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1.Milton's Lamentation for the Loss of his Sight, HAIL, holy light.: offspring of heaven firstborn!
Or of ,
May I express thee unblam'd? Since God is light,
And never, but in un approached light
Dwelt from eternity—dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather, pure etherial stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell ? Before the sun,
Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle did invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escap'd the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn ; while in my flight,
Through utter, and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes, than to the Orphean lyre,
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night ;
Taught by the heavenly muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend,
Though hard and rare. Thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovereign vital lamp—but thou
Revisitest not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn ;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt,
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song—but chief
Thee, Zion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit—nor sometimes forget
Those other two, equall'd with me in fate,
So were I equall'd with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mxonides ;
And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old :
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers—as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year,
Seasons return but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks or herds, or human face divine ;
But cloud instead, and ever during dark
Surround me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair,
Presented with an universal blank
Of nature's works, to me expung'd and raz’:l,
And wisdom, at one entrance, quite shut out.
So much the rather, thou, celestial light,
Shine inward, and the mind, through all her powers,
Irradiate ; there plant eyes ; all mist from thence,
Purge and disperse ; that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
II.—L'Allegro, or the Merry Man.—Miltow.
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 brow'd rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
But come, thou goddess fair and free,
In heaven yclep'd Euphrosyne !
And by men, hearteasing Mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth,
With two Sister Graces more,
Toivy crowned Bacchus bore.
Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful jolity.
Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles,
Nods and becks, and wreathed smiles ;
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek ;
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 the honor due,
Mirth admit me of thy crew,
To live with her and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free ;
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And, singing, startle the dull Night,
From his watchtower in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise ;
Then to come in spite of sorrow
And at my window bid good morro ving
Through the sweetbriar or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine ;
While the cock, with lively din,
Scatters the rear of darkness thin,
And to the stack, or the barn door
Stoutly struts his dames before ;
Oft list hing how the hounds and horn,
Cheerly rouse the slumh'ring morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill :
Sometime walking, not unseen,
By hedge row elms, or hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate,
Where the great sun begins his state,
Rob'd in flames and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight,
While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o'er the furrow'd land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe,
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Whilst the landskip round it measures ;
Russet lawns and fallows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray,
Mountains on whose barren breast
The lab'ring clouds do often rest,
Meadows trim, with daisies pied,
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide.
Towers and battlements it sees,
Bosom'd high in tufteil trees,
Where, perhaps some beauty lies,
The Cynosure of neighboring eyes.
Hard by a cottage chimney smokes,
From betwixt two aged oaks,
Where Corydon and Thrysis met,
Are at their savory dinner set,
Of herbs and other country messes,
Which the neathanded Phillis dresses ;
And then in haste, her bower she leaves,
With Thestyiis to bind the sheaves ;
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tann'd haycock in the mead.
Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace high triumph hold *
With store of ladies, whose bright eye9
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace, whom all commend.
There let Hymen 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 Johnson's learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child,
Warble his native wood notes wild.
And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the roeeting soul may pierce,
In notes with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running;
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of Harmony :
That Orpheus' self may heave his head
From golden slumber, on a bed
Of heap'd Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free,
His half regain'd Eurydice.
These delights, if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.
III.—On the Pursuits of Mankind.—Pope.
HONOR and shame from no condition rise ;
Act well your part—there all the honor lies.
Fortune in men has some small difference made ;
One flaunts in rags—one flutters in brocade ;
The cooler apron'd, and the parson gown'd ;
The friar hooded and the monarch crown'd.
" What differ more," you cry,
" than crown and cowl ?"
I tell you friend—a wise man and a fool.
You'll find, if once the monarch acts the monk,
Or, cobler like, the parson will be drunk ;
Worth makes the man, and want of it the fellow ;
The rest is all but leather of prunella.
Boast the pure blood of an illustrious race,
In quiet flow from Lucrece, to Lucrece :
But by your father's worth if yours you rate,
Count me those only who were good and great.
Go! if your ancient, but ignoble blood
Has crept through scoundrels ever since the flood :
Go! and pretend your family is young,
Nor own your fathers have been fools so long.
What can ennoble sots, or slaves, or cowards ?
Alas! not all the blood of all the Howards.
Lo«k next on greatness—say where greatness lies.
" Where, but among the heroes and the wise ?"
Heroes are much the same, the point's agreed,
From Macedonia's madman to the Swede :
The whole strange purpose of their lives to find,
Or make an enemy of all mankind !
Not one looks backward ; on ward still he goes ;
Yettne'er looks forward, farther than his nose.
No less alike the politic and wise ;
All fly slow things with circumspective eyes.
Men in their loose, unguarded hours they take,
Not that themselves are wise, but others weak.
But grant that those can conquer ; these can cheat ;
'Tis phrase absurd to call a villain great.
Who wickedly is wise, or madly brave,
Is but the more a fool, the more a knave.
Who noble ends by noble means obtains,
Or, failing, smiles in exile or in chains ;
Like good Aurelius let him reign, or bleed
Like Socrates that man is great indeed.
What's fame? a fanci'd life in others' breath,
A thing beyond us, e'en before our death.
All fame is foreign, but of true desert,
Plays round the head, but comes not to the heart ;
One self approving hour whole years outweighs
Of stupid starers, and of loud huzzas :
And more true joy, Marcellus esild, feels,
Than Cesar, with a Senate at his heels.
In parts superior what advantage lies ? Tell, (for you can) what is it to be wise ? 'Tis but to know how little can be known ; To see all other's faults, and feel our own ; Condemn'd in business or in arts to drudge, Without a second, or without a judge. Truths would you teich, to save a sinking land t All fear, none aid you, and few understand. Painful preeminence ! vourself to view Above life's weakness, and its comforts too.
Bring then these blessings to a strict account i Make fair deductions, see to what they ’mount : How much of other, each is sure to cost : How each, for other, oft is wholly lost"; How inconsistent greater goods with these ; How sometimes life is risk'd, and always ease : Think. And if still such things thy envy call, Say, would'st thou be the man to whom they fall!