England's Antiphon

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  1. The rhymes of the first and second and of the fourth and fifth lines throughout the stanzas, are all, I think, what the French call feminine rhymes, as in the words "sleeping," "weeping." This I think it better not to attempt retaining, because the final unaccented syllable is generally one of those e's which, having first become mute, have since been dropped from our spelling altogether.

  2. For the grammatical interpretation of this line, I am indebted to Mr. Richard Morris. Shall is here used, as it often is, in the sense of must, and rede is a noun; the paraphrase of the whole being, "_Son, what must be to me for counsel?_" "_What counsel must I follow?_"

  3. "Do not blame me, it is my nature."

  4. Mon is used for man or woman: human being. It is so used in Lancashire still: they say mon to a woman.

  5. "They weep quietly and becomingly." I think there must be in this word something of the sense of gently,-uncomplainingly.

  6. "And are shrunken (clung with fear) like the clay." So here is the same as as. For this interpretation I am indebted to Mr. Morris.

  7. "It is no wonder though it pleases me very ill."

  8. I think the poet, wisely anxious to keep his last line just what it is, was perplexed for a rhyme, and fell on the odd device of saying, for "both day and night," "both day and the other."

  9. "All as if it were not never, I wis."

  10. "So that many men say--True it is, all goeth but God's will."

  11. I conjecture "All that grain (me) groweth green."

  12. Not is a contraction for ne wat, know not. "For I know not whither I must go, nor how long here I dwell." I think y is omitted by mistake before duelle.

  13. This is very poor compared with the original.

  14. I owe almost all my information on the history of these plays to Mr. Collier's well-known work on English Dramatic Poetry.

  15. Able to suffer, deserving, subject to, obnoxious to, liable to death and vengeance.

  16. The word harry is still used in Scotland, but only in regard to a bird's nest.

  17. Do-well, Do-better, and Do-best.

  18. Complexion.

  19. Ruddiness--complexion.

  20. Twig.

  21. Life (?).--I think she should be he.

  22. Field.

  23. "Carry you beyond this region."

  24. For the knowledge of this poem I am indebted to the Early English Text Society, now printing so many valuable manuscripts.

  25. The for here is only an intensive.

  26. Pref is proof. Put in pref seems to stand for something more than being tested. Might it not mean proved to be a pearl of price?

  27. A word acknowledged to be obscure. Mr. Morris suggests _on the left hand_, as unbelieved.

  28. "Except that which his sole wit may judge."

  29. "Be equal to thy possessions:" "fit thy desires to thy means."

  30. "Ambition has uncertainty." We use the word ticklish still.

  31. "Is mingled everywhere."

  32. To relish, to like. "Desire no more than is fitting for thee."

  33. For.

  34. "Let thy spiritual and not thine animal nature guide thee."

  35. "And I dare not falsely judge the reverse."

  36. A poem so like this that it may have been written immediately after reading it, is attributed to Robert Henryson, the Scotch poet. It has the same refrain to every verse as Lydgate's.

  37. "Mourning for mishaps that I had caught made me almost mad."

  38. "Led me all one:" "brought me back to peace, unity, harmony." (?)

  39. "That I read on (it)."

  40. Of in the original, as in the title.

  41. Does this mean by contemplation on it?

  42. "I paid good attention to it."

  43. "Greeted thee"--in the very affliction.

  44. "For Christ's love let us do the same."

  45. "Whatever grief or woe enslaves thee." But thrall is a blunder, for the word ought to have rhymed with make.

  46. "The precious leader that shall judge us."

  47. "When thou art in sorry plight, think of this."

  48. "And death, beyond renewal, lay hold upon their life."

  49. Sending, message: "whatever varying decree God sends thee."

  50. "Receives his message;" "accepts his will."

  51. Recently published by the Early English Text Society. S.L. IV.

  52. "Child born of a bright lady." Bird, berd, brid, burd, means lady originally: thence comes our bride.

  53. In Chalmers' English Poets, from which I quote, it is selly-worme; but I think this must be a mistake. Silly would here mean weak.

  54. The first poem he wrote, a very fine one, _The Shepheard's Calender_, is so full of old and provincial words, that the educated people of his own time required a glossary to assist them in the reading of it.

  55. Eyas is a young hawk, whose wings are not fully fledged.

  56. "What less than that is fitting?"

  57. For, even in Collier's edition, but certainly a blunder.

  58. Was, in the editions; clearly wrong.

  59. "Of the same mould and hand as we."

  60. There was no contempt in the use of this word then.

  61. Simple-hearted, therefore blessed; like the German selig.

  62. A shell plentiful on the coast of Palestine, and worn by pilgrims to show that they had visited that country.

  63. Evil was pronounced almost as a monosyllable, and was at last contracted to ill.

  64. "Come to find a place." The transitive verb stow means to put in a place: here it is used intransitively.

