« PreviousContinue »
Mine eye hath found that sąd sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven's richest store;
And here, though grief my feeble hands up lock,
Yet on the soften'd quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before :
For sure so well instructed are my tears,
That they would fitly fall in order'd characters.
Or should I thence, hurried on viewless wing,
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild;
And I (for grief is easily beguild)
Might think the’ infection of my sorrows loud
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud.
This subject the Author finding to be above the years
he had, when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.
Ye flaming Powers, and winged Warriors bright,
That erst with music, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the listening night;
Now mourn; and, if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distil no tear,
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow:
He, who with all Heaven's heraldry whilere
Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease.
Alas, how soon our sin
Sore doth begin
His infancy to seize!
O more exceeding love, or law more just?
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love!
For we, by rightful doom remediless,
Were lost in death, till he, that dwelt above
High thron’d in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, even to nakedness;
And that great covenant which we still transgress
Entirely satisfied ;
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice bore for our excess;
And seals obedience first, with wounding smart,
This day; but 0, ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near his heart,
O PAIREST FLOWER, no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose, fading timelessly,
Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry:
For he, being amorous on that lovely dye
* Written in 1625, when Milton was seventeen. The infant was a daughter of the poet's sister Phillips.
That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss, But kill'd, alas! and then bewaiļd his fatal bliss.
Por since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touch'd his deity full near;
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot
Of long-uncoupled bed and childless eld,
Which, 'mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach
So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wander'd long, till thee he spied from far;
There ended was his quest, there ceas'd his care
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,
But, all unwares, with his cold-kind embrace Unhous'd thy virgin soul from her fair biding place.
Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas? strand,
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land;
But then transform’d him to a purple flower: Alack, that so to change thee Winter had no
Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low-delved tomb;
Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?
Oh no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that show'd thou was divine.
Resolve me then, oh Soul most surely bless'd,
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear;)
Tell me, bright Spirit, where'er thou hoverest,
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the’ Elysian fields, (if such there were ;)
Oh say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy
Wert thou some star which from the ruin'd roof
Of shak'd Olympus by mischance didst fall;
Which careful Jove in Nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall ?
Or did of late Earth's sons besiege the wall
Of sheeny Heaven, and thou, some Goddess fled,
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head ?
Or wert thou that just Maid, who once before
Forsook the hated earth, O tell me sooth,
And cam’st again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou (Mercy,] that sweet-smiling youth?
Or that crown'd matron sage white-robed Truth?
Or any other of that heavenly brood [good ? Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some Or wert thou of the golden-winged host, Who, having clad thyself in human weed, To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post, And after short abode fly back with speed, As if to show what creatures heaven doth breed,
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire To scorn the sordid world, and unto heaven aspire?
But oh! why didst thou not stay here below,
To bless us with thy heaven-lov'd innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe,
To turn swift-rushing black Perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering Pestilence,
To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart? -
But thou canst best perform that office where thou
Then thou, the Mother of so sweet a Child,
Her false-imagin'd loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild;
Think what a present thou to God hast sent,
And render him with patience what he lent:
This if thou do, he will an offspring give,
That, till the world's last end, shall make thy name
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 when as each thing bad thou hast entomb’d,
And last of all thy greedy self consumid,
* In Milton's manuscript, written with his own hand, the title is, "On Time. To be set on a clock-case.'