Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honour to the World's great Author rise ;
Whether to deck with clouds the uncoloured sky,
Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling still advance his praise.
His praise, ye Winds, that from four quarters blow,
Breathe soft or loud ; and wave your tops, ye Pines,

;
With every plant, in sign of worship wave.
Fountains, and ye that warble, as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling tune his praise.
Join voices, all ye living Souls; ye Birds,
That singing up to Heaven-gate ascend,
Bear on your wings and in your notes his praise.
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread, or lowly creep,
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill or valley, fountain, or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise.
Hail, universal Lord, be bounteous still
To give us only good ; and if the night
Have gathered aught of evil, or concealed,
Disperse it, as now light dispels the dark !'

J. MILTON

EXPLANATORY NOTES.

PAGE

7. (1) Hail, holy Light!—These are the opening words of the Third Book of Paradise Lost.

(2) Escaped the Stygian pool. —The First and Second Books describe the goings-on of Satan and the rest of the fallen Angels in Hell. The river Styx, one of the four Infernal rivers of Greek mythology, encircled the Nether World. Over its waters the shades of the dead were ferried by Charon. The word Styx means hateful.

(3) The Orphean lyre.- Orpheus was one of the heroes of Greek mythology. The charm of his music was so great that men, beasts, birds, fishes, and even plants and rocks, were captivated by it.

(4) Chaos. -A Greek word which has various shades of meaning. Speaking generally, it signifies either (1) the first state of the universe (one of shapelessness and confusion), or (2) the formless matter out of which the world was created.

(5) But thou revisitest not those eyes. Milton became totally blind in 1654.

(6) The Muses. — Nine sisters (in Greek mythology) who were supposed to preside over literature, art and science, but were more especially the goddesses of song. Ancient poets used to invoke their aid in the opening lines of their poems, a practice which has been sometimes imitated in modern times. Milton invokes the aid of the heavenly Muse’ in the opening lines of

Paradise Lost. 8. (1) Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides. —Thamyris was

Thracian bard. Mæonides was a name for Homer, the supposed author of the Iliad and Odyssey.

(2) Tiresias.-A Greek prophet, who was said to have been struck blind, according to some accounts by the goddess Athena, and according to others by the goddess Hera, the wife of Zeus.

(3) Phineus.-A blind soothsayer of Thrace, who had received his etic powers from Apollo. 9. Atlantis. --According to ancient tradition, the name of a

large island in the Atlantic, lying off the Pillars of Hercules

a PAGE

(Straits of Gibraltar). It was supposed to have been suddenly engulfed by the sea, which was thenceforth rendered unnavigable by reason of the shoals and sandbanks caused by the fragments

of the engulfed island. 23. Leman. --The French name for what we call the Lake of Geneva

--a large and beautiful lake in the south-west of Switzerland, drained by the river Rhone. The range of the Jura mountains lies to the north-west of the lake, approaching to within a few miles of its shores. The eastern horn of its crescent is embeddel

in the Alps. 26. (1) Scenery of the English Lake District. - The places men

tioned in these four chapters ought to be looked for on a map.

(2) Lucerne. -A town in the centre of Switzerland, on the shores of the lake of the same name. The lake, which is famous for its beauty, is sometimes called the Lake of the Four Cantons,

or Four Forest Cantons (Lucerne, Unterwalden, Uri, and Schwyz). 27. Great Gable or Scawfell.-Two high mountains in the heart of

the English Lake District. 37. (1) The Dalesmen. ---The inhabitants of the Westmoreland and

Cumberland dales.

(2) The Langdale Pikes.—Two lofty and grandly-shaped moun.

tains at the head of Langdale, in the heart of the Lake district. 39. In Switzerland and Scotland, the proportion of diffused water

is often too great, as at the Lake of Geneva and in most of the Scotch lakes. -So far as Scotland is concerned, this statement is entirely erroneous. The Scotch lakes are, with scarcely a single exception, long and narrow, Loch Lomond (in its lower part) being perhaps the only one in which 'the proportion of diffused

water is too great' for symmetry and beauty. 46. One summer evening (led by her) I found.—The word her in

this line refers to Nature. 49. The woods of Lowther.-Lowther Castle, with its magnificent

park, is close to Penrith, a market town in Cumberland, which stands on the Eamont, a few miles to the south-south-east of

Carlisle. 51. (1) The Golden Age. In many mythologies, notably in

that of the Greeks and Romans, there exists a tradition of a happier age, in which peace and plenty reigned on earth, and sin and misery were unknown. From this state of pristine innocence and simplicity the world was supposed to have gradually degenerated. The virtues of the Golden Age were celebrated by many ancient poets, but by none so eloquently as by Virgil in the First Georgic.

