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The Hymn

It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child 30

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe to him,
Had doffed her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

Only with speeches fair
She woos the gentle air

To hide her guilty front with innocent snow, And on her naked shame, 40 Pollute with sinful blame,

The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
Confounded, that ber Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace:

She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding

Down through the turning sphere,'
His ready harbinger'

With turtle* wing the amorous clouds dividing!

And waving wide her myrtle wand, 61 She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

No war, or battle's sound,
Was heard the world around;

The idle spear and shield were high uphung;
The liooked» chariot stood
Unstained with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
And kings sat still with awful10 eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was
by. 60

But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of Light

His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,"
Smoothly the waters kissed,

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the
charmed wave.

The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze, TO
Bending one way their precious influence,

And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,

Or Lucifer15 that often warned them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespake and bid them

And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,

The sun himself withheld his wonted speed, And hid his head for shame, 80 As1* his inferior flame

The new-enlightened world no more should need:

He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne or burning axletree
could bear.

The shepherds on the lawn,1*
Or ere the point of dawn,

Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they than1*
That the mighty Pan1*

Was kindly come to live with them below: 90
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their Billy" thoughts so busy

When such music sweet

Their hearts and ears did greet

As never was by mortal finger strook,1" f Divinely-warbled voice Answering the stringed noise,

As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
The air, such pleasure loath to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs eaeh heav-
enly close. 10*

Nature, that heard such sound
Beneath the hollow round

Of Cynthia's seat18 the airy region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was done,

And that her reign had here its last fulfilling: She knew such harmony alone Could hold all heaven and earth in happier union.

At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light, 110
That with long beams the shamefaced night

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The helmed cherubim
And sworded seraphim
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings dis-

Harping in loud and solemn quire,
With uneipressive2" notes, to Heaven's new-
born heir.

Such music (as 'tis said)
Before was never made,

But when of old the sons of morning sung,2' While the Creator great 120 His constellations set,

And the well-balanced world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their oozy chan-
nel keep.

Ring out, ye crystal spheres!
Once bless our human ears

(If ye have power to touch our senses so),
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;

And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow;

And with your ninefold22 harmony 131
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.

For if such holy song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back and fetch the age of

And speekled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly

And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peer-
ing day. If

Yea, Truth and Justice then

Will down return to men, Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,

Mercy will sit between,

Throned in celestial sheen, With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;

And heaven, as at some festival,

Will open wide the gates of her high palacehall.

But wisest Fate says no,

This must not yet be so; 150

20 Inexpressible 22 See note on p. 255.

21 "When the morning The spheres w-re

stars sang togeth- sometimes held to

er." Job, xxxvlll, 7. be only nine in


The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss,

So both himself and us to glorify:
Yet first, to those ychained in sleep,
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder
through the deep,23

With such a horrid clang
As on Mount Sinai rang,2*

While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake:

The aged earth, aghast 160 With terror of that blast,25

Shall from the surface to the centre shake,
When, at the world's last session,
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread
his throne.

And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,28

But now begins; for from this happy day
The old Dragon under ground,
In straiter limits bound,

Not half so far casts his usurped sway; 170
And wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swinges27 the scaly horror of his folded tail.

The oracles are dumb;28
No voice or hideous hum

Kuns through the arched roof in words de-
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,

With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.

No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic
cell.' 180

The lonely mountains o 'er,
And the resounding shore,

A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring, and dale
Edged with poplar pale,

The parting Genius2' is with sighing sent; WTith flower-inwoven tresses torn, The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

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The Lars ami Lemures3" inoau with midnight plaint; In urns and altars round, A drear and dying sound

Affrights the flamens3' at their service quaint;

And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar power forgoes his wonted

Peor32 and Baiilim32
Forsake their temples dim,

With that twice-battered god of Palestine And mooned Ashtaroth,3* -00 Heaven's queen and mother both,

Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine;
The Libyc Hammonds shrinks his horn;
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Tham-
muz38 mourn.

And sullen Moloch,3" fled,
Hath left in shadows dread

His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In vain with cymbals' ring
They call the grisly king,

In disnal dance about the furnace blue; 210
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis38 and Orus3» and the dog Anubis,'" haste.

