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THIS morning, timely rapt with holy fire, I thought to form unto my zealous Muse, What kind of creature I could most desire, To honor, serve, and love; as poets use, I meant to make her fair, and free, and wise, Of greatest blood, and yet more good than great; I meant the day-star should not brighter rise, Nor lend like influence from his lucent Seat. I meant she should be courteous, facile, sweet, Hating that solemn vice of greatness, pride; I meant each softest virtue there should meet, Fit in that softer bosom to reside. Only a learned and a manly soul I purposed her; that should, with even powers, The rock, the spindle, and the shears control Of Destiny, and spin her own free hours. Such when I meant to feign, and wish'd to see, My Muse bade, Bedford write, and that
was she. BEN JONSox.
THIS only grant me, that my means may
CROMWELL, our chief of men, who through a cloud Not of war only, but detractions rude, Guided by faith and matchless fortitude, To peace and truth thy glorious way hast plough'd And on the neck of crowned fortune proud Hast rear'd God's trophies, and his work pursued, While Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued, And Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud, And Worcester's laureat wreath. much remains To conquer still ; peace hath her victories No less renown'd than war. arise Threatening to bind our souls with secular chains:
Help us to save free conscience from the
paw Of hireling wolves, whose gospel is their Illaw. John MILTON. -->eSONNET.
To CYRIAC SKINNER.
CYRIAC, this three years day these eyes, tho' clear To outward view of blemish or of spot, Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot; Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year, Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask 2 The conscience, friend, t' have lost them overplied In liberty's defence, my noble task, Of which all Europe rings from side to side. This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask, Content though blind, had I no better
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.” John Miltox. -->
MILTON'S PRAYER OF PATIENCE.
I AM old and blind Men point at me as "smitten by God's frown; Afflicted and deserted of my kind, Yet am I not cast down.
I am weak, yet strong; I murmur not that I no longer see; Poor, old, and helpless, I the more belong,
Father Supreme! to Thee.
All-merciful One ! When men are furthest, then art Thou most near ; When friends pass by, my weaknesses to shun, Thy chariot I hear.
Thy glorious face Is leaning toward me; and its holy light Shines in upon my lonely dwelling-place,—
And there is no more night.
On my bended knee I recognize Thy purpose clearly shown: My vision Thou hast dimm'd, that I may see
I have naught to fear; This darkness is the shadow of Thy wing; Beneath it I am almost sacred; here
Can come no evil thing.
Oh, I seem to stand Trembling, where foot of mortal ne'er hath been, Wrapp'd in that radiance from the sinless land, Which eye hath never seen
Visions come and go: Shapes of resplendent beauty round me throng; From angel lips I seem to hear the flow Of soft and holy song.
DAUGHTER to that good earl, once President Of England's Council, and her Treasury, Who lived in both, unstain'd with gold or fee, And left them both, more in himself content, Till the sad breaking of that Parliament Broke him, as that dishonest victory At Chaeronea, fatal to liberty, Kill'd with report that old man eloquent. Though later born than to have known the days Wherein your father flourish'd, yet by you, Madam, methinks I see him living yet; So well your words his noble virtues praise, That all both judge you to relate them true,
And to possess them, honor'd Margaret. Jolix Milton.
YET once more, O ye laurels, and once more Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere, I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude, And with forced 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
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, Without the meed of some melodious tear. Begin then, sisters of the sacred well, That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring, Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string. Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse; So may some gentle muse With lucky words favor my destined urn, And as he passes turn, And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud. For we were nursed upon the self-same hill, Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill. Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd Under the opening eyelids of the morn, We drove a-field, and both together heard What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn, Batt’ning our flocks with the fresh dews of night Oft till the star that rose at evening bright Toward heaven's descent had sloped his west’ring wheel. Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute, Temper'd to th' oaten flute; Rough satyrs danced and fauns with cloven heel From the glad song would not be absent long, And old Damaetus loved to hear our song. But oh, the heavy change, now thou art gone— Now thou art gone, and never must return Thee, shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves, With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown, And all their echoes, mourn;
The willows, and the hazel copses green, Shall now no more be seen, Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays. As killing as the canker to the rose, Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze, Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear, When first the white-thorn blows; Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherds' ear. Where were ye, nymphs, when the remorseless deep Closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas? For neither were ye playing on the steep, Where your old bards, the famous druids, lie, Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high, Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream. Ay me! I fondly dream 1 Had ye been there, for what could that have done? What could the muse herself that Orpheus bore, The muse herself for her enchanting son, Whom universal Nature did lament, When, by the rout that made the hideous roar, His gory vision down the stream was sent, Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore? Alas! what boots it with incessant care To tend the homely, slighted shepherd's trade, And strictly meditate the thankless muse? Were it not better done, as others use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neaera's hair? Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise (That last infirmity of noble mind) To scorn delights and live laborious days; But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, And think to burst out into sudden blaze, Comes the blind fury with th' abhorrèd
shears, And slits the thin-spun life. But not the praise, Phoebus replied, and touch'd my trembling ears;
Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil, Nor in the glistering foil Set off to th’ world, nor in broad rumor lies; But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes And perfect witness of all-judging Jove; As he pronounces lastly on each deed, Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed. O fountain Arethuse, and thou honor'd flood, Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocal reeds, That strain I heard was of a higher mood; But now my oat proceeds, And listens to the herald of the sea That came in Neptune's plea ; He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon winds, What hard mishap hath doom'd this gentle swain 2 And question'd every gust of rugged wings That blows from off each beaked promontory: They knew not of his story; And sage Hippotades their answer brings, That not a blast was from his dungeon stray’d; The air was calm, and on the level brine Sleek Panope with all her sisters play'd. It was that fatal and perfidious bark, Built in th' eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark, That sunk so low that sacred head of thine. Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow, His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge, In wrought with figures dim, and on the
edge Like to that sanguine flower inscribed with woe. Ah! who hath reft (quoth he) my dearest pledge?
Last came, and last did go,
The pilot of the Galilean Lake;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain
The golden opes, the iron shuts amain);
He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake:
How well could I have spared for thee, young swain, Enow of such as for their bellies' sake Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold 2 Of other care they little reckoning make, Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast, And shove away the worthy bidden guest; Blind mouths' that scarce themselves know how to hold A sheep-hook, or have learn’d aught else the least That to the faithful herdsman's art belongs What recks it them 2 what need they? they are sped ; And when they list, their lean and flashy songs Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw ; The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed, But swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw, Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread; Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw Daily devours apace, and nothing said; But that two-handed engine at the door Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more. Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past, That shrunk thy streams: return, Sicilian
muse, And call the vales, and bid them hither cast Their bells, and flow'rets of a thousand hues. Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks, On whose fresh lap the swart-star sparely looks, Throw hither all your quaint enamell'd eyes, That on the green turf suck the honey'd showers, And purple all the ground with vernal flowers. Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
| The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,