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It was the winter wild,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize:
Only with speeches fair
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;
But he, her fears to cease,
She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphere,'
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,
The idle spear and shield were high uphung;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
But peaceful was the night
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
The stars, with deep amaze,
And will not take their flight,
Or Lucifer15 that often warned them thence;
And though the shady gloom
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
The shepherds on the lawn,1*
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Was kindly come to live with them below: 90
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:
Nature, that heard such sound
Of Cynthia's seat18 the airy region thrilling,
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
The helmed cherubim
Harping in loud and solemn quire,
Such music (as 'tis said)
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,
Ring out, ye crystal spheres!
(If ye have power to touch our senses so),
And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow;
And with your ninefold22 harmony 131
For if such holy song
And speekled Vanity
And Hell itself will pass away,
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
So both himself and us to glorify:
With such a horrid clang
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,
And then at last our bliss
But now begins; for from this happy day
Not half so far casts his usurped sway; 170
The oracles are dumb;28
Kuns through the arched roof in words de-
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
The lonely mountains o 'er,
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
The parting Genius2' is with sighing sent; WTith flower-inwoven tresses torn, The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.
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,
Peor32 and Baiilim32
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;
And sullen Moloch,3" fled,
His burning idol all of blackest hue;
In disnal dance about the furnace blue; 210
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.
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
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.
ON SHAKESPEARE. 1630
What needs my Shakespeare for his honoured bones
The labour of an age in piled stones 1
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Thy ersy numbers flow, and that each heart 18
And so sepulchred in such pomp dost lie.
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;
Then to come'1 in spite of sorrow,
Whilst the landskip round it measures: 70
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
io Daughter of Jupiter and Juno; goddess of youth.
Dancing in the chequered shade;
Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
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.
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
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.