« ZurückWeiter »
that of Orpheus the son of the muse Calliope. He was torn to pieces by the Bacchanalians in Rhodope, a mountain of Thrace, where his song had charmed the woods and rocks.—Milton récollects here lines 549, 550 of his own Comus; and the phrase "barbarous dissonance" is repeated from that passage.
39. “thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.” “Thou" is Urania, Milton's muse; “she” is Calliope. 50. "consorted." Mr. Keightley notes, “He coins this participle, for
, consort is a neuter verb." Not so. Consort was
an active verb in Milton's time, and the form consorted is found in Spenser and in Donne :
“For all that pleasing is to living eare
F. Q. II. xii. 70.
DONNE, Sat, i. 94. “ Absolved" : finished. 97. “to magnify his works.” Job xxxvi. 24. (Gillies.)
104. "unapparent Deep”: i.e. Chaos, surrounding the Natural Universe, but not visible from it.
116, 117. “ infer thec” : “make thee by consequence," “ bring thee on."
“ the invisible King." 1 Tim. i. 17. (Newton.) 123. “suppressed in night”: a recollection, as Thyer observed, of Horace, Od. ill. xxix. 29, 30 :
“ Prudens futuri temporis exitum
Caliginosâ nocte premit Deus.” 125. “ enough;” spelt "anough " in the original. 126-130.
“ But Knowledge . . . needs no less her temperance,” &c. Mr. Keightley quotes a curiously parallel passage from Davenant's Gondibert, published in 1651
“ For, though books serve as diet of the mind,
If knowledge early got self-value breeds,
And what should nourish on the eater feeds." 131. “ Lucifer . so call him.” The name Lucifer (in Greek d'wo pópoc) means Lightbringer," and was the classic name for the morning-star, i.e. the planet Venus when seen before sunrise. The name occurs in Isaiah xiv. 12, “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning !" where the application is to the King of Babylon. The application of the name to Satan in his fall dates, it is said, from St. Jerome.
134, 135. “ Fell ... into his place." Newton quotes Acts i. 25.
142. us dispossessedl.” The sound has led Milton to prefer this to the more usual construction 6
we dispossessed." He imports the Latin ablative absolute.
144. "whom their place knows here no more." Job vii. 10. (Newton.)
162. “ inhabit lax”: dwell at large or expansively. “ Habitare laxe voluit,” as Dunster observed, is a phrase of Cicero's.
165. “My overshadowing Spirit.” Luke i. 35. (Hume.)
167. “ heaven and earth.” The word heaven is here used in a restricted sense, meaning the heaven of our Universe, cut out of the bosom of Chaos, not the eternal, invisible Heaven, where so much of the action of the poem has taken place.
168, 169. “ Boundless the Deep ... nor vacuous.” The meaning is, “Chaos is boundless because I am boundless who fill infinitude ; nor is Chaos empty of my presence, though I, in a manner, hold myself retired from it and inhabit more peculiarly Heaven.”
176. Immediate are the acts of God." By this phrase, as by that in lines 154, 155, Milton, it has been supposed, meant to favour the opinion of some theologians that the creation of the Universe was really instantaneous, though, for the purposes of human apprehension, it is represented as a work of six days. Hume first suggested this, and Newton repeats it. 182. “ "
Glory they sung,” &c. Luke ii. 14. (Newton.) 192. “So sang." Observe the poet's preference, on musical grounds, here for the preterite form "sang," instead of “sung," which he generally uses, and has used immediately before, line 182.
“between two brazen mountains lodged.” Hume cites the text which has been the poet's authority here. It is Zech. vi. 1: “And behold there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass."
208. “ The King of Glory.” Psalm xxiv. 7. (Hume.)
224. “the fervid wheels.” A phrase from Horace, Od. 1. i. 4. “Metaque fervidis evitata rotis." (Hume.)
225-231. "the golden compasses," &c. Prov. viii. 27. Nothing could be grander, and at the same time more distinct, than this image of the golden compasses, one foot fixed, and the other slowly circling so as to
mark out from the body of Chaos the limits of the great sphere of the new Universe.
232. “Thus God,” &c. From this point onwards Milton keeps closely in view the Mosaic account of creation in Genesis.
235.“ His brooding wings.” See Book I. line 21, and note.
236—242. “ And vital virtue infused ... centre hung.” There is some difficulty in tracing the order and nature of the creative actions as they are imagined in this passage. First there is the infusion of vital warmth and virtue by God's Spirit into that vast spherical portion of Chaos which the golden compasses had marked out, and the purging of it by the same agency from its more noxious dregs—these descending into the body of Chaos underneath the sphere of the new Universe. This is clear enough ; but the rest of the passage, beginning “then founded,” is not so clear. As it stands, the most natural construction would give this meaning—that, the space of the new Universe having been warmed, vitalized, and purged of its dregs, there ensued, first, the process described as the “founding and conglobing of like things to like " (i.e. the formation of the elements by the fixing and rolling together of their previously confused particles), and then the farther process described as the “disparting of the rest to their several place, the spinning out of the air between,” &c. But to this there is the objection that in that case there would be nothing to which the words the rest ” could properly refer. After all like things had been united to like, what could possibly be imagined as “the rest”? It seems, therefore, that we must seek another reading of the passage. Perhaps the construction in Milton's mind was one which meant but one process, and not two, to be described in the series of clauses from “then founded ” to “hung.” The space of the new Universe having been cleared of its cold and tartarean dregs, the poet may have meant to describe what was done with the rest-1.0. with all that remained within the vast sphere that had been cut out of Chaos and consecrated for the new purpose. Suppose then the construction be this : “Downward purged the black, tartareous, cold, infernal dregs, adverse of life; then disparted the rest—like things having been founded and conglobed to like—to several place,” &c. Such a construction is quite Miltonic, and it may be owing only to the difficulty of indicating it by the punctuation that it has been missed. This difficulty arises from the recurrence of the “then.” Compare with the whole passage the similar description, Book III. 709–719.
