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of this story in Milton's ode. He has already called Christ “the mighty Pan" (line 89), and now he expands from Plutarch's story the notion of the ceasing of the Oracles, and the going out of all the gods and rites of Paganism with wailings and moanings. Only, be it observed, he transfers this phenomenon from the death of Pan, the great Shepherd, at Jerusalem, to his birth at Bethlehem.
183. “A voice of weeping heard.” Matt. ii. 18, and Jer. xxxi. 15. (Warton.)
191. “The Zars and Zemures moan.” Lar in Latin means “a familygod,” a god who presides over private house and land; Zemur is the Latin equivalent to ghost, spirit, or hobgoblin. Milton does not adopt the Latin plurals, Zares and Zemures, but treats Zar and Zemure as English words and gives them ordinary English plurals. Lemures must be pronounced as a dissyllable, and might have been spelt Lemurs.
194. “flamens’’: priests or archpriests.
195. “the chill marble seems to sweat.” Not an uncommon prodigy among the ancients was the weeping or sweating of the statues of their gods. Dunster cites Virgil, Georg. 1. 480, where among the many prodigies on the death of Julius Caesar there is this one :
“Et moestum illacrymattemplis ebur, aeraque sudant.”
fine . . . Ashtaroth . . . the Zibyc Hammon . . . Zhammuz . . . Moloch . . . the brutish gods of Mile . . . /sis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis . . . Osiris.” For particulars about the oriental gods here men
tioned see Paradise Zost, Book I. 392–489, with notes on that passage. The enumeration of the oriental gods here is so much the same as that afterwards worked into Paradise Zost that one must suppose that Milton referred to the former while writing the latter. The “twicebattered god of Palestine” must be the Philistine Dagon (Par. Lost, I. 457—466). Anubis, the only god here mentioned and not named in the passage in Paradise Lost, was an Egyptian god worshiped in the form of a dog.
201. “Heaven's queen and mother both.” This epithet of Ashtaroth is supposed by Newton to have been suggested by Selden's De Diis Syris, where she is called regina catli as well as mater Deûm.
202. “shine.” There are instances of the same use of this word as a substantive in Spenser, Ben Jonson, and other poets.
213–220. “Osiris. . . . in Memphian grove . . . trampling the unshowered grass . . . his sacred chest,” &c. Milton here blends Apis, the Egyptian bull-god, with Osiris. The “Memphian grove” means the
fields round the Egyptian city Memphis; and the grass there is “unshowered" because rain is rare in Egypt. In the myth of Osiris he is represented as induced once by conspirators to lie down in a richlycarved chest, which they immediately fastened up and threw into the Nile, where it had strange subsequent adventures.
223. “eyn" : old plural of eye, also spelt cyne or eyen, common in Chaucer, Spenser, and others.
226. “Typhon huge.” Typhon is here the Greek name of the Egyptian god Set, or Suti, one of the brothers of Osiris. After having been worshiped as a god in Egypt, he came to be regarded as a kind of Devil, and the enemy of Osiris. He led the conspirators who shut up Osiris in his chest. In old Egyptian monuments he is represented in various beast-like forms, sometimes as a crocodile. The Greek Typhon is represented as a huge giant or dragon-headed monster buried underground for opposing Zeus.
227. “Our Babe,” &c. The “snaky twine” of the preceding line suggests the infant Hercules strangling serpents in his cradle.
23 1. “orient": i.e. eastern. The meaning of the whole of the image 229–231 is “So, when the sun rises.”
232–234. “The flocking shadows pale troop to the infernal jail,” &c. An allusion to the common superstition that on the approach of morning ghosts vanish. Warton quotes a passage in Shakespeare (Midsum. A. Dr., III. 2) as probably in Milton's mind :—
“And yonder shines Aurora's harbinger;
235, 236. “the yellow-skirted says fly after the night-steeds, leaving,” &c.; i.e. the fairies, who have been in the moon-lit woods all night, haste away in the morning, following the nightmares or night-hags. For by “night-steeds.” Milton clearly means those creatures of ugliness, and not, as Warton supposes, the poetical steeds or horses of Night. Compare Par. Zoss, II. 662.
240. “ youngest-feemed star”: i.e. latest-born star, the star that appeared in the heavens on Christ's birth to guide the wise men. To seem is to produce.
244. “A right-harnessed”: i.e. bright-armoured. Harness was a frequent old word for armour. Newton quotes Exod. xiii. 18.
UPON THE CIRCUMCISION.
1–5. “We saming Powers,” &c. This opening connects the piece with the Ode on the Mativity. One may imagine it written on Jan. 1, 1629-30, that being Circumcision Day in the Church Calendar. The “flaming Powers” are the Seraphim (which name in Hebrew implies “burning”); the “winged Warriors” may be the Cherubim. Gabriel is styled the “winged warrior,” Par. Lost, IV. 576. Todd quotes from Tasso the very phrase “winged warriors” (“guerrieri alati).
6–9. “if . . . your fiery essence can distis no tear, burn in your sighs,” &c.; i.e. “if it is impossible for your Angelic constitutions, formed as they are of fire, to yield tears, yet, by burning as you sigh, you may borrow the water of our tears, turned into vapour.”
