friend, (Mr. Edward King,) who was shipwrecked in the Irish Sea. 5. « L'Allegro,” an ode to mirth. 6. « Il Penseroso,” an ode to melancholy. 7. «Comus, a mask,” the purest and most exquisite creation of the imagination and fancy in English literature. 8. “Arcades,”! a part of a mask. 9. “Hymn on the Nativity.” 10. “Şonnets.”

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This is the month, and this the happy morn,

Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King,
Of wedded Maid and Virgin-Mother born,

Our great redemption from above did bring;

For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.


That glorious form, that light unsufferable,

And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council-table

To sit the midst of Trinal-Unity,

He laid aside; and, here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.


Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein

Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,

To welcome him to this his new abode,

Now while the Heaven, by the sun's team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squad ons bright?


See how from far upon the eastern road

The star-led wizards haste with odors sweet;
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,

And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;

Have thou the honor first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the angel quire,
From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.

1 " Arcades," that is, the Arcadtan shepherds: of course, it is of a pastoral character.

2 "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 than described."-- Str Egerton Brydger.



It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe to him,
Had doff'd her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize;
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

No war, or battle's sound
Was heard the world around,

The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovereign Lord was by.

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But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of Light

His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,

Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.


The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,

Bending one way their precious influence;
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,

Or Lucifer, that often warn’d them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

The shepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,

Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Fuļl little thought they than,
That the mighty Pan

Was kindly come to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.


When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,

As never was by mortal finger strook;

Divinely-warbled voice
Answering the stringed noise,

As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
The air, such pleasures loath to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.


The oracles are dumb,
No voice or hideous hum

Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,

With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.

The lonely mountains o'er
And the resounding shore,

A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring and dale,
Edged with poplar pale,

The parting Genius is with sighing sent:
With flower-inwoven tresses torn,
The Nymphs, in twilight shade of tangled thickets, mourn.


In consecrated earth,
And on the holy hearth,

The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;
In urns and altars round,
A drear and dying sound

Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar Power foregoes his wonted seat.

But see, the Virgin bless'd
Hath laid her Babe to rest;

Time is, our tedious song should here have ending:
Heaven's youngest-teemed star
Hath fix'd her polish'd car,

Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending,
And all about the courtly stable
Bright-harness'd angels sit in order serviceable.

LYCIDAS.1 In this Monody, the author bewails a learned friend, unfortunately drowned in his

passage from Chester on the Irish seas, 1637: and by occasion foretells the ruin of our corrupted clergy, then in their highth.

Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,

1 This poem was 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 Milton, who, as he was going to visit his relations in Ireland, was drowned, August 10, 1637, in the 25th year of his age. Dr. Newton bas observed, that Lycidas is with great judgment made of the pastoral kind, as both Mr.




I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude;
And, with forced fingers rude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year:
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due:
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer:
Who would not sing for Lycidas ? he knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.

Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well,
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring!
Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string.
Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse:
So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favor my destined urn;
And, as he passes, turn,
And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.
For we were nursed upon the self-same hill,
Fed the same flock by fountain, shade, and rill.
Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd
Under the opening eyelids of the morn,
We drove afield; and both 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,
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 for holy orders and the pastoral care, which gives a peculiar propriety to several passages in it.

Addison says, “that he who desires to know whether he has a true taste for history or not, should consider whether he is pleased with Livy's manner of telling a story; so, perhaps it may be said, 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."-J. Warton.

“Whatever stern grandeur Milton's two epics and his drama, written in his latter days, exhibit; by whatever divine invention they are created; Lycidas and Comus have a fluency, a sweetness, 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 there is no poeni of Milton, in which the pastoral and rural imagery is so breathing, so brilliant, and so new as this."-Sir Egerton Brydges.

“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 allusion to the unripe age of his friend, in which death "shatter'd his leaves before the mellowing year."

L. 15. “The sacred well," Helicon.

L. 25. "From the regularity of his pursuits, the purity of his pleasures, his temperance, and general simplicity of life, Milton habitually became an early riser; hence he gained an acquaintance with the beauties of the morning, which he so frequently contemplated with delight, and has there fore so repeatedly described in all their various appearances.”—T. Warton. L. 27.

“We drove afield," that is, we drove our flocks afield. L 28. The “sultry horn," is the sharp hum of this insect at noon.





Rough Satyrs danced, and Fawns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long;
And old Damætas loved to hear our song.

But, O, the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone, and never must return!
Thee, Shepherd, thee the woods, and desert caves,
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown,
And all their echoes mourn:
The willows, and hazel copses green,
Shall now no more be seen,
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
As killing as the canker to the rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flowers, that their gay wardrobe wear,
When first the white-thorn blows;-
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear.

Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Closed o'er the head of your loved Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the

Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream.
Ay me! I fondly dream!
Had ye been there for what could that have done?
What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore,
The Muse herself, for her enchanting son,
Whom universal Nature did lament,
When by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His gory visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore ?

Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
To tend the homely, slighted shepherd's trade,
And strictly meditate the thankless Muse?
Were it not better done, as others use,
To sport with Amaryllis in the shade,
Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair?
Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise,
(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,
And slits the thin-spun life. “But not the praise,”






Line 50. “Where were ye ” “This burst is as magnificent as it is affecting."-Sir E. Brydges.

L. 58. Reference is here made to Orpheus, torn in pieces by the Bacchanalians, whose murderers are called “the rout." “Lycidas, as a poet, is here tacitly compared with Orpheus: they were both also victims of the water."-T. Warton.

L. 70, &c. “No lines have been more often cited, and more popular than these; nor more justly Instructive and inspiriting."-Sir Egerton Brydges.

L. 76. “But 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, Phæbus interposes with a subllme strain, above the tone of pastoral poetry: he then, in an abrupt and elliptical apostrophe, at "O fountain Arethuse;' hastily recollects himself, and apologizes to his rural Muse, or in other words to Arethusa and Mincius, the celebrated streams of bucolic song, for having so suddenly departed from pastoral allusions and the tenor of his subject."— T. Warton.

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