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When Charlemain with all his

peerage

fell
By Fontarabia. Thus far these beyond
Compare of mortal prowess, yet observed
Their dread commander: he, above the rest?
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower: his form had yet not lost
All her original brightness, nor appear'd
Less than archangel ruin'd, and the excess
Of glory obscured: as when the sun new-risen
Looks through the horizontal misty air,
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon,
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
Perplexes monarchs: darken'd so, yet shone
Above them all the archangel : but his face
Deep scars of thunder had intrench’d, and care
Sat on his faded cheek; but under brows
Of dauntless courage, and considerate pride
Waiting revenge: cruel his eye, but cast
Signs of remorse and passion, to behold
The fellows of his crime, the followers rather,
(Far other once beheld in bliss) condemn'd
For ever now to have their lot in pain;
Millions of spirits for his fault amerced"

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* By Fontarabia. Borrowed from Dante. See Cary's Dante.

1 He, abore the rest. The greatest masters in painting had not such sublime ideas as Milton; and, among all their devils, have drawn no portrait comparable to this; as everybody must allow who has seen the pictures or the prints of “ Michael and the Devil,” by Raphael; or of the same by Guido; and of the "Last Judgment,” by Michael Angelo.-NEWTON.

And in what does this poetical picture consist? In images of a tower; an archangel; the sun rising through mists, or in an eclipse; the ruin of monarchs; and the revolutions of kingdoms. The mind is hurried out of itself, by a crowd of great and confused images, which affect because they are crowded and confused: for, separate them, and you lose much of the greatness; and join them, and you infallibly lose the clearness.-BURKE.

I can find neither confusion nor obscurity in this passage. The firmness of the devil's station or posture is here compared to that of a tower, and his faded or diminished splendour to that of the sun seen through a morning haze, or from behind the moon during an eclipse; all which is perfectly clear; the objects of comparison being at once grand and illustrative; and the description of them, as far as they are described, distinct, correct, and circumstantial. The properties of solidity and firmness only, in the tower, being the objects of comparison, to have described its form or magnitude would have been silly and impertinent; but the diminution of brightness is an occasional effect; and when an occasional effect is made the object of poetical comparison or description, it is always necessary to state its causes and circumstances, – which the poot has here done with equal conciseness, precision, perspicuity, and energy; and it is to this that its sublimity is, in a great degree, owing.-R. P. KNIGHT.

m 48 tchen the sun neid-risen. Few poetical images can be finer than this, or more beautifully expressed. The precision with which the image is delineated is incomparable.

n Millions of spirits for his fault amerced. I must not here omit that beautiful cireumstance of Satan's bursting into tears upon his survey of those innumerable spirits whom he had involved in the same guilt and ruin with himself.

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Of heaven, and from eternal splendours flung
For his revolt; yet faithful how they stood,
Their glory wither'd. As when heaven's fire
Hath scathedo the forest oaks or mountain pines,
With singed top their stately growth, though bare,
Stands on the blasted heath. He now prepared
To speak; whereat their doubled ranks they bend
From wing to wing, and half inclose him round
With all his peers : attention held them mute.
Thrice he assay'd, and thrice, in spite of scorn,
Tears, such as angels weep, burst forth ;P at last
Words interwove with sighs found out their way.

O myriads of immortal spirits! O powers
Matchless, but with the Almighty; and that strife
Was not inglorious, though the event was dire,
As this place testifies, and this dire change
Hateful to utter: but what power of mind,
Foreseeing or presaging, from the depth

Of knowledge past or present, could have fear’d, There is no single passage in the whole poem worked up to a greater sublimity than that wherein his person is described, ver. 589, &c. His sentiments are every way answerable to his character, and suitable to a created being of the most exalted and most depraved nature. Such is that in which he takes possession of the place of torments, ver. 250, &c., and afterwards, ver. 258, &c.

The catalogue of evil spirits has abundance of learning in it, and a very agreeable turn of poetry; which rises in a great measure from its describing the places where they were worshipped, by those beautiful marks of rivers so frequent among the ancient poets. The author had doubtless in this place Homer's catalogue of ships, and Virgil's list of warriors, in his view. The characters of Moloch and Belial prepare the reader's mind for their respective speeches and behaviour in the second and sixth books. The account of Thammuz is finely romantic, and suitable to what we read among the ancients of the worship which was paid to that idol.

