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1. 69. daughters of Necessity ;-the Fates, so called by Plato (Republic, x. ad fin.). Necessity holds a spindle of adamant, and with her daughters she presides over the courses of the heavenly bodies. Nine Muses sit above the spheres, which in their revolutions produce the most ravishing harmony. To this harmony sing the Fates. Meanwhile, the spindle placed on the lap of Necessity is also turning. The music of the spheres, inaudible to men, consists of eight melodies, of which the music of the ninth sphere is the diapason or concentus. (Warton.) Cf. Solemn Music 6 (note).
1. 73. Cf. Lorenzo's speech, immediately before the entrance of the musicians (Merchant of Venice, v. 1), and Solemn Music 26. 1. 89. Cf. •Not perceable by power of any starre.”
(Faery Queene, I. i. 7.) 1. 93. deity ;-as a title like 'her Majesty.' So in Gloucester's speech, (Richard III. i. I) about Lord Hastings' petition to Jane Shore, 'complaining to her deity.'
1. 97. Ladon ;-a river in Arcadia.
1. 98. Lycæus ;-a mountain in Arcadia whereon Pan was born and worshipped.
Cyllene ;—the highest mountain in Peloponnesus, on the borders of Arcadia, the birthplace of Hermes, whose temple was at the top.
1. 100. Erymanthus and Manalus are Arcadian mountains, the latter the favourite resort of Pan.
1. 106. Syrinx ;-a nymph pursued by Pan. She fled into the Ladon, and was changed into a reed, of which Pan made his flute.
Professor Masson has the following remarks on the origin of Comus. They give, in a condensed form, the history of the subject :--Critics have pointed out that in writing Comus Milton must have had before him analogous compositions by some previous writers, more especially the Old Wives' Tale of the dramatist Peale (1595); Fletcher's pastoral of The Faithful Shepherdess, which had been revived as a royal play for twelfth-night, and also at the theatres in 1633-4; Ben Jonson's masque of Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue (1619), in which masque Comus is one of the characters; and, most especially of all, a Latin Poem entitled • Comus' by Erycius Puteanus (Henri du Puy, Professor of Eloquence at Louvain), 1608, and republished at Oxford in 1634. Coincidences as regards the plan, the characters, and the imagery, are undoubtedly discernible between Comus and these compositions. Infinitely too much, however, has been made of such coincidences. After all of them, even the most ideal and poetical, the feeling in reading Comus is that all here is different, all peculiar. The peculiarity consists no less in the power and purity of the doctrine, than in the exquisite literary finish; and, doctrine and poetry together, this one composition ought to have been sufficient, to use the words of Mr. Hallam, " to convince any one of taste and feeling that a great poet had arisen in England, and one partly formed in a different school from his conteniporaries."
A wild wood. The Inferno begins in a wood, the Pilgrim's Progress in the wilderness of this world. Cf. Faery Queene, I. i. 7.
1. 1. Milton, in his lines to Manso, speaks of the 'aether of the heavenhoused gods, whither labour, and the pure mind, and the fire of virtue, carry us.'
1. 2. mansion ;-abiding-place, as in John xiv. 2. Milton uses the word for a resting-place, whether temporary (Il Penseroso 93) or permanent (Psalm cxxxvi. 49, Milton's paraphrase).
those ;—those well-known, certainly existent. Cf. Paradise Lost, iii. 483. 1. 3. Cf. Il Penseroso, 88. 1. 5. dim ;-i. e. as seen from the regions mild.'
1.7. pester'd ;-crowded, from Ital. pesta, a crowd. In Shakespeare it is used as = 'plagued,' and as if from Ital. peste, a plague (Troilus and Cressida, V. I; i Henry IV. i. 3).
pin-fold;-sheep-fold, but also a “pound,' for strayed cattle (Two Gentlemen of Verona, i. 1).
1. 10. change here has its old meaning of a figure in a dance, as in Love's Labour's Lost, v. 2,
•Then in our measure do but vouchsafe one change,' and in the revels in Ford's Broken Heart, v. 2. Milton elsewhere speaks of the world's vain mask' (Sonnet xvii). The conclusion of Jeremy Taylor's sermon on the House of Feasting connects the leading thought of the Comus, the praise of temperance, with the further advance in the same direction, the scorn of delight, indicated in Lycidas :- I end with the saying of a wise man (Epictetus). He is fit to sit at the table of the Lord and to feast with saints, who moderately uses the creatures which God hath given him ; but he that despiseth even lawful pleasures, shall not only sit and feast with God, but reign together with Him, and partake of His glorious kingdom.' Cf. Rev. iv. 4, whence the faithful are denoninated by ecclesiastical writers the oúv povou of Christ. Note the alliteration in this passage, 11. 5, 11.
1. 13. Cf. Lycidas 111.
1. 16. Ambrosia was the food of the gods, as nectar was their drink. Ambrosial is used here, as in Greek, in the general sense of heavenly.'
