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XIX. ON HIS BLINDNESS.

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-labour, light denied ?”

I fondly ask : But Patience, to prevent
That murmur, 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.”

XX. TO MR LAWRENCE.

LAWRENCE, of virtuous fatherl virtuous son,

Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire

Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
From the hard season gaining ? Time will run

On smoother, till Favonius? re-inspire
The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire

The lilly and rose, that neither sow'd nor spun.
What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,

Of Attick taste, with wine, whence we may rise

To hear the lute well touch’d, or artful voice Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air ?

He who of those delights can judge, and spare To interpose them oft, is not unwise. 1 • The virtuous father' was Henry Lawrence, President of Cromwell's Council. --2 · Favonius :' father of Spring.

XXI. TO CYRIACK SKINNER.1

CYRIACK, whose grandsire, on the royal bench

Of British Themis, with no mean applause
Pronounc'd, and in his volumes taught, our laws,

Which others at their bar so often wrench h;
To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench

In mirth that, after, no repenting draws;

Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause, , And what the Swede 2 intends, and what the French. To measure life learn thou betimes, and know

Toward solid good what leads the nearest way;

For other things mild Heaven a time ordains,
And disapproves that care, though wise in show,

That with superfluous burden loads the day,
And, when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.

XXII. TO THE SAME.

CYRIACK, this three years day these eyes, though clear,

To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot ;

Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of sun, or moon, or star, throughout the year,

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 overplied

In liberty's defence, my noble task,
Of which all Europe rings from side to side.

1 Skinner:' a scholar of Milton's, and member of Harrington's political club.—2 «Swede:' Charles Gustavus against Poland, and the French against the Spaniards.

This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask
Content though blind, had I no better guide.

XXIII. ON HIS DECEASED WIFE.1

METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused saint

Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Whom Jove's great sons to her glad husband 4 gave,

Rescued from death by force, though 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 ;5 yet to my fancied sight

Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
So clear, as in no face with more delight.

But 0, as to embrace me she inclin'd,
I wak'd ; she fled ; and day brought back my night.

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· This sonnet was written about the year 1656, on the death of his second wife, Catharine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock of Hackney. She died in child-bed of a daughter, within a year after their marriage. Milton had now been some time totally blind.—2 • Alcestis: ' see Euripides. – 3.Great son :' Hercules.- • Glad husband :' Admetus.—5 • Veild :' 80 was Alcestis.

ODES.

ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.

1.

This is the month, and this the happy moru,
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.

II.

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,

Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.

III.

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 ?

IV.

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See, how from far, upon the eastern road,
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 join thy voice unto the Angel quire,
From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.

THE HYMN.

I.
It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child

All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies :
Nature, in awe to him,
Had doft'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.

II.

Only with speeches fair
She woos 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.

III.
But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-ey'd Peace;

She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,

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