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Line 1. That warning voice, &c. -Comp. Rev. xii. 12.
3. Second rout. — The first was that recorded in Books I. and VI. of this poem; with which, however, the second seems in some respects to agree. Comp. Rev. xii. 7, 8. But it is really impossible to extract any sure meaning from the mystic allegories of the Apocalypse.
8. Mortal. —Comp. Par. Lost, B. I., note, l. 2.
10. Accuser.-Comp. Rev. xii. 10. The Greek Sáßolos, slanderer, false accuser --whence our devil” – is first applied to Satan in the Wisdom of Solomon, ii. 24; but is frequent in the New Testament.
11. To wreak. - To revenge. This is the meaning of the A.-S. wroccan. Comp. Ger. rächen. The substantive, wraec, denotes any kind of vindictive punishment : hence the derivative wraeca, a wretch, one who has suffered evil; a meaning preserved in the adj. wretched. Many examples of wreak, used in the sense of to revenge," occur in the older English poets—e.g. Piers the Plowman, (Pass. V., l. 85):
“To wreke hym-self he thoughte with werkes or with wordes. Chaucer (Troylus and Cryseyde, B. I., l. 6):
“The ravysshyng to wreke of queene Heleyn
By Paris done.' Spenser (Faery Queene, B. I., c. xii., st. 16):
“And often blame the too importune fate
That heaped on him wrathful wreakes.” 17. Comp. Shakspeare (Hamlet, Act iii., sc. 4) :
“For 'tis the sport, to have the engineer
Hoist with his own petar.” 20. Comp. l. 75:
Which way I fly is Hell,--myself am Hell !" Milton here only gives a certain dread force of expression to the belief of early and mediaeval Christendom, whose imagination exhausted itself in conceiving the material horrors that afflicted the devil and his angels. A very curious passage, illustrative of this belief, occurs in Bede's Historia Ecclesiastica, Lib. V., cap. xiii : Ubicunque, vel in aere volitant, vel in terris, aut sub terris vagantur, sive detinentur, suarum secum ferunt tormenta flammarum.' 30. Comp. Virgil (Culex 41):
* Igneus aethereas jam Sol penetrabat in arces;”. which Spenser has translated :
The fiery sun was mounted now on hight
Up to the heavenly towers.” 32. Milton's original intention (according to Phillips) was to have written a tragedy on Adam un paradised, and this speech was, he adds, designed for the very beginning of this tragedy.” There is a more than Aeschylean grandeur in Satan's invocation. 34. Pope feebly imitates this expression in his Moral Essays (Ep. III., 282):
“Ye little stars ! hide your diminish'd rays." 37. Comp. the hatred of day expressed by Phaedra's nurse in the Hippolytus (l. 355):
'Εχθρον ήμαρ, εχθρόν εισορώ φάος.” 40. From the times of the early Fathers of the Church, there has been much futile speculation as to the cause of the fall of angels. Milton adopts here the opinion most commonly entertained. So Shakspeare (King Henry the Eighth, Act iii., sc. 2) makes Wolsey say:
“Cromwell, I charge thee, fling away ambition;
By that sin fell the angels." 44. And with his good upbraided none. -Comp. James i. 5.
50. Sdein'd.-Disdained. [It. sdegnare; Lat. dis and dignus.] The Italian form is frequent in the English poets of the sixteenth century. Spenser, Drayton, and Fairfax furnish examples.
55, 56. Comp. Cicero (De Officiis, II., 20): “Pecuniam qui habeat non reddidisse ; qui reddiderit, non habere ; gratiam autem et qui retulerit, habere, et qui habeat, retulisse;" and Shakspeare (Cymbeline, Act i., sc. 5): "Since when I have been debtor to you for courtesies, which I will be ever to pay and yet pay still."
79. O, then, at last relent.-- Keightley considers these words as addressed to God : but other critics, with equal probability, think that Satan is speaking to himself--ask. ing (in his sad argument) his stubborn heart to relent. The latter interpretation is the more poetical of the two.
79, 80. Comp. Heb. xii. 17.
