DOES WILLIAM BLAKE ROCK, OR WHAT?

william-blake-in-the-style.jpg

Rouze up O young Men of the New Age! set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings!  For we have Hirelings in the Camp, the Court, & the University: who would if they could, for ever depress Mental & prolong Corporeal War.  Painters! on you I call!  Sculptors!  Architects!  Suffer not the fashionable Fools to depress your powers by the prices they pretend to give for contemptible works or the expensive advertizing boasts that they make of such works; believe Christ & his Apostles that there is a Class of Men whose whole delight is in Destroying.

—William Blake, Milton

But why have we forgotten the great iconoclast who Blake admired (and who T.S. Eliot reviled)?

John Milton?

I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known rules of ancient liberty,
When straight a barbarous noise environs me
Of owls and cuckoos, asses, apes and dogs.

—Milton, Sonnet XII

Milton believed that every individual was naturally inclined toward mental slavery.  Not everyone acted on his or her natural inclinations, however, and in fact a virtuous life should be a continuous act of resistance to slavish temptations.  For Milton, virtue was not innate but had to be actively produced, manufactured through the battle against vice, just as good is created by the fight against evil, and freedom is won only through incessant internal and external war against our natural tendencies to slavery.

—David Hawkes, John Milton, A Hero of Our Time  2009

Advertisements

13 Comments

  1. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    August 18, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    It’s hard to believe that those with whom
    We chat at the coffee machine
    Do harbor designs and plans so vile,
    So murd’rous, cruel, unclean.

  2. thomasbrady said,

    August 18, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    “For Milton, virtue was not innate but had to be actively produced, manufactured through the battle against vice, just as good is created by the fight against evil…”

    I don’t know that Blake was really a Milton-follower, but the morals of both Milton and Blake are quite energetic and complex.

    Whether virtue is “innate,” i.e., natural, or not, is probably THE issue which separates the two poles of political/religious philosophy in our age, and yet, perhaps superficially—for if there’s no consensus on what’s natural or virtuous or evil, this crucial issue becomes merely a way of avoiding real debate, as the terms are just too slippery.

    The author of “John Milton, A Hero for Our Time,” points out that Milton was a poet who was very, very involved in politics, and in ways that were neither liberal nor conservative, and Hawkes also points out how Milton was considered a deity during the Romantic era, but since the Modernist era and TS Eliot’s rebuke, Milton’s reputation has really taken a nose dive. Blake is still considered ‘cool’ but I think we forget how much Blake admired Milton. I’m not sure, though, that Milton is not really the greater genius, but the question is, will Milton once again become relevant? Will the grandiose/hyperbolic poet/priest/activist in the Blake/Milton mode ever be taken seriously again? The last 150 years of ‘art’s for art’s sake’ and ‘focus on text’ of the deconstructionists and the New Critics, the amoral hippie detour of Blake through Ginsberg and the Beats, the eclectic Modernist campaign of ‘difficulty’ and New Critical pedantry, all of this has eclipsed what was once a very exciting and powerful current in poetry centered around the rhetoric and skill and populist leanings of Milton/Blake and the Romantics…the Emersonian essay and current journalism in places like Harper’s, the New Republic, etc etc is probably as close as an American example of this that we have, but what’s missing is that frenzied relgious/aesthetic blockbuster talent that Emerson and his successors do NOT have, and which we see in Milton, Blake, Shelley, Byron, Poe…

  3. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    August 18, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Poets energized by the Christian religion after the Enlightenment?
    ‘Tis sacrilege ‘gainst Our Omnivorous* Public Schools (OOPS) and Our Government!

    * note, spelling error (ominvourous) was corrected by editor

    • The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

      August 18, 2010 at 4:56 pm

      “Omnivorous”, forgive me please,
      I feel like one of the fools.
      It would be churlish to blame my error
      Upon the publick schools.

    • thomasbrady said,

      August 19, 2010 at 2:31 am

      “Poets energized by the Christian religion…”

      Well, I wasn’t really thinking of the Christian religion, necessarily. After all, TS Eliot is identified with the Christian religion, and he’s up, while Milton is down. Milton wrote in favor of divorce, remember, while Eliot merely buried his wife alive; we also forget the pure magnificence of Milton’s poetry, the moral force and the popular force being such that Milton the poet couldn’t have helped but make use of Christianity; but such was Milton’s genius that the ‘make use of’ is more important than the Christian religion itself, of which there are many views and variants. The problem today is that we are so divided into camps and sub-categories that populism and the sublime have no chance…

  4. The Noochie-Coochie Man said,

    August 21, 2010 at 4:19 pm

    Thel’s Motto

    Does the Eagle know what is in the pit,
    Or wilt thou go ask the Mole?
    Can Wisdom be put in a silver rod?
    Or Love in a golden bowl?

    —William Blake

    • Desdi said,

      November 12, 2016 at 4:06 pm

      ‘Ere The Golden Bowl Is Broken’

      He gathered for His own delight
      The sparkling waters of my soul.
      A thousand creatures, bubbling bright—
      He set me in a golden bowl.

      From the deep cisterns of the earth
      He bade me up—the shining daughter—
      And I am exquisite with mirth,
      A brightening and a sunlit water.

      The wild, the free, the radiant one,
      A happy bubble I did glide.
      I poised my sweetness to the sun
      And there I sleeked my silver side.

      Sometimes I lifted up my head
      And globed the moonlight with my hands,
      Or thin as flying wings I spread
      Angelic wildness through the sands.

      Then, woven into webs of light,
      I breathed, I sighed, I laughed aloud,
      And lifting up my pinions bright
      I shone in Heaven, a bird-white cloud.

      Then did I dance above the mead,
      And through the crystal fields would run,
      And from my scarlet splendors breed
      The golden thunders of the sun.

      Beneath the whitening stars I flew
      And floated moon-like on the breeze,
      Or my frail heart was piercéd through
      With sharp sweet flowers of the trees.

      Of giant crags I bear the scars,
      And I have swept along the gale,
      Such multitudes as are the stars,
      My myriad faces rapt and pale.

      As savage creatures strong and free
      Make wild the jungle of the wood,
      The starry powers that sport in me
      Habit my silver solitude.

      From out my smallness, soft as dew,
      That utter fastness, stern and deep,
      Terrible meanings look at you
      Like visions from the eyes of sleep.

      I cannot leap—I cannot run—
      I only glimmer, soft and mild,
      A limpid water in the sun,
      A sparkling and a sunlit child.

      What stranger ways shall yet be mine
      When I am spilled, you cannot see.
      But now you laugh to watch me shine,
      And smooth the hidden stars in me.

      Lightly you stroke my silver wing—
      The folded carrier of my soul.
      A soft, a shy, a silent thing,
      A water in a golden bowl!

      Anna Hempstead Branch (1875—1937)

      • Mr. Woo said,

        November 13, 2016 at 1:27 am

        Desdi,

        I first read this poem on your site a few months back. Beautiful. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Tattooch said,

    August 27, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Lack of consensus
    Is the consensus.

  6. Fernand Pena said,

    January 16, 2014 at 11:13 am

    3 years ago I compose “Ode to William Blake” Rock songs with words from the Mind. 16 songs with poems of Blake.
    I’m working on the next: Tome 2 – 18 songs
    all in the site : http://www.lezarts.info
    I work pricipaly with the ‘Note Book”.
    If you have some knowledge and wish to participate in the researches….

  7. Mr. Woo said,

    November 11, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    This post seems relevant.

  8. Desdi said,

    November 12, 2016 at 4:12 pm

    [And let us not forget Samuel Butler]:

    When civil fury first grew high,

    And men fell out they knew not why?

    When hard words, jealousies, and fears,

    Set folks together by the ears,

    And made them fight, like mad or drunk, 5

    For Dame Religion, as for punk;

    Whose honesty they all durst swear for,

    Though not a man of them knew wherefore:

    When Gospel-Trumpeter, surrounded

    With long-ear’d rout, to battle sounded,

    And pulpit, drum ecclesiastick,

    Was beat with fist, instead of a stick;

    Then did Sir Knight abandon dwelling,

    And out he rode a colonelling.

    … For his Religion, it was fit

    To match his learning and his wit;

    ‘Twas Presbyterian true blue;

    For he was of that stubborn crew

    Of errant saints, whom all men grant

    To be the true Church Militant…

    (stanzas from HUDIBRAS, 1662)

  9. noochinator said,

    March 13, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    Here’s Voltaire’s literary criticism of ‘Paradise Lost’:

    From An Essay Upon the Civil Wars of France And also Upon the Epick Poetry of the European Nations From Homer to Milton (1727) by Voltaire

    “Milton”

    Milton is the last in Europe who wrote an epic poem; for I waive all those whose attempts have been unsuccessful, my intention being not to descant on the many who have contended for the prize, but to speak only of the very few who have gained it in their respective countries.

