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So were I equalled with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides,"
And Tiresias,- and Phineus, prophets old :
Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers ;3 as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus, with the year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine ;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature's works, to me expunged and rased,
And wisdom4 at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.


He soon Saw within ken a glorious angel stand, The same whom John saw 6 also in the sun : His back was turned, but not his brightness hid :

desires to resemble; and those he distinguishes both with the epithet 'blind' to make the likeness more striking.” He adds, “ It seems therefore as if Milton had intended at first to mention only these two, and then currente calamo had added the two others."

(1) Mæonides-Homer, so called from Mæonia, the supposed place of his birth,

(2) And Tiresias, &c.—Dr. Pearce proposes to correct the false accent in this line, by making “ Tiresias” and “Phineus” change places.

(3) Thoughts that voluntary, &c.—This, it has been well observed, is perhaps one of the best definitions of poetry that could be framed.

(4) And wisdom, &c.—i.e. and presented with wisdom, enfeebled and disparaged; or rather, perhaps, this is an instance of the nominative absolute, wisdom being, &c.

(5) “ Paradise Lost,” book iii. “ The figures introduced here,” remarks Hazlitt, “have all the elegance and precision of a Greek statue; glossy and impurpled, tinged with golden light."

(6) John saw—“And I saw an angel standing in the sun." Rev. xix. 17.

Of beaming sunny rays a golden tiar?
Circled his head; nor less his locks behind
Illustrious ? on his shoulders, fledge with wings,
Lay waving round; on some great charge employed
He seemed, or fixed in cogitation deep.
Glad was the Spirit impure, as now in hope
To find who might direct his wandering flight
To Paradise, the happy seat of man,
His journey's end, and our beginning woe.3
But first he casts to change his proper shape,
Which else might work him danger or delay :
And now a stripling cherubs he appears,
Not of the prime, yet such as in his face
Youth smiled celestial, and to every limb
Suitable grace diffused, so well he feigned :
Under a coronet his flowing hair
In curls on either cheek played; wings he wore

many a coloured plume, sprinkled with gold;
His habit? fit for speed succinct, and held
Before his decent steps a silver wand.
He drew not nigh unheard ; the angel bright,
Ere he drew nigh his radiant visage turned,
Admonished by his ear, and straight was known
The archangel Uriel, one of the seven
Who in God's presence, nearest to his throne,
Stand ready at command, and are his eyes 9
That run through all the heavens, or down to th' earth
Bear his swift errands over moist and dry,
O'er sea and land.


(1) Tiar-tiara, or diadem-the ornamental headdress of Eastern princes.
(2) Ilustrious-bright, glossy.
(3) 'Our beginning woe—the first cause of woe to us—a Latinism.
(4) Casts-casts in his mind, contrives a plan.

(5) Stripling cherub, &c.—"A finer picture of a young angel,” says Newton, “ could not be drawn by the pencil of Raphael than is here by the pen of Milton."

(6) Prime—first or highest dignity.

(7) His habit succinct- i. e. his robe was tucked or looped up for freedom of action; he was prepared for motion.

(8) Decent—as the Latin decens, graceful, comely.

(9) His eyes, &c.—“Those seven, they are the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth.” Zech. iv. 10.


OTHOU! that, with surpassing glory crowned,
Look’st from thy sole dominion like the God
Of this new world;2 at whose sight all the stars
Hide their diminished heads; to thee I call,
But with no friendly voice, and add thy name,
O Sun! to tell thee how I hate thy beams,
That bring to my remembrance from what state
I fell-how glorious once above thy sphere !--
Till pride and worse threw me down
Warring in Heaven against Heaven's matchless King.
Ah, wherefore! He deserved no such return
From me, whom he created what I was
In that bright eminence, and with his good
Upbraided none; nor was his service hard.
What could be less4 than to afford him praise,
The easiest recompence, and pay him thanks,
How due! yet all his good proved ill in me,
And wrought but malice; lífted up so high
I’sdainedó subjection, and thought one step higher
Would set me highest, and in a moment quit
The debt immense of endless gratitude,
So burdensome, still paying, still to owe:
Forgetful what from him I still received ;
And understood not that a grateful mind
By owing owes not, but still pays, at once
Indebted and discharged; what burden then ?
Oh! had his powerful destiny ordained
Me some inferior angel, I had stood

(1) “Paradise Lost,” book iv. “ The opening of this speech to the sun,” says Addison, “is very bold and noble. It is, I think, the finest ascribed to Satan in the whole poem.” The consummate skill, too, with which the poet describes the conflict of passions in the mind of Satan is commended by the same judicious critic.

