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As wholly thine; But the acceptance, that must be,

My Christ, by thee.

TO KEEP A TRUE LENT

Some brittle sticks of thorn or briar

Make me a fire,
Close by whose living coal I sit,

And glow like it.
Lord, I confess, too, when I dine,

The pulse is thine,
And all those other bits that be

There placed by thee;
The worts, the purslain, and the mess

Of water-cress,
Which of thy kindness thou hast sent;

And my content
Makes those, and my beloved beet,

To be more sweet. 'Tis thou that crown'st my glittering hearth

With guiltless mirth, And giv'st me wassail bowls to drink,

Spiced to the brink. Lord, 'tis thy plenty-dropping hand

That soils my land,
And giv'st me, for my bushel sown,

Twice ten for one;
Thou mak'st my teeming hen to lay

Her egg each day;
Besides my healthful ewes to bear

Me twins each year;
The while the conduits of my kine

Run cream, for wine. All these, and better thou dost send

Me, to this end,
That I should render, for my part,

A thankful heart,
Which, fired with incense, I resign,

Is this a fast, to keep

The larder lean,

And clean From fat of veals and sheep ? Is it to quit the dish

Of flesh, yet still

To fill
The platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an hour,

Or ragg’d to go,

Or show
A downcast look, and sour?
No; 'tis a fast, to dole

Thy sheaf of wheat

And meat
Unto the hungry soul.
It is to fast from strife,

From old debate

And hate;
To circumcise thy life.
To show a heart grief-rent;

To starve thy sin,

Not bin; And that's to keep thy Lent.

II. FAITH AND FREEDOM: JOHN MILTON

1. THE MAKER OF AN HEROIC POEM

HIMSELF A TRUE POEM (From An Apology for Smectymnuus, 1642]

Nor blame it, readers, in those years to propose to themselves such a reward as the noblest dispositions above other things in this life have sometimes preferred; whereof not to be sensible when good and fair in one person meet argues both a gross and shallow judgment, and withal an ungentle and swainish breast. For by the firm settling of these persuasions, I became, to my best memory, so much a proficient, that if I found those authors anywhere speaking unworthy things of themselves, or unchaste of those names which before they had extolled; this effect it wrought with me,

from that time forward their art I still applauded, but the men I deplored; and above them all, preferred the two famous renowners of Beatrice and Laura, who never write but honor of them to whom they devote their verse, displaying sublime and pure thoughts, without transgression. And long it was not after, when I was confirmed in this opinion, that he who would not be frustrate of his hope to write well hereafter in laudable things, ought himself to be a true poem; that is, a composition and pattern of the best and honorablest things; not presuming to sing high praises of heroic men or famous cities unless he have in himself the experience and the practice of all that which is praiseworthy. ...

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Next, (for hear me out now, readers,) of the beautiful in all the forms and apthat I may tell ye whither my younger feet pearances of things. I am wont day and wandered; I betook me among those lofty night to continue my search, and I follow fables and romances, which recount in sol- in the way in which you go before. Hence, emn cantos the deeds of knighthood founded I feel an irresistible impulse to cultivate by our vic ious kings, and from hence had the friendship of him who, despising the in renown over all Christendom. There I prejudices and false conceptions of the read it in the oath of every knight, that vulgar, dares to think, to speak, and to be he should defend to the expense of his best that which the highest wisdom has in every blood, or of his life, if it so befell him, the age taught to be the best. But if my dishonor and chastity of virgin or matron; position or my destiny were such that I from whence even then I learned what a could without any conflict or any toil emerge noble virtue chastity sure must be, to the to the highest pitch of distinction and of defence of which so many worthies, by such praise, there would nevertheless be no proa dear adventure of themselves, had sworn. hibition, either human or divine, against my And if I found in the story afterward, any constantly cherishing and revering those of them, by word or deed, breaking that who have either obtained the same degree oath, I judged it the same fault of the poet, of glory, or are successfully laboring to obas that which is attributed to Homer, to tain it. But now I am sure that you wish have written indecent things of the gods. me to gratify your curiosity, and to let you Only this my mind gave me, that every free know what I have been doing, or am mediand gentle spirit, without that oath, ought tating to do. Hear me, my Diodati, and to be born a knight, nor needed to expect suffer me for a moment to speak without the gilt spur, or the laying of a sword upon blushing in a more lofty strain. Do you his shoulder to stir him up both by his ask what I am meditating? By the help counsel and his arms, to secure and protect of Heaven, an immortality of fame. the weakness of any attempted chastity. Thus, from the laureat fraternity of