    Milton, as he was travelling through Italy in his youth, saw at Florence a comedy called Adamo, writ by one Andreino a Player, and dedicated to Mary de Medicis Queen of France. The subject of the play was the Fall of Man; the actors, God, the Devils, the Angels, Adam, Eve, the Serpent, Death and the Seven Mortal Sins. That topic so improper for a drama, but so suitable to the absurd genius of the Italian stage (as it was at that time), was handled in a manner entirely conformable to the extravagance of the design. The scene opens with a chorus of Angels, and a cherubim thus speaks for the rest: “Let the rainbow be the fiddlestick of the fiddle of the heavens, let the planets be the notes of our music, let time beat carefully the measure, and the winds make the sharps, etc.” Thus the play begins, and every scene rises above the first in profusion of impertinence.

    Milton pierced through the absurdity of that performance to the hidden majesty of the subject, which being altogether unfit for the stage, yet might be (for the genius of Milton, and for his only) the foundation of an epic poem. He took from that ridiculous trifle the first hint of the noblest work which human imagination hath ever attempted, and which he executed more than twenty years after. In the like manner Pythagoras owed the invention of music to the noise of the hammer of a blacksmith. And thus in our days Sir Isaac Newton walking in his gardens had the first thought of his system of gravitation, upon seeing an apple falling from a tree.

    If the difference of genius between nation and nation ever appeared in its full light, ’tis in Milton’s Paradise Lost. The French answer with a scornful smile when they are told there is in England an epic poem, the subject whereof is the Devil fighting against God, and Adam and Eve eating an apple at the persuasion of a snake. As that topic hath afforded nothing among them but some lively lampoons, for which that nation is so famous, they cannot imagine it possible to build an epic poem upon the subject of their ballads. And indeed such an error ought to be excused; for if we consider with what freedom the politest part of mankind throughout all Europe, both Catholics and Protestants, are wont to ridicule in conversation those consecrated histories—nay, if those who have the highest respect for the mysteries of the Christian religion, and who are struck with awe at some parts of it, yet cannot forbear now and then making free with the Devil, the serpent, the frailty of our first parents, the rib which Adam was robbed of, and the like—it seems a very hard task for a profane poet to endeavor to remove those shadows of ridicule, to reconcile together what is divine and what looks absurd, and to command a respect that the sacred writers could hardly obtain from our frivolous minds.

    What Milton so boldly undertook, he performed with a superior strength of judgment, and with an imagination productive of beauties not dreamed of before him. The meanness (if there is any) of some parts of the subject is lost in the immensity of the poetical invention. There is something above the reach of human forces to have attempted the creation without bombast, to have described the gluttony and curiosity of a woman without flatness, to have brought probability and reason amidst the hurry of imaginary things belonging to another world, and as far remote from the limits of our notions as they are from our earth; in short, to force the reader to say, “If God, if the Angels, if Satan would speak, I believe they would speak as they do in Milton.”

    I have often admired how barren the subject appears, and how fruitful it grows under his hands. The Paradise Lost is the only poem wherein are to be found in a perfect degree that uniformity which satisfies the mind and that variety which pleases the imagination, all its episodes being necessary lines which aim at the center of a perfect circle. Where is the nation who would not be pleased with the interview of Adam and the Angel? With the Mountain of Vision, with the bold strokes which make up the relentless, undaunted and sly character of Satan? But above all with that sublime wisdom which Milton exerts whenever he dares to describe God, and to make him speak? He seems indeed to draw the picture of the Almighty as like as human nature can reach to, through the mortal dust in which we are clouded.

    The heathens always, the Jews often, and our Christian priests sometimes, represent God as a tyrant infinitely powerful. But the God of Milton is always a creator, a father, and a judge, nor is his vengeance jarring with his mercy, nor his predeterminations repugnant to the liberty of man. These are the pictures which lift up indeed the soul of the reader. Milton in that point as well as in many others, is as far above the ancient poets as the Christian religion is above the heathen fables.