87. Abide.- Endure. [A.-S. úbidan and bidan.] This is an old use of the word. Comp. “The pacient abyding of the righteous shall be turned to gladnesse; but the hope of the vngodly shall perish” (Bible, Prov. x., ed. 1539). “Bide” is still so used in Sc. -2.g., Burns' Winter Blast:
“Listening the doors and winnocks rattle,
I thought me on the ourie cattle,
O' winter war.” 111. Comp. the Virgilian “Divisum imperium cum Jove Caesar habet.” 112. Already Satan rules over Hell; he hopes soon to conquer Earth also, and thus
more than half perhaps will reign.” 121, 122. Keightley supposes that Milton had here in view the religious hypocrisies of his own day ; but he was quite enough of a Puritan to prefer seeking such among the orders of the Romish Church.
126. Assyrian mount.--Niphates divides Armenia from Assyria.
131, et seq. Milton's “Paradise” is a miracle of wild sylvan beauty. There is nothing like it in poetry; nothing so sweet, and fragrant, and gorgeous. All that his fancy had dreamed, or his eye beheld, or his memory retained, is pressed into service. Here and there we may detect a touch borrowed from a predecessor; but the effect of the whole is unique and original.
132. Milton places the garden, or “ Paradise," on the northern border of Eden; but according to Gen. ii. 8, it was in the east of Eden.
133. Crowns, &c.— The idea of placing the garden upon an eminence may have been suggested by the language of Ezekiel (xxviii. 13, 14): “ Thou hast been in Eden, in the garden of God.... Thou wast upon the holy mountain of God.” Dante and Ariosto had previously availed themselves of the prophet's imagery.
134. The champaign head. --The level top. “Champain" or champaign" (Fr. champagne ; It. campagna ; Lat. cam pania, from campus, "the open or level field ”] was formerly used in England as a substantive. Spenser, Drayton, Butler, &c., furnish examples. So, too, Milton himself (Par. Lost, B. VI., l. 1, 2):
All night the dreadless angel unpursu'd
Through Heav'ns wide champain held his way.” 140–142. Comp. Sidney's Arcadia (1633, p. 68): About it (as if it had been to enclose a theatre) grew such sort of trees as either excellency of fruit, statelinesse of growth, continual greennesse, &c., have made at any time famous. They became a gallery aloft, from tree to tree, almost round about.” It is possible enough that Milton had in view the " wooded pomp of Apennine" as he had beheld it in the vales of Tuscany. Goldsmith, alluding to the picturesque aspect of Italian scenery, uses the word theatric” (Traveller, l. 107, 108):
Its uplands sloping deck the mountain's side,
145. Nether empire. - Eden, of which “ delicious Paradise” is the spectacular mount."
147. Fairest fruit.-Milton uses the singular, “fruit,” when he speaks of it in the mass, as hanging on the tree; the plural, “fruits,” when he speaks of it as something to be gathered. Thus, in the next line we have “blossoms and fruits.” Comp. l. 249 and 422; B. V., l. 341 and 390; B. VIII., 1. 307; and Comus, l. 396.
148, 149. The meaning, somewhat obscurely expressed, is, that the fruits “of golden hue"
were mixed with blossoms of "gay enameli'd colours.” Enamel” is literally to fix in colours by the action of fire. (Lat. en, and 0. Eng. amel; probably from the Fr. émail, but connected with the It. smalto; Ger. schmelzen; and Mod. Eng. smelt and melt.]
153. Landscape, or landskip.--Lit., the “shape” or aspect of the land. [A.-S. landscipe.) This termination -scipe, denoting shape, condition, or dignity, is generally represented by the modern “ship.” Thus A.-S. fréond-scipe (friendship), weorth-scipe (worship), ealdor-scipe (eldership), &c. -Of pure. -After pure.
154. Inspires.—Breathes into. (Lat. inspirare.)
158. Native perfumes—i.e., perfumes exhaled naturally by flowers. — And whisper whence they stole, &c. --Shakspeare (Twelfth Night, Act i., sc. 1) has the same beautiful image :
That strain again ;—it had a dying fall :
Stealing and giving odour.” 159–165. The material of this splendid illustration occurs in Diodorus Siculus (Lib. III., 45), where the aromatic plants of Sabaea, or Arabia Felix, are described as yielding "inexpressible fragrance to the senses, not unenjoyed even by the navigator, though he sails by at a great distance from the shore. For, in the spring, when the wind blows off land, the odour from the aromatick trees and plants diffuses itself over all the neighbouring sea.” Hakluyt and other writers of books of travels make similar statements, which the seventeenth-century poets were not slow to make use of.
