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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 ; 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
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 exile
Hath emptied heaven, 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.
633. Hath emptied hearen. “It is con- | xii. 4; but Satan here talks big, Rua seived that a third part of the angels magnifies their number."-NEWTON. fell with Satan, according to Revelations
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
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 bands
Of pioneers, with spade and pickaxe arm’d,
Forerun the royal camp, to trench a field,
Or cast a rampart. Mammon led them on;
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 their 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,
To many a row of pipes the sound-board breathes.
Anon out of the earth a fabric huge
674. The work of Sulphur. Sulphur 690. Admire, used in the sense of the was apciently thought the generator of Latin admiror, " to wonder at.” gold.-678. Mammon is Syriac, and sig- 703. Founded, that is melted. nities “ riches."
Rose, like an exhalation, 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 unheard or unadored
In ancient Greece; and in Ausonian land
Men call’d 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
By all his engines; but was headlong sent
With his industrious crew to build in hell.
Meanwhile the winged heralds, by command
Of sovran power, with awful ceremony
And trumpet's sound, throughout the host proclaim
A solemn council forthwith to be held
711. This sudden rising of Pandemo 740. And how he fell. Observe how mium is supposed to be taken from some Milton lengthens out the time of Vulof the moving stage-scenes in the time of can's fall. It was not only all day long, Charles the First.
but we are led through the parts of the 728. Cressets, beacon lights, which had day,-- from morn to noon, then from & cross on their top, and hence called noon to dewy eve; and, to add to the Toisettes.
effect, it was a summer's day.
At Pandæmonium, the high capital
Of Satan and his peers: their summons call’d
From every band and squared regiment
By place or choice the worthiest; they anon
With hundreds and with thousands trooping came
Attended: all access was throng'd; the gates
And porches wide, but chief the spacious hall,
(Though like a cover'd field, where champions bold
Wont ride in arm’d, and at the soldan's chair
Defied the best of Panim chivalry
To mortal combat, or career with lance)
Thick swarm’d, both on the ground and in the air,
Brush'd with the hiss of rustling wings. As bees
In spring time, when the sun with Taurus rides,
Pour forth their populous youth about the hive
In clusters: they among fresh dews and flowers
Fly to and fro, or on the smoothed plank,
The suburb of their straw-built citadel,
New rubb’d with balm, expatiate, and confer
Their state affairs: so thick the aery crowd
Swarm’d and were straiten’d; till, the signal given,
Behold a wonder! they, but now who seem'd
In bigness to surpass Earth's giant sons,
Now less than smallest dwarfs, in narrow room
Throng numberless, like that Pygmëan race
Beyond the Indian mount; or faery elves,
Whose midnight revels, by a forest side,
Or fountain, some belated peasant sees,
Or dreams he sees, while over-head the moon
Sits arbitress, and nearer to the earth
Wheels her pale course: they, on their mirth and dance
Intent, with jocund music charm his ear:
At once with joy and fear his heart rebounds.
Thus incorporeal spirits to smallest forms
Reduced their shapes immense, and were at large,
Though without number still, amidst the hall
Of that infernal court. But far within,
And in their own dimensions, like themselves,
The great seraphic lords and cherubim
In close recess and secret conclave sat;
A thousand demi-gods on golden seats,
Frequent and full. After short silence then,
And summons read, the great consult began.
In tracing the progress of this poem by deliberate and minute steps, our wonder and admiration increase. The inexhaustible invention cuntinues to grow upon us: each page, each line, is pregnant with something new, picturesque, and great: the condensity of the matter is without any parallel: the imagiuation often contained in a single passage is more than equal to all that secondary poets have produced: the fable of the voyage through Chaos is alone a sublime poem. Milton's descriptions of materiality have always touches of the spiritual, the lofty, and the empyreal.
Milton has too much condensation to be fluent: a line or two often conveys a world of images and ideas : he expatiates over all time, all space, all possibilities: he unites earth with heaven, with hell, with all intermediate existences, animate and inanimate; and his illustrations are drawn from all learning, historical, natural, and speculative. In him, almost always, “more is meant than meets the ear.” An image, an epithet, conveys a rich picture.
What is the subject of observation may be told without genius; but the wonder and the greatness lie in invention, if the invention be noble, and according to the principles of possibility.
Who could have conceived, ---or, if conceived, who could have expressed,—the voyage of Satan through Chaos, but Milton? Who could have invented so many distinct and grand obstacles in his way? and all picturesque, all poetical, and all the topics of intellectual meditation and reflection, or of spiritual sentiment?
Al the faculties of the mind are exercised, stretched, and elevated at once by every page of “ Paradise Lost."
Invention is the first and most indispensable essential of true poetry; but not the only one: the invention must have certain high, moral, sound, wise qualities: and, in addition to these, such as are picturesque or spiritual. It is easy to invent what is improbable or unnatural. Nothing will do which cannot command our belief.
Inventions either of character, imagery, or sentiment, taken separately in small fragments, may still have force and merit; but when they form an integral and appropriate part of a long whole, how infinitely their power, depth, and bearings, are increased !
In poetry, we must consider both the original conceptions and the illustrations : each derives interest and strength from the other: a mere copy of an image drawn from nature may have some beauty ; but the invention and the essential poetry lie in their complex use, when applied as an embodiment to something intellectual. Imagery is almost always 80 used by Milton; and so it was used by Homer and Virgil. This gives a new light to the mind of the reader, and creates combinations which perhaps did not before exist: the poet thus spiritualises matter, and materialises spirit. When what is presented is merely such scenery of nature as the painter can give by lines and colours, it falls far short of the poet's power and charm. Poctry, purely descriptive, is not of the first order.
There are lines in the “ Paradise Lost," which would seem to be mere abstract opinions; but they are not so; inset as they are into the course of a sublime, dense-wove narrative, they derive colour and character