1. 20. bigb;- Jove ruled in the upper air; nether Jove in Hades (Paradise Lost, i. 516). Ovid calls Pluto, Jupiter Stygius. Cf. Iliad xv. 190-192.
1. 21. sea-girt iles;—See below on I. 50. Cf. Gaunt's speech, Richard II. ii. 1.
1. 29. The sea-nymphs in Spenser (Faery Queene, IV. xi. 48) are • deckt with long green hair.'
1. 31. mickle ;-great. See Glossary to Spenser's Faery Queene, Book I. 1. 32. Cf. Aeneid i. 21. 1. 37. perplex't ;-entangled, from Lat. plecto, to twist. 1. 43. Cf. Horace, Odes, iii. 1. 2, and Paradise Lost, i. 16.
1. 45. The hall of the chieftain, and the bower of the lady are often thus joined by Spenser, and by Scott, who was imbued with the spirit of old romance and ballad.
1. 48. after the Tuscan mariners (had been) transform’d;—a similar construction occurs in Paradise Lost, i. 573. The story of the mariners who carried off Bacchus, and were transformed into dolphins, is told in the Homeric Hymn to Dionysus, and in Ovid (Metamorphoses, iii. 660, &c.).
1. 49. listed ;-willed. Cf. John iii. 8. 1. 50. fell on is the Latin phrase 'incidere in.' For Circe see Odyssey x.
iland. A.S. ea-land. The s was inserted in this word and in “isle' from a notion that both came, through the French, from .insula.' Who knows not Circe? is imitated from Poor Colin Clout (who knows not Colin Clout ?)'
(Faery Queene, VI. X. 16.) 1. 54. Cf. Paradise Lost, iv. 303, Samson Agonistes 568.
1. 58. Comus, whom Aeschylus makes akin to the Furies, had figured in Jonson's masques as the god of good cheer.
1. 60. Celtic and Iberian fields ;-France and Spain.
1. 61. ominous ; — portentous, hazardous. Originally indifferent in its meaning, ominous' acquired a bad sense. Thus · if anything should happen' means anything unfortunate, and usually the thing feared by all (Paradise Lost, ii. 123; Paradise Regained, iv. 481).
1.76. This effect of forgetfulness is not Homeric. The companions of Ulysses are sensible of their degradation. Warton quotes Plutarch's dialogue of Gryllus, wherein some of the victims of Circe, disgusted with the vices and vanities of human life, refused to be re-transformed. Cf. Faery Queene, II. xii. 86, and note thereon, in this series.
1. 79. adventrous ;- full of adventures, like the forests in the Faery Queene. Cf. Il Penseroso 119.
glade ;-an opening in a forest; here, by synecdoche, for the whole wood. (Keightley.) 1. 80. Cf. Paradise Lost, i. 745.
glancing ;-Cf. Paradise Lost, xi. 442, Samson Agonistes 1284. I. 83. Cf. Paradise Lost, xi. 442. 1. 92. viewless. Cf. Paradise Lost, iii. 518, Passion 50, and note there.
1. 93. The morning star is called the “unfolding star' in Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, iv. 2. · I. 96. Alluding to the hissing of the sea as the sun's chariot plunged into it, * Audiet Herculeo stridentem gurgite solem.'
(Juvenal, xiv. 280.) Cf. Faery Queene, I. i. 32.
1. 97. steep ;- deep, like altus' and our 'high' sea, sea at a great distance from the shore.
1. 105. rosy twine ;-wreaths of roses. See note on line 151.
1. 108. Advice ;-consideration, deliberation. Cf. note on Paradise Lost, ii. 376.
1. 110. saws ;-thing said, proverbs. The justice in Shakespeare (As You Like It, ii. 7) is full of wise saws.' 1. 111. The stress is on fire. Cf. Cleopatra,
"I am fire, and air; my other elements
I give to baser life.' (Antony and Cleopatra, v. 2.) 1. 112. Allusion to the music of the spheres. Cf. line 1021; Arcades 69, 73 (notes).
1. 116. morrice, a Moorish dance, brought by the Moors into Spain, and thence to England by John of Gaunt, as it is said.
1. 118. pert;—perhaps contracted from pretty.' Cf.
(Midsummer Night's Dream, i. I), where activity is indicated, as here. Dapper is explained as “pretty in the Glossary to Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar (October). Milton (History of England) has ‘little dapper men.'
1. 121. wake was the vigil before a holyday, and was applied to the festivities which celebrated the anniversary of the consecration of a church. In 1633 Laud maintained the wakes against the remonstrances of the judges, who represented them to be the occasion of much immorality. These and other festivals, obnoxious to the graver sort, were favoured by the Court lest the people should go to tippling houses, and there talk of matters of Church and State, or into conventicles.'
1. 129. Cotytto;-goddess of the Edoni of Thrace. Her festival was held by night, and resembled that of the Thracian Cybele. Her worship, notorious for the licence of its rites, became naturalised in Greece, especially at Corinth.
