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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 queenthat strove
To set her beauty's praise above
The sea-nymphs, and their powers offended:
Yet thou art higher far descended;
Thee, bright-haired Vesta long of yore
To solitary Saturn3 bore;
His daughter she (in Saturn's reign,
Such mixture was not held a stain).
Oft in glimmering bowers and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
While yet there was no fear of Jove.
Come, pensive nun, devout and pure,
Sober, stedfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train,
And sable stole of Cyprus lawn,
Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state,
With even step, and musing gait,
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes:
There, held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till

1 Son of Tithonus, by Aurora, and king of Ethiopia. He was slain by Achilles when coming to the assistance of Priam, at the siege of Troy.

2 Cassiopeia, wife of Cepheus, who, having dared to compare herself with the Nereids for beauty, was by them exposed to be devoured by a monster. Perseus, however, slew the creature, and obtained a place for Cassiopeia among the constellations.

3 The planet Saturn was supposed to exert much influence over persons of a gloomy and thoughtful temperament.

With a sad leaden? downward cast
Thou fix them on the earth as fast:
And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
And hear the Muses in a ring
Aye round about Jove's altar sing ;
And add to these retiréd Leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure;
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon

Gently o'er the accustomed oak;
Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee, chantress, oft the woods among
I woo to hear thy even-song ;
And missing thee, I walk unseen
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the Heaven's wide pathless way,
And oft, as if her head she bowed,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off curfew sound,
Over some wide-watered shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar;
Or if the air will not permit,
Some still removéd place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom;
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,
Or the bellman's drowsy charm,
To bless the doors from nightly harm:

1 So “leaden cor

plation," in Shi


peare's Love's Labour Lost.

Or let my lamp at midnight hour,
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft outwatch the Bear,"

With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato to unfold
What worlds, or what vast regions hold
The immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook :
And of those demons that are found
In fire, air, flood, or under ground,
Whose power hath a true consent
With planet or with element.
Sometime let gorgeous tragedy
In sceptred pallo come sweeping by,
Presenting. Thebes, or Pelops' line,
Or the tale of Troy divine ;
Or what (though rare) of later age
Ennobled hath the buskined stage.
But oh, sad virgin, that thy power
Might raise Musæus from his bower!
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
Such notes as warbled to the string
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek,
And made Hell grant what love did seek.
Or call up him that left half told
The story of Cambuscan bold,
Of Camball, and of Algarsife,
And who had Canace to wife,
That owned the virtuous ring and glass,
And of the wondrous horse of brass,
On which the Tartar king did ride;
And if aught else great bards beside
In sage and solemn tunes have sung,
Of turneys and of trophies hung,
Of forests and enchantments drear,

Where more is meant than meets the ear.
1 A constellation which never sets. Virg. Georg. i. 246.
2 i. e. Mercurius Trı megistus.

3 Plato believed that every part of this universe was peopled with spirits, exercising medial functions between gods and men.

4 The long robe worn by distinguished persons in tragedy. Cf. Hor. Art. poet. 278.

5 i.e. representing. The subjects hero enumerated were favourite topics with the Greek tragedians. 6 See Chaucer's Squire's Tale, and Spenser's Faërie Queen, iv. 232.


Thus night oft see me in thy pale career,
Till civil-suited morn

Not trickt and frouncta as she was wont
With the Attic3 boy to hunt,
But kerchiefed in a comely cloud,
While rocking winds are piping loud,
Or ushered with a shower still,
When the gust hath blown his fill,
Ending on the rustling leaves.
With minute drops from off the eaves.
And when the sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me, goddess, bring
To archéd walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves,
Of pine, or monumental oak,
Where the rude ase with heavéd stroke
Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,
Or fright them from their hallowed haunt.
There in close covert by some brook,
Where no
Hide me from day's garish * eye,

er eye may look,
While the bee with honeyed thigh,
That at her flowery work doth sing,
And the waters murmuring,
With such consort as they keep,
Entice the dewy-feathered sleep;
And let some strange mysterious dream
Wave at his wings in airy stream
Of lively portraiture displayed,
Softly on my eyelids laid.
And as I wake, sweet music breathe
Above, about, or underneath,
Sent by some spirit to mortals good,
Or the unseen genius of the wood.
But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister's pale,

1 Cf. Romeo and Juliet, iii. 4:

“Come civil night, Thou sobor-suiteà matron, all in black." Frizzled, crisped, curled. 3 Cephalus, with whom Aurora fell in love while he was hunting. Ovid. Met. vii. 701.

4 Bright, gaudy.


And love the high embowed roof,
With antici pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,?
To the full-voiced quire below,
In service high, and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heaven before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown and mossy cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that Heaven doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew;
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
And I with thee will choose to live.



[Part of an entertainment presented to the Countess Dowager of

Derby, at Harefield,3 by some noble persons of her family, who appear on the scene in pastoral habit, moving toward the seat of state, with this song.]


Look, nymphs, and shepherds look,
What sudden blaze of majesty
Is that which we from hence descry,
Too divine to be mistook:

1 Ancient.

2 This shows that Milton, however mistaken in other respects, did not run into the enthusiastic madness of that fanatic age against church music.-Thyer.

3 Alice, daughter of Sir John Spenser, of Althorp, in Northamptonshire. This poem was probably written during Milton's residence in the neighbourhood of Uxbridge. See Newlon.

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