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tonic passages in the first version are not found in the second; but this is either because they had to be dropped to fit the change of plan, or, as is more often the case, because they were not reached in the second version, which covers only a third of the original fragment.1
become in the new version (i. 389-97),
The load of this eternal quietude...
Intense, that death would take me.
Here, to be sure, Keats has eliminated two inversions; but is not this simply an incidental result of the presence of "I bore," of the change necessitated by making the poet a character in the poem? The lines could not have remained as they were; and the second form, with such diction as "eternal quietude... Ponderous upon my senses," and with "sure" and "intense" used as adverbs, is if anything more Miltonic than the first.
b. In the line "The frozen God still couchant on the earth" (Hyperion i. 87), the expression "couchant on," which is misleading (since gray-haired Saturn "sat," not "lay"), is changed in The Fall to the more accurate term "bending to" (i. 386).
c. The line "Upon the gold clouds metropolitan” (Hyperion, i. 129) Keats expanded into "From the gold peaks of heaven's high-piled clouds" (The Fall, i. 434), possibly for the sake of clearness, or, as Mr. de Sélincourt suggests (p. 524), because the latter expression is "more natural and perhaps more highly poetical." If it was the inversion that troubled Keats, why did he leave "Of triumph calm" in the preceding line?
d. In the revision, “For as among us mortals omens drear" (Hyperion, i. 169) becomes "For as upon the earth dire prodigies" (ii. 18), obviously because in the second version Moneta is speaking and cannot use the words "us mortals." When these words had been altered the meter required further changes.
e. For "oft made Hyperion ache" (Hyperion, i. 176) we have in The Fall the less Miltonic "make great Hyperion ache" (ii. 24), because in the revision the portents are represented as continuous occurrences.
f. The expression "came slope upon the threshold of the west" (Hyperion, i. 204, where "slope" is probably derived from P. L., iv. 261, 591) is changed to "is sloping to" (The Fall, ii. 48), possibly because "slope" seemed too unusual to be entirely pleasant or clear. At any rate, on the preceding page the Miltonic verb "snuff" (in "still snuff'd the incense," Hyperion, i. 167, cf. P. L., x. 272), which is not open to the same objection, is kept.
1 Two omissions need to be considered. The first is the "essentially Miltonic" passage,
While sometimes eagle's wings,
Unseen before by Gods or wondering men,
Darken'd the place; and neighing steeds were heard,
Not heard before by Gods or wondering men
(i. 182-5). This recalls Paradise Lost to Mr. de Sélincourt (p. 524) because of the repetition. Repetition is certainly common in Milton, but it is used so generally by poets that particular instances of it cannot safely be attributed to the influence of any one man. To me the lines are less Miltonic than those just before them, which are retained in the second version,
And all its curtains of Aurorian clouds
Yet the "humanizing" of the poem was not the sole, perhaps not even the main, purpose of the revision. Keats may well have had several objects in view. He certainly wished to bring out the allegory or "meaning," and to express his ideas about the functions of a poet as he was not free to do in an epic. Perhaps it was the influence of Dante that led him to change to a vision and to introduce a guide and interpreter (in the person of Moneta) who should perform a part similar to that of Virgil in the Divina Commedia.1 But it must be frankly acknowledged that, since we know very little as to what he intended to do with the poem either in the original or in the revised form, we can know still less about his reasons for changing it. The only thing clear is that the elimination of Miltonic phraseology formed no part of his plan, whereas the removal of what was to him the unnatural aloofness and austerity of the Miltonic epic he did attempt.
Keats once wrote, with fine insight into the character and temperament of Milton:
He had an exquisite passion for what is properly, in the sense of ease and pleasure, poetical Luxury; and with that it appears to me he would fain have been content, if he could, so doing, have preserved his selfrespect and feel of duty performed; but there was working in him as it were that same sort of thing as operates in the great world to the end of a Prophecy's being accomplish'd: therefore he devoted himself rather to the ardours than the pleasures of Song.
In view of Keats's own "exquisite passion for poetical luxury," he may have thought he resembled the youthful Milton, and may have hoped, when working on Hyperion, to become a poet not unlike the mature author of Paradise Lost. For unquestionably he had a good Keats may have discarded the passage because he was dissatisfied with eagles' wings and the neighing of horses; perhaps he felt that they were too earthy and not sufficiently dignified to serve as omens to the god of the sun.
The other passage which is thought to have been omitted because of its Miltonic character is the description of the opening of Hyperion's palace-door at his approach (i. 205-12). The only words in these splendid lines that recall Paradise Lost are "ope" for "open" and "save what solemn tubes... gave of sweet And wandering sounds," which might easily have been changed had it been the Miltonisms that troubled Keats. The difficulty seems to have been that in the revision the poet could not himself describe the opening of the door for the Titan to enter, since he did not see it but had his first view of Hyperion after the god was within the palace. If, then, the passage were to be kept, it had to be put into Moneta's mouth; but, as her account is everywhere comparatively direct, and as she is here concerned simply with impressing upon the poet Hyperion's distraught state of mind, she would never have taken eight lines to say what might, indeed, be assumed — that the door opened for the god to enter. It may be that Keats planned to use the lines later in the poem.
1 See Bridges, Keats, 40-41; Hoops, Keats, 31-3.
2 "Notes on Paradise Lost" (Works, ed. Forman, iii. 19).
deal in common with the author of Comus. Milton belonged in many respects with the Elizabethans, the writers from whom Keats derived a large part of his inspiration; and both men were the poetical sons of Spenser. "Keats probably borrowed more from Comus," says Mr. de Sélincourt, "than from any other poem (or part of a poem) of the same length"; and the last work he planned, the one he talked about on his voyage to Italy, was to have been on Sabrina,2 a subject admirably adapted to his powers, as it combined his love of mythology with his devotion to Milton and offered a fine scope for his imagination and his passion for sensuous beauty.
In this projected work, in his letters, and in his poems modelled more or less upon Allegro and Penseroso we seem to have evidences, not of a waning admiration for Milton, but of a realization that if he was to follow him at all closely it must be in the minor poems and not in the epic. For on one side, and an important side, Keats was quite unlike the author of Paradise Lost. The natural loftiness of character, the strong moral purpose, the deep concern over political affairs, the devotion to liberty, the scholarly interests, these were qualities quite alien to him who summed up all human knowledge in the words, "Beauty is truth, truth beauty." Furthermore, Keats was very young, he lacked the nobility that comes from great sacrifice, the discipline of close study, the "years that bring the philosophic mind." He had the richness of Milton but not the intensity or the restraint. The reason why he could carry Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and Lamia to triumphant conclusions but could not finish Hyperion was that the former were Elizabethan or Renaissance in spirit and the latter classic. His venture on the epic heights was in the nature of a tour de force: he could sustain it for a short time, but he could not breathe freely in the cold thin air, and soon turned back to the rich lowlands that he loved. Yet his apprenticeship to Milton made a different poet of him. He did not return to the "mawkishness" of Endymion and the earlier volume, but pushed forward to his masterpieces, the Eve of St. Agnes, Lamia, and the odes. These poems, which with Hyperion constitute Keats's greatest heritage to English literature, are the result of his study of Milton.*
1 Page 582, n. 2.
2 Joseph Severn to C. Brown, Sept. 19, 1821, in Sharp's Life and Letters of Severn (1892), 1
The fundamental difference between the two is illustrated by Milton's kinship with the prophets and poets of Palestine and the tragedians of Greece, whose utterances constituted his favorite reading and exerted the most powerful influence upon his mature work but had no effect upon Keats.
• Pointed out by Bridges (Keats, 32−7, 48–9, 54, 94).
THE INFLUENCE OUTSIDE OF BLANK VERSE
OSSIAN, BLAKE, SHELLEY, BYRON
THERE remain to be considered several writers who, notwithstanding their importance, require comparatively brief treatment because Milton's influence upon them is either slight or not capable of detailed proof. The first of these is the young Scotsman, James Macpherson, who long shrouded his unquestionable poetic gifts under the assumed character of a translator. In 1762 and 1763 he published Fingal and Temora, 'ancient epic poems, composed by Ossian and translated from the Galic by James Macpherson.' The triumphant progress of these pieces through Scotland, England, and across the continent, the impression they made even upon such men as Goethe, and the long dispute regarding their authorship are matters too well known to need retelling here. Though nominally epics, it was not for their narrative qualities that they became famous, but for their supposed antiquity, their vague, shadowy grandeur, and their sonorous, rhythmic prose.
