Abbildungen der Seite
[merged small][ocr errors]

And all her various objects of delight
Annull’d, which might in part my grief have eas'd,
Inferior to the vilest now become
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me,
They creep, yet see, I dark in light expos’d
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors, or without, still as a fool,
In pow'r of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day!
O first created beam, and thou great Word,
Let there be light, and light was over all;
Why am I thus bereav'd thy prime decree?
The sun to me is dark
And silent as the moon,
When she deserts the night
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.

[ocr errors]



87. And silent as the moon, &c.]

The sun to me is dark,

And silent as the moon, There cannot be a better note

When she deserts the night on this passage than what Mr.

Hid in her vacant interlunar cave. Warburton has written on this verse of Shakespeare, 2 Henry 89. Hid in her vacant interVI. act i, sc. 8.

lunar cave.] Silens luna is the Deep night, dark night, the silent of moon at or near the change, and the night.

in conjunction with the sun. The silent of the night is a clas- Plin. i. lib. xvi. c. 39. The sical expression, and means an interlunar cave is here called interlunar night-amica silentia vacant, quia luna ibi vacat opere luna. So Pliny, Inter omnes et ministerio suo, because the verò convenit, utilissime in coitu moon is idle, and useless, and ejus sterni, quem diem alii inter- makes no return of light. Mealunii, alii silentis lunæ appellant. dowcourt. lib. xvi. cap. 39. In imitation of Alluding, I suppose, to the this language, Milton says, same notion, which he has aVOL. III.




Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,
She all in every part ; why was the sight
To such a tender ball as th' eye confin’d,
So obvious and so easy to be quench’d?
And not as feeling through all parts diffus’d,
That she might look at will through every pore?
Then had I not been thus exil'd from light,
As in the land of darkness, yet in light,
To live a life half dead, a living death,
And buried: but O yet more miserable !
Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave,
Buried, yet not exempt
By privilege of death and burial



dopted from Hesiod in his Para- 100. To live a life half dead, is dise Lost, vi. 4.

living death,] The same thought -There is a cave

occurs in the following passage Within the mount of God, fast by of Euripides, Supp. 966. his throne,

Και νυν απαις, ατεκνος Where light and darkness in perpetual round

Γηρασκω δυστηνοτατος, Lodge and dislodge by turns.

Ουτ' εν τοις φθιμενους,

Ουσ' εν ζωσιν αριθμουμενη,
See the note on this place. Thyer. Χωρις δη τινα τωνδ' ισχουσα μοιρα».

90. Since light so necessary is So also in Sophocles, Antig. 1183. to life, &c.] This intermixing of his philosophy very much

-τας γαρ ηδονας weakens the force and pathos of

“Οταν προδωσιν ανδρες, ου τιθημ' εγω

Ζην τουτον, αλλ' εμψυχον ηγουμαι νεκρον. Samson's complaint, which in

Thyer. the main is excellent, but I think not altogether so fine as the poet's 102. Myself my sepulchre, a lamentation of his own blindness moving grare,] This thought is at the beginning of the third not very unlike that of Gorgias book of the Paradise Lost; so Leontinus, who called vultures much better does every body living sepulchres, γυπες εμψυχοι write from his own feeling and Tapos, for which he incurred the experience, than when he ima- indignation of Longinus; whegines only what another would ther justly or no I shall not say. say upon the same occasion.




From worst of other evils, pains and wrongs,
But made hereby obnoxious more
To all the miseries of life,
Life in captivity
Among inhuman foes.
But who are these for with joint pace I hear
The tread of many feet steering this way;
Perhaps my enemies, who come to stare
At my affliction, and perhaps t insult,
Their daily practice to afflict me more.

This, this is he; softly a while,
Let us not break in upon him ;
O change beyond report, thought, or belief!
See how he lies at random, carelessly diffus'd,
With languish'd head unpropp’d,
As one past hope, abandon'd,
And by himself given over ;
In slavish habit, ill-fitted weeds
O'er-worn and soild;
Or do my eyes misrepresent? Can this be he,
That heroic, that renown'd,
Irresistible Samson? whom unarm'd





111. —steering this way;] If Latins. So Ovid ex Ponto. iii. this be the right reading, the iii. 7. metaphor is extremely hard and

Publica me requies curarum somnus abrupt. A common man would

habebat, have said bearing this way. War- Fusaque erant toto languida membra burton. 118. See how he lies at random,

Thyer. carelessly diffus'd,] This beautiful So Virgil, fusi per herbam, application of the word diffused Æn. i. 214. and in many other Milton has borrowed from the places. E.


No strength of man, or fiercest wild beast could with

stand ; Who tore the lion, as the lion tears the kid, Ran on imbattled armies clad in iron, And weaponless himself, Made arms ridiculous, useless the forgery Of brazen shield and spear, the hammer'd cuirass, Chaly'bean temper'd steel, and frock of mail Adamantean proof; But safest he who stood aloof, When insupportably his foot advanc’d, In scorn of their proud arms and warlike tools, Spurn’d them to death by troops. The bold Ascalonite Fled from his lion ramp, old warriors turn'd Their plated backs under his heel ; Or grov'ling soild their crested helmets in the dust. Then with what trivial weapon came to hand, The jaw of a dead ass, his sword of bone, A thousand fore-skins fell, the flow'r of Palestine,



133. Chaly' bean temper'd steel,} he had before used Ægean for That is, the best tempered steel Ægéan, and Thyestean for Thyeby the Chalybes, who were fa- stéan. mous among the ancients for 136. When insupportably his their iron works. Virg. Georg. i. foot advanc'd,] For this nervous 58.

expression Milton was probably

indebted to the following lines At Chalybes nudi ferrum

of Spenser, Faery Queen, b. i. The adjective should be pro- cant. vii. st. 11. nounced Chalybean with the third

That when the knight he spied, he syllable long according to Hein

'gan advance sius's reading of that verse of With huge force, and insupportable Ovid, Fast. iv. 405.


Thyer. Æs erat in pretio : Chalybeïa massa

188. The bold Ascalonite) The latebat :

inhabitant of Așcalon, one of the but Milton makes it short by the five principal cities of the Philisame poetical liberty, with which stines, mentioned, 1 Sam. vi. 17.



In Ramath-lechi famous to this day.
Then by main force pulld up, and on his shoulders bore
The gates of Azza, post, and massy bar,

Up to the hill by Hebron, seat of giants old,
No journey of a sabbath-day, and loaded so;
Like whom the Gentiles feign to bear up heaven.
Which shall I first bewail
Thy bondage or lost sight,
Prison within prison
Inseparably dark?
Thou art become (О worst imprisonment !)
The dungeon of thyself; thy soul
(Which men enjoying sight oft without cause complain)



[ocr errors]

145. In Ramath-lechi famous ner Milton designed them. Sympto this day.] Judges xv. 17.-he cast away the jaw-bone out of his 147. ---post, and massy bar,] hand, and called that place Ra- Mr. Meadowcourt proposes to math-lechi, that is, the lifting up read posts, as being more conof the jaw-bone, or casting away formable to Scripture, Judges of "the jaw-bone, as it is rendered xvi. 3. And Samson lay till midin the margin of our Bibles. night, and arose at midnight, and

147. The gates of Azza.] If took the doors of the gate of the the poet did not think the allite- city, and the two posts, and went ration too great, he possibly away with them, bar and all: would have wrote

and posts is certainly better on The gates of Gaza.

this account, but perhaps Milton So he does within six lines of might prefer post as somewhat

of a softer sound. the end of this play,

148. _Hebron, seat of giants whence Gaza mourns.

old,] For Hebron was the city I cannot help remarking the of Arba, the father of Anak, and great difference there is betwixt the seat of the Anakims. Josh. Ben Johnsun's Chorusses, and xv. 13, 14. And the Anakims our author's. Old Ben's are of a were giants, which come of the poor similar regular contexture; giants. Numb. xiii. 33. our author's truly Grecian, and 157. --oft without cause comnoble, diversified with all the plain] So Milton himself cormeasures our language and po- rected it, but all the editions etry are capable of, and I am continue the old erratum comafraid not to be read in the man- plained.



« ZurückWeiter »