Page images



Where perhaps some beauty lies,*
The cynosure* of neighb’ring eyes.
Hard by, a cottage chimney smokes
From betwixt two aged oaks,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis met
Are at their savory dinner set
Of herbs and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phyllis dresses ;
And then in haste her bower* she leaves,
With Thestylis to bind the sheaves,
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tanned haycock in the mead.

Sometimes with secure * delight
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecs sound
To many a youth and many a maid,
Dancing in the checkered shade;

71. lies, dwells, resides.

by Theo'critus; hence, a coun72. cynosure, any object that strongly try lass in general. attracts attention.

| 83. secure, free from care. 75. Corydon and Thyr'sis, names of 84. upland hamlets. “ Upland " is shepherds, used by Virgil.

here used, not in the primary 77. messes, dishes of food.

sense : the meaning is country 78. Phyl’lis, the name of a country girl hamlets as contrasted with the

that figures in Virgil's Eclogues; Towered cities” mentioned in
hence meant to typify any rus line 109.
tic maiden.

86. rebecs, a stringed instrument of 80. Thes'tylis, a female slave mentioned the fiddle kind.

LITERARY ANALYSIS.—72. The cynosure, etc. What figure of speech is this? (See Def. 20.)—What is the derivation of “cynosure?”

73–82. Hard by... mead. Is this a period or a loose sentence? (See Defs. 57,58.)-Change this sentence into the prose order.

75-80. Contrast the allusions in these lines with those in lines 92 – 106. Which are classical? Which are derived from old English folk-lore?

83. secure. How does the meaning here differ from the modern sense?

83-108, and 109-116. In the former passage we have a picture of rustic pleasures in the upland hamlets : what contrasting pictures have we in the latter passage?


And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
Till the livelong daylight fail ;
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat :
How fairy Mab the junkets * eat;
She was pinched and pulled, she said ;
And he, by friar's lantern* 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 threshed the corn
That ten day-laborers could not end;
Then lies him down the lubbar* fiend,
And, stretched 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 lulled asleep.
Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds * of peace, high triumphs hold,

[merged small][ocr errors]

94. Mab, the queen of the fairies; 97. Tells ... drudging goblin. Supply

junkets, sweetmeats, dainties. I he (that is, the last story-teller) 95, 96. She ... he: that is, some of as subject of “tells.” By the story-tellers.

“ drudging goblin” is meant a 96. And he ... led: that is, he (one of Robin Goodfellow, a domestic

the story-tellers) recounts that fairy that would do any kind of “ he was led by,” etc. There drudging work for a bowl of is said to be here an error in

milk. Milton's folk - lore: “Friar 105. he flings: that is, he flings himRush haunted houses, not self; he rushes. fields,” and the sprite that 109. then: that is, at some other time. played the prank referred to 112. weeds, garments; triumphs, pub. must have been Jack-o'-the lic shows or spectacles, as pag. Lanthorn, or Will-o'-the-Wisp. eants, tournaments, etc.

LITERARY ANALYSIS.—107, 108. Thus done ... asleep. Analyze this sentence.

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

113. store of ladies, many ladies. | 119. pomp, solemn procession. 114. Rain influence. According to the 120. mask, a masquerade.

doctrine of astrology, the rays | 124. If Jonson's learned sock: that is, or aspects flowing upon (Lat. if one of Ben Jonson's comedies influere, to fow upon) men ex be playing ; sock, a low-heeled ercised a mysterious power over shoe worn by comedians in their fortunes : hence the mod

ancient times. ern meaning of “influence.” In 128. Lydian airs. Of the three modes the passage above, the word is or styles of Greek music, the used in its original sense.

“Lydian” was the soft and 117. Hymen, the god of marriage.


LITERARY ANALYSIS.–113. whose bright eyes, etc. Observe the splendor of the imagery. What is the figure of speech, and from what is it taken? (See note on “influence.")

124. Jonson's learned sock. Ben Jonson, a contemporary of Shakespeare, wrote tragedies as well as comedies. Can you tell why it is befitting in this poem to refer to him exclusively as a writer of comedies ?-Contrast with the “gorgeous Tragedy” in Il Penseroso (line 88, etc., page 60, of this book).

125, 126. sweetest Shakespeare ... wood-notes wild. Do you think that “sweetest” and “ warbling his native wood-notes,” etc., are adequate expressions to apply to the greatest literary artist that the world has ever seen?


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 heaped Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto to have quite set free
His half-regained Eurydice.
These delights if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.


131. bout, a bend or turn-here a mu- ! jects. His wife, Eurydice, havsical passage.

ing died, he followed her into 133. wauton, sportive, flying free. In the infernal region, where the

this line the adjective describes god Pluto was so moved by the the appearance, the noun the music that Orpheus almost sucreality.

ceeded in carrying her back to 137–142. Or’pheus'... Euryd'ice. Or earth.

pheus, son of Apollo, who, with 139. Elysian, pertaining to Elysium, the music of his lyre, had the the abode of the blessed after power to move inanimate ob


LITERARY ANALYSIS. — 137–142. That Orpheus' self ... Eurydice. What is the figure of speech? (See Def. 34.) It is in Milton's best style-rich, chaste, and classic.

127–144. Commit to memory this splendid passage.

NOTE ON THE VOCABULARY.—Ninety per cent of the words in L'Allegro are of Anglo-Saxon origin-proper names being excluded and repetition of words counted.

Hence, vain deluding joys,

The brood of Folly without father bred !

How little you bestead,*
Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys.

Dwell in some idle brain,
And fancies fond * with gaudy shapes possess,
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sunbeams,
Or likest hovering dreams,

The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.
But hail, thou goddess sage and holy,
Hail, divinest Melancholy,
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,
And therefore to our weaker view
O’erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue-
Black, but such as in esteem
Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove
To set her beauty's praise above
The sea-nymphs, and their powers offended.

NOTES.-3. bestead, avail.

very lovely.—besoem, seem fit 6. fond, foolish.

for. 10. pensioners, retinue, followers.-Mor. 19–21. that starred Ethiop queen, etc.

pheus, the son of Sleep, and the The allusion' is to Cassiope'a, god of dreams.

wife of Cepheus, King of Ethio14. hit, meet, touch; to strike.

pia. The usual story is that it 16. O'erlaid with black: that is, darken

was the beauty of her daughter ed in visage.

Androm'eda that she declared 18. Prince Memnon's sister. Memnon to surpass that of the “sea

was an Ethiopian prince men nymphs" (Nereides). Cassiotioned by Homer. He was cel pea, as also her daughter, was ebrated for his beauty. The “starred," that is, placed among “sister" was Hem'era, and is the constellations after death, also supposed to have been 21. their powers = their divinity.

[ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

* This is an “allusion” in the proper sense of the word—that is to say, it is an oblique, or indirect, reference. The word is often misapplied to direct reference or mention.

« PreviousContinue »