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And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos 1 leaving. No nightly trance, or breathèd spell, Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
The parting Genius is with sighing sent ;
The Lars and Lemures 2 moan with midnight plaint;
Affrights the Flamens 3 at their service quaint ; And the chill marble seems to sweat, While each peculiar Pow'r forgoes his wonted seat.
1 Otherwise Delphi; the principal seat of the worship of Apollo, whose great oracle was here. :“Lares” were Roman tutelary deities of the household; “Le
spectres, or spirits (especially wicked spirits) of the dead. 3 Priests.
With that twice-battered god of Palestine ;
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine ;
His burning idol all of blackest hue ;
In dismal dance about the furnace blue ;
Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud ;
Nought but profoundest Hell can be his shroud ;
· Peor was one of the Baalim, or Phænician deities. • Hebrew for Astarte, the Syrian Aphrodite. • Amun, an Egyptian god of flocks, represented with the horns of
• The Syrian Adonis; according to the legend, he was slain by a boar, but was revived for
six months of every year. • À Canaanitish sun-god whose worship was accompanied by human sacrifices. i Goddess of the earth, and wife of Osiris. • The Egyptian sun-god.
• A dog-god of the Egyptians. 10 The Nile-god.
The rays of Bethl'hem blind his dusky ey'n ;
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine :
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
Each fettered ghost slips to his sev'ral grave;
Time is our tedious song should here have ending ;
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid-lamp attending ; And all about the courtly stable Bright-harnessed Angels sit in order serviceable.
Before we pass from this poem, a word must be said about the place that it occupies in the development of Milton's mind. Both by its subject-matter, and by its marked sincerity and earnestness, it testifies to the sobriety of the young poet's temper and to his interest in religious things. Yet there is nothing in it to foreshadow his later Puritanism, nothing to distinguish it as the work of one who was presently to use the forms of the ancient epic as the vehicle of a Puritan theology. It is, in fact, just such a poem as, given the necessary genius, any serious-minded young college man might very well have written ; and in its curious blending of Christian thought and classical imagery and ideas it is entirely in keeping with the poetic habits of a time when, under the powerful traditions of the Renaissance, men perpetually drew upon pagan literature and mythology even when they were dealing with the most vital questions of their religious faith. Let me take the opportunity of insisting here upon a point which is of the utmost importance to the student who would follow the course of Milton's intellectual history. Two great influences were to enter into and fashion his poetic powers—the influence of classicism and the influence of Puritanism. Of these, the former was for the moment completely in the ascendant. The Puritanism was as yet latent only. The spirit of the Renaissance, whose child on one side he was, claimed him for its own. In thinking of his life-work as a whole, we commonly emphasise so strongly the purely religious and moral side of it, and the Hebraic zeal or righteousness which in later life came to govern all his efforts, that we are apt to lose sight of the fact that in him this Hebraic zeal for righteousness was combined with a true Hellenic feeling for beauty and love of knowledge. The Hebrew and the Hellene, as we may therefore say, were always present together in Milton's poetry ; but they were present in very different proportions at different stages of his career; and at the opening of it, the Hellene was paramount. In a striking passage in a letter dated September 23, 1637, to his friend Diodati, he afterwards wrote of himself : “ Whatever the Deity may have bestowed upon me in other respects, He has certainly inspired me, if any ever were inspired, with a passion for the good and the beautiful. Nor did Ceres, according to the fable, ever seek her daughter Proserpine with such unceasing solicitude as I have sought this idea of the beautiful in all the forms and appearances of things, for many are the shapes of things divine. Day and night I am wont to continue my search.” This is remarkable language. Not even Keats, who had little of the Hebraic in his composition, and to whom“ a thing of beauty was a joy for ever,
" could have written of his own devotion to beauty more fervently than this; and what we have specially to remember is, that it was with this intense love of the beautiful “ in all forms and appearances of things," that our great Puritan poet, with whom presently “ the ways of God to men were to be the primary concern, actually set out on his career. Yet in one poem of this period the strong