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Strow all their blessings on thy sleeping head.
She heard them give thee this, that thou shouldst still
From eyes of mortals walk invisible ;
Yet there is something that doth force my fear,
For once it was my dismal hap to hear
A Sibyl old, bow-bent with crooked age,
That far events full wisely could presage,
And in time's long and dark prospective glass
Foresaw what future days should bring to pass :
Your son, said she, (nor can you it prevent)
Shall subject be to many an accident.
O'er all his brethren he shall reign as king,
Yet every one shall make him underling,
And those that cannot live from him assunder
Ungratefully shall strive to keep him under,
In worth and excellence he shall out-go them,
Yet being above them, he shall be below them ;
From others he shall stand in need of nothing,
Yet on his brothers shall depend for clothing;
To find a foe it shall not be his hap,
And Peace shall lull him in her flowery lap;
Yet shall he live in strife, and at his door
Devouring War shall never cease to roar;
Yea it shall be his natural property
To harbour those that are at enmity.
What power, what force, what mighty spell, if not
Your learned hands, can loose this Gordian knot?
The next Quantity and Quality spake in Prose; then
Relation was called by his Name.
Rivers, arise ; whether thou be the son
Of utmost Tweed, or Oose, or gulfy Don,
Or Trent, who like some earth-born giant spreads
His thirty arms along th' indented meads;
Or sullen Mole, that runneth underneath
Or Severn swift, guilty of maidens' death;
Or rocky Avon, or of sedgy Lee,
Or coaly Tine, or ancient hallow'd Dee ;
Or Humber loud, that keeps the Scythian's name, Or Meday smooth, or royal tower'd Thame.
[The rest was prose]
ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven's eternal King,
Of wedded Maid, and Virgin-Mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal-Unity,
He laid aside ; and, here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
To welcome him to this his new abode,
Now while the Heaven by the sun's team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons
See how from far upon the eastern road
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet;
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
And lay it lowly at his blessed feet ;
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
And join thy voice unto the Angel choir,
From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.
It was the winter wild,
While the Heaven-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies ;
Nature in awe to him
Had doff'd her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize;
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.
Only, with speeches fair,
She woes the gentle air,
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow ;
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But he her fears to cease
Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace;
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly-sliding,
Down through the turning sphere
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing,
And waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.
IV. No war, or battle's sound Was heard the world around, The idle
and shield were high up hung ; The hooked chariot stood Unstain'd with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the arm'd throng; And kings sat still with awful eye, As if they surely knew their sov'reign Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began:
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kiss'd,
Whisp'ring new joys to the mild ocean;
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fix'd in steadfast
Bending one way their precious, influence,
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence ;
But in their glimering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.
And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hide his head for shame,
As his inferior flame
The new enlighten'd world no more should need;
He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree, could
The shepherds on the lawn.
Or ere the point of dawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they then,
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below :
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.
When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,
As never was by mortal finger strook ;
Answering the stringed noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took :
The air, such pleasures loth to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly
Nature that heard such sound,
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia's seat, the airy region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was done,