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And join with thee calm Peace and Quiet
Spare Fast, that oft with Gods doth diet,
And hears the Muses in a ring
Ay round about Jove's altar sing:
And add to these retired Leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure.
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring,
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The Cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of Night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
Gently o'er th' accustom'd oak:
Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy !
Thee, cbauntress, oft the woods among
I woo to hear thy even-song ;
And missing thee, I walk upseen
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the Heav'n's wide pathless way;
And oft, as if her head she bow'd,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft, on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off curfeu sound,
Over some wide-water'd shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar;
Or, if the air will not permit,
Some still removed place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach Light to counterfeit a gloom,
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,
Or the belman's drowsy charm,
To bless the doors from nightly harm :
56. The cheerful character of the former poem rendered it necessary to commence with a description of morning sights an vleasures ; in ‘his the poet properly begins with evening.
Or let my lamp, at midnight hour,
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato to unfold
What worlds, or what vast regions, hold
Th' immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook:
And of those Demons that are found
In fire, air, flood, or under ground,
Whose power hath a true consent
With planet, or with element.
Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy
In scepter'd pall come sweeping by,
Presenting Thebes', or Pelop's line,
Or the tale of Troy divine,
Or what (though rare) of later age
Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage.
But, O sad Virgin, that thy power
Might raise Musæus from his bower;
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
Such notes as, warbled to the string,
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek
And made Hell grant what Love did seek
Or call up him that left half told,
The story of Cambuscan bold,
of Camball, and of Algarsife,
And who had Canace to wife,
That own'd the virtuous ring and glass,
And of the wondrous horse of brass,
On which the Tartar king did ride;
And if aught else great bards beside
In sage and solemn tunes have sung,
Of turneys and of trophies hung,
Of forests and enchantments drear,
Where more is meant than meets the ear.
88. Hermes Trismegistus. The great Egyptian philosopher who fourished, it is supposed, near the time of Moses.
99. The ancient tragedians drew the subjects of their principal dramas from the history of the kings of Thebes, &c.
104. Museus, a celebrated ancient poet. 109. An allusion to a tale which Chaucer left unfinished. Spenser endeavoured to complete it. Fae. Qu. B. 4. Can. 2. St. 32.
Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career,
Till civil-suited Morn appear,
Not trick'd and frounced as she was wont
With the Attic boy to hunt,
But kercheft in a comely cloud,
While rocking winds are piping loud,
Or usher'd with a shower still,
When the gust hath blown his fill,
Ending on the rustling leaves,
With minute drops from off the eaves.
And when the Sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me Goddess bring
To arched walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown that Sylvan loves
Of pine or monumental oak,
Where the rude axe with heaved stroke
Was never heard the Nymphs to daunt,
Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt.
There in close covert by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look,
Hide me from Day's garish eye,
While the bee with honied thigh,
That at her flowery work doth sing,
And the waters murmuring,
With such concert as they keep,
Entice the dewy-feather'd sleep:
And let some strange mysterious dream
Wave at his wings in aery stream
Of lively portraiture display'd,
Softly on my eye-lids laid.
And as I wake, sweet music breathe
Above, about, or underneath,
Sent by some Spirit to mortals good,
Or th' unseen Genius of the wood.
But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister's pale,
And love the high-embowed roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight
C:usting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voiced quire below
In service high, and anthenis clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into extasies,
And bring all Heav'n before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown and niossy cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that Heav'n doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew;
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures, Melancholy, give
And I with thee will choose to live.
Part of an Entertainment* presented to the Countess Dowager of Derby, ut Harefield, by some noble
persons of her family, who appear on the scene in pas. torul habit, noving toward the seat of state, with
Look Nymphs, and Shepherds look,
What sudden blaze of majesty
Is that which we from hence descry,
Too divine to be mistook!
This, this is she
To whom our vows and wishes bend;
Here our solemn search hath end.
Fame, that, her high worth to raise,
Seem'd erst so lavish and profuse,
We may justly now accuse
10 Of detraction from her praise ;
Less than half we find exprest,
Envy bid conceal the rest. # This fragment is called a mask in Milton's manuscript, and it is supposed to have been completed by other hands. There was a connexion by marriage between the Countess of Derby and the Earl of Bridgewater, before whom Comus was performed. The Arcades in a chronological arrangement oughi to precede the latter.
Mark what radiant state she spreads,
In circle round her shining throne,
Shooting her beams like silver threads;
This, this is she alone,
Sitting like a Goddess bright,
In the centre of her light.
Might she the wise Latona be,
Or the tower'd Cybele,
Mother of a hundred gods;
Juno dares not give her odds ;
Who hath thought this clime had held
A deity so unparallel'd ?
25 As they come forward the Genius of the wood appears
and turning towards them, speuks. Gen. Stay, gentle Swains, for tho' in this disguise, I see bright honour sparkle through your eyes ; Of famous Arcady ye are, and sprung Of that renowned flood, so often sung, Divine Alpheus, who by secret sluice
30 Stole under seas to meet his Arethuse; And ye, the breathing roses of the wood, Pair silver-buskin'd Nymphs, as great and good, I know this quest of yours, and free intent, Was all in honour and devotion meant
35 To the great mistress of yon princely shrine, Whom with low reverence I adore as mine, And with all helpful service will comply To further this night's glad solemnity; And lead ye where ye may more near behold 40 What shallow-searching Fame hath left untold; Which I full oft amidst these shades alone Have sat to wonder at, and gaze upon : For know by lot from Jove I am the power Of this fair wood, and live in oaken bower
45 To nurse the saplings tall, and curl the grove With ringlets quaint, and wanton windings wove. And all my plants I save from nightly ill Of noisome winds, and blasting vapours chill:
30. Alpheus, a river of Arcadia, which runs for some way under the sea, and rises again with the fountain Arethuse, near Syra cuse in Sicily.