Thus Waller, in his Night Piece, says:
“So we the Arabian coast do know,
Though neither day nor stars appear.” But Milton is not correct in his geography. Overlooking (as a poetic hyperbole) the impossibility of Sabean odours ” being felt so far south of Arabia as Mozambic, the
north-east winds,” of which the poet speaks, would not bring perfumes from that region at all, but rather from India or Ceylon.
168-171. The incident referred to in these lines is narrated at length in the Book of Tobit. Asmodeus, there called “the evil demon" (το πονηρόν δαιμόνιον), and in the Talmud “the king of the demons,” is regarded as the Apollyon of the Apocalypse. He falls in love with a Jewish maiden, named Sara, dwelling in Ecbatana, and destroys the successive lovers to whom she had been betrothed. After her betrothal to Tobias, son of Tobit, he continues to persecute her, but is ultimately driven off by the angel Raphael, and flies to the uttermost parts (tà ávótata) of Egypt, where he is bound. Milton has seldom displayed such lack of taste as in this sad effort to be humorous.
172. Savage.— Woody. It was originally spelt“ salvage" (as in Spenser), and is from the It. selvaggio (Lat. silvaticus, from silva.]
175. Brake. --A thicket. The etymology is doubtful. If it is the same as the Ger. bruch, then its original meaning is a “woody marsh ;” but it may also be connected with the verb to break, and merely denote a broken or tangled mass of underwood. Others again connect it with bracken, a fern.
177. Past, for “would have passed."
181. This Book furnishes two other examples of a play upon words. Comp. I. 286 and 630. Shakspeare (who was particularly fond of this frivolity) makes Romeo say (Act i., 8c. 4):
I am too sore enpierced with his shaft,
I cannot bound a pitch above dull woe.” 182. Sheer.-A.-S. scír, clear. Comp. Ger. schier.
183. As when a prowling wolf, &c.--This illustration, and that which follows, of the thief, were probably suggested to Milton by the passage in St. John's Gospel (x. 1): “He that entereth not by the door into the sheepfold, but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” At least this opinion is favoured by the lines :
"So clomb the first grand thief into God's fold-
So since into his church lewd hirelings climb.” 186. Hurdld cotes are enclosures for sheep, formed of interlaced twigs. The radical meaning of hurdle (Ger. hürde; A.-S. hyrdel] is preserved in the Fr. hardeau, a 'withe ; but the analogous forms in English and German denote the frame of wickerwork rather than the twigs themselves
193. Lewd. — Used here in its original sense of “ignorant.” (A.-S. laewede, belonging to the leód, or people.”] In the eyes of churchmen, the people, or the laity (from Gr. naós), could hardly seem other than an ignorant mass; but the connection between ignorance and depravity is apt to be very real and close, so that the word gradually acquired its present meaning of “base,” or “profligate.” As it was not the fault of the nobles only that “villain” and churl" acquired their evil significance, so we need not suppose that clerical Phariseism is solely to blame for the degradation that befell lewd. Piers the Plowman, and writers before him, use the word only in the sense of ignorant, or unlearned; Chaucer in both senses; Shakspeare in its modern sense alone.
195. Comp. Gen. ii. 9; Rev. ii. 7.
196. Sat like a cormorant. —The cormorant is a sea-crow, and is, of course, rather out of place sitting on a tree in Paradise; but Milton was probably thinking of its proverbial voracity, when he selected it as a type of the Fiend, now greedy for the ruin of
The name cormorant is French; the first syllable [Lat. corvus) being superfluous, as morant is merely a form of the Armoric morvrau, sea-crow.
200. The critics are all puzzled by this passage; but the meaning is surely not difficult to ascertain. Milton does not expect us seriously to suppose that Satan could have
well used” the Tree of Life, and thereby secured immortal happiness; but his imagination is struck by the mere proximity of the fiend to the life-giving plant;" and to make the reader vividly realize what he himself has vividly felt, he speaks of what only seems possible as if it really were so.
210-214. According to Milton, Eden stretched from Auran, a city of Mesopotamia near the river Euphrates, to Seleucia on the Tigris, built by Seleucus I., one of the generals of Alexander the Great, and founder of the Graeco-Syrian monarchy; that is to say, it embraced the region of Telassar, possessed in earlier times by the children of Eden” (Isa. xxxvii. 12).
214. In this pleasant soil.-Milton is apparently thinking of the meaning usually given to the name Eden-“delight” or “softness."
