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MILTON, John


Song on May Morning

NOW the bright morning-star, Day’s harbinger,

Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her

The flowery May, who from her green lap throws

The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.

Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire

Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!

Woods and groves are of thy dressing;

Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.

Thus we salute thee with our early song,

And welcome thee, and wish thee long.


On His Being Arrived to the Age of Twenty-Three

HOW soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
Stolen on his wing my three and twentieth year!

My hasting days fly on with full career,

But my late spring no bud or blossom shew’th.

Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,

That I to manhood am arrived so near,

And inward ripeness doth much less appear,

That some more timely-happy spirits indu’th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still in strictest measure even

To that same lot, however mean or high,

Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heaven,

All is, if I have grace to use it so,

As ever in my great Task-master’s eye



Methought I saw my late espoused saint

Methought I saw my late espoused saint

Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,

Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,

Rescu'd from death by force, though pale and faint.

Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint

Purification in the old Law did save,

And such as yet once more I trust to have

Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,

Came vested all in white, pure as her mind;

Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight

Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd

So clear as in no face with more delight.

But Oh! as to embrace me she inclin'd,

I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.


When I Consider How My Light Is Spent

When I consider how my light is spent,

Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

My true account, lest He returning chide;

“Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best

Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state

Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,

And post o’er land and ocean without rest;

They also serve who only stand and wait.”


Samson Agonistes
…..
Would ask a life to wail. But, chief of all,

O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!

Blind among enemies! O worse than chains,

Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!

Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,

And all her various objects of delight

Annulled, which might in part my grief have eased.

Inferior to the vilest now become

Of man or worm, the vilest here excel me:

They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed

To daily fraud, contempt, abuse and wrong,

Within doors, or without, still as a fool,

In power of others, never in my own—

Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.

O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,

Irrecoverábly dark, total eclipse

Without all hope of day!

O first-created Beam, and thou great Word,

“Let there be light, and light was over all,”

Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree?

The Sun to me is dark

And silent as the Moon,

When she deserts the night,

Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.

Since light so necessary is to life,

And almost life itself, if it be true

That light is in the soul,

She all in every part, why was the sight

To such a tender ball as the eye confined,

So obvious and so easy to be quenched,

And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused,

That she might look at will through every pore?

Then had I not been thus exiled from light,

As in the land of darkness, yet in light,

To live a life half dead, a living death,

And buried; but, O yet more miserable!

Myself my sepulchre, a moving grave;

Buried, yet not exempt,

By privilege of death and burial,

From worst of other evils, pains, and wrongs;

But made hereby obnoxious more

To all the miseries of life,

Life in captivity

…..


The Hymn

XIX
…..
The Oracles are dumb;

No voice or hideous hum

Runs through the archèd roof in words deceiving.

Apollo from his shrine

Can no more divine,

With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving:

No nightly trance or breathèd spell

Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.

…..


Song on May Morning
…..
NOW the bright morning-star, Day’s harbinger,

Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her

The flowery May, who from her green lap throws

The yellow cowslip and the pale primrose.

Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire Mirth, and youth, and warm desire!

Woods and groves are of thy dressing;

Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.

Thus we salute thee with our early song,

And welcome thee, and wish thee long.


Lycidas

A Lament for a friend drowned in his passage from

Chester on the Irish Seas, 1637
…..
YET once more, O ye Laurels, and once more

Ye Myrtles brown, with Ivy never-sear,

I com to pluck your Berries harsh and crude,

And with forc'd fingers rude,

Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.

Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,

Compels me to disturb your season due:

For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime

Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:

Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew

Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.

He must not flote upon his watry bear

Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,

Without the meed of som melodious tear.
…..

Now Lycidas the Shepherds weep no more;

Hence forth thou art the Genius of the shore,

In thy large recompense, and shalt be good

To all that wander in that perilous flood.

Thus sang the uncouth Swain to th'Okes and rills,

While the still morn went out with Sandals gray,

He touch'd the tender stops of various Quills,

With eager thought warbling his Dorick lay:

And now the Sun had stretch'd out all the hills,

And now was dropt into the Western bay;

At last he rose, and twitch'd his Mantle blew:

To morrow to fresh Woods, and Pastures new.


On Time

FLY, envious Time, till thou run out thy race:

Call on the lazy leaden-stepping Hours,

Whose speed is but the heavy plummet’s pace;

And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,

Which is no more than what is false and vain,

And merely mortal dross;

So little is our loss,

So little is thy gain!

