Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

300

Unspeakable ; for who, though with the tongue
Of angels, can relate, or to what things
Liken on earth conspicuous, that may lift
Human imagination to such highth
Of Godlike pow'r? for likest gods they seem’d,
Stood they or mov'd, in stature, motion, arms,
Fit to decide the empire of great heaven.
Now wav'd their fiery swords, and in the air
Made horrid circles ; two broad suns their shields 30.3
Blaz'd opposite, while expectation stood
In horror ; from each hand with speed retird,
Where erst was thickest fight, th' angelic throng,
And left large field, unsafe within the wind
Of such commotion ; such as, to set forth
Great things by small, if, nature's concord broke,
Among the constellations war were sprung,
Two planets rushing from aspect malign

310

298. -can relate, &c.] The very fine they are, but fall very accusative case after the verbs short of the sublimity of this relate and liken is fight before description. mentioned, and here understood. 306. --while expectation stood For who though with the tongue

In horror ;] of angels can relate that fight, or Expectation is personified in to what conspicuous things on earth the like sublime manner in can liken it, so conspicuous as to Shakespeare, Hen. V. act ii. lift human imagination &c. A For now sits expectation in the air. general battle is a scene of too 313. Two planets &c.] Milton much confusion, and therefore seems to have taken the hint of the poets relieve themselves and this simile from that of Virgil, their readers by drawing now but varied and applied to his and then a single combat be- subject with his usval judgment. tween some of their principal Æn. viii. 691. heroes, as between Paris and

-pelago credas innare revulsas Menelaus, Hector and Ajax, Cycladas, aut montes concurrere Hector and Achilles in the Iliad,

montibus altos. and between Turnus and Pallas, But (as Mr. Thyer observes) be Æneas and Mezentius, Turnus has lessened the grandeur and and Æneas in the Æneid; and sublimity of this simile by tar

Of fiercest opposition in mid sky
Should combat, and their jarring spheres confound. 315
Together both with next to' almighty arın
Up-lifted iinminent, one stroke they aim'd
That might determine, and not need repeat,
As not of pow'r at once; nor odds appear'd
In might or swift prevention : but the sword

320 Of Michael from the armoury of God

met

nishing it with the idle super- Was giv'o him temper'd so, that stitious notion of the malignancy

neither keen

Nor solid might resist that edge: it of planets in a particular aspect or opposition, as the judicial

The sword of Satan with steep force astrologers term it.

to smite 316. Together both with next Descending, and in half cut sheer ; to' almighty arm

This passage is a copy of that in Up-lifted imminent,]

Virgil, wherein the poet tells us, So I conceive the passage should that the sword of Æneas, which be pointed with the comma

was given him by a deity, broke after imminent, and not after into pieces the sword of Turnus, arm, that the words up-lifted

which came from a mortal forge. imminent may be joined in con

As the moral in this place is distruction with arm, rather than

vine, so by the way we may obwith stroke or they following. serve, that the bestowing on a The arm was quite lifted up,

man who is favoured by heaven and hanging over just ready to such an allegorical weapon, is fall. One thinks one sees it

very conformable to the old hanging almost like the stone in

eastern way of thinking. Not Virgil, Æn. vi. 602.

only Homer has inade use of it, Quos super atra silex jam jam lapo

but we find the Jewish hero sura cadentique

in the book of Maccabees, Imminet assimilis.

2 Maccab. xv. 15, 16. who had 321. - from the armoury of fought the battles of the chosen God] Milton, notwithstanding people with so much glory and the sublime genius he was master success, receiving in his dream of, has in this book drawn to his a sword from the hand of the assistance all the helps he could prophet Jeremiah. Addisun. meet with among the ancient Tasso likewise mentions the poets. The sword of Michael, armoury of God, cant. vii. st. 80. which makes so great a havoc But this account of Michael's among

the bad angels, was given sword seems to be copied from him, we are told, out of the Arthegal's in Spenser's Faery grmoury of God,

Queen, b. v. cant. i. st. 10.

[ocr errors]

Was given him temper'd so, that neither keen
Nor solid might resist that edge: it met
The sword of Satan with steep force to smite
Descending, and in half cut sheer; nor stay'd,

325

[ocr errors]

For of most perfect metal it was But he did not think this sufmade,

ficient, he was seosible that And was of no less virtue, than of fame.

Homer had still the advantage, For there no substance was so firm and therefore goes on after and hard,

seeming to have done with it, But it would pierce or cleave, whereso it came ;

-postquam arma dei ad Vulcania Ne any armour could his dint out

ventum est, ward,

Mortalis mucro, glacies ceu futilis, But wheresoever it did light it

ictu throughly shar'd.

Dissiluit: | fulva resplendent frag

mina arena. And this word shared is used in the same manner by Milton. And this beauty being more

325. —and in half cut sheer ;] imitable in our language than We have here a fair opportunity the seixaba Ti xut triga xos of Hoto observe how finely great mer, the excellent translator of geniuses imitate one another. Homer has here rather copied There is a most beautiful pas- Virgil than translated Homer. sage in Homer's Iliad. iii. 363.