221. Comp. Gen. ii. 9.
224-230. Keightley points out what he conceives to be certain resemblances between this description of Paradise and the introduction to the third Giornata of the Decamerone; but they are not particularly close.
229. Rose a fresh fountain, &c.—Comp. Gen. ii. 6 (Septuagint), where the word mist” of the Authorized Version is rendered by anyń, a spring. 233. Comp. Gen. ii. 10. 237. Crisped brooks. --Brooks with a rippled surface. (Lat. crispus.] 238. Orient pearl. ---Comp. B. I., l. 546. 239. Error. - Used in its classical sense of “wandering.” 241. Nice Art.-Scil., “had set.” A zeugma.
242. In beds and curious knots.-In Love's Labour's Lost (Act i., sc. 1) occurs the phrase, “Thy curious-knotted garden.". Boon-[Fr. bon; Lat. bonus) — kind or
liberal, and still used in this pure sense; but more frequently in the phrase "boon companion,” where it has the sense of genial, or even jovial.
246. Imbrown'd.—Comp. Il Penseroso, l. 134.
Flet tamen; et tepidae manant ex arbore guttae.
Est honor et lacrymis.” 250. Amiable. - Lovely. (Lat. amabilis.) The French aimable is so used. Comp. Shakspeare (Mids.-Night's Dr., Act iv., sc. 1), where Titania says to Bottom,
Come sit thee down upon this flowery bed,
While I thy amiable cheeks do coy.' Hesperian fables true-i.e., what was only fabled of the Hesperian gardens is true of Eden. Comp. Comus, note, l. 393.
255. Irriguous.—Well-watered. So Horace (Sat. II., iv., 16): “Irriguo nihil est elutius horto."
256. And without thorn the rose. --An allusion to Gen. iii. 18, where part of the curse which falls upon the earth in consequence of Adam's transgression is said to be that it should bring forth “thorns and thistles.” On this statement some of the Fathers of the Church allowed their fancy to work ; and Milton follows them. Herrick (Noble Numbers, ed. 1647, p. 71);
“Before man's fall, the rose was born
(Saint Ambrose sayes) without the thorn.” Tasso (Sette Giorn., III., 1165) has the same “rarity,” as Hurd calls it :
“Senza, quei suoi pungenti ispidi dumi
Spiego le foglie la purpurea rosa.” 257. Another side.—Scil., "displayed,” by zeugma. 258. Comp. Virgil (Buç., V., 6):
“Aspice, ut antrum
Silvestris raris sparsit labrusca racemis." 264. The birds their quire apply.--Apply is from applicare, and seems to have here the same sense as the Latin verb conserere, to join or associate. The birds blend their melody with that of the "murmuring waters" and the “vernal airs.” Comp. Spenser (Faery Quecne, B. III., c. i., st. 40):
Sweete birdes thereto applide
Their daintie layes and dulcet melodie.” 266. Universal Pan. — Comp. Hymn on the Nativity, note, l. 89.
267, 268. It was a belief of the ancient poets that the golden age of the world's pure infancy was an eternal spring.” Comp. Ovid (Met., I., 107):
“Ver erat æternum, placidique tepentibus auris
Mulcebant Zephyri natos sine semine flores.” The association of the Graces with the vernal season may be a reminiscence of Horace Od. I., iv., 6, 7);
“Junctæque Nymphis Gratiae decentes
Alterno terram quatiunt pede.” 269. Proserpin (Lat. Proserpina; Gr. Ilepoepówn, but in Homer llepoepóvela) was the daughter of Zeus and Demeter (Ceres). According to the Greek myth, she was gathering flowers upon the Nysian plain in Asia when the earth opened, and she was carried off by the king of Hades; but the Latin poets (whom Milton has followed) place the scene of her abduction in the plain of Enna in the heart of Sicily. Her mother was inconsolable at her loss, and wandered over the world in search of her lost daughter. Finally, Zeus sent Hermes to the Underworld to bring her back, When Dis (Gr. IIXOūtos, Riches) saw that he could not wholly retain Proserpina, he gave her a pomegranate, of which she ate, and in consequence she had to spend half of the year in the realm of shades. The myth is explained as an allegory of the seasons.
270. Gloomy Dis.—Shakspeare (Tempest, Act iv., sc. 1), has dusky Dis.