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The oracles are dumb,
No voice or hideous hum
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving. 175 Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathed spell
Inspires the pale-ey'd priest from the prophetic cell. 180 XX.
The lonely mountains o'er
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring, and dale
Edg'd with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent;
With flow'r-in woven tresses torn
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.
that the whole allusion was suggested to his imagination by a note of the old commentator on Spenser's Pastorals in May, who copied Lavaterus's treatise de Lemuribus, newly translated into English. "About the time that "our Lord suffered his most "bitter passion, certaine persons "sayling from Italie to Cyprus, "and passing by certaine iles "called Paxa, heard a voyce "calling Thamus, Thamus, the "pylot of the ship; who, giving "eare to the cry, was bidden "when he came to Palodas to "tell, that the great god Pan "was dead: which he doubting "to doe, yet for that when he "came to Palodas there was "such a calme of wind, that the
ship stood still in the sea un"moored, he was forced to cry "aloud, that Pan was dead: "wherewithall, there was heard "such piteous outcries and dread"ful shrieking, as hath not been "the like. By which Pan, though of some be understood "the great Sathanas, whose kingdom was at that time by "Christ conquered, and the gates "of hell broken up, for at that "time all Oracles surceased, and "enchanted spirits that were "wont to delude the people "thenceforth held their peace, "&c." So also Hakewill in his Apologie, lib. iii. sect. ii. p. 208. VOL. III.
ed. 1630. But this is a second edition. And Sandys has much the same story. Travels, p. 11. ed. 1627. Compare Par. Reg. i. 456. If we connect the three lines (181-183.) with the general subject of the last stanza, undoubtedly Milton, in the voice of weeping and loud lament, referred to this story, from whatsoever source it was drawn. But if, without such a retrospect, they belong only to the context and purport of their own stanza, he implies the lamentations of the nymphs and wood-gods at their leaving their haunts.
And surely nothing could be more allowable, not only in a young poet, but in a poet of any age, than this allusion to the notion of the cessation of oracles at the coming of Christ. And how poetically is it extended to the pagan divinities and the oriental idolatries? The words of v. 183. a voice of weeping &c. are from Matt. ii. 18. In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, &c. T. Warton.
187. With flow'r-inwoven tresses torn.] See note on interwove in Par. Lost, i. 261. Inwove is also not uncommon in Milton. See Par. L. iii. 352. iv. 693. Spenser gives the first instance that I can recollect. T. Warton.
In consecrated earth,
And on the holy hearth,
The Lars, and Lemures moan with midnight plaint; In urns, and altars round,
A drear and dying sound
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar pow'r foregoes his wonted seat.
Peor and Baälim
Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice batter'd God of Palestine;
And mooned Ashtaroth,
Heav'n's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers holy shine;
The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn,
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.
And sullen Moloch fled,
191. Lars, and Lemures] Household gods and night spirits. Flamens, priests.
199. With that twice batter'd God of Palestine;] Dagon, who was twice battered by Samson, Judges xvi. and by the ark of God, 1 Sam. v. Our author is larger in his account of these deities in the first book of the Paradise Lost, and thither we must refer our reader, and to the notes there. Selden had a few years before published his De Diis Syris Syntagmata duo, and
therefore we may suppose Milton was so well instructed in this kind of learning.
201. Heav'n's queen and mother both,] She was called regina cœli and mater Deúm. See Selden.
202. Shine is a substantive in Harrington's Ariosto, c. xxxvii. 15. In Jonson's Panegyre, 1603. And Drummond, Sonnets, sign. B. ed. 1616. And in other places: but see Observal. on Spenser's F. Q. ii. 181. T. Warton.
205. And sullen Moloch fled, &c.] In Sandys's Travels, p. 186.
His burning idol all of blackest hue; In vain with cymbals ring
They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue; The brutish Gods of Nile as fast,
Isis and Orus, and the dog Anubis haste.
Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove or green,
Trampling the unshow'r'd grass with lowings loud; 215
Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest,
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud;
ed. 1615. fol. a popular book in Milton's time, is a description of the sacrifices and image of Moloch, exactly corresponding with this passage, and with Par. Lost, i. 392. where see the note. But the imagery is introduced into the Paradise Lost with less effect. There the dreadful circumstances of this idolatrous worship are only related; in our Ode they are endued with life and action, they are put in motion before our eyes, and made subservient to a new purpose of the poet by the superinduction of a poetical fiction, to which they give occasion. "The sul "len spirit is fled, and has left "in solitude and darkness his "burning image; the priests
dancing with horrid gesticu"lations about the blue furnace "from which his idol was fed ❝ with fire, in vain attempt to "call back their grisly king " with the din of those cymbals
In vain with timbrell'd anthems dark
The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipp'd ark. 220
He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded Infant's hand,
of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
The rays Nor all the Gods beside,
Longer dare abide,
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
Our Babe to show his Godhead true,
Can in his swaddling bands control the damned crew.
So when the sun in bed,
but this pitiful jingle could not be Milton's. He undoubtedly
Our Babe to shew his Godhead true:
227. Our Babe to show &c.] In to be of much higher antiquity. the printed copies it is Shakespeare has made an admirable use of this popular idea. Haml. a. i. s. 1. where a vulgar tamely vanish without a cause, poet would have made the ghost and without that preparation to speak, which so greatly heightens the interest. T. Warton.
wrote it show. Calton.
229. So when the sun, &c.] Our author has here beautifully applied the vulgar superstition of spirits disappearing at the break of day, as the groundwork of a comparison. The false gods of every heathen religion depart at the birth of Christ, as spectres and demons vanish when the morning dawns. See L'Allegro, 114. and Par. Reg. iv. 426-431. The moment of the evanescence of spirits was supposed to be limited to the crowing of the cock. This belief is mentioned by Prudentius, Cathem. Hymn. i. 38. But some of his commentators, and those not easily to be found, prove it
Prudentius above referred to;
Ferunt vagantes dæmonas, Lætos tenebris noctium Gallo canente exterritos Sparsim timere, et cedere: Invisa nam vicinitas Lucis, salutis, numinis, Rupto tenebrarum situ, Noctis fugat satellites. We find the superstition two hundred years before Prudentius, in Philostratus's Life of Apollonius Tyanæus. There the ghost of Achilles, that had appeared to Apollonius, vanishes at once in the midst of a con