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My Muse with Angels did divide to sing ;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing,
In wintry solstice like the shorten'd light
Soon swallow'd up in dark, and long out-living night.
11. For now to sorrow must I tune my song, And set my harp to notes of saddest wo, Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long, Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so, Which he for us did freely undergo :
Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human weight !:
He, sovereign Priest, stooping his regal head,
That droop'd with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly tabernacle enter'd
His starry front low-roof'd beneath the skies;
O, what a mask was there, what a disguise !
Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide,
Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethren's side.
These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phæbus bound:
His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, other where are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremonas' trump doth sound;
Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of lute or viol still, more apt for mournful things.
Befriend me, Night, best patroness of grief;
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flatter'd fancy to belief,
That Heaven and Earth are colour'd with my wo;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know :
The leaves should all be black whereon I write, And letters, where my tears have wash'd, a wannish
See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirl'd the Prophet up at Chebar flood;
My spirit some transporting Cherub feels,
To bear me where the towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood :
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven's richest store;
And here though grief my feeble hands up lock,
Yet on the soften'd quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before :
For sure so well instructed are my tears,
That they would fitly fall in order'd characters.
Or should I thence hurried on viewless wing,
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild,
And I (for grief is easily beguild)
Might think th' infection of my sorrows loud
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud.
This subject the Author finding to be above the years he had, when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.
Fly, envious Time, till thou run out thy race ;
Call on the lazy, leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross ;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain!
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb'd,
And last of all thy greedy self consum'd,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss ;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood, .
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With Truth, and Peace, and Love, shall ever shine
About the supreme throne
Of Him, to whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heavenly guided souls shall climb,
Then, all this earthly grossness quit,
Attir'd with stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O
YE flaming Powers, and winged warriors bright,
That erst with music, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the list'ning night;
Now mourn ; and, if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distil no tear,
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow.
He, who with all Heaven's heraldry whilere
Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease;
Alas, how soon our sin
Sore doth begin
His infancy to seize !
O more exceeding love, or law more just!
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love!
For we, by rightful doom remediless,
Were lost in death, till he, that dwelt above
High thron'd in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, ev'n to nakedness ;-
And that great covenant which we still transgress
Entirely satisfied ;
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice bore for our excess;
And seals obedience first, with wounding smart,
This day; but 0, ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near his heart.
Bless'd pair of Syrens, pledges of Heaven's joy,
Sphere-born, harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed your divine sounds, and mix'd power employ
Dead things with inbreath'd sense able to pierce ;
And to our high rais'd phantasy present
That undisturbed song of pure content,
Aye sung before the sapphire-colour'd throne,
To him that sits thereon,
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee,
Where the bright Seraphim, in burning row,
Their loud, up-liften angel-trumpets blow,
And the cherubic host, in thousand choir,
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires,
With those just Spirits that wear victorious palms,
Hymns devout and holy psalms
That we on earth, with undiscording voice,
May rightly answer that melodious noise :
As once we did ; till disproportion'd sin
Jarr'd against Nature's chime, and with harsh din
Broke the fair music that all creatures made
To their great Lord, whose love their motion sway'd
In perfect diapason, whilst they stood
In first obedience, and their state of good.
O, may we soon again renew that song,
And keep in tune with heaven, till God, ere long,
To his celestial concert us unite,
To live with him, and sing in endless morn of light !
AN EPITAPH ON THE MARCHIONESS OF
This rich marble doth inter
The honour'd wife of Winchester,
A Viscount's daughter, an Earl's heir,
Besides what her virtues fair
Added to her noble birth,.
More than she could own from earth.
Summers three times eight save one
She had told ; alas! too soon,
After so short time of breath,
· To house with darkness, and with death.
Yet had the number of her days
*This Lady was Jane, daughter of Thomas Lord Visc. Savage of Rock-Savage, Cheshire, who by marriage became the heir of Lord Darcy, Earl of Rivers; and was the wife of John Marquis of Winchester, and the mother of Charles first duke of Bolton. She died in childbed of a second son in the 230 year of her age; and Milton made these verses at Cambridge, as appeass by the sequel.