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friend, (Mr. Edward King,) who was shipwrecked in the Irish Sea. 5. "L'Allegro," an ode to mirth. 6. "II Penseroso," an ode to melancholy. 7. « Comus, a mask,7' the purest and most exquisite creation of the imagination and fancy in English literature. 8. "Arcades,"1 a part of a mask. 9. "Hymn on the Nativity." 10. « Sonnets.''
ODE ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.*
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That glorious form, that light unsufferablo,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
To sit the midst of Trinal-Unity,
He laid asido; and, here with us to be,
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
Hath took no print of die approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
See how from far upon the eastern road
The star-led wizards haste with odors sweet;
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
Have thou the honor first thy Lord to greet,
1 "Arcades," that Is, the Arcadian shepherds: of coarse, It Is of a pastoral character.
: "When It Is recollected that this piece was produced by the author at the age of twenty-one, all deep thinkers, of fancy and sensibility, must pore over It with delighted wonder. The vigor, the grandeur, the Imaginativeness of the conception; the force and maturity of language; the bound, the gathering strength, the thundering roll of the metre; the largeness of the views; the extent of the learning; the solemn and awful tones; the enthusiasm, and a certain spell in the epithets, which puts the reader into a state of mysterious excitement,—all these may be better felt Uian dcacrll>ed."—Sr BftrUm Brydgft.
It was the winter wild,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize;
No war, or battle's sound
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng j
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of peaco upon the earth began:
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
The stars, with deep amaze,
Bending ono way their precious influence;
Or Lucifer, that often wam'd them thence;
The shepherds on the- lawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Was kindly come to live with them below;
When such music sweet
As never was by mortal finger strook;
As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
The oracles are dumb,
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
With hollow shriek the steep of Dclphos leaving.
The lonely mountains o'er
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
The parting Genius is with siglting sent:
The Nymphs, in twilight shade of tangled thickets, mourn.
In consecrated earth,
The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
But see, the Virgin bless'd
Time i«, our tedious song should here have ending:
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending,
In tint Monody, the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in htt pottage from Chester on the Irish teat, 1037: and by occasion foretells the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their highth.
Yet once more, 0 ye laurels, and once more,
1 This poem waa made upon the unfortunate and untimely death of Mr. Edward King, son of Sir John King, Secretary for Ireland, a fellow collegian and Intimate friend of Mtlton, who, as he was going to vialt hla relations in Ireland, waa drowned, August 10, 1637, in the 23th year of his age. Dr. JiewloD has observed, that Lycidas Is wtlh great judgment made of the paator.il klml, as hoth Mr
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude;
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year: 9
Who would not sing for Lycidas? he knew 10
Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well, 15
With lucky words favor my destined urn; 20
And, as he passes, turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.
For wo were nursed upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill.
Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd 25
Under the opening eyelids of the morn,
We drove afield; and bodi together heard
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star, that rose at evening, bright, 30
Toward Heaven's descent had sloped his westering wheel.
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to the oaten flute;
King and Milton had been designed Tor holy orders and the pastoral care, which gives a peculiar propriety to several passages In It.
Addison says, 11 that he who desires to know whether he has a true taste for history or not, should consider whether he Is pleased with Llvy's manner of telling a story; so, perhaps It may be sail, that he who wishes to know whether he has a true taste for poetry or not, should consider whether he Is highly delighted or not with the perusal of Milton's Lycidas."—/. Warton.
"Whatever stern grandeur Milton's two epics and his drama, written in his latter days, exhibit; by whatever divine invenUon they are created; Lycidas and Comus have a fluency, a sweetne**, a melody, a youthful freshness, a dewy brightness of description, which those gigantic poems have not. The prime charm of poetry, the rapidity and the novelty, yet the natural association of beautiful Ideas, Is pre-eminently exhibited in Lycidas, and it strikes me, that Uiere la no poem of Milton, In which the pastoral and rural imagery is so breathing, so brilliant, and so new as this."—Sir Egtrim Brydget.
"I shall never cease to consider this monody as the sweet effusion of a most poetic and tender mind; entitled as well by its beautiful melody as by the frequent grandeur of its sentiments and language, to the utmost enthusiasm of admiration."— Todd.
Line 3. This Is a beautiful nlliniton to the unripe a?e of his friend, In which death "shotterM hla leaves before the mellowing year."
L. 15. "The sacred well," Helicon.
L. 25. "From the regularity of his pursuits, the purity of hi* pleasures, his temperance, and general simplicity of life, Milton habitually became »n early rUer; hence he gained an acquaintance with the beauties ofthe morning, which he Bo frequently contemplated with delight, and has theretore so repeatedly described in nil their various Hp)>i>ar:inecc"—T. tVarion.
L. 27. "We drove afield," lliat la, we drove our flocks afield.
L. 28. The "sultry horn," Is the sharp hum of ibis Insert a: uoon.
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fawns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long; 35
And old Damcetas loved to hear our song.
But, O, the heavy change, now thou art gone,
As lulling as the canker to the rose, 4 5
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Where were ye. Nymphs, when the remorseless deep 50
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream. 55
Had ye been there—for what could that have done?
Whom universal Nature did lament, 60
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise, 70
(That last infirmity of noble mind)
To scorn delights, and live laborious days;
But the fair guerdon when we hope to find,
And think to burst out into sudden blaze,
Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears, 75
Line it. "Where were ye!" "This buret li as magnificent as it Is affecting."— Sir /:. Btydgt*.
L. 54. Beftrrenee Is here made to Orpheus, torn in pieces by the Bacchanalians, whose murderers are called "the rout." "Lycidas, as a poet, is here tadUy compared with Orpheus: they were both *ho victims of the water."— T. Wartm.
L. "s. fce. "So lines have been more often cited, and more popular than these; nor more JusUy Instructive and InsplrtUng."—Sir Egerton Bridget.
L. 76. "Bnt not the praise;" that is, but the praise Is not intercepted. "While the poet In the character of a shepherd, Is moralizing on the uncertainty of human life, Phoebus Interposes with a sublime strain, above the tone of pastoral poetry: he then, In an abrupt and elliptical apostrophe, at '0 fountain Arethase;' hastily recollects himself, and apologize* to his rural Muse, ar In other words to AreUinaa and sllnelus, the celebrated streams of bucolic song, for having so suddenly departed from pastoral allusions and tlte tenor of his subject." H'artott.