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No sooner he with them of man and beast
shall heave the ocean to usurp Beyond all bounds, till inundation rise Above the highest hills: then shall this mount
versal wrack.] Derote is used the cataracts in the Syriac and here and elsewhere as devoted : Arabic versions, and in the Sepand in Milton's own editions it tuagint and Vulgar Latin, which is universal rack, but we have Milton here follows; and what printed it wrack to distinguish they are, those will best underit from rack the instrument of stand who have seen the fallings torture; and we have Milton's of waters, called spouts, in hot authority for so doing, for he countries, when the clouds do has printed it so himself in vi. not break into drops, but fall 670. in both his editions:
with terrible violence in a tor.
rent: and the great deep is the -and now all heav'n
vast abyss of waters contained Had gone to wrack &c.
within the bowels of the earth, It is probable that both words and in the sea. were originally of the same ex 829. -then shall this mount traction, but as the different Of Paradise &c.] senses have been so long dis. It is the opinion of many learned tinguished by different spelling, men, that Paradise was destroyed it is proper to preserve this dis- by the deluge, and our author tinction in order to avoid am describes it in a very poetical biguity and confusion. And for manner. Pushed by the horned the same reason we spelt differ- flood, so that it was before the ently wracking in ii. 182. and flood became universal, and racking in xi. 481.
while it poured along like a 824. all the cataracts vast river; for rivers when they Of heav'n set open on the earth meet with any thing to obstruct
their passage, divide themselves Rain day and night; all foun- and become horned as it were, tains of the deep
and hence the ancients have Broke up,]
compared them to bulls. Gen. vii. 11. The same day were
Sic tauriformis volvitur Aufidus. all the fountains of the great deep
Hor. od. iv. xiv. 25. broken up, and the windows of
Et gemina auratus taurino cornua heaven were opened. The win
vullu dows of heaven are translated Eridanus. Virg. Georg. iv. 371.
Of Paradise by might of waves be mov'd
Corniger Hesperidum fluvius regna Incessant cataracts the thund'rer tor aquarum. En, viii. 77.
And half the skies descend in sluicy Down the great river to the open
show'rs, &c. Pope. ing gulf, down the river Tigris 835. —and orcs,] Orca est or Euphrates to the Persian genus marinæ belluæ maximum. gulf: they were both rivers of fest. The word occurs fre. Eden, and Euphrates particu- quently in Ariosto. Heylin. larly is called in Scripture the 835. —and sea-mews clang :] great river, the river Euphra. So also in vii. 422. with clang tes, Gen. xv. 18. It is very despised the ground, adopting probable that our author took the clangor of the Latins, which ihe first thought of pushing is a word that they almost conParadise by the force of floods slantly use to express the noise into the sea from Homer, who made by the flight of large describes the destruction of the flocks of birds. Thyer. Grecian wall by an inundation 836. To teach thee that God very much in the same poetical attributes to place manner, Iliad. xii. 24.
No sanctity, &c.] Των παντων όμισε στοματ' ισρασι Φοι Milton omits no opportunity of 6ος Απολλων,
lashing what he thought superErmjag ♡os sumos iu poor is d' aga stitious. These lines may serve Συνεχις, όφρα κι θασσον αλιτλια τιιχια
as one instance, and I think he lun.
plainly here alludes to the manThose turn'd by Phæbus from their
ner of consecrating churches wonted ways,
used by Archbishop Laud, Delug'd the rampire nine continual which was prodigiously cladays;
moured against by people of The weight of waters saps the yield
our author's way of thinking, ing wall, And to the sea the floating bulwarks
as superstitious and popish. fall:
He look'd, and saw the ark hull on the flood, Which now abated; for the clouds were fled, Driv'n by a keen north-wind, that blowing dry Wrinkled the face of deluge, as decay'd ;
840. the ark hull on the 843. Wrinkled the face of flood,] Aship is said to hull deluge, as decay'd ;] This alluwhen all her sails are taken sive comparison of the surface down, and she floats to and fro. of the decreasing waters, wrinRichardson.
