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28. —"i. e., heard the grey-fly at what time (i. e., when) she winds her sultry horn" (T.). The grey-fly is said to be the trumpet-fly, which is heard in the heat of noon, whence sultry.
29. —battening: feeding. The word is more accurately used in the intransitive sense of "growing fat."
30. —star: usually understood as Hesperus, the evening star, and an early draft of the lines shows Milton had this in mind at one time. But critics have pointed out that strictly speaking this star does not rise at sunset, but merely becomes visible then. Moreover, it is already sloping toward heaven's descent when it first appears. Perhaps Milton meant to signify the all-night sederunts of fellow-students, in which case the reference would be to any star rising in the evening and setting in the morning.
33. —tempered to: harmonized with.
34. —Satyrs were the sportive divinities of the fields in Greek mythology; and were later identified with the j Fauns of the Romans who also were half men, half goats.
36.—Damcetas: a familiar name in the.pastorajs. iHere it may be taken as standing for any of the• older men in authority about the University.
45. —canker: the canker-worm that gnaws the hearts of flowers.
46. —taint-worm. The particular worm referred to is not known, weanling: lately weaned.
48.—white-thorn: the hawthorn, as distinguished from the black-thorn or sloe.
50-63.—This passage addressed to the nymphs has been shown to be imitated from Theocritus (Idyls i) and Vergil (Eclogues x).
52.—steep. Milton doubtless had in mind some mountain on the coast •of Wales near the spot where King was drowned.
53. —bards. In calling the Druids bards, Milton has in rcind the fact that they were the minstrels as well as the priests of the Celts.
54. —Mona: the Latin name for the island of Angelsey, off the Welsh coast.
55. —Deva: the river Dee, which flows along the boundary of Wales into the Irish Sea. wizard: with supernatural associations. The origin of these associations is diversely explained. "The river was supposed to be a haunt of magicians, and was so described by Spenser and Drayton" (T.). "It was supposed to foretell, by changing its course, good or ill events for England and Wales, of which it forms the boundary" (V.). There isno reason why Milton should not have had both points in mind. *
56. —fondly: foolishly. Cf. II Pens., ver. 6 and note.
58. —Calliope: the muse of epic poetry, and mythical mother of Orpheus.
59. —enchanting: in the literal sense of using enchantments, viz., his music.
61.—On the loss of Eurydice, Orpheus so disdained all other women that he enraged the Thracian women, who tore him to pieces. His head was thrown into the river Hebrus, and borne to the island of Lesbos, where it was buried. See note on L'All., ver. 145-50. rout: an unruly band.
64.—what boots it: what good is it?
66. —shepherd's trade: as generally in pastoral poetry, this figure stands for the writing of verse, meditate: cultivate, practise. Cf. Camus, ver. 547 and note, thankless. The epithet is probably meant to imply not so much that the Muse is ungrateful as that her service brings no profit from the world.
67. —use: are accustomed to do.
67-70.—These lines have usually been interpreted as referring to the amatory poetry of the Cavalier lyrists such as Herrick. But if the contrast with ver. 66 be held to strictly, does it not rather mean the abandonment of poetry altogether for the life of pleasure—of the Cavalier if you like? Amaryllis and Necera are stoik names for the heroines of classical love poetry.
70.—clear. The word here may be taken as combining the senses of "pure," "unsullied," and of the Lat. clams, illustrious.
I 71.—The weakness which is the last to be overcome by the noble mind. 73.—guerdon: recompense.
75. —Fury. Of the three Fates, Clotho spun the thread of life, Lachesis measured the lengths, and Atropos cut them off. If Atropos is meant here, as seems'probable, Milton uses Fury for Fate. Blind Fury expresses more passionately his feeling of the mad unreason of such a premature cutting off as is the subject of the poem.
76. —slits: cuts off. In this sense the same word will serve to govern praise.
