« PoprzedniaDalej »
O thou Goddess,
Thou divine Nature! how thyself thou blazon'st
In these two princely boys! they are as gentle
As zephyrs blowing below the violet,
Not wagging his sweet head; and yet as rough
(Their royal blood enchaf’d) as the rudest wind,
That by the top doth take the mountain pine,
And make him stoop to th' vale.
CYMBELINE.-Act IV Sc 4. Why did not I pass away in secret, like the flower of the rock that lifts its fair head unseen, and strows its withered leaves on the blast?
There is a joy in grief when peace dwells with the sorrowful, But they are wasted with mourning, O daughter of Toscar, and their days are few. They fall away like the flower on which the sun looks in his strength, after the mildew has passed over it, and its head is heavy with the drops of night.
FINGAL. The sight obtained of the city of Jerusalem by the Christian army, compared to that of land discovered after a long voyage—Tasso's Gierusal., canto 3. st. 4. The fury of Rinaldo subsiding when not opposed, to that of wind or water, when it has
passageCanto 20. st. 58.
As words convey but a faint and obscure notion of great numbers, a poet, to give a lively notion of the object he describes with regard to number, does well to
compare it to what is familiar and commonly known. Thus Homer* compares the Grecian army in point of number to a swarm of bees; in another passaget he compares it to that profusion of leaves and flowers which appear in the spring, or of insects in a summer's evening: and Milton,
Such comparisons have, by some writers, been condemned for the lowness of the images introduced; but surely without reason, for, with regard to numbers, they put the principal subject in a strong light,
The foregoing comparisons operate by resemblance; others have the same effect by contrast.
York. I am the last of noble Edward's sons,
Of whom thy father, Prince of Wales, was first:
lp war, was never lion rag'd more fierce;
In peace, was never gentle lamb more mild,
Than was that young and princely gentleman.
His face thou hast, for even so look'd he,
Accomplish'd with the number of thy hours.
But when he frown'd, it was against the French,
And not against his friends. His noble hand
Did win what he did spend; and spent not that
Which his triumphant father's hand had wou.
His hands were guilty of no kindred's blood,
But bloody with the enemies of his kin.
Oh, Richard! York is too far gone with grief,
Or else he never would compare between.
RICHARD II.-ACT II. Sc. 3. Milton has a peculiar talent in embellishing t
the principal subject by associating it with others that are agreeable; which is the third end of a comparison. Similies of this kind have, beside, a separate effect; they diversify the narration by new images that are not strictly necessary to the comparison; they are short episodes, which, without drawing us from the principal subject, afford great delight by their beauty and va. riety :
He scarce had ceas'd, when the superior fiend
Was moving toward the shore ; his pond'rous shield,
Ethereal temper, massy, large, and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulders like the moon, whose orb
Through optic glass the Tuscan artist views
At ev'ning from the top of Fesole,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
Rivers, or mountains, in her spotty globe.
Thus far these, beyond
Compare of mortal prowess, yet observ'd
Their dread commander. He, above the rest
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower; his form had not yet lost
All her'original brightness, nor appear'd
Less than archangel ruin'd, and th’ excess
Of glory obscurd : as when the sun new-risen
Looks through the horizontal misty air
Shorn of his beams; or from behind the moon
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
On half the nations, and with fear of change
As when a vulture on Imaus bred,
Whose snowy ridge the roving Tartar bounds,
Dislodging from a region scarce of prey
To gorge the flesh of lambs, or yeanling kids,
On hills where flocks are fed, flies toward the springs
Of Ganges or Hydaspes, Indian streams,
But in his way lights on the barren plains
Of Sericana, where Chineses drive
With sails and winds their cany wagons light:
So on this windy sea of land, the fiend
Walk'd up and down alone, bent on his prey.
Yet higher than their tops
The verd'rous wall of paradise up-sprung:
Which to our general sire gave prospect large
Into his nether empire neighboring round.
And higher than that wall, a circling row
Of goodliest trees laden with fairest fruit,
Blossoms and fruits at once of golden hue,
Appear'd, with gay enamelld colors mix’d,
On which the sun more glad impress'd his beams,
Than in fair evening cloud, or humid bow,
When God had shower'd the earth; so lovely seem'd
That landscape: and of pure now purer air
Meets approach, and to the heart inspires
Vernal delight and joy, able to drive
All sadness but despair: now gentle gales
Fanning their odorif'rous wings, dispense
Native perfumes, and whisper whence they stole
Those balmy spoils. As when to them who sail
Beyond the Cape of Hope, and now are past
Mozambic, off at sea north-east winds blow
Sabean odor from the spicy shore
Of Araby the Blest; with such delay
Well-pleas'd they slack their course, and many a league
Cheer'd with the grateful smell, old Ocean smiles.