kled by the wind, to the wrin841. Which now abated; for kles of a decaying old age, is
the clouds were fled, very far fetched, and extremely Driv'n by a keen north-wind,] boyish; but the author makes The Scripture says only, that us ample amends in the remainGod made a wind to pass over the ing part of this description of earth; but our poet follows the abating of the flood. The Ovid in this as well as several circumstances of it are few, but other particulars, Met. i. 328. selected with great judgment,
and expressed with no less spirit Nubila disjecit; nimbisque Aquilone and beauty. In this respect, it
remotis, Et cælo terras ostendit, et æthera
must be owned, Milton greatly terris,
excels the Italians, who are Jam mare littus habet ; plenos capit generally too prolix in their
alveus amnes ; Flumina subsidunt; colles exire vie have never said enough whilst
descriptions, and think they dentur; Surgit humus; crescunt loca de. any thing remains unsaid. When crescentibus undis.
once enough is said to excite in
the reader's mind a proper idea He loos'd the northern wind; fierce Boreas flies
of what the poet is representTo puff away the clouds and purge ing, whatever is added, however the skies :
beautiful, serves only to teaze Serenely, while he blows, the va
the fancy instead of pleasing it, pours driv'n, Discover beav'n to earth, and earth
and rather cools than improves to heav'n.
that glow of pleasure, which A thin circumference of land ap- arises in the mind upon its first pears;
contemplation of any surprising And earth, but not at once, her
scene of nature well painted visage rears, And peeps upon the seas from
out. Of this Milton was very
sensible, and throughout his The streams, but just contain’d whole poem has scarcely ever within their bounds,
been hurried by his imagination By slow degrees into their channels crawl:
into any thing inconsistent with And earth increases as the waters
it. Thyer. fall.
And the clear sun on his wide wat’ry glass
844. And the clear sun on his and so it follows, that slole with wide wai'ry glass
soft foot, this bold personizing is Gaz'd hot, and of the fresh perpetually used by the Greek,
wave largely drew,] and consequently the Latin A singular use of gaze, applied poets, who always imitate them, to the sun. Perhaps from Shake. Hor. Epod. xvi. 47. speare, where it also expresses almost the same
-montibus altis he thought. Comed.
Levis crepante lympha desilit pede. of Err.
Richardson. At length the sun, gazing upon the earth,
848. the deep, who now had Dispers'd those vapours that offended
His sluices, as the heav'n his T. Warton.
windows shut.] 846. —which made their flow- Gen. viii. 2. The fountains also ing shrink] Their I suppose re- of the deep, and the windows of fers to wave before mentioned, heaven were stopped. For this as a noun of multitude, of the and other particulars of the ark plural rumber It is not easy resting upon the mountains of to account for the syntax other- Ararat, and of the raven, and of wise.
the dove, &c. see the same chap847. From standing lake to trip- ter. ping ebb,] Tripping from tripu 850. --flotes,] This is the diare, to dance, to step lightly right way of spelling the word, upon the toes, a natural descrip- as it comes from the French tion of soft-ebbing, as vii. 300. floter.
A dove sent forth once and again to spy
O thou who future things canst represent 870
860. An olive leaf he brings, Add this likewise, pacific sign :] Sign of peace, of
Paciferæque manu ramum prætenGod's mercy to mankind; the
dit olivæ. Æn. viii. 116. olive was sacred to Pallas, and borne by those that sued for listed colours gay,] He after
866. Conspicuous with three peace, as being the emblem of wards calls it the triple-coloured it and plenty:
bon, ver. 897. and he means pro-placitam paci nutritor olivam. bably the three principal colours,
Virg. Georg. ii. 425. red, yellow, and blue, of which
Hume. the others are compounded.