(2) This new world-Satan has now alighted on earth, and from the top of Mount Niphates thus addresses the sun, which “sat high in his meridian tower.” The ruined archangel, the mighty orb of day, the lone mountain-summit, each the greatest of its kind, present in their combination a magnificent picture.

(3) Worse ambition-worse, because it led to daring impiety and its retribution. (4) What could be, &c.i. e. what service could be less hard, &c. (5) I'sdained—I disdained. (6) So burdensome, &c.-i. e. it being so burdensome, &c.

Then happy; no unbounded hope had raised
Ambition. Yet why not? some other power
As great might have aspired, and me, though mean,
Drawn to his part; but other powers as great
Fell not, but stand unshaken, from within
Or from without, to all temptations armed.
Hadst thou the same free will and power to stand ?
Thou hadst. Whom hast thou then, or what, to accuse,
But Heaven's free love, dealt equally to all ?
Be then his love accursed, since love or hate,
To me alike, it deals eternal woe.
Nay, cursed be thou; since against his thy will
Chose freely what it now so justly rues.
Me miserable! which way shall I fly
Infinite wrath, and infinite despair ?

way I fly is hell; myself am hell!
And, in the lowest deep, a lower deep
Still threatening to devour me opens wide,
To which the hell I suffer seems a heaven.



So on he fares, 2 and to the border comes
Of Eden, where delicious Paradise,
Now nearer, crowns with her enclosure green,
As with a rural mound, the champaign head 3
Of a steep wilderness, whose hairy sides
With thicket overgrown, grotesque and wild,

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(1) “Paradise Lost,” book iv. This beautiful description has been compared with the finest specimens of the same kind, as Homer's description of the gardens of Alcinous, and of Calypso's shady grotto, Ariosto's of the garden of Paradise, Tasso's of the garden of Armida, and Marino's of the garden of Venus, and though doubtless a general imitation of some of them, is thought greatly to exceed them all. In reference to Milton's power of delineating external scenery, Macaulay remarks ("Edinburgh Review," vol. xlii.):-"Neither Theocritus nor Ariosto had a finer or a more healthful sense of the pleasantness of external objects, or loved better to luxuriate amidst sunbeams and flowers, the song of nightingales, the juice of summer fruits, and the coolness of shady fountains. His poetry reminds us of the miracles of Alpine scenery. Nooks and dells, beautiful as fairyland, are embosomed in its most rugged and gigantic elevations. The roses and myrtles bloom unchilled on the verge of the avalanche.”

(2) Fares—from the Anglo-Saxon far-an, to go-goes. We have the same element in “ thoroughfare”-i.e. through-go.

(3) Champaign head, &c.-Open top or table-land of a steep hill, whose rough and prickly sides were covered with a wild growth of thickets and bushes.

Access denied; and over-head? up grew
Insuperable height of loftiest shade,
Cedar and pine, and fir, and branching palm,
A sylvan scene; and, as the ranks ascend
Shade above shade, a woody theatre
Of stateliest view. Yet higher than their tops
The verdurous wall of Paradise up sprung ;
Which to our general sire gave prospect large
Into his nether empire neighbouring round:
And higher than that wall a circling row
Of goodliest trees, loaden with fairest fruit, 3
Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,
Appeared with gay enamelled colours mixed;
On which the sun more glad impressed his beams,
Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
When God hath showered the earth ; so lovely seemed
That landscape : and of pure* now purer air
Meets his approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All sadness

but despair : now gentle gales,
Fanning their odoriferous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow
Sabæan odours from the spicy shore
Of Araby the blest; with such delay
Well pleased they slack their course, and many a league
Cheered with the grateful smell old Ocean smiles :
So entertained those odorous sweets the fiend
Who came their bane.
Beneath him with new wonder now he views,
To all delight of human sense exposed,
In narrow room, Nature's whole wealth, yea, more,

(1) Overhead, &c.-i. e. overhead above these thickets, on the side of the hill likewise, grew the loftiest trees, rising one above another like the seats of an amphitheatre.

(2) Verdurous walli.e. a sort of bank set with a green hedge, over which Adam could look downwards on Eden. All the scenery hitherto described is outside of the garden itself.

(3) Fruit-used here in the sense of produce, including both blossoms and fruit.

(4) Of pure, &c.Of frequently implies change of circumstance, as in “Paradise Lost,” book x., v. 720_"O miserable of happy.”

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