L'ALLEGRO poets, riper years and the ceaseless round of study and reading led me to the shady Hence, loathèd Melancholy, spaces of philosophy; but chiefly to the Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born divine volumes of Plato, and his equal In Stygian cave forlorn, Xenophon: where, if I should tell ye what 'Mongst horrid shapes and shrieks and I learnt of chastity and love, I mean that

sights unholy ! which is truly so, whose charming cup is Find out some uncouth cell, only virtue, which she bears in her hand Where brooding darkness spreads his to those who are worthy; (the rest are jealous wings, cheated with a thick intoxicating potion, And the night-raven sings; which a certain sorceress, the abuser of There under ebon shades and low-browed love's name, carries about;) and how the rocks, first and chiefest office of love begins and As ragged as thy locks, ends in the soul, producing those happy In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell. twins of her divine generation, knowledge But come, thou Goddess fair and free, and virtue.

In heaven yclept Euphrosyne,

And by men heart-easing Mirth; [From A Letter to Diodati, 1637]

Whom lovely Venus, at a birth,

With two sister 'fraces more, But that you may indulge any excess of To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore; menace I must inform you, that I cannot Or whether (as some sager sing) help loving you such as you are; for what- The frolic wind that breathes the spring, ever the Deity may have bestowed upon me Zephyr, with Aurora playing, in other respects, he has certainly inspired As he met her once a-Maying, me, if any ever were inspired, with a pas- There on beds of violets blue sion for the good and fair. Nor did Ceres, And fresh-blown roses washed in dew, according to the fable, ever seek her daugh- Filled her with thee, a daughter fair, ter Proserpine with such unceasing solici- So buxom, blithe, and debonair. tude, as I have sought this perfect model Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee

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Jest, and youthful Jollity,
Quips and cranks and wanton wiles,
Nods and becks and wreathèd smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty;
And if I give thee honor due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew,
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free:

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To hear the lark begin his flight,
And singing, startle the dull night,
From his watch-tower in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to come in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good-morrow,
Through the sweet-briar or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine;
While the cock, with lively din,

50 Seatters the rear of darkness thin, And to the stack, or the barn-door, Stoutly struts his dames before: Oft listening how the hounds and horn Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn, From the side of some hoar hill,

55 Through the high wood echoing shrill: Sometime walking, not unseen, By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green, Right against the eastern gate Where the great sun begins his state,

60 Robed in flames and amber light, The clouds in thousand liveries dight; While the plowman, near at hand, Whistles o'er the furrowed land, And the milkmaid singeth blithe,

65 And the mower whets his scythe, And every shepherd tells his tale Under the hawthorn in the dale. Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures Whilst the landskip round it measures ;

70 Russet lawns and fallows gray, Where the nibbling flocks do stray; Mountains on whose barren breast The laboring clouds do often rest ; Meadows trim with daisies pied, Shallow brooks and rivers wide; Towers and battlements it sees Bosomed high in tufted trees, Where perhaps some beauty lies, The cynosure of neighboring eyes. Hard by, a cottage chimney smokes From betwixt two aged oaks,

Where Corydon and Thyrsis met
Are at their savory dinner set
Of herbs and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phyllis dresses;
And then in haste her bower she leaves,
With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tanned haycock in the mead.
Sometimes, with secure delight,
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebecks sound
To many a youth and many a maid
Dancing in the chequered shade;
And young and old come forth to play
On a sunshine holiday,
'Till the livelong daylight fail:
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How faery Mab the junkets eat.
She was pinched and pulled, she said;
And he, by friar's lantern led,
Tells how the drudging goblin sweat

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To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn
That ten day-laborers could not end;
Then lies him down, the lubber fiend,
And, stretched out all the chimney's length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
And crop-full out of doors he flings, .
Ere the first cock his matin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering winds soon lulled asleep.
Towered cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace high triumphs hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace whom all commend.
There let Hymen oft appear
In saffron robe, with taper clear,
And pomp and feast and revelry,
With mask and antique pageantry;
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson's learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
In notes with many a winding bout

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Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony;
That Orpheus' self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heaped Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto to have quite set free
His half-regained Eurydice.

These delights if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.

