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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.”
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 unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
To sit the midst of Trinal-Unity,
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?
To welcome him to this his new abode,
Now while the Heaven, by the sun's team untrod,
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 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,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize;
The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
The stars, with deep amaze,
Bending one way their precious influence;
Or Lucifer, that often warn’d them thence;
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 Delphos leaving.
The lonely mountains o'er
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
The parting Genius is with sighing sent:
In consecrated earth,
The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint;
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
Time is, our tedious song should here have ending:
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending,
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,
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;
Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well,
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
But, O, the heavy change, now thou art gone,
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep
Alas! what boots it with uncessant care
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.