« AnteriorContinuar »
By the strong strokes of laboring hinds subdued,
Loud groans her last, and rushing from her height
The conscious forest trembles at the shock,
Milton compares Satan divested of his glory, to the sun shrouded in lurid clouds, or under eclipse:
"He above the rest,
In shape and gesture proudly eminent,
Stood like a tower: his form not yet had lost
In dim eclipse, disastrous twilight sheds
PARADISE LOST, b. i.
His shield he compares to the moon seen througl.
"He scarce had ceased, when the superior fiend
Was moving toward the shore; his ponderous shield,
Etherial temper, massy, large, and round,
Behind him cast; the broad circumference
Hung on his shoulder like the moon, whose orb
At evening from the top of Fesolè,
Or in Valdarno, to descry new lands,
PARADISE LOST, b. i.
Homer compares the agitation of the Greeks at Agamemnon's proposal to abandon the siege of Troy, to the movement of the sea, and of fields of grain under a powerful wind:
The whole assembly, such as heaves the flood
Of the Icarian deep, when south and east
ILIAD ii. 1. 162-168.
Scott compares the quickness with which the tears of childhood dry, to that of the dew of flowers:
"The tear down childhood's cheek that flows
When first the summer breeze comes by,
And shakes the bush, the flower is dry."
The comparison has two characteristics. First, it is expressed by as, like, so, or some other term of resemblance. Secondly, the names of the things compared are used in their literal sense. Thus in the similes, The manna was like coriander seed, white; the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; the wicked are like the troubled sea-the terms manna, staff of his spear, and the wicked, on the one hand, are used in their literal sense. It is manna, spear-staff, and the wicked, not anything else, that are said to be like the objects with which they are compared; and, on the other, it is coriander seed, a weaver's beam, and a troubled sea, and not anything else, which they are severally declared to resemble; and so of all other comparisons. If the names were not used literally, there would be no means of determining what the things are that are compared. This characteristic is of great moment; as it results from it, that when comparisons are employed in predictions and promises, the things which are promised or foreshown in the comparison, are the identical things that are named, not others of an analogous kind; and are literally to
come to pass in the manner in which the prediction or promise specifies. Thus in the announcement (Matt. xxiv. 27), "For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west, so shall the coming of the Son of Man be;" his visible coming, which is compared to the shining of a lightning flash, is his literal, personal coming, not some other event; and that with which it is compared is a shaft of lightning that flashes athwart the firmament from east to west, not an event or appearance of another kind. In the promise, also, "As the host of heaven cannot be numbered, neither the sand of the sea measured, so will I multiply the seed of David, my servant, and the Levites that minister unto me" (Jeremiah xxxiii. 22), it is the actual offspring of David, and the literal Levites, and not anything else, that are to be multiplied so as to exceed the power of enumeration as much as the host of heaven exceeds it, and as much as the sand of the sea transcends our power of measuring it.
As things of all kinds present resemblances to others, comparisons are framed betwixt objects of all classes. Thus agents are compared to agents, acts to acts, qualities to qualities, modes to modes, conditions to conditions, effects to effects; and these with one another in innumerable relations. Christ,
in his glorified humanity, is compared to a son of man (Rev. i, 14-15); his hairs to snow in whiteness; his feet to glowing brass in brilliancy; and his voice to the sound of a trumpet. Man is compared to the beasts that perish (Ps. xlix. 20); his tongue to a sharp razor (Ps. lii. 2); his counsels to deep water (Prov. xx. 5); his agitation, under fear, to the swaying of a forest under a powerful wind (Isa. vii. 2); and his frailty to that of a flower (Ps. ciii. 15). The agency of the Spirit on man is resembled to that of the wind on the trees, which is known only by its effects (John iii. 8). The righteousness of God is likened to the great mountains, vast, conspicuous, and immovable (Ps. xxxvi. 6); and the elevation of his thoughts above ours, to the height of the heavens above the earth (Isaiah lv. 9). And thus his various attributes, acts, and works; the faculties and affections, the thoughts and aims, the achievements and misfortunes of men; and the numberless objects and processes of the natural world, are illustrated by similitudes that are presented by other agents, objects, or acts.
The comparisons employed by the poets and orators are very numerous; and those of the second class especially, in which the resemblances are specified, contribute more than any other figures to the embellishment of their writings.
Akenside represents all intelligent beings as drawn to God by a power analogous to that of