previous next
[288] but soon spoils all by condescending to definite comparisons with thunder and intestinal convulsions of the earth; in other words, he is unwary enough to give us a standard of measurement, and the moment you furnish Imagination with a yardstick she abdicates in favor of her statistical poor-relation Commonplace. Milton, with this passage in his memory, is too wise to hamper himself with any statement for which he can be brought to book, but wraps himself in a mist of looming indefiniteness;

He called so loud that all the hollow deep
Of hell resounded,

thus amplifying more nobly by abstention from his usual method of prolonged evolution. No caverns, however spacious, will serve his turn, because they have limits. He could practise this self-denial when his artistic sense found it needful, whether for variety of verse or for the greater intensity of effect to be gained by abruptness. His more elaborate passages have the multitudinous roll of thunder, dying away to gather a sullen force again from its own reverberations, but he knew that the attention is recalled and arrested by those claps that stop short without echo and leave us listening. There are no such vistas and avenues of verse as his. In reading the ‘Paradise Lost’ one has a feeling of spaciousness such as no other poet gives. Milton's respect for himself and for his own mind and its movements rises wellnigh to veneration. He prepares the way for his thought and spreads on the ground before the sacred feet of his verse tapestries inwoven with figures of mythology and romance. There is no such unfailing dignity as his. Observe at what a reverent distance he begins when he is about to speak of himself, as at the beginning of the Third Book and the Seventh. His sustained strength is especially felt in his beginnings. He seems always to

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Milton (Canada) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
John Milton (1)
Paradise Lost (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: