northern Italy.
305. Orion. The constellation was held to bring stormy weather.
307. Busiris, the Pharaoh of the Bible. Memphian, for Egyptian, Memphis having been a great city of Egypt.
308. Perfidious, because he had given the Israelities leave to go. Exod. xii. 31 ; cf. xiv. 5.
309. Sojourners of Goshen. The children of Israel had sojourned in the land of Goshen four hundred and thirty years according to Gen. xlvii. 27 and Exod. xii. 40.
And broken chariot wheels : so thick bestrewn,
320 To slumber here as in the vales of Heaven ? Or in this abject posture have ye sworn To adore the Conqueror—who now beholds Cherub and Seraph rolling in the flood, With scattered arms and ensigns, till anon
325 His swift pursuers from Heaven-gates discern The advantage, and, descending, tread us down Thus drooping, or with linked thunderbolts Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf ? Awake, arise, or be for ever fallen !”
330 They heard and were abashed, and up they sprung Upon the wing, as when men wont to watch, On duty sleeping found by whom they dread, Rouse and bestir themselves ere well awake. Nor did they not perceive the evil plight
335 In which they were, or the fierce pains not feel ; Yet to their General's voice they soon obeyed, Innumerable. As when the potent rod Of Amram's son, in Egypt's evil day, Waved round the coast, up called a pitchy cloud 340
312. Abject, hurled down.
can seize Eternal spirits; i. e., all chance of regaining heaven is gone if you are as you seem.
337. To. We say obedience to anything, to the law of God, for instance, as in xii. 397, but obey usually takes an object without a preposition.
339. Amram's son. Moses.
Of locusts, warping on the eastern wind,
345 'Twixt upper, nether, and surrounding fires : Till, as a signal given, the uplifted spear Of their great Sultan waving to direct Their
course, in even balance down they light On the firm brimstone, and fill all the plain :
350 A multitude, like which the populous North Poured never from her frozen loins, to pass Rhene or the Danaw, when her barbarous sons Came like a deluge on the South, and spread Beneath Gibraltar to the Libyan sands.
355 Forthwith from every squadron and each band, The heads and leaders thither haste, where stood Their great Commander; godlike shapes, and forms Excelling human, princely dignities, And powers that erst in Heaven sat on thrones; 360 Though of their names in heavenly records now Be no memorial, blotted out and rased By their rebellion from the Books of Life. Nor had they yet among the sons of Eve
364 Got them new names ; till, wandering o’er the earth,
345. Cope. The word originally meant hood, mantle, and so covering, as of Heaven, whence transferred to Hell.
348. Sultan. Strictly speaking, an Oriental monarch, but Milton uses the word in a general sense. In 1. 378 we have Emperor.
351–355. Refers to the invasions of the Roman Empire by the Teutonic tribes beyond the Rhine and the Danube, which rivers formed the Roman boundary.
355. The Vandals passed through Spain into Africa.
thrones. See note on 1. 128. 364–373. It was a legend that the fallen angels had, in process of time, become deities of the heathen nations. Milton in ll. 380-521 makes excellent use of it.
Through God's high sufferance for the trial of man,
Say, Muse, their names then known, who first, who last,
The chief were those, who, from the pit of Hell
385 Jehovah thundering out of Sion, throned
376. Say, Muse. Cf. “Musa mihi causas memora,
% Æn. i. 6, and other such passages, also P. L., i. 27, and vii. 40, in Appendix A.
380. Promiscuous, mixed, and so common; ordinary.
381. The most constant temptation before the children of Israel was to imitate the idolatry of the neighbouring nations. Over and over again did they offend, taking sometimes the gods of one tribe, sometimes of another : the Old Testament from Exodus to Malachi is the record of constant stumbling. Milton follows a sort of traditional idea that the gods of the heathen were none other than the fallen angels, who had been cast out of heaven, and, as will appear
in Book ii., he was able to work the idea into the structure of his poem. To illustrate the passages following, the student should read in Appendix C, p. 108, the extracts from Kings and Chronicles, and from Isaiah and Jeremiah. But no one can really enjoy Paradise Lost without constant reference to the Bible, and one should really read much
See also the extract from The Hymn to the Nativity, p. 89.