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extraordinary state of the mind, excited by internal feeling to a species of enthusiastic transe or suspension of motion, in which the usual motions of the limbs and features seem suspended.
" And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
The cherub Contemplation.” “ And as thou approachest, bring with thee Peace, Quiet, and (spare) lean Fast, who, (meaning Fast, or fasting) diets or feeds with the gods, and hears the muses sing (aye) always round the altar of Jupiter; and bring also with thee Leisure, freedom from worldly care that delights in orpamented (and perhaps. in ornapenting) gardens ; but, above ally bring with thee yonder cherub Contemplation, that mounts on golden wings, guiding the fiery throne.
Spare Fast-is represented as hearing the muses. chaunting round the altar of Jupiter
It has been observed, that those who have persisted in severe fasting have been liable to reveries and disorders of the imagination; here the poet means to speak of fasting as favourable to poetic enthusiasm. .
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne.-Milton does not tell what throne, but he seems to intend the throne of God. In the first chapter of Ezekiel there is a most sublime description of the throne of God supported by four living forms resembling 'men; they are no where called cherubs.-Contemplation guiding the throne of Providence is not an incongruous image, though Newton seems to think so in his note in this passage. If Milton had Ezekiel in his thoughts when he wrote this passage, it shows that in writing from memory he was sometimes inaccurate.
" And the mute Silence hist along,
Gently o'er th' accustom'd oak.” " And bring Silence (hist) húshed, along with thee ; silence that shall not be broken, except by (Philomel) the nightingale, singing
in her most mournful strain, whose song softens the horrours of night, and seems to charm the moon that appears to pause over the oak, where thou art used to sing."
Deign-Condescend to sing : :
Saddest plight-Plight means situation. , ; · Smoothing the rugged brow of Night. This is a forced metaphor; it means, that the song of the nightingale pleases Night, and makes her brow free froin the wrinkles of care. : While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke.-Cyrthia, Diana, and Hecate, are names for the moon : she is represented, particularly in the character of Hecate, as drawn by dragons who were supposed to be sleepless., .
• The word yoke means in this place, nor - the harness, but the animals which draw the
chariot ; the word yoke has frequently this meaning; a yoke of oxen means two oxen.
“ Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly,
On the dry smooth shaven green,
Riding ncar her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.” Here the poet breaks from his subject, and, abandoning the description --of Melancholy, he exclaims in praise of his favourite nightingale, “ Sweet bird that avoidest the noise of day and the folly of mankind, and singest by night in such musical and melancholy notes--thee I often wish to hear at evening in the woods; but if I miss thee, I walk unseen upon the smooth grass, to behold the moon when she has risen to the summit of the heavens, to the noon of night, unguided through the clouds, behind which she sometimes seems as if she lost her way, and soinetimes from the reflection of her tight upon the white clouds about her, she seems as if she stooped nearer to the earth.”
Sweet bird.—The nightingale is still spoken of, as if she were courted by the poet.
I woo to hear thy even song.-Even, for evening. I go to the woods to hear thee, as a lover goes to woo, or court his mistress.
Riding near ber highest noon.--Riding in her chariot drawn by dragons.
" Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
With planet or with element."
« Oft let me stand upon a small hill, and hear some distant bell' sound slow and heavily across some lake or a wide arm of the sea; or if the weather will not permit me to be abroad, let me sit in some retired room, where a few embers may give only a faint and gloomy light, far from any sound that