MILTON.-BOOK IV With regard to similies of this kind, it will readily occur to the reader, that when a resembling subject is once properly introduced in a simile, the mind is transitorily amused with the new object, and is not dis
satisfied with the slight interruption. Thus, in fine weather, the momentary excursions of a traveller for agreeable prospects or elegant buildings, cheer his mind, relieve him from the languor of uniformity, and, without much lengthening his journey, in reality shorten it greatly in appearance.
Next, of comparisons that aggrandize or elevate. These affect us more than any other sort; the reason of which may be gathered from the chapter of Grandeur and Sublimity; and, without reasoning, will be evident from the following instances :
As when a flame the winding valley fills,
And runs on crackling shrubs between the hills,
Then o'er the stubble, up the mountain flies,
Fires the high woods, and blazes to the skies,
This way and that, the spreading torrent roars;
So sweeps the hero through the wasted shores.
Around him wide, immense destruction pours,
And earth is delug'd with the sanguine show'rs.
Iliad, xx. 569.
Through blood, through death, Achilles still proceeds,
O'er slaughter'd heroes, and o'er rolling steeds.
As when avenging flames with fury driv'n,
On guilty towns exert the wrath of Heav'n,
The pale inhabitants, some fall, some fly,
And the red vapors purple all the sky:
So rag'd Achilles : Death and dire dismay,
And toils, and terrors, fill'd the dreadful day.
ILIAD, xxi. 605.
Methinks, king Richard and myself should meet
With no less terror than the elements
Of fire and water, when their thund'ring shock,
At meeting, tears the cloudy cheeks of heav'n.
RICHARD II.-Act III. Sc. 5. As rusheth a foamy stream from the dark shady steep of Cromla, when thunder is rolling above, and dark brown night rests on the hill: so fierce, so vast, so terrible, rush forward the sons of Erin. The chief, like a whale of Ocean followed by all its billows pours valor forth as a stream, rolling its might along the shore.
FINGAL.-Book I. As roll a thousand waves to a rock, so Swaran's host came on as meets a rock a thousand waves, so Inisfail met Swaran.
Ibid. I beg particular attention to the following simile, for a reason that shall be mentioned:
Thus breathing death, in terrible array,
The close-compacted legions urg'd their way:
Fierce they drove on, impatient to destroy;
Troy charg'd the first, and Hector first of Troy.
As from some mountain's craggy forehead torn,
A rock's round fragment flies with fury borne,
(Which from the stubborn stone a torrent rends)
Precipitate the pond'rous mass descends;
From steep to steep the rolling ruin bounds :
At every shock the crackling wood resounds;
Still gath'ring force, it smokes, and, urg'd amain,
Whirls, leaps, and thunders down, impetuous to the plain
There stops-So Hector. Their whole force he provid:
Resistless when he raged; and when he stopp'd, unmov'd.
ILIAD, xiii. 187. The image of a falling rock is certainly not elevating; and yet undoubtedly the foregoing simile fires and swells the mind; it is grand, therefore, if not sublime. And the following simile will afford additional evidence that there is a real, though nice, distinction between these two feelings :
So saying, a noble stroke he lifted high,
Which hung not, but so swift with tempest fell
On the proud crest of Satan, that no sight,
Nor motion of swift thought, less could his shield
Such ruin intercept. Ten paces huge
He back recoil'd; the tenth on bended knee
His massy spear upstaid; as if on earth
Winds under ground or waters forcing way,
Sidelong had push'd a mountain from his seat
Half-sunk with all his pines.
MILTON.-Book VI. A comparison by contrast, may contribute to grandeur or elevation, no less than by resemblance.
The last article mentioned, is that of lessening or depressing a hated or disagreeable object; which is effèctually done by resembling it to any thing low or despicable. Thus Milton, in his description of the rout of the rebel angels, happily expresses their terror and dismay in the following simile ons i ondt
As a herd
Of goats or timorous flock together throng'd,
Drove them before him thunder-struck, pursu'd
With terrors and with furies to the bounds
And crystal wall of heav'n, which, op'ning wide,