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All is not lost; th’ unconquerable will,
And study of revenge, immortal hate,
That glory never shall his wrath or might
Extort from me.
With suppliant knee, and deify his power,
That were an ignominy’ and shame beneath
To bow and sue for grace 115
This downfall; since by fate the strength of Gods
This passage is an excellent improvement upon Satan's speech to the infernal Spirits in Tasso, cant. iv. st. 15. but seems to be expressed from Fairfax's translation rather than from the original.
We lost the field, yet lost we not our heart.
109. And nhat is else not to be overcome;] Here should be no note of interrogation, but only a semi-colon. The words And nhat is else not to be overcome signify Et si quid sit aliud quod superari nequeat, and if there be any thing else (besides the particulars mentioned) which is not to be overcome. Pearce.
110. That glory, &c.] That refers to what went before ; his unconquerable will and study of revenge, his immortal hate, and courage never to submit or yield, and what besides is not to be overcome ; these Satan esteems his glory, and that glory he says God never should extort from him.
And then begins a new sentence according to all the best editions, To bon, and sue for grace, &c.— that were low indeed, &c. that still referring to what went before; and by observing this punctuation, this whole passage, which has perplexed and confounded so many readers and writers, is rendered plain and easy to be understood.
116. since by fate, &c.] For Satan supposes the angels to subsist by fate and necessity, and he represents them of an empyreal, that is a fiery substance, as the Scripture itself doth; He maketh his angels spirits, and his ministers a flame of jire. Psal. civ. 4. Heb. i. 7. Satan disdains to submit, since the angels (as he says) are necessarily immortal and cannot be destroyed, and since too they are now improved in experience, and may hope to carry on the war more successfully, notwithstanding the present triumph of their adversary in heaven.
Since through experience of this great event
We may with more successful hope resolve
To wage by force or guile eternal war,
So spake th’ apostate Angel, though in pain,
Waunting aloud, but rack’d with deep despair:
And him thus answer'd soon his bold compeer. O Prince, O Chief of many throned Powers,
That led th’ embattled Seraphim to war
Under thy conduct, and in dreadful deeds
Fearless, endanger'd heav'n's perpetual king,
124. —the tyranny of heaven.] The poet speaking in his own person at ver. 42, of the supremacy of the Deity calls it the throne and monarchy of God; but here very artfully alters it to the tyranny of heaven. Thyer.
125. So spake th' apostate An
gel, though in pain, Waunting aloud, but rack'd with deep despair :]
The sense of the last verse rises finely above that of the former: in the first verse it is only said, that he spake though in pain: in the last the poet expresses a great deal more; for Satan not only spake, but he vaunted aloud, and yet at the same time he was not only in pain, but was rack'd with deep despair. Pearce.
The poet had probably in view this passage of Virgil, AEn. i. 212.
Talia voce refert; curisque ingentibus aeger
Spem vultu simulat, premit altum corde dolorem.
131. —endanger'd heav'n's perpetual king,) The reader should remark here the propriety of the word perpetual. Beélzebub doth not say eternal king, for then he could not have boasted of endangering his kingdom: but he endeavours to detract as much as he can from God's everlasting dominion, and calls him only perpetual king, king from time immemorial or without interruption, as Ovid says perpetuum carmen, Met. i. 4.
— primaque ab origine mundi Ad mea perpetuum deducite tempora carnlein.
What Beülzebub means here is
And put to proof his high supremacy,
That with sad overthrow and foul defeat
Hath lost us heav'n, and all this mighty host
Invincible, and vigour soon returns,
Though all our glory” extinct, and happy state
Of force believe almighty, since no less
Than such could have o'er-pow'r’d such force as ours)
Here in the heart of Hell to work in fire,
156. Whereto—] To what he had said last, which had startled Satan, and to which he thinks it proper to make a speedy reply. Speedy words are better applied here than tria, wrigoirra are always in Homer.
157. —to be weak is mise
Doing or suffering :] Satan having in his speech boasted that the strength of Gods could not fail, ver. 116. and Beélzebub having said, ver. 146, if God has left us this our strength entire to suffer pain strongly, or to do him mightier service as his thralls, what then can our strength avail us? Satan here replies very properly, whether we are to suffer or to work, yet still it
is some comfort to have our
Our strength is equal.
Pearce. 159. To do ought good never
will be our task, Dr. Bentley would read it thus,
To do ought good will never be our
as of a smoother and stronger accent: but I conceive that Milton intended to vary the accent of never and ever in the next Verse.
His inmost counsels from their destin’d aim. But see the angry victor hath recall’d
169. But see the angry victor hath recall'd, &c.] Dr. Bentley hath really made a very material objection to this and some other passages of the poem, wherein the good angels are represented, as pursuing the rebel host with fire and thunderbolts down through Chaos even to the gates of hell; as being contrary to the account, which the angel Raphael gives to Adam in the sixth book. And it is certain that there the good angels are ordered to stand still only and behold, and the Messiah alone expels them out of heaven; and after he has expelled them, and hell has closed upon them, vi. 880.
Sole victor from th' expulsion of his foes Messiah his triumphal chariot turn'd: To meet him all his saints, who silent stood Eye-witnesses of his almighty acts, With jubilee advanc'd.
These accounts are plainly contrary the one to the other: but the author doth not therefore contradict himself, nor is one part of his scheme inconsistent with another. For it should be considered, who are the persons that give these different accounts. In book the sixth the angel Raphael is the speaker, and therefore his account may be depended upon as the genuine and exact truth of the matter. But in the other passages Satan himself or some of his angels are the speakers; and they were
too proud and obstinate ever to acknowledge the Messial for their conqueror; as their rebellion was raised on his account, they would never own his superiority; they would rather ascribe their defeat to the whole host of heaven than to him alone; or if they did indeed imagine their pursuers to be so many in number, their fears multiplied them, and it serves admirably to express how much they were terrified and confounded. In book the sixth, 830, the noise of his chariot is compared to the sound of a numerous host; and perhaps they might think that a numerous host were really pursuing. In one place indeed we have Chaos speaking thus, ii. 996. , ,
and heav'n gates
Pour'd out by millions her victorious bands
But what a condition was Chaos in during the fall of the rebel angels? See vi. 871. Nine days they fell; confounded Chaos roar’d, And felt tenfold confusion in their fall Through his wild anarchy, so huge a rout Incumber'd him with ruin.
We must suppose him therefore to speak according to his own frighted and disturbed imagination; he might conceive that so much
Ruin upon ruin, rout on rout, Confusion worse confounded