  65. The list of servants then kept in large houses, the number of such being far greater than it is now.

  66. There has been some blundering in the transcription of the last two lines of this stanza. In the former of the two I have substituted doth for dost, evidently wrong. In the latter, the word cradle is doubtful. I suggest cradled, but am not satisfied with it. The meaning is, however, plain enough.

  67. "The very blessing the soul needed."

  68. An old English game, still in use in Scotland and America, but vanishing before cricket.

  69. Silly means innocent, and therefore blessed; ignorant of evil, and in so far helpless. It is easy to see how affection came to apply it to idiots. It is applied to the ox and ass in the next stanza, and is often an epithet of shepherds.

  70. See _Poems by Sir Henry Wotton and others. Edited by the Rev. John Hannah_.

  71. "Know thyself."

  72. "And I have grown their map."

  73. The guilt of Adam's first sin, supposed by the theologians of Dr. Donne's time to be imputed to Adam's descendants.

  74. The past tense: ran.

  75. Their door to enter into sin--by his example.

  76. He was sent by James I. to assist an embassy to the Elector Palatine, who had married his daughter Elizabeth.

  77. He had lately lost his wife, for whom he had a rare love.

  78. "If they know us not by intuition, but by judging from circumstances and signs."

  79. "With most willingness."

  80. "Art proud."

  81. A strange use of the word; but it evidently means recovered, and has some analogy with the French repasser.

  82. To understood: to sweeten.

  83. He plays upon the astrological terms, houses and schemes. The astrologers divided the heavens into twelve houses; and the diagrams by which they represented the relative positions of the heavenly bodies, they called schemes.

  84. The tree of knowledge.

  85. Dyce, following Seward, substitutes curse.

  86. A glimmer of that Platonism of which, happily, we have so much more in the seventeenth century.

  87. Should this be "_in_ fees;" that is, in acknowledgment of his feudal sovereignty?

  88. Warm is here elongated, almost treated as a dissyllable.

  89. "He ought not to be forsaken: whoever weighs the matter rightly, will come to this conclusion."

  90. The Eridan is the Po.--As regards classical allusions in connexion with sacred things, I would remind my reader of the great reverence our ancestors had for the classics, from the influence they had had in reviving the literature of the country.--I need hardly remind him of the commonly-received fancy that the swan does sing once--just as his death draws nigh. Does this come from the legend of Cycnus changed into a swan while lamenting the death of his friend Phaeton? or was that legend founded on the yet older fancy? The glorious bird looks as if he ought to sing.

  91. The poet refers to the singing of the hymn before our Lord went to the garden by the brook Cedron.

  92. The construction is obscure just from the insertion of the to before breathe, where it ought not to be after the verb hear. The poet does not mean that he delights to hear that voice more than to breathe gentle airs, but more than to hear gentle airs (to) breathe. _To hear_, understood, governs all the infinitives that follow; among the rest, the winds (to) chide.

  93. Rut is used for the sound of the tide in Cheshire. (See Halliwell's Dictionary.) Does rutty mean roaring? or does it describe the deep, rugged shores of the Jordan?

  94. A monosyllable, contracted afterwards into bloom.

  95. Willows.

  96. Groom originally means just a man. It was a word much used when pastoral poetry was the fashion. Spenser has herd-grooms in his Shepherd's Calendar. This last is what it means here: shepherds.

  97. Obtain, save.

  98. Equivalent to "What are those hands of yours for?"

  99. He was but thirty-nine when he died.

[100] To rhyme with pray in the second line.

[101] Bunch of flowers. He was thinking of Aaron's rod, perhaps.

[102] To correspond to that of Christ.

[103] Again a touch of holy humour: to match his Master's predestination, he will contrive something three years beforehand, with an if.

[104] The here in the preceding line means his book; hence the thy book is antithetical.

[105] Concent is a singing together, or harmoniously.

[106] Music depends all on proportions.

[107] The diapason is the octave. Therefore "all notes true." See note 2, p. 205.

[108] An intransitive verb: he was wont.

[109] The birds called halcyons were said to build their nests on the water, and, while they were brooding, to keep it calm.

[110] The morning star.

[111] The God of shepherds especially, but the God of all nature--the All in all, for Pan means the All.

[112] Milton here uses the old Ptolemaic theory of a succession of solid crystal concentric spheres, in which the heavenly bodies were fixed, and which revolving carried these with them. The lowest or innermost of these spheres was that of the moon. "The hollow round of Cynthia's seat" is, therefore, this sphere in which the moon sits.

[113] That cannot be expressed or described.