The brittle steel, unfaithful to his where the sword of Menelaus in hand, a duel with Paris breaks in Broke short : | the fragments glitpieces in his hand; and the line

ter'd on the sand. in the original is so contrived, The sword of Satan is broken as that we do not only see the well as those of Paris and Turaction, as Eustathius remarks, nus, but is broken in a different but almost fancy we hear the manner, and consequently a difsound of the breaking sword in ferent kind of beauty is proper the sound of the words,

here. Their's broke short, and Τριχθα τι και τετραχθα διατρυφιν 18- were shattered into various frag.

ments; but the sword of Michael As this kind of beauty could

was of that irresistible sharpness, hardly be equalled by Virgil, he that it cut the sword of Satan has with great judgment substi- quite and clean in two, and the tuted another of his own, and dividing of the sword in half is has artfully made a break in the very well expressed by half a verse to express the breaking verse, as likewise the word deshort off the sword of Turnus scending is placed admirably to against the divine armour of express the sense. The reader Æneas, Æn. xii. 731, fc. cannot read it over again without -at perfidus ensis

perceiving this beauty. Neither Frangitur, | in medioque ardentem does Milton stop here, but deserit icty.

carries on beauties of the same

[ocr errors]
[merged small][ocr errors]

But with swift wheel reverse, deep ent’ring shar'd
All his right side: then Satan first knew pain,
And writh'd him to and fro convolv'd ; so sore
The griding sword with discontinuous wound .
Pass'd through him: but th' ethereal substance clos’d,
Not long divisible ; and from the gash
A stream of necta’rous humour issuing flow'd
Sanguine, such as celestial spi'rits may bleed,
And all his armour stain'd ere while so bright.
Forthwith on all sides to his aid was run

331

335

[ocr errors]

tan's pain,

SO sore

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

kind to the description of the wound an ichor, or pure kind of wound, and the verses seem al- blood, which was not bred from most painful in describing Sa- mortal viands; and that though

the pain was exquisitely great, - deep ent'ring shar'd

the wound soon closed up and All his right side : then Satan first healed in those beings who are knew pain,

vested with immortality. Addison. And writh'd him to and fro convolu'd ;

The reader perhaps would be The griding sword with discontinu. pleased to see the passage in ous wound

Homer here quoted, Iliad. v. Pass'd through him.

339. 329. The griding sword with

-ριε δ' αμβροτον αιμα θεοιο, discontinuous wound] Discontinu- Ιχυρ ολοσσιρ τι ρεει μακαρισσι θεοισιν. ous wound is said in allusion to Ου γαρ σιτον εδουσ', ου πινουσ κιθora the old definition of a wound,

Τούνια' αναιμους ισι, και αθανασοι that it separates the continuity of the parts, vulnus est solutio

From the clear vein a stream imcontinui: and griding is an old mortal flow'd, word for cutting, and used in Such stream as issues from a wounded Spenser, as in Faery Queen, b. ii. cant. viii. st. 36.

Pure emanation! uncorrupted flood ;

Unlike our gross, diseas'd, terrestrial That through his thigh the mortal

blood : steel did gride.

Por not the bread of man their life 332. A stream of nectarous

sustains, humour issuing flow'd

Nor wine's inflaming juice supplies

Pope. The passage wherein Satan is 335. —to his aid was run] A described as wounded by the Latinism; so we have ventum sword of Michael is in imitation est in the lines just before quoted of Homer. Homer tells us, that from Virgil, upon Diomedes wounding the

their veins. Sanguine,]

-postquam arma dei ad Vulcania gods, there flowed from the ventum est.

сс 8

God;

By angels many and strong, who interpos'd
Defence, while others bore him on their shields
Back to his chariot, where it stood retir'd
From off the files of war; there they him laid
Gnashing for anguish and despite and shame, 340
To find himself not matchless, and his pride
Humbled by such rebuke, so far beneath
His confidence to equal God in power.
Yet soon he heald; for spi'rits that live throughout
Vital in every part, not as frail man
In entrails, heart or head, liver or reins,
Cannot but by annihilating die
Nor in their liquid texture mortal wound
Receive, no more than can the fluid air:

345

was

can

336. —who interpos d] Thus quoted it just now. And we see Homer makes the chief of the here Milton's notions of angels. Trojans interpose between their They are vital in every part, wounded hero when he and receive no mortal overborne by Ajax. Satan lighted wound, and cannot die but by out of his sun-bright chariot at annihilation. They are all eye, ver. 103. and according to the all ear, all sense and understandHomeric manner, is now wound- ing: and can assume what kind ed, and borne (on the shields of of bodies they please. And Seraphim) back to it, where it these notions, if not true in diwas placed out of the range and vinity, yet certainly are very fine array of battle, Iliad. xiv. 428.

in poetry; but most of them are -Τον δ' αρ' έταιροι

not disagreeable to those bints Xogowy aupartis pigor ix nivou, ops' which are left us of these spiixso creous

ritual beings in Scripture. Ωκιας, οι οπισθι μαχης ηδε στολεμοιο Εστασαν, ηνιοχονσι και άρματα ποικιλ

848. Nor in their liquid texture

mortal wound inuch more loose and redundant Receive, no more than can the than our expressive author. fluid air :) Hume.

The same comparison in Shake344. --for spi'rits that live speare, Macbeth, act v. throughout &c.] Our author's reason for Satan's healing so

As easy may'st thou the intrenchant

air soon is better than Homer's

With thy keen sword impress, as upon a like occasion, as

make me bleed.

"XOVFis, &c.

we

« AnteriorContinuar »