    But he hath especially an undisputable claim to the unanimous admiration of mankind, when he descends from those high flights to the natural description of human things. It is observable that in all other poems love is represented as a vice; in Milton only ’tis a virtue. The pictures he draws of it are naked as the persons he speaks of, and as venerable. He removes with a chaste hand the veil which covers everywhere else the enjoyments of that passion. There is softness, tenderness, and warmth without lasciviousness; the poet transports himself and us into that state of innocent happiness in which Adam and Eve continued for a short time. He soars not above human, but above corrupt nature, and as there is no instance of such love, there is none of such poetry.

    How then it came to pass that the Paradise Lost had been so long neglected (nay almost unknown) in England (till the Lord Sommers in some measure taught mankind to admire it), is a thing which I cannot reconcile, neither with the temper nor with the genius of the English nation. The Duke of Buckingham in his Art of Poetry gives the preference to Spenser. It is reported in the Life of the Lord Rochester, that he had no notion of a better poet than [Abraham] Cowley. Mr. Dryden’s judgment on Milton is full more unaccountable. He hath bestowed some verses upon him, in which he puts him upon a level with, nay above Virgil and Homer;

    The Force of Nature could not further go,
    To make a third he join’d the former two.

    The same Mr. Dryden in his preface upon his translation of the Aeneid, ranks Milton with Chapellam and Lemoine the most impertinent poets who ever scribbled. How he could extol him so much in his verses, and debase him so low in his prose is a riddle which, being a foreigner, I cannot understand.

    In short, one would be apt to think that Milton has not obtained his true reputation till Mr. Addison, the best critic as well as the best writer of his age, pointed out the most hidden beauties of the Paradise Lost, and settled forever its reputation.

    It is an easy and a pleasant task to take notice of the many beauties of Milton which I call universal. But ’tis a ticklish undertaking to point out what would be reputed a fault in any other country. I am very far from thinking that one nation ought to judge of its productions by the standard of another, nor do I presume that the French (for example) who have no epic poets, have any right to give laws on epic poetry. But I fancy many English readers, who are acquainted with the French language, will not be displeased to have some notion of the taste of that country, and I hope they are too just either to submit to it, or despise it barely upon the score of its being foreign to them.

    Would each nation attend a little more than they do to the taste and the manners of their respective neighbors, perhaps a general good taste might diffuse itself through all Europe from such an intercourse of learning, and from that useful exchange of observations. The English stage, for example, might be cleared of mangled carcasses, and the style of their tragic authors come down from their forced metaphorical bombast to a nearer imitation of nature. The French would learn from the English to animate their tragedies with more action, and would contract now and then their long speeches into shorter and warmer sentiments. The Spaniards would introduce in their plays more pictures of human life, more characters and manners, and not puzzle themselves always in the entanglements of confused adventures more romantic than natural. The Italian in point of tragedy would catch the flame from the English, and all the rest from the French. In point of comedy, they would learn from Mr. Congreve and some other authors, to prefer wit and humor to buffoonery.

    To proceed in that view, I’ll venture to say that none of the French critics could like the excursions which Milton makes sometimes beyond the strict limits of his subject. They lay down for a rule that an author himself ought never to appear in his poem, and his own thoughts, his own sentiments must be spoken by the actors he introduces. Many judicious men in England comply with that opinion, and Mr. Addison favours it. I beg leave in this place to hazard a reflection of my own which I submit to the reader’s judgment.

    Milton breaks the thread of his narration in two manners. The first consists of two or three kinds of prologues, which he premises at the beginning of some books. In one place he expatiates upon his own blindness; in another he compares his subject and prefers it to that of the Iliad, and to the common topics of war, which were thought before him the only subject fit for epic poetry; and he adds that he hopes to soar as high as all his predecessors, unless the cold climate of England damps his wings.

    His other way of interrupting his narration is by some observations which he intersperses now and then upon some great incident or some interesting circumstance. Of that kind is his digression on love in the fourth book;

    Whatever hypocrites austerely talk
    Defaming as impure, what God declares
    Pure, and commands to some, leaves free to all.
    Our Maker bids increase, who bids abstain
    But our Destroyer foe to God and Men?
    Hail wedded love, etc.

    As to the first of these two heads, I cannot but own that an author is generally guilty of an impardonable self-love when he lays aside his subject to descant on his own person, but that human frailty is to be forgiven in Milton; nay I am pleased with it. He gratifies the curiosity it raises in me about his person; when I admire the author, I desire to know something of the man, and he whom all readers would be glad to know is allowed to speak of himself. But this however is a very dangerous example for a genius of an inferior order, and is only to be justified by success.