[114] By hinges he means the axis of the earth, on which it turns as on a hinge. The origin of hinge is hang. It is what anything hangs on.

[115] This is an apostrophe to the nine spheres (see former note), which were believed by the ancients to send forth in their revolutions a grand harmony, too loud for mortals to hear. But no music of the lower region can make up full harmony without the bass of heaven's organ. The music of the spheres was to Milton the embodiment of the theory of the universe. He uses the symbol often.

[116] Consort is the right word scientifically. It means the fitting together of sounds according to their nature. Concert, however, is not wrong. It is even more poetic than consort, for it means a striving together, which is the idea of all peace: the strife is together, and not of one against the other. All harmony is an ordered, a divine strife. In the contest of music, every tone restrains its foot and bows its head to the rest in holy dance.

[117] Symphony is here used for chorus, and quite correctly; for symphony is a voicing together. To this symphony of the angels the spheres and the heavenly organ are the accompaniment.

[118] Die of the music.

[119] Not merely swings, but lashes about.

[120] Full of folds or coils.

[121] The legend concerning this cessation of the oracles associates it with the Crucifixion. Milton in The Nativity represents it as the consequence of the very presence of the infant Saviour. War and lying are banished together.

[122] The genius is the local god, the god of the place as a place.

[123] The Lars were the protecting spirits of the ancestors of the family; the Lemures were evil spirits, spectres, or bad ghosts. But the notions were somewhat indefinite.

[124] Flamen was the word used for priest when the Romans spoke of the priest of any particular divinity. Hence the peculiar power in the last line of the stanza.

[125] Jupiter Ammon, worshipped in Libya, in the north of Africa, under the form of a goat. "He draws in his horn."

[126] The Syrian Adonis.

[127] Frightful, horrible, as, a grisly bear.

[128] Isis, Orus, Anubis, and Osiris, all Egyptian divinities--the last worshipped in the form of a bull.

[129] No rain falls in Egypt.

[130] Last-born: the star in the east.

[131] Bright-armoured.

[132] Ready for what service may arise.

[133] The with we should now omit, for when we use it we mean the opposite of what is meant here.

[134] It is the light of the soul going out from the eyes, as certainly as the light of the world coming in at the eyes that makes things seen.

[135] The action by which a body attacked collects force by opposition.

[136] Cut roughly through.

[137] Intransitively used. They touch each other.

[138] Self-desire, which is death's pit, &c.

[139] Which understood.

[140] How unpleasant conceit can become. The joy of seeing the Saviour was stolen because they gained it in the absence of the sun!

[141] A trisyllable.

[142] His garland.

[143] The "sunny seed" in their hearts.

[144] From tine or tind, to set on fire. Hence tinder.

[145] The body of Jesus.

[146] Mark i. 35; Luke xxi. 37. The word time must be associated both with progress and prayer--his walking-time and prayer-time.

[147] This is an allusion to the sphere-music: the great heavens is a clock whose hours are those when Jesus retires to his Father; and to these hours the sphere-music gives the chime.

[148] He continues his poetic synonyms for the night.

[149] "Behold I stand at the door and knock."

[150] A monosyllable.

[151] Often used for chambers.

[152] "The creation looks for the light, thy shadow?" Or, "The light looks for thy shadow, the sun"?

[153] Perforce: of necessity.

[154] He does not mean his fellows, but his bodily nature.

[155] Savourest?

[156] The first I ever saw of its hymns was on a broad-sheet of Christmas Carols, with coloured pictures, printed in Seven Dials.

[157] They passed through twenty editions, not to mention one lately published (by Daniel Sedgwick, of 81, Sun-street, Bishopsgate, a man who, concerning hymns and their writers, knows more than any other man I have met), from which, carefully edited, I have gathered all my information, although I had known the book itself for many years.

[158] The animal spirits of the old physiologists.

[159] In the following five lines I have adopted the reading of the first edition, which, although a little florid, I prefer to the scanty two lines of the later.

[160] False in feeling, nor like God at all, although a ready pagan representation of him. There is much of the pagan left in many Christians--poets too.

[161] Insisting--persistent.

[162] Great cloudy ridges, one rising above the other, like a grand stair up to the heavens. See Wordsworth's note.

[163] The mountain.

[164] These two lines are just the symbol for the life of their author.

[165] From the rose-light on the snow of its peak.

[166] They all flow from under the glaciers, fed by their constant melting.

[167] Turning for contrast to the glaciers, which he apostrophizes in the next line.

[168] Antecedent, peaks.

[Transcriber's Note: In this electronic edition, the footnotes have been numbered and relocated to the end of the work. In chapter 14, the word "Iris", which appears in our print copy, seems to be a misprint for "Isis" and was corrected as such.]

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