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Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask? The conscience, Friend, to have lost them overIn liberty’s defence, my noble task, [plied Of which all Europe rings from side to side. This thought might lead me through the world’s vain mask Content, though blind, had I no better guide.

XXIII.
on HIs Dece Ased wife.”

METhought I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescued from death by force, tho’ pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash’d 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 Heaven 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 inclin'd,
Iwak’d; she fled; and day brought back my night.

* This sonnet was written about the year 1656, on the death of his second wife, Catharine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock, of Hackney, a rigid sectarist. She died in child-bed of a daughter, within a year after their marriage. Milton had now been long totally blind.

ODES.

on THE
JMOR.W.I.W.G.
or
CHRIST’S NATIVITY.”
wnITTEN IN 1629.

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,

* This Ode, in which the many learned allusions are highly poetical, was probably composed as a college exercise at Cambridge, our author being now only twenty-one years old. Warton,

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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

bright?

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-quire,
From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.

THE HYMN.

1T 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 wooes 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-eyed 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.

No war, or battle’s 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 sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovereign 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 kist,
Whispering 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 stedfast gaze,
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 glimmering 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 hid his head for shame,

As his inferior flame The new-enlighten’d world no more should need;

He saw a greater Sun appear [bear.

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;

Divinely-warbled voice

Answering the stringed noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took:

The air, such pleasure loth to lose, [close.

With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly WOL, WII, B. b

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