PAGE

(2) Lethe. — Lethe is a Greek word meaning forgetfulness. The river Lethe was one of the four rivers of the Infernal regions. The shades or souls of the departed drank from it, and

in doing so forgot the past. 52. Hesperus. -- The evening star, i.e. the planet Venus. This,

which is to us the most brilliant of all the planets, is alternately a morning and evening star. In the latter capacity it was known to the Greeks as Hesperus ; in the former, as Phosphorus

(literally the light-bearer-same as Latin Lucifer). 57. Plutonic agency.-Agency of subterranean fire. Pluto, in the

ancient mythologies, was the king of the Infernal regions. By Plutonic (or igneous) rocks (in Geology) are meant those which, like granite and porphyry, are supposed to have consolidated

from a melted state at a great depth below the surface. 58. (1) The cataract of Velino.-These falls (which are artificial)

carry the waters of the Velino into the Nar, one of the tributaries of the Tiber. They are sometimes spoken of as the Falls of Terni, a town in the northern part of Central Italy, from which they are distant about five miles.

(2) Phlegethon.-A river in the Infernal regions whose waters

rolled waves of fire. 59. Iris. -The Iris of Greek mythology was a messenger of the gods.

Hence the name was applied to the rainbow, which was supposed

to be a messenger of peace from heaven to earth. 64. Amazonian March, with breast half bare.—The Amazons of

Greek mythology were a race of female warriors who founded an empire on the coast of the Euxine (Black Sea). They were said to have cut off the right breast that it might not incommode them in shooting. Hence in works of art the left breast only

was represented. 65. Thermopylæ.-Xerxes, king of Persia, invaded Greece (or Hellas,

as it ought in strictness to be called) with an enormous army in the year 480 B.C. His army crossed the Hellespont and marched along the southern shores of Thrace and Macedonia and eastern shores of Thessaly, meeting with no resistance until it reached the pass of Thermopylæ, on the north-east coast of Greece. As this was the only pass by which an invading army from the north-east could enter Greece, the Greeks resolved to defend it; and Leonidas, king of Sparta, was sent with 300 Spartans and contingents from the various Greek states to hold

it against the invaders. 66. (1) Herodotus (484-408 B.C.).—The oldest of the Greek historians.

Born at Halicarnassus in Caria (a province of Asia Minor);

ܪ

PAGE

travelled much in early life ; resided for some time at Athens ; and finally took up his abode at Thurii, a Greek city in Southern Italy, where, in all probability, he wrote his immortal History. The greater part of his history is devoted to the struggle between the Persians and the Greeks—a struggle which began with the Persian conquest of the Greek cities in Asia Minor, and culminated in the invasion of Greece Xerxes, 481-479 B.C.

(2) The congress at the Isthmus.—When news was received in Greece of the approach of the Persian host, the representatives of the various states assembled in congress at Corinth, in order to concert measures for the defence of their country.

(3) The barbarians.—The Greeks were accustomed to speak of all who were outside the Greek world as Barbarians. The word meant originally much the same as our foreigners, and it was not till after the Persian war that it took the contemptuous sense of outlandish, brutal, rude.

(4) The Peloponnesians.—The inhabitants of the Peloponnese or peninsula south of the Isthmus of Corinth, now called the

Morea. 67. The Medians and Cissians.-The army which followed Xerxes

was a heterogeneous host drawn from various parts of Asia and even of Africa. The Medians and Cissians, who came from the country south of the Caspian Sea, were among the bravest of his

troops. 68. The Phocians.-Inhabitants of Phocis, a state in the north-east

of Greece. 69. The Thespians and the Thebans.-Inhabitants of Thespiæ and

Thebes, cities in Boeotia, a country in the north-east of Greece. 70. (1) Simonides (556-467 B.C.).—A celebrated Greek lyric poet.

(2) Sappho.—A famous Greek poetess, born in Lesbos, one of the 'Isles of Greece' on the west coast of Asia Minor.

(3) Delos.-An island in the Grecian Archipelago. The story went, that it was at first a floating island, but was fastened to the bottom by Zeus, so that it might become a safe abode for Leto, the mother of Phoebus and Artemus. Phæbus (or Apollo, as he is commonly called) was the god of Greek Civilisation. The various races and states of Hellas found in his worship a common bond of union; and Delphi, the seat of his oracle, was to the Hellenic (or Greek) world what Rome was to Christendom during the Middle Ages. “There,' says a living writer, 'the influence was enshrined which educated Greek thought, moulded Greek manners, and animated Greek art.'

« ZurückWeiter »