Page:Studies of a Biographer 4.djvu/137
NEW LIGHTS ON MILTON
When a man is moved by the 'serious and hearty love of truth, his words, like so many nimble and airy servitors, trip about him at command, and in well-ordered files, as he would wish, fall aptly into their own places.' Milton is speaking of his prose, and, of course, laboured his poetic style most carefully. Only, the words followed the thought. Professor Raleigh describes admirably the characteristic results. He points out how every word is of value: 'In Milton's versification there is no mortar between the stones; each is held in place by the weight of the others, and helps to uphold the building.' Milton himself says that one secret lies partly in the 'sense variously drawn out from one verse into another.'
be equally enjoyable in 'nonsense verses' or to a foreigner ignorant of the meaning. That is a very small part of the charm of Paradise Lost. The musical power is an essential condition of uttering the thought effectually, hard as it may be to explain the connection. But the ultimate secret must always lie in the grandeur of the thought, without which the best verses would be mere jingle; and no skill in arranging sibilants and aspirates and labials can be a substitute for the poetic inspiration.