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Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
On smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
The lily and rose, that neither sow'd nor spun.
Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touch'd, or artful voice Warble immortal notes, and Tuscan air ?
He, who of those delights can judge, and spare To interpose them oft, is not unwise.
CYRIACK, whose grandsire, on the royal bench
Of British Themis, with no mean applause, Pronounced, and in his volumes taught, our laws,
Which others, at their bar, so often wrench; To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench
In mirth, that after no repenting draws;
Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause, And what the Swede intends, and what the French To measure life learn thou betimes, and know
Toward solid good what leads the nearest way;
For other things, mild Heaven a time ordains, And disapproves that care, though wise in show,
That with superfluous burden loads the day, And when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.
TO THE SAME.
CYRIACK, this three-years-day, these eyes, though
To outward view, of blemish or of spot, [clear,
Nor, to their idle orbs, doth sight appear
Or man, or woman. Yet I
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up, and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
The conscience, friend, to have lost them, overplied,
Cyriack Skinner was one of the principal members of Ilarrington's political club. Wood says that he was ingenious young gentleman, and scholar to John Milton ; which Skinner sometimes held the chair."-Ath. Oxon. ii. 591.
In liberty's detence, my noble task, Of which all Europe rings from side to side. [mask,
This thought might lead me through the world's vain Content, though blind, had I no better guide.
ON HIS DECEASED wife.* METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused saint,
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave, Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint. Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint,
Purification in the old law did save,
Full sight of her in Heaven, without restraint,
Her face was veil'd, yet, to my fancied sight,
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O, as to embrace me she inclined, I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night
* This Sonnet was written about the year 1656, on the death of his second wife, Catherine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock, of Hackney, a rigid sectarist. She died in child-bed of a daughter, within a year after their marriage. Milton had now been long totally blind.
MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY."
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
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 squadrons
And join thy voice unto the angel quire ;
* This Ode, in which the many learned allusions are highly poetical, was probably composed as a college exercise at Cambridge, our author being now only twenty-one years old. In the edition of 1645, in.its title it is said to have been written in 1629.
It was the winter wild,
All meanly wrapt, in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize :
Only with speeches fair
To hide her guilty front, with innocent snow ;
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
But he, her fears to cease,
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
With turtle wing, the amorous clouds dividing; And, waving wide her myrtle wand She strikes an universal peace, through sea & land.
No war, or battle's sound,
The idle spear & shield were high up hung,
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
But penceful 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;
And though the shady gloom
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
The new-enlighten'd world no more should need; He saw a greater sun appear
[bear. Than his bright throne, or burning axletree could
The shepherds, on the lawn,
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 :
Nature, that heard such sound,
Of Cynthia's seat, the aery region thrilling,
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling ;