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The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony;
That Orpheus' self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heap'd Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half-regain'd Eurydice.
These delights, if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.
HENCE, vain deluding joys,
The brood of Folly without father bred!
How little you bested,
Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys!
Dwell in some idol brain,
And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sunbeams,
Or likest hovering dreams,
The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.
But hail, thou goddess, sage and holy,
Hail, divinest melancholy!
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,
And, therefore, to our weaker view
O’erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue;
*1 Penseroso is the thoughtful, melancholy man; and this poem, both in its model and principal circumstances, is taken from à song in praise of melancholy in Beaumont, and Fletcher's oomedy, called The Nice Valour, or Passionate Madman.
Black, but such as in esteem,
Prince Memmon's sister might beseem,
Or that starr'd Ethiop queen that strove
To set her beauties praise above
The Sea-nymphs, and their powers offended,
Yet thou art higher far descended,
Thee bright-hair'd Vesta long of yore. .
To solitary Saturn bore;
His daughter she, (in Saturn's reign,
Such mixture was not held a stain,)
Oft in glimmering bowers and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
While yet there was no fear of Jove.
Come, pensive Nun, devout and pure,
Sober, steadfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train,
And sable stole of Cyprus lawn,
Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state,
With even step, and musing gait,
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes :
There held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till
With a sad leaden downward cast,
Thou fix them on the earth as fast :
And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
And hears the Muses in a ring
Aye 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, chantress, oft, the woods among, I woo, to hear thy evening-song; And missing thee, I walk unseen On the dry smooth-shaven green, To behold the wand'ring moon, Riding near her highest noon, Like one that had been led astray Through the heaven'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 curfew 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 : Or let my lamp at midnight hour Be seen in some high lonely tower, Where I may oft outwatch 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 fileshly 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 Pelops' line,
Or the tale of Troy divine,
Or what (though rare) of later age
Ennobled hath thy 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 Camtall, and of Algarsife,
And who had Canace to wife,
That own’d the virtuous ring and glass,
And of the wond'rous 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 tourneys and of trophies hung,
Of forests, and enchantments drear,
Where more is meant than meets the ear.
Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career,
Till civil-suited Morn appear,
Not trick'd and frounc'd as she was wont
With the Attic boy to hunt,
But kerchieft 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 airy stream
Of lively portraiture display'd,
Softly on my eyelids 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 cloisters pale,
And love the high embowed roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voic'd choir below,
In service high and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstacies,
And bring all heaven before mine eyes !
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown and mossy cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that Heaven doth show,
And every herb that sips the dew ;