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Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.

These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
And I with thee will choose to live.

ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT,

DYING OF A COUGH.*

O Fairest flower no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,
Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry :
For he being amorous on that lovely dye

That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss,
But kill'd, alas, and then bewail'd his fatal bliss.

II.

For since grim Aquilo his charioteer
By boist'rous rape th' Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touch'd his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away th' infamous blot

Of long-uncoupled bed, and childless eld, Which 'mongst the wanton gods a foul reproach was held.

III.

So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air,
He wander'd long, till thee he spied from far;
There ended was his quest, there ceas'd his care:
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair,

* Composed in 1625, the 17th year of Milton's age. This inlant was the author's neice, a daughter of his sister Philips, and probably her first child.

But all unwares with his cold-kind embrace Unhous'd thy virgin soul from her fair biding place.

IV.
Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilome did slay his dearly loved mate,
Young Hyacinth born on Eurotas' strand,
Young Hyacinth the pride of Spartan land;

But then transform'd him to a purple flower :
Alack that so to change thee Winter had no power. .

V.
Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low delved tomb;
Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?

Oh no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that show'd thou wast divine.

VI.
Resolve me then, oh Soul most surely bless'd,
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear,)
Tell me, bright Spirit, where'er thou hoverest,
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in th’ Elysian fields, (if such they were,)

O say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy
Aight?

VII.
Wert thou some star which from the ruin'd roof
Of shak'd Olympus by mischance didst fall;
Which careful Jove in nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall ?
Or did of late earth's sons besiege the wall

Of sheeny Heaven, and thou, some goddess fled, Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head ?

VIII.

Or wert thou that just maid who once before
Forsook the hated earth, O tell me sooth,
And cam'st again to visit us once more ?
Or wert thou, (Mercy,] that sweet smiling Youth ?
Or that crown'd matron sage white-robed Truth?

Or any other of that heavenly brood Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some good ?

IX.
Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post,
And after short abode fly back with speed,
As if to show what creatures Heaven doth breed;

Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire
To scorn the sordid world, and unto Heaven aspire ?

But oh! why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy heaven-lov'd innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe,
To turn swift-rushing black perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering pestilence,

To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart ?
But thou canst best perform that office where thou

art.

XI.
Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her false imagin'd loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild ;
Think what a present thou to God hast sent,
And render him with patience what he lent;

This if thou do, he will an offering give That till the world's last end shall make thy name to

live.

Anno Ætatis 19. (1627.) At a Vacation Exercise in the College, part Latin, part English. The Latin Speeches ended, the English thus began:

Hail, native language, that by sinews weak
Didst move my first endeavouring tongue to speak,
And mad'st imperfect words with childish trips,
Half unpronounc'd, slide through my infant lips
Driving dumb Silence from the portal door,
Where he had mutely sat two years before ;
Here I salute thee, and thy pardon ask,
That now I use thee in my latter task:
Small loss it is that thence can come unto thee,
I know my tongue but little grace can do thee :
Thou need’st not be ambitious to be first,
Believe me I have thither pack'd the worst :
And, if it happen as I did forecast,
The daintiest dishes shall be serv'd up last.
I pray thee then deny me not thy aid
For this same small neglect that I have made :
But haste thee straight to do me once a pleasure,
And from thy wardrobe bring thy chiefest treasure,
Not those new fangled toys, and trimming slight
Which takes our late fantastics with delight,
But cull those richest robes, and gay'st attire
Which deepest spirits, and choicest wits desire :
I have some naked thoughts that rove about,
And loudly knock to have their passage out ;
And weary of their place do only stay
Till thou hast deck'd them in thy best array ;,
That so they may without suspect or fears
Fly swiftly to this fair assembly's ears.
Yet I had rather, if I were to chose,

Thy service in some graver subject use,
Such as may make thee search thy coffers round,
Before thou clothe my fancy in fit sound :
Such where the deep transported mind may soar
Above the wheeling poles, and at Heaven's door
Look in, and see each blissful Deity
How he before the thunderous throne doth lie,
List'ning to what unshorn Apollo sings
To th' touch of golden wires, while Hebe brings
Immortal nectar to her kingly sire ;
Then passing through the spheres of watchful fire,
And misty regions of wide air next under,
And hills of snow, and lofts of piled thunder,
May tell at length how green-ey'd Neptune raves,
In Heaven's defiance mustering all his waves ;
Then sing of secret things that came to pass
When beldam Nature in her cradle was;
And last of kings and queens and heroes old,
Such as the wise Demodocus once told
In solemn songs at king Alcinous' feast
While sad Ulysses' soul and all the rest
Are held with his melodious harmony
In willing chains and sweet captivity;
But fie, my wand'ring Muse, how thou dost stray!
Expectance calls thee now another way;
Thou know'st it must be now thy only bent
To keep in compass of thy predicament:
Then quick about thy purpos'd business come,
That to the next I may resign my room.
Then Ens is represented as Father of the Predicaments
his ten Sons, whereof the eldest stood for Substance
with his Canons, which thus speaking explains :

Good luck befriend thee, Son; for at thy birth
The fairy ladies danc'd upon the hearth;
Thy drowsy nurse hath sworn she did them spy
Come tripping to the room where thou didst lie,
And, sweetly singing round about thy bed,

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