242. “ Earth, self-balanced, on her centre hung." ("Hung" is here the active verb, “hung Earth, self-balanced, on her centre.”) Milton, as Hume observed, had Ovid's lines in view, Met. i. 12:
"Nec circumfuso pendebat in aëre tellus
Ponderibus librata suis." 243, 244. “ Light ethereal, first of things, quintessence pure.” Here,
as in Book III. 716, Milton makes Light a quintessence, or fifth essence, distinct from the four grosser elements. These already existed in the space of the new Universe, and had only to be founded, conglobed, and separated; but Light has to be introduced from without. Introduced is the proper word, for it is not of the creation of Light that we have here an account. Light, according to the poet, was " the first of things," always filling Heaven, if not eternally coexisting with the Father see Book III. 1—6); and all that takes place now is the invoking of Light, which had hitherto been absent from Chaos, into the portion of Chaos which was to contain the new Creation. 245--249.“ ,
Sprung from the Deep,” &c. One would have imagined rather the gushing down of Light from Heaven into the new Universe; but there are reasons why Milton rather makes Light come in, as it were, at one side of the new Universe, springing from the Deep at that side, and slowly traversing, like a radiant cloud, the space till now in gloom. The difficulty of describing Light, apart from the Sun or any other luminary, has perhaps hardly been overcome in this passage.
250. "by the hemisphere": i.e. hemispherically-one-half of the sphere of the Universe being in darkness while the other is in light.
253-260. “ Nor passed uncelebrated," &c. Job xxxviii. 4—7. (Newton.) 261---275. “Let there be firmament,” &c.
. Different interpretations have been given of the Scriptural word “firmament” as used in the passage (Gen. i. 6) which Milton here paraphrases. Milton adopts the interpretation which makes “firmament” mean the expanse of transparent ether or space between Earth and the uttermost boundaries of the visible Sphere. Following the Biblical cosmology, and reconciling it with the Ptolemaic system, he supposes the creative work of the second day to have been the establishing of this firmament, and the separation by it of the waters till then diffused throughout the Universe into two great aggregations-first, those clinging to the body of the Earth and flowing round it; and, next, those removed to the outside of the whole visible Universe, and forming the Ninth or Crystalline sphere of the pre-Copernican astronomy, separated from Chaos only by the Tenth sphere or Primum Mobile. See note, Book III. 444-497.
274. “ Heaven he named the firmament”: i.e. the whole expanse of space visible from the Earth was named Heaven after that greater eternal Heaven which it was to typify to Man.
311, 312. after her kind, whose seed is in herself.” A distinct instance of “her” where we should say its; and Milton here deviates from the authorized text, which is (Gen. i. 11), “the fruit-tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself.”
321. “the smelling gourd.” So in the original text ; but Bentley proposed “swelling," and the reading has been generally adopted.
321, 322. “ up stood the corny reed embattled in her field.” The cornstalks standing thick together like the ranks of an army.
322. “add the humble shrub." I restore this reading from the First and Second Editions; the Third has “and the humble shrub,” which reading has consequently slipt into all the later copies. That it is a mere printer's error of the Third Edition is the more likely because the pointing is not altered there to correspond. Besides, "up stood”
” would not be so applicable to the “humble shrub” and the “ bush as to the
reed.” 323. “ implicit”: i.e. “implicated ” in the literal sense; “entwined.” (Lat. implico.)
325, 326. “gemmed their blossoms.” In Lat. gemma means primitively
a bud,” and only derivatively “a gem” in the sense of “jewel;" and gemmare is “to bud” or “to put forth blossoms.”
327. “ That Earth now.” As in the original text “that” begins a new sentence, it is possible that Milton meant it to be the pronoun emphatic, and the sense to be, “ That Earth, so covered with vegetation, now seemed very different from what the Earth till then had been seemed like to Heaven,” &c. But in late editions only a comma or a semicolon precedes the "that," which, by linking the phrase "that Earth now seemed like to Heaven” with the preceding, rather converts the "that” into a conjunction, and gives it the sense of "
so that.” 334-337- “and each plant of the field . God made,” &c. Milton here follows the Authorized Version (Gen. ii
. 5); which, however, Mr. Keightley says, is indubitably incorrect. It ought, he says, to be, “And no plant of the field was as yet on the earth."
3594-361. “Of light by far the greater part he took," &c. : i.e. he took the greater part of that Light which had been moving through the Universe as yet as a widely-diffused cloud, and concentred it in the Sun's body. A discrepancy has been noted by Mr. Keightley between this account of the creation of the heavenly luminaries and the previous account, Book III. 716 et seq., where they are represented as made at once of Light
366. “her horns.” So in the Second Edition ; but in the First it was “ his horns.” As Venus is meant, the change is for the better.
367, 368. "they augment their small peculiar." All the light of the Universe not having been concentred in the Sun's body, but only the greater part of it, the other heavenly bodies have each their “small peculiar,” their own little property, of light; but this they augment by * tincture” (absorption) from the Sun, or by reflection of his light.
372, 373. “ jocund to run his longitude": i.e. path from east to west. Longitude" is a favourite word with Milton in this sense of distance