Nor is Osiris seen

In Memphian grove or green,

Trampling the unshowered grass with lowings loud; Nor can he be at rest Within his sacred chest;"

Naught but profoundest Hell can be his shroud;

In vain, with timbreled anthems dark, The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshiped ark.

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30 spirits of the depart- 38 Wife of Osiris, fin

ed (to whom sacrl- god of the Nile,

flees won Id no who is below con

longer be made) fused with the bull

31 Roman priests god Apis, tl Phoenician divinities. M Their son.

33 Dagon (/ tiamuct, v. to An Egyptian divin1-4.) Ity in the form of

3» Phoenician goddess of a dog.

the moon. 4i He was captured by

35 The Egyptian horned being lured to en

god Amnion. ter a chest.

3« Adonis, a god of the Syrians, who having been slain by a wild boar, was said to die every year and revive again.

3? Chief god of the Phoenicians; his Image was of brass and filled with fire and into his arms children were thrown to be sacrificed.

The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn; Nor all the gods beside Longer dare abide,

Not Typhon" huge ending in snaky twine: Our Babe, to show his Godhead true, Can in his swaddling bands control the damned, crew.

So when the mm in bed,

Curtained with cloudy red, :30 Pillows Mb chin upon an orient wave,

The flocking shadows pale

Troop to the infernal jail,

Each fettered ghost slips to his several grave,

And tho yellow-skirted fays

Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moonloved maze.

But see! the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest.

Time is our tedious song should here have ending:

Heaven's youngest-teemed43 star 240 Hath fixed her polished car,

Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending; And all about the courtly stable Bright-harnessed angels sit in order serviceable.


What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones

The labour of an age in piled stones 1
Or that his hallowed reliques should be hid
Under a star-ypointing-"* pyramid!
Dear Bon of memory, great heir of fame,
What nccd'st thou such weak witness of thy

Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a livelong monument.
For whilst to the shame of slow-endeavouring

Thy ersy numbers flow, and that each heart 18
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued*5 book
Those Delphic48 lines with deep impression took;
Then thou, our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiv-

And so sepulchred in such pomp dost lie.
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

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Hence, loathed Melancholy,

Of Cerberus-' and blackest Midnight born In Stygian cave forlorn,

'Mongst horrid shapes and shrieks and sights unholy! Find out some uncouth' cell, Where brooding darkness spreads his jealous wings,

And the night-raven sings; There under ebon shades and low-browed rocks,

As ragged as thy locks,

In dark Cimmerian* desert ever dwell. 10 But come, thou Goddess fair and free, In heaven yclept Euphrosyne, And by men heart-easing Mirth; Whom lovely Venus, at a birth, With two sister Graces1* more, To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore; Or whether (as some sager« sing) The frolic wind that breathes the spring, Zephyr, with Aurora playing, As he met her once a-Maying, 2( There on beds of violets blue And fresh-blown roses washed in dew, Filled her with thee, a daughter fair, So buxom,' blithe, and debonair. Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee Jest, and youthful Jollity, Quips and cranks8 and wanton wiles, Nods and becks" and wreathed smiles, Such as hang on Hebe's1* cheek, And love to live in dimple sleek; 31 Sport that wrinkled Care derides, And Laughter holding both his sides. Come, and trip it as you go, On the light fantastic toe; And in thy right hand lead with thee The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty; And if I give thee honour due, Mirth, admit me of thy crew, To live with her, and live with thee, In unreproved pleasures free: 4 To hear the lark begin his flight, And singing, startle the dull night, From hia watch-tower in the skies, Till the dappled dawn doth rise;

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Then to come'1 in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good-morrow,
Through tho sweet-briar or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantines-
While the cock, with lively iliu,
Scatters the rear of darkness thin; 60
And to the stack, or the barn-door,
Stoutly struts his dames before:
Oft listening how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill:
Sometime walking, not unseen,
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate
Where the great sun begins his state, 60
Robed in flames and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;13
While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o'er the furrowed land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe,
And every shepherd tells his tale1*
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleas-

Whilst the landskip round it measures: 70
Russet lawns and fallows15 grey,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray;
Mountains on whose barren breast
The labouring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim, with daisies pied,
Shallow brooks and rivers wide;
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosomed high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure1* of neighbouring eyes.
Hard by, a cottage- chimney smokes
From betwixt two aged oaks,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis" met
Are at their savoury dinner set .
Of herbs and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phillisi" dresses;
And then in haste her bower she leaves,
With Thestylis17 to bind the sheaves;
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tanned haycock in the mead. 90
Sometimes, with secure delight,
The upland hamlets will invite.
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecks18 sound
To many a youth and many a maid

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1 The Cheerful Man.

