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On the Morning of Christ's Nativity (1629)
- THIS is the Month, and this the happy morn
- Wherin the Son of Heav'ns 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,
- Wherwith he wont at Heav'ns high Councel-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 darksom House of mortal Clay.
- Say Heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
- Afford a present to the Infant God?
- Hast thou no vers, no hymn, or solemn strein,
- To welcom him to this his new abode,
- Now while the Heav'n by the Suns team untrod,
- Hath took no print of the approching light,
- And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
- See how from far upon the Eastern rode
- The Star-led Wisards 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 joyn thy voice unto the Angel Quire,
- From out his secret Altar toucht with hallow'd fire.
- It was the Winter wilde,
- While the Heav'n-born-childe,
- All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
- Nature in aw to him
- Had doff't her gawdy 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 woo's the gentle Air
- To hide her guilty front with innocent Snow,
- And on her naked shame,
- Pollute with sinfull blame,
- The Saintly Vail of Maiden white to throw,
- Confounded, that her Makers eyes
- Should look so neer upon her foul deformities.
- But he her fears to cease,
- Sent down the meek-eyd Peace,
- She crown'd with Olive green, came softly sliding
- Down through the turning sphear
- His ready Harbinger,
- With Turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing,
- And waving wide her mirtle wand,
- She strikes a universall Peace through Sea and Land.
- No War, or Battails sound
- Was heard the World around,
- The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
- The hooked Chariot stood
- Unstain'd with hostile blood,
- The Trumpet spake not to the armed throng,
- And Kings sate still with awfull eye,
- As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.
- But peacefull was the night
- Wherin the Prince of light
- His raign of peace upon the earth began:
- The Windes with wonder whist,
- Smoothly the waters kist,
- Whispering new joyes the milde Ocean,
- Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
- While Birds of Calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
- The Stars with deep amaze
- Stand fixt in stedfast gaze,
- Bending one way their pretious influence,
- And will not take their flight,
- For all the morning light,
- Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence;
- But in their glimmering Orbs did glow,
- Untill their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.
- And though the shady gloom
- Had given day her room,
- The Sun himself with-held his wonted speed,
- And hid his head for shame,
- As his inferiour flame,
- The new enlightn'd world no more should need;
- He saw a greater Sun appear
- Then his bright Throne, or burning Axletree could bear.
- The Shepherds on the Lawn,
- Or ere the point of dawn,
- Sate simply chatting in a rustick row;
- Full little thought they than,
- That the mighty Pan
- Was kindly com to live with them below;
- Perhaps their loves, or els their sheep,
- Was all that did their silly thoughts so busie keep.
- When such musick sweet
- Their hearts and ears did greet,
- As never was by mortall finger strook,
- Divinely-warbled voice
- Answering the stringè.d noise,
- As all their souls in blisfull rapture took:
- The Air such pleasure loth to lose,
- With thousand echo's still prolongs each heav'nly close.
- 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 don,
- And that her raign had here its last fulfilling;
- She knew such harmony alone
- Could hold all Heav'n and Earth in happier union.
- At last surrounds their sight
- A Globe of circular light,
- That with long beams the shame-fac't night array'd,
- The helmè.d Cherubim
- And sworded Seraphim,
- Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displaid,
- Harping in loud and solemn quire,
- With unexpressive notes to Heav'ns new-born Heir.
- Such Musick (as 'tis said)
- Before was never made,
- But when of old the sons of morning sung,
- While the Creator Great
- His constellations set,
- And the well-ballanc't world on hinges hung,
- And cast the dark foundations deep,
- And bid the weltring waves their oozy channel keep.
- Ring out ye Crystall sphears,
- Once bless our human ears,
- (If ye have power to touch our senses so)
- And let your silver chime
- Move in melodious time;
- And let the Base of Heav'ns deep Organ blow,
- And with your ninefold harmony
- Make up full consort to th' Angelike symphony.
- For if such holy Song
- Enwrap our fancy long,
- Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
- And speckl'd vanity
- Will sicken soon and die,
- And leprous sin will melt from earthly mould,
- And Hell it self will pass away,
- And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
- Yea Truth, and Justice then
- Will down return to men,
- Th' enameld Arras of the Rain-bow wearing,
- And Mercy set between,
- Thron'd in Celestiall sheen,
- With radiant feet the tissued clouds down stearing,
- And Heav'n as at som festivall,
- Will open wide the Gates of her high Palace Hall.
- But wisest Fate sayes no,
- This must not yet be so,
- The Babe lies yet in smiling Infancy,
- That on the bitter cross
- Must redeem our loss;
- So both himself and us to glorifie:
- Yet first to those ychain'd in sleep,
- The wakefull trump of doom must thunder through the deep,
- With such a horrid clang
- As on mount Sinai rang
- While the red fire, and smouldring clouds out brake:
- The aged Earth agast
- With terrour of that blast,
- Shall from the surface to the center shake,
- When at the worlds last session,
- The dreadfull Judge in middle Air shall spread his throne.
- And then at last our bliss
- Full and perfect is,
- But now begins; for from this happy day
- Th' old Dragon under ground
- In straiter limits bound,
- Not half so far casts his usurped sway,
- And wrath to see his Kingdom fail,
- Swindges the scaly Horrour of his foulded tail.
- The Oracles are dumm,
- No voice or hideous humm
- Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
- Apollo from his shrine
- Can no more divine,
- With hollow shreik the steep of Delphos leaving.
- No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
- Inspire's the pale-ey'd Priest from the prophetic cell.
- The lonely mountains o're,
- And the resounding shore,
- A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
- From haunted spring, and dale
- Edg'd with poplar pale,
- The parting Genius is with sighing sent,
- With flowre-inwov'n tresses torn
- The Nimphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.
- In consecrated Earth,
- And on the holy Hearth,
- The Lars, and Lemures moan with midnight plaint,
- In Urns, and Altars round,
- A drear, and dying sound
- Affrights the Flamins at their service quaint;
- And the chill Marble seems to sweat,
- While each peculiar power forgoes his wonted seat.
- Peor, and Baalim,
- Forsake their Temples dim,
- With that twise-batter'd god of Palestine,
- And moonè.d Ashtaroth,
- Heav'ns Queen and Mother both,
- Now sits not girt with Tapers holy shine,
- The Libyc Hammon shrinks his horn,
- In vain the Tyrian Maids their wounded Thamuz mourn.
- And sullen Moloch fled,
- Hath left in shadows dred,
- His burning Idol all of blackest hue,
- In vain with Cymbals ring,
- They call the grisly king,
- In dismall dance about the furnace blue;
- The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
- Isis and Orus, and the Dog Anubis hast.
- Nor is Osiris seen
- In Memphian Grove, or Green,
- Trampling the unshowr'd Grasse with lowings loud:
- Nor can he be at rest
- Within his sacred chest,
- Naught but profoundest Hell can be his shroud,
- In vain with Timbrel'd Anthems dark
- The sable-stolè.d Sorcerers bear his worshipt Ark.
- He feels from Juda's Land
- The dredded Infants hand,
- The rayes of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
- Nor all the gods beside,
- Longer dare abide,
- Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
- Our Babe to shew his Godhead true,
- Can in his swadling bands controul the damned crew.
- So when the Sun in bed,
- Curtain'd with cloudy red,
- Pillows his chin upon an Orient wave,
- The flocking shadows pale,
- Troop to th' infernall jail,
- Each fetter'd Ghost slips to his severall grave,
- And the yellow-skirted Fayes,
- Fly after the Night-steeds, leaving their Moon-lov'd maze.
- But see the Virgin blest,
- Hath laid her Babe to rest.
- Time is our tedious Song should here have ending,
- Heav'ns youngest teemed Star,
- Hath fixt her polisht Car,
- Her sleeping Lord with Handmaid Lamp attending:
- And all about the Courtly Stable,
- Bright-harnest Angels sit in order serviceable.
- John Milton
- WHEN I consider how my light is spent
- Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
- And that one talent which is death to hide
- Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent
- To serve therewith my Maker, and present
- My true account, lest he returning chide,-
- Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?
- I fondly ask:-But Patience, to prevent
- That murmer, soon replies; God doth not need
- Either man's work, or his own gifts: who best
- Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best: His state
- Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed
- And post o'er land and ocean without rest:-
- They also serve who only stand and wait.
- John Milton
- METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused Saint
- Brought to me like Alcestus from the grave,
- Who Jove's great Son to her glad Husband gave,
- Rescu'd from death by force though pale and faint.
- Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint
- Purification in the old Law did save,
- And such as yet once more I trust to have
- Full sight of her in Heav'n without restraint,
- Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
- Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight
- Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shin'd
- So clear, as in no face with more delight.
- But O as to embrace me she enclin'd
- I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.
- John Milton
- BLEST pair of Sirens, pledges of Heav'n's joy,
- Sphere-born harmonious Sisters, Voice and Verse,
- Wed your divine sounds, and mixt power employ
- Dead things with inbreath'd sense able to pierce,
- And to our high-rais'd fantasy present
- That undisturbed Song of pure concent,
- Ay sung before that saphire-colour'd throne
- To Him that sits thereon
- With Saintly shout and solemn Jubilee,
- Where the bright Seraphim in burning row
- Their loud up-lifted Angel trumpets blow,
- And the Cherubic host in thousand choirs
- Touch their immortal Harps of golden wires,
- With those just Spirits that wear victorious Palms,
- Hymns devout and holy Psalms
- Singing everlastingly;
- 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 first obedience, and their state of good.
- And keep in tune with Heav'n, till God ere long
- To His celestial consort us unite,
- To live with Him, and sing in endless morn of light.
- John Milton
- BECAUSE you have thrown off your Prelate Lord,
- And with stiff vows renounc'd his Liturgy,
- To seize the widowed whore Plurality
- From them whose sin ye envied, not abhorred,
- Dare you for this adjure the civil sword
- To force our consciences that Christ set free,
- And ride us with a Classic Hierarchy,
- Taught ye by mere A.S. and Rutherford?
- Men whose life, learning, faith, and pure intent,
- Would have been held in high esteem with Paul
- Must now be named and printed heretics
- By shallow Edwards and Scotch What-d'ye-call.
- But we do hope to find out all your tricks,
- Your plots and packing, worse than those of Trent,
- That so the Parliament
- May with their wholesome and preventative shears
- Clip your phylacteries, though baulk your ears,
- And succor our just fears,
- When they shall read this clearly in your charge:
- New Presbyter is but old Priest writ large.
- John Milton
- NOW the bright morning Star, Day's harbinger,
- Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
- The Flowery May, who from her green lap throws
- The yellow Cowslip, and the pale Primrose.
- Hail bounteous May that dost inspire
- Mirth and youth, and warm desire,
- Woods and Groves, are of thy dressing,
- Hill and Dale, doth boast thy blessing.
- Thus we salute thee with our early Song,
- And welcome thee, and wish thee long.
- John Milton
- O NIGHTINGALE, that on yon bloomy Spray,
- Warbl'st at eve, when all the Woods are still
- Thou with fresh hope the Lover's heart dost fill,
- While the jolly hours lead on propitious May,
- Thy liquid notes that close the eye of Day,
- First heard before the shallow Cuckoo's bill
- Portend success in love; O if Jove's will
- Have linkt that amorous power to thy soft lay,
- Now timely sing, ere the rude Bird of Hate
- Foretell my hopeless doom in some Grove nigh:
- As thou from year to year hath sung too late
- For my relief; yet hadst no reason why,
- Whether the Muse, or Love call thee his mate,
- Both them I serve, and of their train am I.
- John Milton
- FLY, envious Time, till thou run out thy
- Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
- Whose speed is but the heavy Plummets' pace;
- And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
- Which is no more than what 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*
- 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, t'whose happy-making sight alone,
- When once our heav'nly-guided soul 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 Time.
- John Milton
Poets' Corner .
H O M E .