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Posts Tagged ‘John Milton’

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 heav’n yclep’d Euphrosyne,
And by men, heart-easing Mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth
With two sister Graces 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,
There on beds of violets blue,
And fresh-blown roses wash’d in dew,
Fill’d her with thee, a daughter fair,
So buxom, blithe, and debonair.
Haste thee nymph, and bring with thee
Jest and youthful Jollity,
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 ye 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;
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And singing startle the dull night,
From his watch-tower in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to come in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good-morrow,
Through the sweet-briar, 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’ning how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumb’ring 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,
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 labouring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim with daisies pied,
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide.
Towers, and battlements it sees
Bosom’d high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some beauty lies,
The cynosure 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 Phyllis dresses;
And then in haste her bow’r she leaves,
With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;
Or if the earlier season lead
To the tann’d haycock in the mead.
Sometimes with secure delight
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecks sound
To many a youth, and many a maid,
Dancing in the chequer’d shade;
And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
Till the live-long daylight fail;
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How Faery Mab the junkets eat,
She was pinch’d and pull’d she said,
And he by friar’s lanthorn led,
Tells how the drudging goblin sweat,
To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath thresh’d the corn
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down, the lubber fiend,
And stretch’d out all the chimney’s length,
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 lull’d asleep.
Tower’d cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace high triumphs hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
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 Jonson’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 meeting 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 flow’rs, 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.

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Let us with a gladsome mind
Praise the Lord, for He is kind:
For His mercies shall endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Let us sound His name abroad,
For of gods He is the God:
For His mercies shall endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

He, with all-commanding might,
Filled the new-made world with light:
For His mercies shall endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

All things living He doth feed;
His full hand supplies their need:
For His mercies shall endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

Let us then with gladsome mind
Praise the Lord, for He is kind:
For His mercies shall endure,
Ever faithful, ever sure.

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This is the Month, and this the happy morn
Wherein the Son of Heav’ns eternal King,
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty,
Wherwith he wont at Heav’ns high Councel-Table,
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside; and here with us to be,
...Forsook the Courts of everlasting Day,
And chose with us a darksom House of mortal Clay.

Say Heav’nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strein,
To welcom him to this his new abode,
Now while the Heav’n by the Suns team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?

See how from far upon the Eastern rode
The Star-led Wisards haste with odours sweet,
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet:
Have thou the honour first, thy Lord to greet,
And joyn thy voice unto the Angel Quire,
From out his secret Altar toucht with hallow’d fire.

———————————————–

I’ve left the spelling the same as my source, not changing
anything to what is now accepted as right.

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Milton! thou shouldst be living this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.
Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart;
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life’s common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

 

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…………………….Milton

I pace the sounding sea-beach and behold
How the voluminous billows roll and run,
Upheaving and subsiding, while the sun
Shines through their sheeted emerald far unrolled,
And the ninth wave, slow gathering fold by fold
All its loose-flowing garments into one,
Plunges upon the shore, and floods the dun
Pale reach of sands, and changes them to gold.
So in majestic cadence rise and fall
The mighty undulations of thy song,
O sightless bard, England’s Maeonides!
And ever and anon, high over all
Uplifted, a ninth wave superb and strong,
Floods all the soul with its melodious seas.

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…..On The Late Massacre In Piedmont

Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered saints, whose bones
Lie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,
Even them who kept thy truth so pure of old
When all our fathers worshiped stocks and stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
Who were thy sheep and in their ancient fold
Slain by the bloody Piemontese that rolled
Mother with infant down the rocks.  Their moans
The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven, Their martyred blood and ashes sow
O’er all th’ Italian fields where still doth sway
The triple tyrant: that from these may grow
A hundredfold, who having learnt thy way
Early may fly the Babylonian woe.

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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/On_the_Late_Massacre_in_Piedmont

 

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………………Samson Agonistes

Oh, how comely it is, and how reviving
To the spirits of just men long oppressed,
When God into the hands of their deliverer
Puts invincible might
To quell the mighty of the earth, th’ oppressor,
The brute and boisterous force of violent men,
Hardy and industrious to support
Tyrannic power, but raging to pursue
The righteous, and all such as honor truth!
He all their ammunition
And feats of war defeats,
With plain heroic magnitude of mind
And celestial vigor armed;
Their armories and magazines contemns,
Renders them useless, while
With winged expedition
Swift as the lightning glance he executes
His errand on the wicked, who, surprised,
Lose their defense, distracted and amazed,
But patience is more oft the exercise
Of saints, the trial of their fortitude,
Making them each is own deliverer,
And victor over all
That tyranny or fortune can inflict.
Either of these is in thy lot,
Samson, with might endued
Above the sons of men; but sight bereaved
May chance to number thee with those
Whom patience finally must crown.

 

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"llustration to Thomas Gray's 'Elegy', St...

"llustration to Thomas Gray's 'Elegy', Stanza V; scene in a churchyard on a hill, with figure leaning on a grave, distant view of lowland beyond trees," by the English artist John Constable. Watercolour, with pen and brown ink. 118 mm x 174 mm. Courtesy of the British Museum, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


Elegy Written In A Country Churchyard

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
    The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,
 The plowman homeward plods his weary way,
    And leaves the world to darkness and to me.

Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
    And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
 Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
    And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds:

Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower
    The moping owl does to the moon complain
 Of such as, wandering near her secret bower,
    Molest her ancient solitary reign.

Beneath those rugged elms, that yew-tree’s shade,
    Where heaves the turf in many a moldering heap,
 Each in his narrow cell for ever laid,
    The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep.

The breezy call of incense-breathing morn,
    The swallow twittering from the straw-built shed,
The cock’s shrill clarion, or the echoing horn,
    No more shall rouse them from their lowly bed.

For them no more the blazing hearth shall burn,
    Or busy housewife ply her evening care:
 No children run to lisp their sire’s return,
    Or climb his knees the envied kiss to share.

Oft did the harvest to their sickle yield,
    Their furrow oft the stubborn glebe has broke;
 How jocund did they drive their team afield!
    How bowed the woods beneath their sturdy stroke!

Let not ambition mock their useful toil,
    Their homely joys, and destiny obscure;
 Nor grandeur hear with a disdainful smile
    The short and simple annals of the poor.

The boast of heraldry, the pomp of power,
    And all that beauty, all that wealth e’er gave,
 Awaits alike the inevitable hour.
    The paths of glory lead but to the grave.

Nor you, ye proud, impute to these the fault,
    If Memory o’er their tomb no trophies raise,
 Where, through the long-drawn aisle and fretted vault
    The pealing anthem swells the note of praise.

Can storied urn or animated bust
    Back to its mansion call the fleeting breath?
 Can honor’s voice provoke the silent dust,
    Or flattery soothe the dull, cold ear of death?

Perhaps in this neglected spot is laid
    Some heart once pregnant with celestial fire;
 Hands, that the rod of empire might have swayed,
    Or waked to ecstasy the living lyre:

But knowledge to their eyes her ample page,
    Rich with the spoils of time, did ne’er unroll;
 Chill penury repressed their noble rage,
    And froze the genial current of the soul.

Full many a gem of purest ray serene
    The dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear;
 Full many a flower is born to blush unseen,
    And waste its sweetness on the desert air.

Some village Hampden, that, with dauntless breast,
    The little tyrant of his fields withstood,
 Some mute, inglorious Milton here may rest,
    Some Cromwell, guiltless of his country’s blood.

Th’ applause of listening senates to command,
    The threats of pain and ruin to despise,
 To scatter plenty o’er a smiling land,
    And read their history in a nation’s eyes.

Their lot forbade: not circumscribed alone
    Their growing virtues, but their crimes confined;
 Forbade to wade through slaughter to a throne,
    And shut the gates of mercy on mankind,

The struggling pangs of conscious truth to hide,
    To quench the blushes of ingenuous shame,
 Or heap the shrine of luxury and pride
    With incense kindled at the muse’s flame.

Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife,
    Their sober wishes never learned to stray;
 Along the cool, sequestered of life
    They kept the noiseless tenor of their way.

Yet even these bones from insult to protect
    Some frail memorial still erected nigh,
 With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture decked,
    Implores the passing tribute of a sigh.

Their name, their years, spelt by the unlettered Muse,
    The place of fame and elegy supply:
 And many a holy text around she strews,
    That teach the rustic moralist to die.

For who, to dumb Forgetfulness a prey,
    This pleasing anxious being e’er resigned,
 Left the warm precincts of the cheerful day,
    Nor cast one longing lingering look behind?

On some fond breast the parting soul relies,
    Some pious drops the closing eye requires;
 E’en from the tomb the voice of Nature cries,
    E’en in our ashes live their wonted fires.

For thee, who, mindful of the unhonoured dead,
    Dost in these lines their artless tale relate;
 If chance, by lonely contemplation led,
    Some kindred spirit shall inquire thy fate, -

Haply some hoary-headed swain may say,
    “Oft have we seen him at the peep of dawn
 Brushing with hasty steps the dews away
    To meet the sun upon the upland lawn.

“There at the foot of yonder nodding beech
    That wreathes its old fantastic roots so high,
 His listless length at noontide would he stretch,
    And pore upon the brook that babbles by.

“Hard by yon wood, now smiling as in scorn,
    Muttering his wayward fancies he would rove,
 Now drooping, woeful-wan, like one forlorn,
    Or crazed with care, or crossed in hopeless love.

“One morn I missed him on the ‘customed hill,
    Along the heath, and near his favorite tree;
 Another came; nor yet beside the rill,
    Nor up the lawn, nor at the wood was he:

“The next, with dirges due in sad array,
    Slow through the church-way path we saw him borne.
 Approach and read (for thou canst read) the lay
    Graved on the stone beneath yon aged thorn:”

The Epitaph

Here rests his head upon the lap of Earth
    A youth to Fortune and to Fame unknown;
 Fair Science frowned not on his humble birth,
    And Melancholy marked him for her own.

Large was his bounty, and his soul sincere,
    Heaven did a recompense as largely send;
 He gave to Misery all he had, a tear,
    He gavined from Heaven (‘t was all he wished) a friend.

No farther seek his merits to disclose,
    Or draw his frailties from their dread abode,
 (There they alike in trembling hope repose)
    The bosom of his Father and his God.

 

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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 oe’r land and ocean without rest;
……They also serve who only stand and wait.”

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