Page:Life of William Blake, Gilchrist.djvu/304

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
242
[1804.
LIFE OF WILLIAM BLAKE.

About Milton we hear very little, but his name is mentioned in the opening invocation:—

 Daughters of Beulah! muses who inspire the poet's song!
Record the journey of immortal Milton through your realms
Of terror and mild moony lustre!

And afterwards we are told:—

First Milton saw Albion upon the rock of ages,
Deadly pale outstretch'd and snowy cold, storm-cover'd:
A giant form of perfect beauty outstretch'd on the rock
In solemn death: the Sea of Time and Space thunder'd aloud
Against the rock which was inwrapp'd with the weeds of death
Hovering over the cold bosom. In its vortex Milton bent down
To the bosom of death. What was underneath soon seem'd above,
A cloudy heaven mingled with stormy seas in loudest ruin.
But as a wintry globe descends precipitant, through Beulah, bursting
With thunders loud and terrible, so Milton's shadow fell
Precipitant, loud thund'ring, into the sea of Time and Space.

Two other familiar names find pregnant mention.

God sent his two servants Whitfield and Wesley; were they prophets?
Or were they idiots and madmen? 'Shew us miracles?'
Can you have greater miracles than these? Men who devote
Their life's whole comfort to entire scorn, injury, and death?

But the chief parts are played, as before, by shadowy or symbolic personages; of some of whose names, however, a definite interpretation here occurs which will be welcome:—

Los is by mortals named Time, Enitharmon is named Space;
But they depict him bald and aged who is in eternal youth,
All powerful, and his locks flourish like the brow of morning.
He is the Spirit of Prophecy, the ever apparent Elias,
Time is the mercy of Eternity; without Time's swiftness.
Which is the swiftest of all things, all were eternal torment.

'The latter part of the first book of Milton,' says Mr. Swinburne,—to whose guidance the reader, desirous of testing his poetic mettle by plunging resolutely through the dark