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Thou with fresh hope the lover's heart dost fill,
While the jolly hours lead on propitious May.
First heard before the shallow cuccoo's bill,
See alfo PARAD. L. vii. 435. Where doctor Newton observes, “ his fondness for this little bird is very remarkable.”
4. While the jolly hours lead on propitious May.] Because the nightingale is supposed to begin singing in April
. So Sydney, in ENGLAND's Helicon, Signat. O. edit. 1614.
The nightingale, so soone as Aprill bringeth
Singes out her woes, &c.
And those happy climes that lie
Where day never s H UTS his eye.
Under the opening EYELIDs of the morn.
When from a wood, wherein the EYE OF DAY
Had long a stranger beene.
6. Firft beard before the shallow cuccoo's bill, &c.] That is, if they happen to be heard before the cuckow, it is lucky for the lover. But Spenser calls the cuckow the messenger of spring, and supposes that his trumpet fbrill warns all lovers to wait upon Cupid, Sonn. xix. Jonson gives this appellation to the nightingale, in the SAD SHEPHERD, A. ii. S. vi.
But beft, the dear good angel of the spring,
The nightingale. ANGEL is messenger. And the whole expression seems to be literally from a fragment of Sappho, preserved by the scholiast on Sophocles, Electr. v. 148.
ΗΡΟΣ Δ' ΑΓΓΕΛΟΣ, ομερόφωνος αηδων.
Veris nuntia, amabiliter cantans lufcinia. Or from one of Simonides, of the swallow. Schol. Aristoph. Av. 1410,
Now timely sing, 'ere the rude bird of hate
Foretel my hopeless doom in some grove nigh;
As thou from year to year haft fung too late
Whether the Muse, or Love call thee his mate,
L'herbosa val di Rheno, e il nobil varco, irona
Qual tuo spirto gentil non innamoro,
La onde ľ alta tua virtu s'infiora.
Che mover possa duro alpestre legno
Guardi ciascun a gli occhi, ed a gli orecchi
Gratia fola di su gli vaglia, inanti
L'avezza giovinetta pastorella
ΑΓΓΕΛΟΣ κλυτα ΕΑΡΟΣ αδυόσμο, κυανέα χελιδών.
Nuntia inclyta veris suaveolentis, fusca hirundo. Milton laments afterwards, that hitherto the nightingale had not preceded the cuckow as the ought: had always fung too late, that is, after the cuckow,
1. Qual in colle aspro, al imbrunir di fera.] To express the approach of evening, the Italians say, fu l'imbrunir. And thus Petrarch, as Mr. Bowle observes, “IMBRUNIR veggio la sera.” CANZ. xxxvii. Milton had this Italian word in his head, where he ases the word IMBROWN, in PARAD. L. B. iv. 246.
Vá bagnando l'herbetta strana e bella
Che mal fi spande a disusata spera
Cofi Amor meco insù la lingua fnella
Mentre io di te, vezzosamente altera,
E'l bel Tamigi cangio col bel Arno.
Amor lo volse, ed io a l'altrui peso
Deh! foss'il mio cuor lento e'l duro feno
Where the unpierc'd shade
IM BROWN'D the noontide bowers. So also, in Il Pens. V, 134.
And shadows Brown that Sylvan loves
Of pine and monumental oak. And “ Alleys BROWN,” in Par. Reg. . 293. Compare Taffo, Gier. Lib. C. xiv. 70.
Quinci ella in cima à una montagna ascende
Dilhabitata, e d'ombre oscura, e' BRUNA. And Marino, L'ADON. C. viii. 147.
IMBRUNIR d'oriente il ciel fi vede.
Highest wood, impenetrable
And BROWN as evening. 3. Va bagnando l'herbetta, &c.] See Petrarch's Canzone just quoted, v. 24.
Da BAGNAR l'HERBE, &c. * Of Milton's Sonnets only this, the fourth, fifth, and fixteenth, are closed with rhyming couplets.
Idonfi donne e giovani amorofi
M'accostandosi attorno, e perche scrivi,
Canzon dirotti, e tu per me rispondi
+ Not to disturb the numbers of the Sonnets, I have placed the CANzone here, according to the other editions. It is from Pe. trarch, that Milton mixes the CANZONE with the Sonetto. Dante regarded the Canzone as the most perfect species of lyric composition. Della Volg. ELOQU. c. iv. But for the CANZONE he allows more laxity than for the Sonnet. He says, when the Song is written on a grave or tragic subject, it is denominated Can. ZONE, and when on a comic, CANTILENA, as diminutive. See Newton, p. 206. 7.
Altri lidi t'aspettan, ed altre onde, &c.] The lines are an echo to a stanza in Ariosto, where Aftolpho explores the regions of the moon. Orl. Fur. xxxiv. 72.
Altri fiumi, altri laghi, altre compagne, &c.
Altri piani, altre valli altre montagne, &c.
Where other groves, and other shores along, &c.
Quel ritroso iọ ch’ampor spreggiar soléa
Gia caddi, ov’huom dabben talhor s'impiglia.
M'abbaglian sì, ma sotto nova idea
5. Ne treccie d'oro, ne guancia vermiglia
M abbaglian fi, &c.] So in Comus, v. 752.
Love-darting eyes, and treffes like the morn?
That lovely dye
8. Portamenti alti honefti. -] So before, Sonn. iii. 8. “ Ve. « rozzamenti altiera.” Portamento expresses the lofty dignified deportment, by which the Italian poets constantly describe female beauty; and which is strikingly characteristic of the composed majestic carriage of the Italian Ladies, either as contrafted with the liveliness of the French, or the timid delicacy of the English. Compare Petrarch's first Sonnet on the Death of Laura. Sonn. ccxxix.
Ohime, il bel viso! Ohime, il soave sgardo !
Ohime, il portamento leggiadro altiero! Our author appears to have applied this Italian idea of a gracefal folemnity in his description of Eve.
Milton, as it may be seen from these Sonnets, appears to have been struck, on going into Italy, with a new idea of foreign beauty, sotto novo idea • Pellegrina Bellezza.” He is now no longer captivated with the breccie d'oro, nor the bloom so conspicuous in fairhaired complexions, guancia vermiglia; but with the nelle ciglia, Quel sereno d'amabil nero, the degli occhi, fa gran fuoco. I would add the E’l cantar, unless that was a particular compliment to his Leonora. The dark hair and eye of Italy are now become his new favourites. When a youth of nineteen, in his general description of the English Fair, he celebrates Cupid's golden nets of hair. Lo i. El.i.