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While the ploughman, near at hand,
« Often, in the early morning, let me listen to the hounds and huntsmen, who seem to waken the day with their cheerful horns; echoed from the frosty side of some lofty hill, or heard shrilly sounding through the woods. Sometimes may I walk ainongst workmen in the fields, by hedge-rows planted with elms, and over green hillocks, towards the east where the glorious sun begins his daily course, robed in amber coloured flame, and attended by clouds adorned with liveries of a thousand beautiful colours.-Whilst the ploughman whistles at his work, and the milk-maid sings as she milks, and the cheerful noise of the mower is heard whetting his sithe, and when the shepherd sits under a hawthorn bush, conversing tenderly with some favourite shepherdess."
Oft list'ning,—refers to the beginning of the last paragraph, and means; “ After the crowing of the cock, let me go abroad, and listen to the hounds and huntsmen." &c. &c.
Not unseen. -Somne critics think that this should be, wander out unseen ; and they account for the mistake hy supposing that the u-in out was in the first printed copy an n, which was inverted by accident, (a circumstance that frequently happens in printing ;) and that the succeeding printer, not knowing what to do with ont, had turned it into not. But I rather think Milton intended that it should be not unseen, from this line in Il Penseroso,
“ And missing thee, I walk unseen
Walking in the view of others is suited to L’Allégro, walking unseen to Il Penseroso.
Right against the eastern gate. Opposite to the rising sun. Gray, in the country churchyard, says,
“. To meet the sun upon yon upland lawn." Dight. - Dressed in a thousand different colours.
Liveries, - to modern ears seems rather a mean allusion ; but formerly it conveyed the same meaning as uniform does to us.
« Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Mountains, on whose harren breast,
The cynosure of neighb'ring eyes, "Mine eye catches new pleasures, as it surveys the landscape; it sees brown fields and gray fallows, where the sheep stray and bite the short grass ; it sees barren mountains, upon the sides of which the clouds seemn to'rest ; meadows decked with pied or many-coloured daisies, and narrow streams and wide rivers ; it sees towers, and their battleinents, that seem to be in the bosom of tufted groves, where perhaps some beauty lives retired, who attracts the eyes of all the swains by the brightness of her charms, as tlie bright dog-star is conspicuous in the heavens."
Thei poet here drops the idea of being led by Mirth and Liberty ; and he speaks of what appears before his eyes as he walks abroad in the morning.in
Russet lawns Brown dawns, dried up by the sun. 0' "Labouring clouds Low clouds driven slowly by the winds, when they meet with high mountains, seem to labour in rolling over them, and may seem to rest when stopped in
Meadows that appear trim or dressed with, or pied, with many coloured daisies.
Cynosure.—The pole-star, which directs sailors by night, was by the ancients called cynosure, or dog-star. The poet here rather awkwardly calls a beauty, upon whom the neighbouring villagers turn their eyes, theit pole star,
Hard by a cottage chimney smokes,
To the tanned haycock in the mead. « The smoke of a cottage chimney rises between two oaks, where the farmers, Thyrsis and Corydon, are at dinner, upon some country fare, which labour makes delicious. Phyllis, their neat and useful companion, when she has prepared their dinner, goes in haste with Thestylis, to bind the 'sheaves of corn, or to make hay, if it is earlier in the summer.This represents the middle of the day,
" Sometimes with secure delight, The upland hanılets will invite; When the merry bells ring round, And the jocund rebecs sound, To many a youth and many a maid, Dancing in the checker'd shade, And young and old come forth to play On a sunshine holiday. “At other times I walk to the small villages on the neghbouring hills, on a holiday, when the bells ring merrily ; when, in the evening, under the moving shadows of the trees, the village lads and maidens, dance to the cheerful fiddle.
The rebeck.---Properly' a fiddle, with three strings.
We may observe here, that Milton selects such words in his descriptions as are not in vulgar use :
" Till the livelong day-light fail,