The description of Azazel's stature, and the infernal standard which he unfurls, as also of that ghastly light by which the fiends appear to one another in their places of torments, are wonderfully poetical. Such are the shout of the whole host of fallen angels when drawn up in battle array; the review which the leader makes of his infernal army; the flash of light which appeared upon the drawing of their swords; the sudden production of the Pandæmonium; the artificial illumination made in it. ADDISON.

o As schen heaven': fire

Hath scathed. This is a very beautiful and close simile: it represents the majestic stature and withered glory of the angels; and the last with great propriety, since their lustre was impaired by thunder, as well as that of the trees in the simile: and besides, the blasted heath gives us some idea of that singed, burning soil on which the angels were standing. Homer and Virgil frequently use comparisons from trees, to express the staturo or falling of a hero; but none of them are applied with such variety and propriety of circumstances as this of Milton. See “An Essay upon Milton's Imitation of the Ancients," p. 24.-Newton.

p Thrice he assay'd, and thrice, in spite of scorn,

Tears, such as angels weep, burst forth. He bad Ovid in his thought, Met. xi. 419:

Ter conata loqui, ter fletibus ora rigavit.-BEXTLEY. The turn of the words bears a near resemblance to Spenser, Faer. Qu. I. II. 41:

Thrice he assaid it from his foote to draw,

And thrice in vain to draw it did assay.
As also to Sackville, “ Induction, Mirror for Magistrates,” st. last :-

Thryse he began to tell his doleful tale,

And thryse the sighs did swallow up his voyce.-BOWLE.

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How such united force of gods, how such
As stood like these, could ever know repulse ?
For who can yet believe, though after loss,
That all these puissant legions, whose exilé
Hath emptied heaven, 9 shall fail to reascend
Self-raised, and repossess their native seat ?
For me, be witness all the host of heaven,
If counsels different or dangers shunn'd
By me have lost our hopes : but he, who reigns
Monarch in heaven, till then as one secure
Sat on his throne, upheld by old repute,
Consent, or custom; and his regal state
Put forth at full; but still his strength conceald,
Which tempted our attempt, and wrought our fall.
Henceforth his might we know, and know our own;
So as not either to provoke, or dread
New war, provoked: our better part remains
To work in close design, by fraud or guile,
What force effected not; that he no less

At length from us may find, Who overcomes
· By force, hath overcome but half his foe.

Space may produce new worlds, whereof so rife
There went a fame in heaven,' that he ere long
Intended to create, and therein plant
A generation, whom his choice regard
Should favour equal to the sons of heaven.
Thither, if but to pry, shall be perhaps
Our first eruption; thither or elsewhere;
For this infernal pit shall never hold
Celestial spirits in bondage, nor the abyss
Long under darkness cover. But these thoughts
Full counsel must mature : peace is despair'd;
For who can think submission ? war then, war,
Open or understood, must be resolved.

He spake; and, to confirm his words, outflew
Millions of flaming swords, drawn from the thighs
Of mighty cherubim; the sudden blaze
Far round illumined hell:* highly they raged

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9 IIath emptied heaven. It is conceived that a third part of the angels fell with Satan, according to Rev. xii. 4.-NEWTON.

r There went a fame in heaven. There is something wonderfully beautiful, and very apt to affect the reader's imagination, in this ancient prophecy or report in heaven concerning the creation of man. Nothing could show more the dignity of the species than this tradition, which ran of them before their existence: they are represented to have been the talk of heaven before they were created. Virgil, in compliment to the Roman commonwealth, makes the heroes of it appear in their state of pre-existence; but Milton does a far greater honour to mankind in general, as he gives us a glimpse of them even before they are in being.-Addison.

$ The sudden blaze

Far round illumined hell. Another true Miltonic picture.

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Against the Highest, and fierce with grasped arms
Clash'd on their sounding shields the din of war,
Hurling defiance toward the vault of heaven.

