Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Belshazzar: A Dramatic Poem (London, 1822) by Henry Hart Milman

George Frederic Watts

My blogposts might be more boring than usual over the next several weeks as I investigate the expression "vast wings" and similar expressions, as in Belshazzar: A Dramatic Poem (London, 1822), by Henry Hart Milman:

A dim oppression loads the air, and sounds
As of vast wings do somewhere seem to brood
And hover on the winds; and I that most
Should tremble for myself, the appointed prey
Of sin, am bow'd, as with enforced compassion,
To think on sorrows not mine own, to weep
O'er those whose laughter and whose song upbraids
My prodigality of mis-spent pity.

(page 93)

My Notes:

Milman (1791-1868) was a clergyman, a historian, and a poet, and as poet was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxford in 1821. We should compare his lines above with those of Milton below in Book 1 of Paradise Lost:

And chiefly Thou O Spirit, that dost prefer [17]
Before all Temples th' upright heart and pure,
Instruct me, for Thou know'st; Thou from the first
Wast present, and with mighty wings outspread [ 20 ]
Dove-like satst brooding on the vast Abyss
And mad'st it pregnant: What in me is dark
Illumin, what is low raise and support;
That to the highth of this great Argument
I may assert Eternal Providence, [ 25 ]
And justifie the wayes of God to men. [26]

[From Dartmouth's Milton Reading Room]



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