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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,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest He, returning, chide;
I fondly ask : But Patience, to prevent
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 ;
XX. TO MR LAWRENCE.
LAWRENCE, of virtuous fatherl virtuous son,
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
On smoother, till Favonius? re-inspire
The lilly and rose, that neither sow'd nor spun.
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
Which others at their bar so often wrench h;
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,
That with superfluous burden loads the day,
XXII. TO THE SAME.
CYRIACK, this three years day these eyes, though clear,
To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Nor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot
The conscience, Friend, to have lost them overplied
In liberty's defence, my noble task,
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
XXIII. ON HIS DECEASED WIFE.1
METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused saint
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Purification in the old Law did save,
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Her face was veil'd ;5 yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
But 0, as to embrace me she inclin'd,
· 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.
ON THE MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.
This is the month, and this the happy moru,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
See, how from far, upon the eastern road,
And join thy voice unto the Angel quire,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies :
With her great Master so to sympathize:
Only with speeches fair
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow :
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding