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His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In dismal dance about the furnace blue;
Trampling the unshow'r'd grass with lowings loud; 215
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud;
ed. 1615. fol. a popular book in o with which they were wont to Milton's time, is a description" overwhelm the shrieks of the of the sacrifices and image of “ sacrificed infants.” In BurMoloch, exactly corresponding net's treatise De statu mortuorum with this passage, and with Par. et resurgentium, there is a fine Lost, i. 392. where see the note. picture of the rites of Moloch. But the imagery is introduced Milton like a true poet, in deinto the Paradise Lost with less scribing the Syrian superstitions, effect. There the dreadful cir- selects such as were most incumstances of this idolatrous teresting to the fancy, and most worship are only related ; in our susceptible of poetical enlargeOde they are endued with life ment. T. Warton. and action, they are put in mo. 212. --the dog Anubis] Virg. tion before our eyes, and made Æn. viii. 698. latrator Anubis. subservient to a new purpose of 215. --the unshow'r'd grass] the poet by the superinduction There being no rain in Egypt, of a poetical fiction, to which but the country made fruitful they give occasion. “ The sul- with the overflowings of the “ len spirit is fled, and has left Nile. Richardson. “ in solitude and darknes's his Tibullus of the Nile, burning image; the priests
Te propter nullos tellus tua supplicat “ dancing with horrid gesticu- imbres, « lations about the blue furnace Arida necpluviosupplicat herba Jovi. « from which his idol was fed
T. Wurton. 66 with fire, in vain attempt to, 218. —shroud ;] Shelter, hid. “ call back their grisly king ing-place. See note on Par. « with the din of those cymbals Lost, x. 1068. E.
In vain with timbrell’d anthems dark
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine :
XXVI. So when the sun in bed, Curtain’d with cloudy red,
227. Our Babe to show &c.] In to be of much higher antiquity. the printed copies it is
Shakespeare has made an admiOur Babe to shew his Godhead true :
rable use of this popular idea.
Haml. a. i. s. 1. where a vulgar but this pitiful jingle could not be Milton's. He undoubtedly Eamely vanish without a cause,
poet would have made the ghost wrote it show. Calton.
and without that preparation to 229. So when the sun, &c.] speak, which so greatly heightens Our author has here beautifully the interest. T. Warton. applied the vulgar superstition We will cite the passage in of spirits disappearing at the Prudentius above referred to; break of day, as the groundwork of a comparison. The
Ferunt vagantes dæmonas,
Lætos tenebris noctium false gods of every heathen re
Gallo canente exterritos ligion depart at the birth of
Sparsim timere, et cedere: Christ, as spectres and demons
Invisa nam vicinitas vanish when the morning dawns. Lucis, salutis, numinis, See L'Allegro, 114. and Par. Reg. Rupto tenebrarum situ, iv. 426_431. The moment of
Noctis fugat satellites. the evanescence of spirits was We find the superstition two supposed to be limited to the hundred years before Prudencrowing of the cock. This be- tius, in Philostratus's Life of lief is mentioned by Prudentius, Apollonius Tyanæus. There the Cathem. Hymn. i. 38. But some ghost of Achilles, that had apof his commentators, and those peared to Apollonius, vanishes not easily to be found, prove it at once in the midst of a con
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
Each fetter'd ghost slips to his several grave,
Time is our tedious song should here have ending;
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending:
versation, with a slight flash of in his Progress of Pvesy, st. ii. 1. lightning, συν αστραπη μετρια, as
Dunster. soon as the cocks began to crow,
239. Pillows his chin upon an gog on xao anextquoves son mòns orient wave] The words pillows ATTOUTO. Philostr. Vit. Apollon. and chin throw an air of burlesque iv. 16.
and familiarity over a comparison The circumstance of ghosts most exquisitely conceived and disappearing at day-break is re- adapted. With the next three ferred to by several of the Latin lines, The flocking shadows pale, poets. Thus Claudian,
&c. Mr. Bowle: compares the Dixit, et afflatus vicino sole refugit. passage, above mentioned, in the And in Propertius, l. iv. el. 7. Mids. Night's Dream. the ghosts say of themselves,
And yonder shines Aurora's har. Nocte vagæ ferimur; nox clausas binger ; liberat umbras,
At whose approach ghosts, wandering Errat et abjecta Cerberus ipse fera.
here and there, Luce jubent Jeges Lethæa ad stagna Troop home to church-yards; damned reverti, &c.
spirits all Shakespeare has very poetically That in cross-ways and floods have
burial, described this supposed effect of
Already to their wormy beds are gone. day-break, Mids. Night's Dream, a. iii, sc. the last. See also Cow- Fly after the night-steeds, &c. ley's Hymn to Light, st. 10. and a very poetical mode of express17. But perhaps no poet hasing the departure of the fairies more happily availed himself of at the approach of morning. this old superstition than Gray, T. Warton.
And all about the courtly stable
244. Bright-harness'd] Dressed, they can often attain sublimity, armed, accoutred.
Arnese in which is even a characteristic of Italian is a general name for all that species of poetry. We have kinds of habits and ornaments. the proof before us. Richardson.
“ Milton never learned the art of Harness is used for armour in “ doing little things with grace. our translation of the Bible. If little things mean short poems, 1 Kings xx. 11. Let not him that Milton had the art of giving girdeth on his harness, boast him- them another sort of excellence. self, as he that putteth it off. T. Warton. Exod. xiii. 18. The children of * It appears from the beginIsrael went up harnessed out of ning of this poem, that it was the land of Egypt.
composed after, and probably 244. Paradise Regained was soon after, the ode on the Natranslated into French, and tivity. printed at Paris in 1730. To * It was perhaps a College which the translator added Ly- exercise at Easter, as the last at cidas, L'Allegro, i Penseroso, Christmas. T. Warton. and this Ode on the Nativity. But 4. My muse with angels did the French have no conception divide to sing.) See Spenser, of the nature and complexion of F. Q. iii. i. 40. Milton's imagery.
And all the while sweet music did A great critic, in speaking of divide Milton's smaller poems, passes
Her looser notes with Lydian har. over this Ode in silence, and ob
mony. serves, “ all that short composi. As Horace, Ode i. xv. 15. “ tions can commonly attain is
Imbelli cithara carmina divides. neatness and elegance." But Odes are short compositions, and which Vossius, with his usual
In wint’ry solstice like the shorten'd light Soon swallow'd up in dark and long out-living night.
II. For now to sorrow must I tune my song, And set my harp to notes of saddest woe, Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long, Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so, Which he for us did freely undergo:
Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide,
refinement, explains by alternate The next line, headlong joy is singing. In Catull. p. 239. ed. ever on the wing, is elegant and 1684. Compare Seneca, Hercules, expressive. But Drayton more @t. 1080. and Spenser, F. Q. i. poetically calls joy, v. 17. Perhaps he says that, in -the swallow-winged joy. the preceding ode, “his muse
T. Warton. " with angels did divide to sing,' 22. These latest scenes] So it is because she then " joined her in the second edition of 1673; “ voice to the angel quire," as at in the former of 1645 it is These v. 27.