There stood a hill not far, whose grisly top
Belch'd fire and rolling smoke; the rest entire
Shone with a glossy scurf; undoubted sign
That in his womb was hid metallic

ore,
The work of sulphur. Thither, wing'd with speed,
A numerous brigad hasten’d; as when bạnds
Of pioneers, with spade and pickaxe arm’d,
Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,
Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on;t
Mammon, the least erected spirit that fell
From heaven; for ev'n in heaven his looks and thoughts
Were always downward bent: admiring more
The riches of heaven's pavement, trodden gold,
Than aught divine or holy else enjoy'd
In vision beatific: by him first
Men also, and by his suggestion taught,
Ransack'd the centre, and with impious hands
Rifled the bowels of their mother earth
For treasures better hid. Soon had his crew
Open'd into the hill a spacious wound,
And digg’d out ribs of gold. Let none admire
That riches grow in hell; that soil may best
Deserve the precious bane. And here let those
Who boast in mortal things, and wondering tell
Of Babel, and the works of Memphian kings,
Learn how the greatest monuments of fame,
And strength, and art, are easily outdone
By spirits reprobate; and in an hour
What in an age they with incessant toil
And hands innumerable scarce perform.
Nigh on the plain, in many cells prepared,
That underneath had veins of liquid fire
Sluiced from the lake, a second multitude
With wondrous art founded the massy ore,
Severing each kind, and scumm'd the bullion dross :
A third as soon had form'd within the ground
A various mould, and from the boiling cells
By strange conveyance fill'd each hollow nook:
As in an organ," from one blast of wind,

t Mammon led them on. This name is Syriac, and signifies riches. “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon," Matt. vi. 24. Mammon is by some supposed to be the God of riches, and is accordingly personified by Milton, and had been before by Spenser; whose description of Mammon and his cave, Milton seems to have had his eye upon in several places.-Newton.

u And hands innumerable scarce perform. There were 360,000 men employed for near twenty years upon one of the Pyramids, according to Diodorus Siculus, lib. i., and Pliny, lib. xxxvi. 12.—Newtox.

v As in an organ. This simile is as exact as it is new: and we may observe, that Milton frequently

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To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes.
Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
Rose, like an exhalation,w with the sound
Of dulcet symphonies and voices sweet;
Built like a temple, where pilasters round
Were set, and Doric pillars overlaid
With golden architrave: nor did there want
Cornice or frieze with bossy sculptures graven;
The roof was fretted gold. Not Babylon,
Nor great Alcairo such magnificence
Equal'd in all their glories, to inshrine
Belus or Serapis, their gods; or seat
Their kings, when Ægypt with Assyria strove
In wealth and luxury. The ascending pile
Stood fix'd her stately highth: and straight the doors,
Opening their brazen folds, discover wide
Within her ample spaces o'er the smooth
And level pavement: from the arched roof,
Pendent by subtle magic, many a row
Of starry lamps and blazing cressets, fed
With naphtha and asphaltus, yielded light
As from a sky. The hasty multitude
Admiring enter'd, and the work some praise,
And some the architect: his hand was known
In heaven by many a tower'd structure high,
Where sceptred angels held their residence,
And sat as princes; whom the supreme King
Exalted to such power, and gave to rule,
Each in his hierarchy, the orders bright.
Nor was his name unhcard or unadored
In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land
Men called him Mulciber; and how he fell
From heaven' they, fabled, thrown by angry Jove
Sheer o'er the crystal battlements: from morn
To noon he fell, from noon to dewy eve,
A summer's day; and with the setting sun
Dropp'd from the zenith like a falling star,
On Lemnos, the Ægean isle; thus they relate,
Erring; for he with this rebellious rout
Fell long before; nor aught avail'd him now

To have built in heaven high towers; nor did he 'scape fetches his images from music, more than any other English poet; as he was very fond of it, and was himself a performer upon the organ and other instruments.--NEWTON.

w Rose, like an exhalation. Peck supposes that this hint is taken from some of the moving scenes and machines invented by Inigo Jones, for Charles the First's masques.

x And how he fell From hearen, dc. Alluding to Homer, II. i. 590, &c. It is worth observing how Milton lengthens out the time of Vulcan's fall. Ho not only says with Homer, that it was all day long; but we are led through the parts of the day, from morn to noon, from noon to evening, and this a summer's day. See also Odyss. vii. 288.-Newton.

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