For, whenas each thing bad thou hast entombed,

And, last of all, thy greedy Self consumed,

Then long eternity shall greet our bliss

With an individual kiss,

And joy shall undertake us as a flood;

When everything that is sincerely good

And perfectly divine,

With Truth, and Peace, and Love, shall ever shine

About the supreme Throne

Of Him, to whose happy-making sight alone

When once our heavenly-guided soul shall climb,

Then, all this earthly grossness quit,

Attired with stars we shall forever sit,

Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee,

O Time!


Sonnet 7

How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,

Stol'n on his wing my three-and-twentieth year!

My hasting days fly on with full career,

But my late spring no bud or blossom shew'th.

Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth

That I to manhood am arriv'd so near;

And inward ripeness doth much less appear,

That some more timely-happy spirits endu'th.

Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,

It shall be still in strictest measure ev'n

To that same lot, however mean or high,

Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav'n:

All is, if I have grace to use it so

As ever in my great Task-Master's eye.


Paradise lost

Book IV

O, FOR that warning voice, which he, who saw

The Apocalypse, heard cry in heaven aloud,

Then when the Dragon, put to second rout,

Came furious down to be revenged on men,

‘Woe to the inhabitants on earth!’ that now,

While time was, our first parents had been warn’d

The coming of their secret foe, and ’scaped,

Haply so ’scaped his mortal snare: for now

Satan, now first inflamed with rage, came down,

The tempter ere the accuser of mankind,

To wreak on innocent frail man his loss

Of that first battle, and his flight to hell:

Yet, not rejoicing in his speed, though bold

Far off and fearless, not with cause to boast,

Begins his dire attempt; which nigh the birth

Now rolling boils in his tumultuous breast,

And like a devilish engine back recoils

Upon himself; horror and doubt distract

His troubled thoughts, and from the bottom stir

The hell within him; for within him hell

He brings, and round about him, nor from hell

One step, no more than from himself, can fly,

By change of place: now conscience wakes despair,

That slumber’d; wakes the bitter memory

Of what he was, what is, and what must be

Worse; of worse deeds worse sufferings must ensue.

Sometimes towards Eden, which now in his view

Lay pleasant, his grieved look he fixed sad;

Sometimes towards heaven, and the full-blazing sun.

…..

heaven on earth: for blissful Paradise

Of God the garden was, by him in the east

Of Eden planted; Eden stretch’d her line

From Auran eastward to the royal towers

Of great Seleucia, built by Grecian kings,

Or where the sons of Eden long before

Dwelt in Telassar: in this pleasant soil

His far more pleasant garden God ordain’d:

Out of the fertile ground he caused to grow

All trees of noblest kind for sight, smell, taste;

And all amid them stood the tree of life,

High eminent, blooming ambrosial fruit

Of vegetable gold; and next to life,

Our death, the tree of knowledge, grew fast by,

Knowledge of good, bought dear by knowing ill.

Southward through Eden went a river large

Nor changed his course, but through the shaggy hill

Pass’d underneath ingulf’d; for God had thrown

That mountain as his garden-mound high-raised

Upon the rapid current, which through veins

Of porous earth with kindly thirst up-drawn,

Rose a fresh fountain, and with many a rill

Water’d the garden; thence united fell

Down the steep glade, and met the nether flood,

Which from his darksome passage now appears,

And, now divided into four main streams,

Runs diverse, wandering many a famous realm

And country, whereof here needs no account;

But rather to tell how, if art could tell,

How from that sapphire fount the crisped brooks,

Rolling on orient pearl and sands of gold,

With mazy error under pendent shades

Ran nectar, visiting each plant, and fed

Flowers worthy of Paradise, which not nice art

In beds and curious knots, but nature boon

Pour’d forth profuse on hill, and dale, and plain,

Both where the morning sun first warmly smote

The open field, and where the unpierced shade

Imbrown’d the noontide bowers: thus was this place

A happy rural seat of various view;

Groves whose rich trees wept odorous gums and balm;

Others whose fruit, burnish’d with golden rind,

Hung amiable, Hesperian fables true,

If true, here only, and of delicious taste:

Betwixt them lawns, or level downs, and flocks

Grazing the tender herb, were interposed,

Or palmy hillock; or the flowery lap

Of some irriguous valley spread her store,

Flowers of all hue, and without thorn the rose:

Another side, umbrageous grots and caves

Of cool recess, o’er which the mantling vine

Lays forth her purple grape, and gently creeps

Luxuriant; meanwhile murmuring waters fall

Down the slope hills, dispersed, or in a lake,

That to the fringed bank with myrtle crown’d

Her crystal mirror holds, unite their streams.

