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L'ALLEGRO By John Milton


HENCEloathed Melancholy

............Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born

In Stygian cave forlorn

............'Mongst horrid shapesand shrieksand sights


Find out some uncouth cell

............Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings

And the night-raven sings;

............Thereunder ebon shades and low-browed rocks

As ragged as thy locks

............In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.

But comethou Goddess fair and free

In heaven yclept Euphrosyne

And by men heart-easing Mirth;

Whom lovely Venusat 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

Zephyrwith Aurora pIaying

As he met her once a-Maying

Thereon beds of violets blue

And fresh-blown roses washed in dew

Filled her with thee. a daughter fair

So buxomblitheand debonair.

Haste theeNymphand bring with thee

Jestand 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.

Comeand trip itas you go

On the light fantastic toe;

And in thy right hand lead with thee

The mountain-nymphsweet Liberty;

Andif I give thee honour due

Mirthadmit me of thy crew

To live with herand live with thee

In unreproved pleasures free:

To hear the lark begin his flight

Andsingingstartle the dull night

From his watch-tower in the skies

Till the dappled dawn doth rise;

Then to comein spite of sorrow

And at my window bid good-morrow

Through the sweet-briar or the vine

Or the twisted eglantine;

While the cockwith lively din

Scatters the rear of darkness thin

And to the stackor the barn-door

Stoutly struts his dames before:

Oft listening how the hounds and horn

Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn

From the side of some hoar hill

Through the high wood echoing shrill:

Sometime walkingnot unseen

By hedgerow elmson hillocks green

Right against the eastern gate

Where the great Sun begins his state

Robed in flames and amber light

The clouds in thousand liveries dight;

While the ploughmannear at hand

Whistles o'er the furrowed 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 lawnsand fallows grey

Where the nibbling flocks do stray;

Mountains on whose barren breast

The labouring clouds do often rest;

Meadows trimwith daisies pied;

Shallow brooksand rivers wide;

Towers and battlements it sees

Bosomed 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 bower she leaves

With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;

Orif the earlier season lead

To the tanned haycock in the mead.

Sometimeswith 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 chequered shade

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 Faery Mab the junkets eat.

She was pinched and pulledshe said;

And heby Friar's lantern led

Tells how the drudging goblin sweat

To earn his cream-bowl duly set

When in one nightere glimpse of morn

His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn

That ten day-labourers could not end;

Then lies him downthe lubber fiend

Andstretched 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 talesto 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 peacehigh triumphs hold

With store of ladieswhose bright eyes

Rain influenceand judge the prize

Of wit or armswhile both contend

To win her grace whom all commend.

There let Hymen oft appear

In saffron robewith taper clear

And pompand feastand 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 ShakespeareFancy's child

Warble his native wood-notes wild.

And everagainst 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 heaped Elysian flowersand 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

Mirthwith thee I mean to live.