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[287] are about you; you hear the cadenced surges of an unseen ocean; thunders mutter round the horizon; and if the scene change, it is with an elemental movement like the shifting of mighty winds. His imagination seldom condenses, like Shakespeare's, in the kindling flash of a single epithet, but loves better to diffuse itself. Witness his descriptions, wherein he seems to circle like an eagle bathing in the blue streams of air, controlling with his eye broad sweeps of champaign or of sea, and rarely fulmining in the sudden swoop of intenser expression. He was fonder of the vague, perhaps I should rather say the indefinite, where more is meant than meets the ear, than any other of our poets. He loved epithets (like old and far) that suggest great reaches, whether of space or time. This bias shows itself already in his earlier poems, as where he hears

The far off curfew sound
Over some widewatered shore,

or where he fancies the shores1 and sounding seas washing Lycidas far away; but it reaches its climax in the ‘Paradise Lost.’ He produces his effects by dilating our imaginations with an impalpable hint rather than by concentrating them upon too precise particulars. Thus in a famous comparison of his, the fleet has no definite port, but plies stemming nightly toward the pole in a wide ocean of conjecture. He generalizes always instead of specifying,— the true secret of the ideal treatment in which he is without peer, and, though everywhere grandiose, he is never turgid. Tasso begins finely with

Chiama gli abitator della ombre eterne
II rauco suon della tartarea tromba;
Treman le spaziose atre caverne,
E la aer cieco a quel rurtiar rumor,???mbombaZZZ

1 There seems to be something wrong in this word shores. Did Milton write shoals?

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