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THE APOSTROPHE TO LIGHT.-Milton.
Hail, holy Light, offspring of Heav'n first-born, Or of th' Eternal coeternal beam,
May I express thee unblamed! Since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear'st thou rather, pure etherial stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell? before the sun,
Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detained
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to th' Orphean lyre
sung of Chaos and eternal Night;
Taught by the Heav'nly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
Though hard and rare, thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sov'reign vital lamp; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt,
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flow'ry brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equaled with me in fate,
So were I equaled with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides,
And Tyresias, and Phineus, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year
Seasons return, but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of ev'n and morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful rays of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of Nature's works to me expunged and razed;
And wisdom, at one entrance, quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the Mind through all her powers,
Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
THE MILLENNIUM.-Cowper's Task.
Sweet is the harp of prophecy; too sweet
Not to be wronged by a mere mortal touch:
Nor can the wonders it records be sung
To meaner music, and not suffer loss.
But when a poet, or when one like me,
Happy to rove among poetic flowers,
Though poor in skill to rear them,
lights at last
On some fair theme, some theme divinely fair,
Such is the impulse and the spur he feels,
To give it praise proportioned to its worth,
That not to attempt it, arduous as he deems
The labor, were a task more arduous still.
O scenes surpassing fable, and yet true.
Scenes of accomplished bliss! which who can see,
Though but in distant prospect, and not feel
His soul refreshed with foretaste of the joy?
Rivers of gladness water all the Earth,
And clothe all climes with beauty: the reproach
Of barrenness is past. The fruitful field
Laughs with abundance; and the land, once lean,
Or fertile only in its own disgrace,
Exults to see its thistly curse repealed.
The various seasons woven into one,
And that one season an eternal spring,
The garden fears no blight; and needs no fence,
For there is none to covet, all are full.
The lion, and the libbard, and the bear,
Graze with the fearless flocks; all bask at noon
Together, or all gambol in the shade
Of the same grove, and drink one common stream.
Antipathies are none.
No foe to man
Lurks in the serpent now: the mother sees
And smiles to see, her infant's playful hand
Stretched forth to dally with the crested worm,
To stroke his azure neck, or to receive
The lambent homage of his arrowy tongue.
All creatures worship man, and all mankind
One Lord, one Father. Error has no place :
That creeping pestilence is driven away:
The breath of Heaven has chased it. In the heart
No passion touches a discordant string,
But all is harmony and lové. Disease
Is not: The pure and uncontaminate blood
Holds its due course, nor fears the frost of age
One song employs all nations; and all cry,
"Worthy the Lamb, for he was slain for us.'
The dwellers in the vales and on the rocks
Shout to each other, and the mountain tops
From distant mountains catch the flying joy;
Till, nation after nation taught the strain,
Earth rolls the rapturous Hosannah round.
Behold the measure of the promise filled;
See Salem built, the labor of a God!
Bright as a sun the sacred city shines;
All kingdoms and all princes of the earth
Flock to that light; the glory of all lands
Flows into her; unbounded is her joy,
And endless her increase. The rams are there
Nebaioth, and the flocks of Kedar there :
The looms of Ormus, and the mines of Ind,
And Saba's spicy groves, pay tribute there.
Praise is in all her gates: upon her walls,
And in her streets, and in her spacious courts,
Is heard salvation. Eastern Java there
Kneels with the native of the farthest west;
And Ethiopia spreads abroad the hand,
And worships. Her report has traveled forth
Into all lands. From every clime they come
To see thy beauty, and to share thy joy,
O Sion! an assembly such as Earth.
Saw never, such as Heaven stoops down to see.
ADAM AND EVE'S MORNING HYMN.-Milton. These are thy glorious works! Parent of good! Almighty! thine this universal frame,
Thus wond'rous fair: Thyself how wond'rous, then,
Unspeakable! who sit'st above these heavens,
To us invisible, or dimly seen
In these thy lowest works; yet these declare
Thy goodness beyond thought, and power divine.
Speak ye who best can tell, ye sons of light,
Angels! for ye behold him, and with songs
And choral symphonies, day without night,
Circle his throne rejoicing. Ye in heaven!
On earth, join all ye creatures, to extol
Him first, him last, him midst, and without end.
Fairest of stars! last in the train of night,
If better thou belong not to the dawn,
Sure pledge of day, that crown'st the smiling morn
With thy bright circlet, praise him in thy sphere,
While day arises, that sweet hour of prime.
Thou Sun! of this great world both eye and soul,
Acknowledge him thy greater: sound his praise
In thy eternal course, both when thou climb'st,
And when high noon hast gained, and when thou fall'st.
Moon! that now meet'st the orient sun, now fly'st,
With the fixed stars, fixed in their orb that flies!
And ye five other wandering fires! that move
In mystic dance, not without song! resound
His praise, who out of darkness called up light.
Air, and ye elements! the eldest birth
Of nature's womb; that in quaternion run
Perpetual circle, multiform, and mix
And nourish all things, let your ceaseless change
Vary to our great Maker still new praise.
Ye mists and exhalations! that now rise
From hill or steaming lake, dusky or gray,
Till the sun paint your fleecy skirts with gold,
In honor to the world's great Author rise
Whether to deck with clouds the uncolored sky,
Or wet the thirsty earth with falling showers,
Rising or falling, still advance his praise.
His praise, ye winds, that from four quarters blow,.
Breathe soft or loud! and wave your tops, ye pines
With every plant, in sign of worship, wave.
Fountains! and ye that warble, as ye flow,
Melodious murmurs, warbling, tune his praise.
Join voices, all ye living souls. Ye birds,
That singing, up to heaven's gate ascend,
Bear on your wings, and in your notes his praise.
Ye that in waters glide, and ye that walk
The earth, and stately tread or lowly creep!
Witness if I be silent, morn or even,
To hill or valley, fountain or fresh shade,
Made vocal by my song, and taught his praise—
Hail, universal Lord! be bounteous still,
To give us only good; and, if the night