    As to the second point I am so far from looking on that liberty as a fault that I think it to be a great beauty. For if morality is the aim of poetry, I do not apprehend why the poet should be forbidden to intersperse his descriptions with moral sentences and useful reflections, provided he scatters them with a sparing hand, and in proper places either when he wants personages to utter those thoughts, or when their character does not permit them to speak in the behalf of virtue.

    ’Tis strange that Homer is commended by the critics for his comparing Ajax to an ass pelted away with stones by some children, Ulysses to a pudding, the council-board of Priam to grasshoppers: ’tis strange, I say, that they defend so clamourously those similies though never so foreign to the purpose, and will not allow the natural reflections, the noble digressions of Milton though never so closely linked to the subject.

    I will not dwell upon some small errors of Milton, which are obvious to every reader, I mean some few contradictions and those frequent glances at the heathen mythology, which fault by the by is so much the more unexcusable in him by his having premised in his first book that those divinities were but devils worshipped under different names, which ought to have been a sufficient caution to him not to speak of the rape of Proserpine, of the wedding of Juno and Jupiter, etc. as matters of fact. I lay aside likewise his preposterous and awkward jests, his puns, his too familiar expressions so inconsistent with the elevation of his genius and of his subject.

    To come to more essential points, and more liable to be debated. I dare affirm that the contrivance of the Pandemonium would have been entirely disapproved of by critics like Boileau, Racine, etc. That seat built for the parliament of the devils seems very preposterous, since Satan has summoned them all together and harangued them just before in an ample field. The council was necessary, but where it was to be held ’twas very indifferent. The poet seems to delight in building his Pandemonium in Doric order, with frieze and cornice, and a roof of gold. Such a contrivance favors more of the wild fancy of our father Le Moine than of the serious spirit of Milton. But when afterwards the devils turn dwarfs to fill their places in the house, as if it was impracticable to build a room large enough to contain them in their natural size, it is an idle story which would match the most extravagant tales. And to crown all, Satan and the chief lords preserving their own monstrous forms, while the rabble of the devils shrink into pigmies, heightens the ridicule of the whole contrivance to an inexpressible degree. Methinks the true criterion for discerning what is really ridiculous in an epic poem is to examine if the same thing would not fit exactly the mock-heroic. Then I dare say that nothing is so adapted to that ludicrous way of writing as the metamorphosis of the devils into dwarfs.

    The fiction of Death and Sin seems to have in it some great beauties and many gross defects. In order to canvass this matter with order, we must first lay down that such shadowy beings as Death, Sin, Chaos are intolerable when they are not allegorical, for fiction is nothing but truth in disguise. It must be granted too that an allegory must be short, decent, and noble. For an allegory carried too far or too low, is like a beautiful woman who wears always a mask. An allegory is a long metaphor, and to speak too long in metaphors must be tiresome, because unnatural. This being premised, I must say that in general those fictions, those imaginary beings, are more agreeable to the nature of Milton’s poem than to any other; because he has but two natural persons for his actors, I mean Adam and Eve. A great part of the action lies in imaginary worlds, and must of course admit of imaginary beings.

    Then Sin springing out of the head of Satan seems a beautiful allegory of pride, which is looked upon as the first offense committed against God. But I question if Satan getting his daughter with child is an invention to be approved of. I am afraid that fiction is but a mere quibble; for if sin was of a masculine gender in English, as it is in all the other languages, that whole affair drops, and the fiction vanishes away. But suppose we are not so nice, and we allow Satan to be in love with Sin, because this word is made feminine in English (as Death passes also for masculine), what a horrid and loathsome idea does Milton present to the mind, in this fiction? Sin brings forth Death; this monster inflamed with lust and rage lies with his mother as she had done with her father. From that new commerce springs a swarm of serpents, which creep in and out of their mother’s womb, and gnaw and tear the bowels they are born from.

    Let such a picture be never so beautifully drawn, let the allegory be never so obvious and so clear, still it will be intolerable on the account of its foulness. That complication of horrors, that mixture of incest, that heap of monsters, that loathsomeness so far-fetched, cannot but shock a reader of delicate taste. But what is more intolerable, there are parts in that fiction, which bearing no allegory at all, have no manner of excuse. There is no meaning in the communication between Death and Sin, ’tis distasteful without any purpose; or if any allegory lies under it, the filthy abomination of the thing is certainly more obvious than the allegory.