In order, presumably, to give his work dignity and to gain for it consideration among the world's greatest poems, Macpherson called attention in the notes of Fingal to many passages in which Ossian resembled Homer, Virgil, and Milton. He seems, however, to have realized later that in so doing he was furnishing weapons to his opponents, for in Temora, published the following year, he did not mention similarities to other epics.
But the harm had been done. In a "Dissertation on the Authenticity of Ossian's Poems" which Malcolm Laing printed as an appendix to his History of Scotland (1800), one argument advanced for Macpherson's authorship of the pieces was their many borrowings from the Bible, Homer, Virgil, Pope, Milton, and others. Although most of the parallels were very far-fetched, their number was greatly increased in the edition of Ossian that Laing brought out in 1805. Of the one hundred and twenty-six mentioned in this work, not more than twenty-five seem to me worth calling attention to, and of these only the following should, in my opinion, be taken seriously:
"Their chief . . . tall as a glittering rock. His spear is a blasted pine. His shield the rising moon."1 - "The heroes... stood on the heath, like oaks, with all their branches round them; when . . . their withered leaves are rustling to the wind."—"Like the darkened moon . . . when she moves, a dun circle, through heaven; and dreadful change is expected by men." 3 "Thy voice shall remain in their ears." "Like the noise of a cave; when the sea of Togorma rolls before it: and its trees meet the roaring winds." -"A thousand swords, at once unsheathed, gleam on the waving heath." - "O thou that rollest above, round as the shield of my fathers! Whence are thy beams, O sun! thy everlasting light? Thou comest forth, in thy awful beauty; the stars hide themselves in the sky. . . . But thou thyself movest alone."—"Where have ye been, ye southern winds! when the sons of my love were deceived? Bu have yet been sporting on plains. . . . O that ye had been rustling, in the sails of Nathos! "Long-streaming beam of light."-"Rustling wing." 10— "His words are mixed with sighs."""Now would they have mixed in horrid fray, had not the wrath of Cathmor burned." 12. "Years roll on,
seasons return, but he is still unknown." 13
Borrowings much more numerous and striking than these have been noted in many writers of the time, and, in view of Milton's extraordinary vogue, it would be strange if the Ossianic epics did not take some phrases from Paradise Lost. Seven of those given above Macpherson himself mentioned, but he also pointed out a
1 Fingal, i (Laing, i. 9, "tall as a rock of ice" in 1st ed.); cf. P. L., i. 283–92.
2 Fingal, ii (Laing, i. 64); cf. P. L., i. 611-15. Cf. also Fingal, ii (Laing i. 76), "Stood Erin's... sons; like a grove through which the flame had rushed, hurried on by the winds of the stormy night; distant, withered, dark they stand"; Fingal, iv (Laing, i. 138-9), "Silent and tall he seemed as an oak on the banks of Lubar, which had its branches blasted of old by the lightning of heaven"; Calthon and Colmal (Laing, i. 481), "He stood... with his host. They were like rocks broken with thunder, when their bent trees are singed and bare."
3 Fingal, ii (Laing, i. 75); cf. P. L., i. 596–9. Cf. also War of Caros (Laing, i. 237), "dim, like the darkened moon behind the mist of night"; Carric-Thura (Laing, i. 415– 16), "like a light cloud on the sun, when he moves in his robes of mist, and shews but half his beams"; Temora, viii (Laing, ii. 254), "they are darkened moons in heaven"; Cath-Loda (Laing, ii. 316), “like Cruth-loda fiery-eyed, when he looks from behind the darkened moon, and strews his signs on night."
4 Comala (Laing, i. 227); cf. P. L., viii. 1-2.
War of Caros (Laing, i. 235); cf. P. L., ii. 284-7. Cf. also Dar-Thula (Laing, i. 386-7), "His voice was like hollow wind in a cave."
Battle of Lora (Laing, i. 286); cf. P. L., i. 663-4.
7 Carthon (Laing, i. 342-4); cf. P. L., iv. 32-5.
8 Dar-Thula (Laing, i. 381-2); cf. Lycidas, 50-57.
• Oithona (Laing, i. 519); cf. Comus, 340.
10 Croma (Laing, i. 539); cf. P. L., i. 768.
11 Temora, i (Laing, ii. 29); cf. P. L., i. 621.
12 Ib. iv (Laing, ii. 126); cf. P. L., iv. 990–96. 13 Ib. (Laing, ii. 131-2); cf. P. L., iii. 40–41.