2 The three-headed dog

that guarded the entrance to Hades, s unknown

4 The Cimmerians of fable lived beyond the ocean streams, out of reach of the sun.

(Aglaia and Thalia,

goddesses of fet

• more sagely ( mythology that lows Is M 11 t o n's own Invention).

i lithe, lively

s odd turns of speech

o beckonlngs

io Daughter of Jupiter and Juno; goddess of youth.

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Dancing in the chequered shade;
And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
Till the livelong daylight fail:
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How Faery Mab the junkets eat.
Sheio was pinched and pulled, she said;
And he, by Friar's20 lantern led,
Tells how the drudging goblin2* sweat
To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down, the lubber fiend,
And, stretched out all the chimney's

Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
And crop-full out of doors he flings,
Ere the first cock his matin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering winds soon lulled asleep.
Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds22 of peace high triumphs2* hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Bain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace whom all commend.
There let Hymen2* oft appear
In saffron robe, with taper clear,
And pomp and feast and revelry,
With mask" and antique pageantry;
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson's learnfed sock2' be on,
Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian27 airs,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
In notes with many a winding bout28
Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed2» and giddy cunning,






I The melting voice through mazes running, | Untwisting all the chains that tie

The hidden soul of harmony;

That Orpheus' self30 may heave his head

From golden slumber on a bed

Of heaped Elysian flowers, and hear

Such strains as would have won the ear

Of Pluto to have quite set free

His half-regaiDed Eurydice. 160

These delights if thou canst give,

Mirth, with thee I mean to live.


Hence, vain deluding Joys,

The brood of Folly without father bred! How little you bested,2

Or fill the fixdd mind with all your toys! Dwell in some idle brain,

And fancies fond3 with gaudy shapes possess,*

As thick and numberless

As the gay motes that people the sun-beams, Or likest hovering dreams,

The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.3 10 But hail, thou Goddess sage and holy, Hail, divinest Melancholy! Whose saintly visage is too bright To hit the sense uf human sight, And therefore to our weaker view O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue; Black, but such as in esteem Prince Memnon's sister* might beseem, Or that starred Ethiop queen' that strove To set her beauty's praise above 20 The sea nymphs, and their powers offended. Yet thou art higher far descended: Thoe bright-haired Vesta8 long of yore To solitary Saturn bore; His daughter she (in Saturn's reign Such mixture was not held a stain). Oft in glimmering bowers and glades Ho met her, and in secret shades Of woody Ida's" inmost grove,

30 Stones and trees and beasts followed his music and by It ho even drew his wife Eurydice forth from Hades, hut lost her because he looked back to see whether she were coming.

to One of the story-tellers. For the pranks of Faery Mab. see Romeo and Juliet, I. lv, 58, If.

20 ? Will o* the wisp.

:i It o b 1 n Goodfellow, the mischievous fairy. People placed a bowl of cream at the door to Insure his help, and to prevent his mischief.

22 dress

23 processions, shows,


2* The god of marriage.

25 A form of entertain


26 low-heeled shoe, sym

bol of comedy

27 One of the three

moods of Grecian music. 2» turn

20 freedom and care combined

1 The Thoughtful Man.

2 bestead (profit) s foolish

4 captivate

6 followers of the god

of dreams e Memnon was king of the Ethiopians at the time of the Trojan wars.

7 Cassiopea was carried

by Perseus to heaven, where she be

came a constellation.

s Goddess of the hearth or of fire, possibly signifying genius. The genealogy is Milton's invention.

o Mt. Ida in Crete, the ancient kingdom of Saturn, from which he was driven by his son Jupiter.

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