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by John Milton



Ere-while of Musickand Ethereal mirth

Wherwith the stage of Ayr and Earth did ring

And joyous news of heav'nly Infants birth

My muse with Angels did divide to sing;

But headlong joy is ever on the wing

In Wintry solstice like the shortn'd light

Soon swallow'd up in dark and long out-living night. -


For now to sorrow must I tune my song

And set my Harpe to notes of saddest wo

Which on our dearest Lord did sease er'e long

Dangersand snaresand wrongsand worse then so

Which he for us did freely undergo.

Most perfect Heroetry'd in heaviest plight

Of labours huge and hardtoo hard for human wight. -


He sov'ran Priest stooping his regall head

That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes

Poor fleshly Tabernacle entered

His starry front low-rooft beneath the skies;

O what a Mask was therewhat a disguise!

Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide

Then lies him meekly down fast by his Brethrens side. -


These latter scenes confine my roving vers

To this Horizon is my Phoebus bound

His Godlike actsand his temptations fierce

And former sufferings other where are found;

Loud o're the rest Cremona's Trump doth sound;

Me softer airs befitand softer strings

Of Luteor Viol stillmore apt for mournful things. -


Befriend me night best Patroness of grief

Over the Pole thy thickest mantle throw

And work my flatter'd fancy to belief

That Heav'n and Earth are colour'd with my wo;

My sorrows are too dark for day to know:

The leaves should all be black whereon I write

And letters where my tears have washt a wannish white. -


See see the Chariotand those rushing wheels

That whirl'd the Prophet up at Chebar flood

My spirit som transporting Cherub feels

To bear me where the Towers of Salem stood

Once glorious Towersnow sunk in guiltles blood;

There doth my soul in holy vision sit

In pensive tranceand anguishand ecstatick fit. -


Mine eye hath found that sad Sepulchral rock

That was the Casket of Heav'ns richest store

And here though grief my feeble hands up-lock

Yet on the softned Quarry would I score

My plaining vers 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 viewles wing

Take up a weeping on the Mountains wilde

The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring

Would soon unboosom all their Echoes milde

And I (for grief is easily beguild)

Might think th' infection of my sorrows loud

Had got a race of mourners on som pregnant cloud. -

This Subject the Author finding to be above the yeers he hadwhen he wroteitand nothing satisfi'd with what was begunleft it unfinisht.