10. “Heaven's heraldry”: i.e. the heraldic pomp of Heaven.— “whilere": a little while ago.
15, 16. “O more exceeding love,” &c. This begins the second stanza of the piece; which consists of two stanzas of fourteen lines each, of exactly the same construction. The stanzas are not separated in the original editions.—In the opening of the second stanza, as Richardson pointed out, there seems to be a recollection of two lines in Virgil's Eighth Eclogue (49, 5o):—
“Crudelis mater magis, an puer improbus ille 2
1–4. “Erewhile of music,” &c. This opening of the poem connects it with the Ode on the AVativity, and proves it to have been a sequel to that ode. Easter, 1630, is the probable date.
6, 7, “In wintry solstice,” &c. The order is “Like the shortened light in wintry solstice soon swallowed up,” &c. The winter solstice is Dec. 22, when the day is shortest.
19. “mask " : in the sense of masque or drama. See line 2.
22. “These latest.” So in Second Edition, substituted for “These latter” in First. The meaning of lines 22 and 23 is “It is to the latest scenes of the long drama of Christ's mortal humiliation, to his death at Jerusalem, that I am to confine myself in this poem.” 25, 26. “otherwhere are found; Zoud o'er the rest Cremona's trump,” i.e. the acts and temptations of Christ's life on earth may be found celebrated by other poets, and best of all by Marco Girolamo Vida of Cremona (1490–1566), in his Latin poem The Christiad.
28. “still,” i.e. soft-sounding, not like the trump.
34, 35. “The leaves should al/ be black . . . and letters . . . a wannish white.” To understand this conceit (for it is no better, and is found in other poets) the reader should see some of the old English books of Elegies or Funereal Poems. I have before me at present Joshua Sylvester's Lachrymae Zachrymarum, or The Spirit of 7&ares distilled for the un-tymely Death of the Incomparab/e Prince Panarefus” (i.e. Prince Henry, eldest son and heir-apparent of James I., who died 1612). The book was printed by “Humfrey Lownes dwelling on Bred Streete hill, at the signe of the Starre,” and Milton may have seen it. The title-page is wholly black, save that the words of the title are white; twelve of the succeeding left-hand pages are totally black, save for the royal arms in white, and smears of “a wannish white” through inefficient pressure of the black block; and the margins of the other pages, above and below the Elegies, are also black. 36–39. “See, see the chariot,” &c. The reference is to Ezekiel, chap. i. The poet supposes himself carried to Jerusalem in a mystic chariot like that which bore up the Prophet at the river Chebar. 43. “ that sad sepulchral rock”: the Holy Sepulchre. 51. “Take up a weeping”: from Jeremiah ix. 10. “For the mountains will I take up a weeping.” 56. “Had got a race of mourners,” &c. The conceit is from the story of Ixion. So feeble and disagreeable an ending of the poem makes one agree the more willingly with the author's judgment of the whole, immediately appended. Observe the strange syntax of that prose addition.—Drummond, of Hawthornden, has three pieces on “The Passion ” in his Flowers of Sion (1623). They may be compared with Milton's fragment.
3. “Whose speed is but the heavy plummer's pace,” i.e. the slow rate of descent of the leaden weights in a clock. The lines, as the draft of them among the Cambridge MSS. shows, were written “to be set on a clock-case.” Compare Shakespeare's Sonnet lxxvii.
12. “individual”: meaning here “indivisible,” never to be separated. See Par. Zost, IV. 486, VII. 382, and XII. 85, with notes.
18. “/a//y-making sight”; “the plain English,” says Newton, “of Beatific Vision.”
21. “Affired with stars.” Either “clothed with stars,” or, as Mr.
Keightley suggests, “crowned with stars.” He produces instances of “attire " meaning head-dress.
AT A SOLEMN MUSIC.
2. “S//cre-born.” In Comus (241) Echo is called “Daughter of the Sphere.”
6. “concent,” from the Latin concensus, “singing together,” or harmony. In the First Edition it was printed “content.”
7–16. “sa//hire coloured throne,” &c. Ezek. i. 26; Rev. v. xi. and vi. 9.
20. “nature's chime.” Warton quotes the exact phrase from Ben Jonson.
23. “fersocł diapason " : Aerfect in First Edition, but “perfel " in Second. Diapason (literally “through all") is, in music, “the octave or interval which includes all the notes of the scale.”
28. “Consort ; ” the word is so spelt in both Milton's own editions, and not “concert" as in some modern ones. Consortium, in Latin, means “society.”
Various Acadings from the Cambridge A/S. Drafts —There are three drafts of this piece in Milton's own hand in the Cambridge MS. volume (see Vol. II. 175—180); and they form an interesting example of Milton's habits of composition and care in correcting. From Todd's examination of these drafts it appears, in the first place, that the piece as it now stands does not contain several passages of the original sketch, these having been rejected by Milton's taste in revision. Thus between lines 4 and 5 in our present copy there came in the first draft these four lines:–
“And, whilst your equal raptures, temper'd sweet,
Again, after our present line 16, “Singing everlastingly,” there came in the first draft this couplet, now omitted—
“While all the starry rounds an' rehes blue