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Over the burning marle1 (not like those steps
On heaven's azure), and the torrid clime
Smote on him sore besides, vaulted with fire.
Nathless he so endured, till on the beach
Of that inflaméd sea he stood, and called
His legions, angel forms, who lay entranced,
Thick as autumnal leaves that strew the brooks
In Vallombrosa,3 where the Etrurian shades,
High over-arched, imbower; or scattered sedge *
Afloat, when with fierce winds Orion 5 armed
Hath vexed the Red-sea coast, whose waves o'erthrew
Busiris and his Memphian chivalry,

While with perfidious hatred they pursued
The sojourners of Goshen, who beheld
From the safe shore their floating carcasses
And broken chariot-wheels: so thick bestrewn,
Abject and lost lay these, covering the flood,
Under amazement of their hideous change.
He called so loud, that all the hollow deep
Of hell resounded: "Princes, potentates,

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Warriors! the flower of heaven, once yours, now lost,
If such astonishment1 as this can seize
Eternal spirits! Or have ye chosen this place
After the toil of battle to repose

Your wearied virtue,2 for the ease you find
To slumber here as in the vales of heaven?
Or in this abject posture have ye sworn
To adore the Conqueror - who now beholds
Cherub and seraph rolling in the flood,
With scattered arms and ensigns-till anon
His swift pursuers from heaven-gates discern
The advantage, and, descending, tread us down,
Thus drooping, or, with linkéd thunderbolts,
Transfix us to the bottom of this gulf?
Awake! arise!- or be for ever fallen!"


[The following fifty-five lines form the opening of the Third Book of Paradise Lost: they are of special interest, as containing the touching lament of the poet on his own blindness.]

HAIL, holy Light!3 offspring of Heaven first-born, Or of the Eternal co-eternal 5 beam,


May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,7

1 astonishment, thunderstruck dismay.

2 virtue, valor, manhood. See Glossary.

8 Hail, holy Light! Analyze this sentence.

4 offspring. With what in apposition?

5 co-eternal. Meaning?


express, name.

7 God is light. See John i. 5;

1 Tim. vi. 16.

And never but in unapproachéd light
Dwelt1 from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.3
Or hear'st thou rather pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the sun,
Before the heavens, thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest

The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.5/
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detained
In that obscure sojourn, while, in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness" borne,
With other notes than to the Orphéan lyre,8
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;

Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Through hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,

1 dwelt. What is the subject of this verb?

7 utter ... middle darkness. By the former (outer darkness), Milton means that remote part of Chaos in which hell was situated; by the latter, the intermediate part between hell and the "new-created

4 hear'st thou. A Latin idiom: the meaning is, "art thou called?" | world," through which Satan had "Stream" is the object of “hear'st."

made his way.

5 Won... infinite. To what noun is this adjective phrase an adjunct?

8 Orphean lyre; that is, Orpheus, to whom are ascribed a hymn on Night, and a poem on the Crea

6 Thee I revisit, etc. "Thee;"│tion out of Chaos. "With other

that is, the light of the natural world, which the poet now reaches, having completed his description of hell.

notes" is an intimation that Milton deemed he drew his inspiration from a deeper source than the heathen poets.

2 effluence. See Glossary.

8 increate. What is the modern form?

And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs,
Or dim suffusion1 veiled. Yet not the more2
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equaled with me in fate,1
So were I equaled with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris,5 and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresi'as, and Phine'us, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move

1 drop serene...dim suffusion. | bard. He is mentioned by Homer, An allusion to the two causes of who relates his presumption in blindness, which, according to the challenging the Muses to a contest, medical authorities of Milton's and his punishment in being detime, were the “ 'serene drop" (gut-prived by them of sight and the ta serena), a sort of transparent power of song.

watery humor that destroyed the optic nerve; and "suffusion" (suffusio), a kind of film that gathered over the eye.

2 Yet not the more, etc. = nevertheless I still wander.

6 Mæon'ides; that is, Homer, who is so called because supposed to be a native of Mæonia, the ancient name of Lydia.

7 Tiresi'as, a renowned "prophet" (or bard) of the mythological age of Greece. He was blind from

3 the flowery brooks are Kedron and Siloa, the latter of which, how-childhood. ever, is only a pool.

4 equaled with me in fate; that is, blind, like myself, by the decree of fate.

5 Tham'yris was a Thracian blinded.

8 Phine'us, a celebrated Thracian seer, whom the gods deprived of sight because, on a false accusation, he had caused his sons to be

Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note.2 Thus with the year
Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank


Of nature's works to me expunged and rased,3
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, Celestial Light,


Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate: there plant eyes; all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.

1 darkling (adverb)=in the dark. 2 nocturnal note. Explain. 8 expunged and rased, as from a waxen tablet, by the use of the blunt end of the stylus; the imagery is classical.

4 one entrance. Explain,

5 So much the rather, etc. Who but must admire the pious fortitude that thus transforms the loss of sight into a gain!

6 there plant eyes. Translate this metaphorical expression into plain terms.

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