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IL PENSEROSO

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And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes :
There, held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till
With a sad leaden downward cast
Thou fix them on the earth as fast.
And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet,
And hears the Muses in a ring
Aye round about Jove's altar sing;
And add to these retired Leisure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure;
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,
'Less Philomel will deign a song,
In her sweetest, saddest plight,
Smoothing the rugged brow of Night,
While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke
Gently o’er the accustomed oak:
Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly,
Most musical, most melancholy!
Thee, chauntress, oft the woods among,
I woo to hear thy even-song;
And missing thee, I walk unseen
On the dry smooth-shaven green,
To behold the wandering moon,
Riding near her highest noon,
Like one that had been led astray
Through the heaven's wide pathless way,
And oft, as if her head she bowed,
Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
Oft on a plat of rising ground,
I hear the far-off curfew sound,
Over some wide-watered shore,
Swinging slow with sullen roar;
Or if the air will not permit,
Some still removed place will fit,
Where glowing embers through the room
Teach light to counterfeit a gloom,
Far from all resort of mirth,
Save the cricket on the hearth,
Or the bellman's drowsy charm
To bless the doors from nightly harm.
Or let my lamp at midnight hour
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,
With thrice-great Hermes; or unsphere
The spirit of Plato, to unfold
What worlds or what vast regions hold
The immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook;
And of those demons that are found
In fire, air, flood, or underground,
Whose power hath a true consent

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Hence, vain deluding Joys,

The brood of Folly without father bred! How little you bested,

Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys! Dwell in some idle brain, And fancies fond with gaudy shapes pos

sess, As thick and numberless As the gay motes that people the sun

beams, Or likest hovering dreams, The fickle pensioners of Morpheus'

train. But hail, thou Goddess sage and holy, Hail, divinest Melancholy! Whose saintly visage is too bright To hit the sense of human sight, And therefore to our weaker view O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue; Black, but such as in esteem Prince Memnon's sister might beseem, Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove To set her beauty's praise above The sea nymphs, and their powers offended. Yet thou art higher far descended: Thee bright-haired Vesta long of yore To solitary Saturn bore; His daughter she (in Saturn's reign Such mixture was not held a stain). Oft in glimmering bowers and glades He met her, and in secret shades Of woody Ida's inmost grove, Whilst yet there was no fear of Jove. Come, pensive Nun, devout and pure, Sober, steadfast, and demure, All in a robe of darkest grain, Flowing with majestic train, And sable stole of cypress lawn Over thy decent shoulders drawn. Come, but keep thy wonted state, With even step, and musing gait,

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Sent by some spirit to mortals good,
Or the unseen Genius of the wood.
But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister's pale,
And love the high embowèd roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voiced quire below,
In service high and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heaven before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown, and mossy cell,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that heaven doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew,
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.

These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
And I with thee will choose to live.

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LYCIDAS

With planet or with element. Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy In sceptered pall come sweeping by, Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line, Or the tale of Troy divine, Or what (though rare) of later age Ennobled hath the buskined stage. But, 0 sad Virgin! that thy power Might raise Musæus from his bower; Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing Such notes as, warbled to the string, Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek, And made Hell grant what love did seek; Or call up him that left half-told The story of Cambuscan bold, Of Camball, and of Algarsife, And who had Canace to wife, That owned the virtuous ring and glass, And of the wondrous horse of brass On which the Tartar king did ride; And if aught else great bards beside In sage and solemn tunes have sung, Of tourneys, and of trophies hung, Of forests, and enchantments drear, Where more is meant than meets the ear. Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career, Till civil-suited Morn appear, Not tricked and frounced as she was wont With the Attic boy to hunt, But kerchieft in a comely cloud, While rocking winds are piping loud, Or ushered with a shower still, When the gust hath blown his fill, Ending on the rustling leaves, With minute-drops from off the eaves. And when the sun begins to fling His flaring beams, me, Goddess, bring To arched walks of twilight groves, And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves, Of pine, or monumental oak, Where the rude axe with heavéd stroke Was never heard the nymphs to daunt, Or fright them from their hallowed haunt. There in close covert by some brook, Where no profaner eye may look, Hide me from day's garish eye, While the bee with honeyed thigh, That at her flowery work doth sing, And the waters murmuring, With such consort as they keep, Entice the dewy-feathered Sleep; And let some strange mysterious dream Wave at his wings in airy stream Of lively portraiture displayed, Softly on my eyelids laid; And as I wake, sweet music breathe Above, about, or underneath,

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Yet once more, () ye laurels, and once more,
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and

crude, And with forced fingers rude Shatter your leaves before the mellowing

year. Bitter constraint and sad occasion dear Compels me to disturb your season due; For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime, Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer, Who would not sing for Lycidas ? he

knew Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme. Ile must not float upon his watery bier Unwept, and welter to the parching wind, Without the meed of some melodious tear.

Begin then, Sisters of the sacred well That from beneath the seat of Jove doth

spring; Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the

string.
Hence with denial vain and coy excuse;
So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favor

my
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urn, And as he passes turn, And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud. For we were nursed upon the self-same

hill,

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