…..

She, as a veil, down to the slender waist

Her unadorned golden tresses wore

Dishevell’d, but in wanton ringlets waved,

As the vine curls her tendrils, which implied

Subjection, but required with gentle sway,

And by her yielded, by him best received,

Yielded with coy submission, modest pride,

And sweet, reluctant, amorous delay.

Nor those mysterious parts were then conceal’d;

Then was not guilty shame; dishonest shame

Of nature’s works, honour dishonourable,

Sin-bred, how have ye troubled all mankind

With shows instead, mere shows of seeming pure,

And banish’d from man’s life his happiest life,

Simplicity and spotless innocence!

So pass’d they naked on, nor shunn’d the sight

Of God or angel; for they thought no ill:

So hand in hand they pass’d, the loveliest pair

That ever since in love’s embraces met;

Adam the goodliest man of men since born

His sons, the fairest of her daughters Eve.

Under a tuft of shade that on a green

Stood whispering soft, by a fresh fountain-side

They sat them down; and, after no more toil

Of their sweet gardening labour than sufficed

To recommend cool zephyr, and made ease

More easy, wholesome thirst and appetite

More grateful, to their supper-fruits they fell,

Nectarine fruits, which the compliant boughs

Yielded them, sidelong as they sat recline

On the soft downy bank damask’d with flowers:

The savoury pulp they chew, and in the rind,

Still as they thirsted, scoop the brimming stream;

Nor gentle purpose, nor endearing smiles,

Wanted, nor youthful dalliance, as beseems

Fair couple, link’d in happy nuptial league,

Alone as they. About them frisking play’d

All beasts of the earth, since wild, and of all chase

In wood or wilderness, forest or den;

Sporting the lion ramp’d, and in his paw

Dandled the kid; bears, tigers, ounces, pards,

Gamboll’d before them; the unwieldy elephant,

To make them mirth, used all his might, and wreath’d

His lithe proboscis; close the serpent sly,

Insinuating, wove with Gordian twine

His braided train, and of his fatal guile

Gave proof unheeded; others on the grass

Couch’d, and now fill’d with pasture gazing sat,

Or bedward ruminating; for the sun,

Declined, was hasting now with prone career

To the ocean isles, and in the ascending scale

Of heaven the stars that usher evening rose;

When Satan still in gaze, as first he stood,

Scarce thus at length fail’d speech recover’d sad.

…..


Il Penseroso

HENCE, vain deluding joyes,

The brood of Folly without father bred,

How little you bested,

Or fill the fixed mind with all your toyes;

Dwell in some idle brain,

And fancies fond 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.

But, hail, thou Goddess, sage and holy,

Hail divinest Melancholy,

Whose Saintly visage is too bright

To hit the Sense of human sight;

And therefore to our weaker view,

Ore laid with black staid Wisdoms hue.

Black, but such as in esteem,

Prince Memnons sister might beseem,

Or that starr'd Ethiope Queen that strove

To set her beautys praise above

The Sea Nymphs, and their powers offended,

Yet thou art higher far descended,

Thee bright-hair'd Vesta long of yore,

To solitary Saturn bore;

His daughter she (in Saturns raign,

Such mixture was not held a stain)

Oft in glimmering Bowres, and glades

He met her, and in secret shades

Of woody Ida's inmost grove,

While yet there was no fear of Jove.

Compensive Nun, devout and pure,

Sober, stedfast, and demure,

All in a robe of darkest grain,

Flowing with majestick train,

And sable stole of Cipres Lawn,

Over thy decent shoulders drawn.

Com, but keep thy wonted state,

With eev'n step, and musing gait,

And looks commercing with the skies,

Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes:

There held in holy passion still,

Forget thy self to Marble, till

With a sad Leaden downward cast,

Thou fix them on the earth as fast.

And joyn with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,

Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,

And hears the Muses in a ring

Ay round about Joves altar sing.

And adde to these retired leasure,

That in trim Gardens takes his pleasure;

But first, and chiefest, with thee bring,

Him that yon soars on golden wing,

Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,

The Cherub Contemplation,

And the mute Silence hist along,

'Less Philomel will deign a Song,

In her sweetest, saddest plight,

Smoothing the rugged brow of night,

While Cynthia checks her Dragon yoke,

Gently o're th'accustom'd Oke;

Sweet Bird that shunn'st the noise of folly,

Most musical, most Melancholy!

Thee Chauntress oft the Woods among,

I woo to hear thy Even-Song;

And missing thee, I walk unseen

On the dry smooth-shaven Green,

To behold the wandering Moon,

Riding neer her highest noon,

Like one that had bin led astray

Through the Heav'ns wide pathless way;

And oft, as if her head she bow'd,

Stooping through a fleecy cloud.

Oft on a Plat of rising ground,

I hear the far-off Curfeu sound,

Over some wide-water'd shoar,

Swinging slow with sullen roar;

Or if the Ayr will not permit,

Som still removed place will fit,

Where glowing Embers through the room

Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,

Far from all resort of mirth,

Save the Cricket on the hearth,

Or the Belmans drowsie charm,

To bless the dores from nightly harm.

Or let my Lamp at midnight hour,

Be seen in some high lonely Towr,

Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,

With thrice great Hermes, or unsphear

The spirit of Plato to unfold

What Worlds, or what vast Regions hold

The immortal mind that hath forsook

Her mansion in this fleshly nook:

And of those Daemons that are found

In fire, air, flood, or under ground,

Whose power hath a true consent

With Planet, or with Element.

Some time let Gorgeous Tragedy

In Sceptr'd Pall com sweeping by,

Presenting Thebs, or Pelops line,

Or the tale of Troy divine,

Or what (though rare) of later age,

Ennobled hath the Buskind stage.

But, O sad Virgin, that thy power

Might raise Musaeus from his bower;

Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing

Such notes as warbled to the string,

Drew Iron tears down Pluto's cheek,

And made Hell grant what Love did seek;

Or call up him that left half-told

The story of Cambuscan bold,

Of Camball, and of Algarsife,

And who had Canace to wife,

That own'd the vertuous Ring and Glass,

And of the wondrous Hors of Brass

On which the Tartar King did ride;

And if ought els, great Bards beside,

In sage and solemn tunes have sung,

Of Turneys and of Trophies hung;

Of Forests, and inchantments drear,

Where more is meant than meets the ear,

Thus night oft see me in thy pale career,

Till civil-suited Morn appeer,

Not trickt and frounc't, as she was wont

With the Attick Boy to hunt,

But Cherchef't in a comely Cloud,

While rocking Winds are Piping loud,

Or usher'd with a shower still,

When the gust hath blown his fill,

Ending on the rustling Leaves,

With minute drops from off the Eaves.

And when the Sun begins to fling

His flaring beams, me Goddess bring

To arched walks of twilight groves,

And shadows brown that Sylvan loves

Of Pine, or monumental Oake,

Where the rude Ax with heaved stroke,

Was never heard the Nymphs to daunt,

Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt.

There in close covert by some Brook,

Where no prophaner eye may look,

Hide me from Day's garish eie,

While the Bee with Honied thie,

That at her flowry work doth sing,

And the Waters murmuring

With such consort as they keep,

Entice the dewy-feather'd Sleep;

And let some strange mysterious dream,

Wave at his Wings in Airy stream,

Of lively portrature display'd,

Softly on my eye-lids laid.

And as I wake, sweet musick breath

Above, about, or underneath,

Sent by som spirit to mortals good,

Or th'unseen Genius of the Wood.

But let my due feet never fail,

To walk the studious Cloysters pale.

And love the high embowed Roof,

With antick Pillars massy proof,

And storied Windows richly dight,

Casting a dimm religious light.

There let the pealing Organ blow,

To the full-voic'd Quire below,

In Service high, and Anthems cleer,

As may with sweetness, through mine ear,

Dissolve me into exstasies,

And bring all Heav'n before mine eyes.

And may at last my weary age

Find out the peacefull hermitage,

The Hairy Gown and Mossy Cell,

Where I may sit and rightly spell

Of every Star that Heav'n doth shew,

And every Herb that sips the dew;

Till old experience do attain

To something like Prophetic strain.

These pleasures, Melancholy, give,

And I with thee will choose to live.