1. 131. See note on Il Penseroso 59.
1. 132. spets is used by Sylvester for spits.' The same form of the word occurs in Spenser and in Drayton.
1. 139. nice (from French niais, foolish), fastidious. In Shakespeare it usually bears the meaning of 'foolish': e.g. * Every idle, nice, and wanton reason.'
(2 Henry IV. iv. I.) Indian ;-Cf. Tennyson's In Memoriam, xxvi.
•Ere yet the morn Breaks hither over Indian seas.' 1. 141. tell-tale ;—The Sun disclosed to Hephaestus (Vulcan) the infidelity of Aphrodite (Venus). (Odyssey, viii. 270.)
1. 144. Cf. L'Allegro 34. round= a dance: e. g. Sellenger's or St. Leger's round. (Macbeth iv. I; Midsummer Night's Dream, ii. 2.) 1. 147. shrouds ;-hiding-places; as in a masque of Jonson's,
. But here must be no shelter, nor no shroud
For such. 1. 151. wily trains ;-trains of wiles. "Train' is used by Spenser for snare. See Glossary to Faery Queene, Bk. I. The word is only once thus used in Shakespeare (Macbeth, iv. 3).
1. 154. spungy air means the air which retains the dazzling spells' hurled into it by Comus.
1. 155. To blear the eye ; – to deceive, throw dust in the eyes. The expression is as old as Chaucer's time, and occurs in Taming of the Shrew, V. I.
1. 157. quaint ;-See note on Nativity 194.
1. 161. glozing ;- deceitful, flattering. The word (A.S. glosynge) is used by Chaucer, Spenser, and Shakespeare, and is connected with gwooa, an interpretation (gloss) of a text. The text, observes the friar in the Sompnour's Tale, is hard, and therefore wol I teche you ay the glose.
1. 168. gear ;-business, from A.S. geren, to set in order. See Glossary to Faery Queene, II. Garre.
1. 179. wassailer ;-drinker of healths, reveller. Wassail' was the wish
of health (A. S. waes bael), then used for festivity, and (as an adjective) compounded with bowl, cup, candle, &c.
1.180. feet ;—for the whole person, as in Samson Agonistes 355, and Luke i. 79.
1. 189. votarist ;-one who had vowed a pilgrimage. •Palmer's weed' (Faery Queene, II. i. 52) is thus described by Drayton,
Himself a palmer poor in homely russet clad;' with which compare
The morn in russet mantle clad.' (Hamlet i. 1.) The derivation of palmer is variously given; from their obtaining the palm of religion, or from carrying a palm-branch (Nares), or from bringing back palm from the gardens of Jericho (Keightley). Cf. note to Faery Queene, II. i. 8.
1. 195. thievish night is an expression used by Phineas Fletcher.
1. 199. Cf. “Ye ever-burning lights above' (Othello iii. 3); “Night's candles are burnt out' (Romeo and Juliet, iii. 5).
1. 203. rife ;-common, prevalent. (Nares.) Perhaps connected with ‘ripe.' (Keightley.) The two words form a various reading in Midsummer Night's Dream, v. 1, 'sports are rife.'
1. 204. single darkness ;-darkness only. Cf. • Thou singly honest man' (Timon of Athens, iv. 3).
1. 207. These lines are supposed by Warton and Todd to be based upon passages in Marco Polo's Travels, and in Heywood's Hierarchy of Angels. In a quotation from the latter work, benighted travellers are related to have seen three strange human shapes, that called and beckoned to them. But the Tempest may well have suggested the whole imagery.
1. 212. side is used as a verb, meaning 'to accompany,' in Ford's Lady's Trial, i. 1, where Auria says that he has sided bis superior.' I. 214. girt;-surrounded (Nativity 202; Paradise Lost, i. 581, note).
golden wings;—Cf. Il Penseroso 52. 1. 215. Chastity, instead of Charity, the usual companion of Faith and Hope. (Keightley.)
1. 230. Warton refers the origin of this address to Echo to Ben Jonson's Cynthia's Revels, or Browne's Inner Temple Mask. The MS. reading is
cell.' Juliet speaks of the cave where Echo lies.' The • airy shell' is the hemisphere, the hollow round of Cynthia's seat,' Nativity 102. (Keightley.)
1. 232. Meander ;-a Phrygian river. In its lower course it forms the boundary of ancient Lydia and Caria, and flows in those windings that have made its name a descriptive verb.
1. 234. love-lorn;- deprived of her love. The dismissed bachelor' (Tempest iv. I) is ‘lass-lorn.'
l. 235. Cf. Virgil, Georgics, iv. 513-515.
I 241. Echo is supposed here to have her origin from the reverberation of the music of the spheres. (Cf. Solemn Music 2.)
1, 242. re-sounding grace ;-grace of repetition.
1. 248. bis hidden residence ;-bis refers to something holy.' We should now use its. Its is of comparatively late use. Milton generally avoids the