On The Morning Of Christ's Nativity: The Hymn Quotes

John Milton

"The Oracles Are Dumb"

Context: In "On the Morning of Christ's Nativity" John Milton deals with the effects on the world of Christ's birth. One of them was the return of peace, truth, justice, and mercy to the world. Justice was understood as the pious worship of God, and a re-establishment of this justice was the banishment from their shrines of all the evil spirits or devils which had for ages misled humanity, who took them for gods. It is true that the perfect bliss of humankind will not come into being until Christ has died on the cross, but the evil spirits feel His might even on the day of His birth. Throughout the pagan world the shrines of the gods become silent: Apollo can no more prophesy at his celebrated shrine at Delphi; priests and sibyls no longer fall into trances or spells to deceive the people. From Europe, Palestine, and Egypt the dispossessed false gods desert their shrines and go into banishment, so strong is the power emanating from the Babe in Bethlehem. Of the silencing of the gods Milton says:

The Oracles are dumb;
No voice or hideous hum
Runs through the archéd roof in words deceiving.