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Delphic abstraction, a beautiful thing made more beautiful by being reflected and put in a mist. The next mention of vale is one of the most pathetic in the whole range of poetry.
"Others more mild
Book II. l. 547.
How much of the charm is in the word valley.
The light and shade, the sort of black brightness, the ebon diamonding, the ethiop immortality, the sorrow, the pain, the sad sweet melody, the Phalanges of spirits so depressed as to be" uplifted beyond hope," the short mitigation of misery, the thousand melancholies and magnificencies of the following lines leave no room for anything to be said thereon but "so it is."
"That proud honor claimed
A shout, that tore Hell's concave, and beyond
Deliberate valor breathed, firm and unmoved
Book I. ll. 534-567.
How noble and collected an indignation against Kings, line 595, Book 1st. His very wishing should have had power to pluck that feeble animal Charles from his bloody throne. The evil days had come to him; he hit the new system of things a mighty mental blow; the exertion must have had, or is yet to have some sequences.
The management of this poem is Apollonian. Satan first "throws round his baleful eyes," then awakes his legions, he consults, he sets forward on his voyage, and just as he is getting to the end of it we see the Great God and our first Parent, and that same Satan all brought in one vision; we have the invocation to light before we mount to heaven, we breathe more freely, we feel the great author's consolations coming thick upon him at a time when he complains most, we are getting ripe for diversity, the immediate topic of the Poem opens with a grand Perspective of all concerned.
Book IV. A friend of mine says this book has the finest opening of any; the point of time is gigantically critical, the wax is melted, the seal about to be applied, and Milton breaks out,
"O for that warning voice," &c.
There is, moreover, an opportunity for a grandeur of Tenderness. The opportunity is not lost. Nothing can be higher, nothing so more than Delphic.
There are two specimens of a very extraordinary beauty in the Paradise Lost; they are of a nature, so far as I have read, unexampled elsewhere; they are entirely distinct from the brief pathos of Dante, and they are not to be found even in Shakspeare. These are, according to the great prerogative of Poetry, better described in themselves than by a volume. The one is in line 266, Book IV.
"Not that fair field
Of Enna where Proserpine gathering flowers,
Was gathered, which cost Ceres all that pain
The other is that ending "nor could the Muse defend her son."
"But drive far off the barbarous dissonance
Of Bacchus and his revellers, the race
Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard,
These appear exclusively Miltonic, without the shadow of another mind ancient or modern.
Book VI. 1. 58. Reluctant with its original and modern meaning combined and woven together, with all its shades of signification has a powerful effect.
Milton in many instances pursues his imagination to the utmost, he is "sagacious of his Quarry," he sees beauty on the wing, pounces upon it, and gorges it to the producing his essential verse. "So from the root springs lighter the green stalk."
But in no instance is this sort of perseverance more exemplified, than in what may be called his stationing or statuary. He is not content with simple description, he must station; thus here we not only see how the birds
"With clang despised the ground," but we see them "Under a cloud in prospect." So we see Adam “ Fair indeed and tall," "under a plantain," and so we see Satan "Disfigured" "on the Assyrian Mount."
TO A STRAY FOWL.
POOR bird! destined to lead thy life
From thy accustomed nest;
Must thou fall back upon old instinct now
VOL. II. NO. IV.
LIGHT-Winged smoke, Icarian bird,
Or else, departing dream, and shadowy form
Of midnight vision, gathering up thy skirts;
Woof of the sun, etherial gauze,
From heath or stubble rising without song;
SWEET Love, I cannot show thee in this guise
That I can boast, but that my new love cries
For love that to its own excess is meet,
And searching widely through this dark world's space,