77. —Phoebus: introduced here as the god of poetry. touched . . . ears. "The action was a symbolical way of recalling a matter to a person's memory, the ear being regarded as the seat of memory" (Conington, quoted by V.). M. interprets trembling ears as an allusion to the popular superstition that a person's ears tingle when people are speaking of him in his absence. Milton thus, he thinks, shows himself conscious of the applicability of the passage on Fame to himself.
79, 80.—The general sense seems to be as follows:— Fame does not consist in the showy achievements (—glistering foil) exhibited (=set off) to the world, nor in broad rumor, foil: gold or silver leaf, such as was placed under transparent gems to increase their brilliance.
82.—Jove: God The word is used here to preserve the consistency of the classical nomenclature.
83.—lastly: finally, without appeal.
85. —The lament is resumed here, after the digression on fame. Arethuse. Arethusa was a spring in the island of Ortygia in the port of Syracuse in Sicily. It is used here in allusion to the Sicilian school of pastoral poets, Theocritus, Bion, and Moschus.
86. —Mincius: the stream by which Vergil was born and which he hononred by his poetry. It flows into the Po near Mantua. Here it is used in allusion to Vergil's pastoral poems, vocal: because used for shepherds' pipes.
87. —that strain: the speech of Phcebus. mood: used technically for "kindof music."
£8.—i. e., I go on playing on my oaten pipe, or resume my pastoral poem.
89. —Herald: Triton, who was Neptune's trumpeter.
90. —came . .. plea. This may mean either (1) came to hold a court of inquiry on behalf of Neptune, or (2) came in defence of Neptune (by laying the blame on one of the minor powers).
91. —;felon: because presumably guilty of the death of King.
96.—Ilippotades. yEolus, the god of the winds, wasthe son of Hippotes.
99.—Panope, one of the sea-nymphs called nereids, or daughters of Nereus (hence sisters).
101.—eclipse. Eclipses were regarded as of ill-omen.
103. —Camus: the god of the river Cam, here used to represent the University, footing slow may refer to the sluggish stream of the Cam, or may be part of the representation of Camus as an old man.
104. —hairy: i. e., with river-weeds, sedge: a coarse grass that grows on the banks of rivers.
105. —figures dim: faint designs—taken by some to be symbolical of the old traditions of Cambridge.
106. — sanguine: bloody (the literal meaning). The flower is the hyacinth, named after the mythical Spartan youth Hyacinthus. He was killed by a quoit thrown by Apollo, but blown aside by Zephyrus, who wasjealous-of the youth's love for Apollo. From hie blood sprang the , flower, and on its petals the words, Ai, Ai (alas, alas!) f were supposed to be traceable. f
107. —reft: snatched away, pledge: child (a translation of the Lat. pignus, which is used in both senses).
111. —pilot: St. Peter. He is introduced as the founder of the Church, in which King had intended to take orders. The belief that Peter is the keeper of the keys of heaven is derived, from Matthew, XVI, 19, and the tradition of the number has grown up in the Church. The difference in metal and function is due to Milton. amain: with force.
112. — mitred: wearing a mitre, as a dignitary of the Cliurch. bespake: used simply in the sense of "spoke." The modern use is restricted,
114. —enow: poetical form of "enough."
115. —"First, those who creep into the fold: who do
not care for office or name, but for secret influence
Then those who intrude (thrust, that is) themselves into the fold, who, by natural insolence of heart, and stout eloquence of tongue, and fearlessly perseverant self-assertion, obtain hearing and authority with the common crowd. Lastly, those who climb, who by labour and learning, both stout and sound, but selfishly exerted in the cause of their own ambition, gain high dignities and authorities, and become 'lords over the heritage,'though not 'ensamples to the flock.'"
—Ruskin: Sesame and Lilies, \ 21.
117. —shearers' feast: i. e., the endowments meant for Vh'e working clergy.
118. —worthy bidden guest: cf. Matthew, XXII, 1-9.