    I see with admiration Sin, the portress of Hell, opening the gates of the Abyss, but unable to shut them again: that is really beautiful, because ’tis true. But what signifies Satan and Death quarrelling together, grinning at one another, and ready to fight?

    The fiction of Chaos, Night, and Discord, is rather a picture than an allegory; and for aught I know, deserves to be approved because it strikes the reader with awe, not with horror.

    I know the bridge built by Death and Sin would be disliked in France. The nice critics of that country would urge against that fiction, that it seems too common, and that it is useless; for men’s souls want no paved way to be thrown into hell after their separation from the body. They would laugh justly at the Paradise of fools, at the hermits, friars, cowls, beads, indulgences, bulls, relics, tossed by the winds, at St. Peter’s waiting with his keys at the wicket of heaven. And surely the most passionate admirers of Milton, could not vindicate those low comical imaginations, which belong by right to Ariosto.

    Now the sublimest of all the fictions calls me to examine it. I mean the war in heaven. The Earl of Roscommon, and Mr. Addison (whose judgment seems either to guide or to justify the opinion of his countrymen) admire chiefly that part of the poem. They bestow all the skill of their criticism, and the strength of their eloquence, to set off that favorite part. I may affirm that the very things they admire would not be tolerated by the French critics. The reader will perhaps see with pleasure in what consists so strange a difference, and what may be the ground of it.

    First, they would assert that a war in heaven being an imaginary thing, which lies out of the reach of our nature, should be contracted in two or three pages rather than lengthened out into two books, because we are naturally impatient of removing from us the objects which are not adapted to our senses. According to that rule, they would maintain that ’tis an idle task to give the reader the full character of the leaders of that war, and to describe Raphael, Michael, Abdiel, Moloch, and Nisroch as Homer paints Ajax, Diomede, and Hector. For what avails it to draw at length the picture of these beings, so utterly strangers to the reader, that he cannot be affected any way towards them? By the same reason, the long speeches of these imaginary warriors, either before the battle or in the middle of the action, their mutual insults, seem an injudicious imitation of Homer. The aforesaid critics would not bear with the angels plucking up the mountains with their woods, their waters, and their rocks, and flinging them on the heads of their enemies. Such a contrivance (they would say) is the more puerile, the more it aims at greatness. Angels armed with mountains in heaven resemble too much the Dipsodes in Rabelais, who wore an armour of portland stone six foot thick.

    The artillery seems of the same kind, yet more trifling, because more useless. To what purpose are these engines brought in? Since they cannot wound the enemies, but only remove them from their places, and make them tumble down: Indeed (if the expression may be forgiven) ’tis to play at nine-pins. And the very thing which is so dreadfully great on earth, becomes very low and ridiculous in heaven.

    I cannot omit here the visible contradiction which reigns in that episode. God sends his faithful angels to fight, to conquer and to punish the rebels. Go (says he, to Michael and Gabriel)

    ——— And to the brow of Heaven
    Pursuing, drive them out from God and bliss,
    Into their place of punishment, the gulf
    Of Tartarus, which ready opens wide
    His fiery chaos to receive their fall.

    How does it come to pass, after such a positive order, that the battle hangs doubtful? And why did God the Father command Gabriel and Raphael to do what he executes afterwards by his Son only.

    I leave it to the readers to pronounce if these observations are right, or ill-grounded, and if they are carried too far. But in case these exceptions are just, the severest critic must however confess there are perfections enough in Milton to atone for all his defects.

    I must beg leave to conclude this article on Milton with two observations. His hero (I mean Adam, his first personage) is unhappy. That demonstrates against all the critics that a very good poem may end unfortunately, in spite of all their pretended rules. Secondly, Paradise Lost ends completely. The thread of the fable is spun out to the last. Milton and Tasso have been careful of not stopping short and abruptly. The one does not abandon Adam and Eve till they are driven out of Eden. The other does not conclude before Jerusalem is taken. Homer and Virgil took a contrary way: the Iliad ends with the death of Hector, the Aeneid with that of Turnus. The tribe of commentators have upon that enacted a Law, that a house ought never to be finished, because Homer and Virgil did not complete their own; but if Homer had taken Troy, and Virgil married Lavinia to Aeneas, the critics would have laid down a rule just the contrary.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: