Imagens da página

Full, to the utmost measure, of what bliss
Human desires can seek or apprehend ?"

To whom the angel : “Son of Heaven and Earth ! 520 Attend. That thou art happy, owe to God ;

That thou continuest such, owe to thyself,
That is, to thy obedience ; therein stand.
This was that caution given thee ; be advised.

God made thee perfect, not immutable ; 525 And good he made thee, but to persevere

He left it in thy power ; ordained thy will
By nature free, not overruled by fate
Inextricable, or strict necessity :

Our voluntary service he requires, 530 Not our necessitated ; such with him

Finds no acceptance, nor can find ; for how
Can hearts, not free, be tried whether they serve
Willing or no, who will but what they must

By destiny, and can no other choose ?
535 Myself, and all the angelic host,) that stand

In sight of God enthroned, | our happy state
Hold,) as you yours,] while our obedience holds ; |
On other surety none :] freely we serve,

Because we freely love, as in our will
540 To love or not; | in this we stand or fall :)

And some are fallen—to disobedience fallen,
And so from Heaven to deepest Hell !| O fall,
From what high state of bliss, into what woe !"
To whom our great progenitor :

Thy words 545 Attentive, and with more delighted ear,

Divine instructor ! I have heard, than when
Cherubic songs by night from neighbouring hills

520. Owe to God, i.e., know that thou owest.

531. The order is :-How can hearts not free, who will only what they must [will] by destiny, and can [will] no other, be said whether they serve willingly or no.

534. No other.-Nothing else. Other is used very freely by Milton for the neuter gender, as if answering the Latin aliud.

539. As in our will.-Elliptical phrase for it being placed in our will.

543. Compare 1. 91.


Aërial music send. Nor knew I not

To be, both will and deed, created free ; | 550 Yet) that we never shall forget to love

Our Maker, and obey him whose command
Single is yet so just, my constant thoughts
Assured me,) and still assure : ) though what (thou tellist]

Hath passed in Heaven, / some doubt within me move ; 555 But more desire to hear,) if thou consent, |

The full relation) which must needs be strange,
Worthy of sacred silence to be heard ;
And we have yet large day ; for scarce the Sun

Hath finished half his journey, and scarce begins 560 His other half in the great zone of Heaven."

Thus Adam made request ; and Raphael,
After short pause assenting, thus began :

High matter thou enjoin’st me, O prime of men ! Sad task and hard ; for how shall I relate 565 To human sense the invisible exploits

Of warring spirits ? how, without remorse,
The ruin of so many, glorious once
And perfect while they stood ? how, last, unfold

The secrets of another world, perhaps
570 Not lawful to reveal 1-Yet, for thy good,

This is dispensed ; and what surmounts the reach 548. See note on v. 421.

553, Thou tell'st must here be analysed 549. Both will and deed.-An imitation as a parenthetical sentence. of the so called Greek accusative. The 557. Worthy of sacred silence to be heard. meaning is, I know to be created free with We can say worthy of sacred silence, or respect to will and deed.

worthy to be heard ; but the two objects 552. Single is YBT 80 just. The force of cannot be joined. Perhaps we ought to read, the adversative yet is not at first sight ob- worthy in sacred silence to be heard. Milton vious; for, if the commands were many, had in his mind Horace, Ode ir. 13, 29. Adam might yet call them just and there- 566. Remorse.--Sorrow, grief. fore be ready to obey them; but as there 569. Perhaps.-Can the archangel be in was only one command, why should he call doubt? But here, as also v. 574 (“though it just nevertheless? If single meant sin- what if Earth,” &c.), the poet's own personal gular, strange, the difficulty would vanish. sentiment is put into the mouth of the angel. But it means the only one, and Adam's 571. And what surmounts the reach of reasoning implies, that there is nothing human sense ... best.—These lines contain capricious or irksome in this single re- an apology for the form of the following straint.

narrative, in which the conflict of spiritual

Of human sense, I shall delineate so,
By likening spiritual to corporal forms,

As may express them best ; though what if Earth 575 Be but the shadow of Heaven, and things therein

Each to other like, more than on earth is thought !

“ As yet this world was not, and Chaos wild Reign'd where these heavens now roll, where Earth now rests

Upon her centre poised; when, on a day, 580 (For time, though in eternity, applied

To motion, measures all things durable
By present, past, and future,) on such day
As Heaven's great year brings forth, the empyreal host

Of angels, by imperial summons called, 585 Innumerable before the Almighty's throne

Forthwith, from all the ends of Heaven, appeared,
Under their hierarchs in orders bright :
Ten thousand thousand ensigns high advanced,

Standards and gonfalons 'twixt van and rear 590 Stream in the air, and for distinction serve

Of hierarchies, of orders, and degrees ;
Or in their glittering tissues bear emblazed
Holy memorials, acts of zeal and love

Recorded eminent. Thus when in orbs 595 Of circuit inexpressible they stood,

Orb within orb, the Father infinite,
By whom, in bliss embosomed, sat the Son,
Amidst, as from a flaming mount, whose top

Brightness had made invisible, thus spake : beings is described as one of corporeal 593. The objects of bear are not memoforms. This apology is weakened by the rials and acts, but memorials and acts mental reserve, 574, though what if Earth, recorded. The latter expression is equiva&c.

lent to the record of acts. Comp. note on 583. Heaven's great year.---The ancient 1, 636. It is of course the record of acts philosophers frequently spoke of a great of zeal that is emblazed, not the acts themyear, comprising thousands of solar years, selves. as the period for a complete revolution of 594. After recorded supply as. all the heavenly bodies.

598. Amidst, scil. them. 589. Standards and gonfalons.—Gon- 598. Whose top brightness had made infalon, borrowed from the Italian, is the visible. Compare all. 380, "Dark with ex

cessive bright."

same as standard.

600 Hear, all ye angels, progeny of light,

Thrones, Dominations, Princedoms, Virtues, Powers !
Hear my decree, which unrevoked shall stand :
This day I have begot whom I declare

My only Son, and on this holy hill
605 Him have anointed, whom ye now behold

At my right hand ; your head I him appoint ;
And by myself have sworn, to him shall bow
All knees in Heaven, and shall confess him Lord.

Under his great vicegerent reign abide 610 United, as one individual soul,

For ever happy : him who disobeys,
Me disobeys; breaks union; and that day,
Cast out from God, and blessed vision, falls

Into utter darkness, deep ingulfed, his place 615 Ordained without redemption, without end.'

“ So spake the Omnipotent, and with his words
All seemed well pleased ;-all seemed, but were not all.
That day, as other solemn days, they spent

song and dance about the sacred hill; 620 Mystical dance ! which yonder starry sphere

Of planets, and of fixed, in all her wheels
Resembles nearest ; mazes intricate,
Eccentric, intervolved, yet regular

Then most, when most irregular they seem ; 625 And, in their motions, harmony divine

So smooths her charming tones, that God's own ear

600. Progeny of light.—Compare v. 458, “Divine effulgence.”

614. His place ordained, in Apposition to darkness.

620. Mystical dance.-Compare v. 178.

621. Fixed, i.e.,. stars; this substantive must be evolved from planets, which means wandering stars.

621. IVheels.-Revolutions. The idea of rotation lies at the bottom of a great number of cognate words, such as the Latin

volvo; the German wälzen, walzen, walze, welt; the English, wallow, wheel, whirl, world.

622. Mazes, in Appos. to dance, 620.

625. Their does not refer to planets (621), but to they (618). The poet leaves it uncertain how the harmony is produced, whether by instruments and singing (as 655), or as in the case of the mystic dance not without song (178) of the planets, merely by the dancing motion.

Listens delighted. Evening now approached ;
(For we have also our evening and our morn,-

We ours for change delectable, not need ;)
630 Forthwith from dance to sweet repast they turn

Desirous ; all in circles, as they stood,
Tables are set, and on a sudden piled
With angels' food ; and rubied nectar flows

In pearl, in diamond, and massy gold,
635 Fruit of delicious vines, the growth of Heaven.

On flowers reposed, and with fresh flowerets crowned,
They eat, they drink, and in communion sweet
Quaff immortality and joy, (secure

Of surfeit, where full measure only bounds 640 Excess) before the all-bounteous King, who showered

With copious hand, rejoicing in their joy.

“ Now when ambrosial night, with clouds exhaled From that high mount of God,) whence light and shade

Spring both, | the face of brightest Heaven had changed 645 To grateful twilight,) (for night comes not there

In darker veil,) and roseate dews disposed
All but the unsleeping eyes of God to rest
Wide over all the plain, and wider far)

627. Evening now approached.-Nomin. Absolute, for there is no conjunction at the beginning of 630.

628. Compare 162 and note. 631. Desirous is explained

436, “ with keen despatch of real hunger.”

638. Quaff immortality. This seems to imply that their immortality was the result of their drinking. Very different and very appropriate is the classical expression which Milton had in view; there the departed spirits drink oblivion in Lethe, longa oblivia potant.

639. Secure of surfeit, where full measure only bounds excess.---- Bentley despairs of understanding the meaning of these words. He therefore prefers the reading of the first edition,

They eat, they drink, and with refec

tion sweet Are filled before the all-bounteous

King, who showered " If we retain the additional lines of the edition of 1674, we must take only as a qualification of bounds, not of measure, and lay a strong emphasis on bounds. The sense then will be, where full measure has only the effect of bounding, i.e., limiting or preventing excess. Where there is always a full and bounteous supply, there is no temptation, even for human beings, to excessive indulgence at any particular time.

640. Showered.-- Transit. Verb without object. See 1. 259, note.

648. The words and wider far to Courts of God, are condemned by Bentley as an

« AnteriorContinuar »