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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 heav'n'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 heav'nly 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 heav'n by the sun's team untrod,

Stelli parumque solum, modulantesque æthere turmas.

The concluding pentameter of the paragraph points out the best part of this ode.

1. This is the month, &c.] The sixth Elegy to his friend Deodate appears to have been sent about the close of the month December. Deodate had enquired how he was spending his time. Milton answers, v. 81.

The oracles are dumb, &c. &c. The rest of the Ode chiefly consists of a string of affected conceits, which only his early youth, and the fashion of the times, can excuse. But there is a dignity and simplicity in st. iv. No war, or battle's sound, &c."

Paciferum canimus cœlesti semine
regem,

Faustaque sacratis sæcula pacta li-
bris;

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Vagitumque Dei, et stabulantem worthy the maturest years, and

paupere tecto

Qui suprema suo cum patre regna
colit;

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the best times. Nor is the poetry of st. v. "But peaceful was the night, &c." an expression or two excepted, unworthy of Milton. T. Warton.

5. Sages] The prophets of the Old Testament. T. Warton.

Et subito elisos ad sua fana Deos. See st. xix.-xxvi.

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Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
IV.

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.

I.

IT was the winter wild,
While the heav'n-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude

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lies manger ;

this hath touched thy lips, and thine iniquity is taken away, and thy sin purged. In his Reason of Church Government our author has another beautiful allusion to the same passage, which we quoted in a note upon the Paradise Lost, i. 17.-" that eter"nal Spirit who can enrich with "all utterance and knowledge, "and sends out his Seraphim, "with the hallowed fire of his "altar, to touch and purify the "lips of whom he pleases." As Mr. Pope's Messiah is formed upon passages taken from the prophet Isaiah, he very properly invocates the same divine Spirit.

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Nature in awe to him

Had dofft 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.

And waving wide her myrtle wand,

She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.

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,

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing, 50

32. Nature in awe to him, &c.] Here is an imitation of Petrarch's third Sonnet.

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Era 'l giorno, ch' al sol si scoloraro
Per la pieta del suo fattore i rai;
Quand' i fui preso, &c.

J. Warton. 52. She strikes an universal peace] The expression is a little inaccurate, Peace to strike a peace but otherwise it is classical, foedus ferire.

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52. Perhaps Dr. Newton's objection is too nice. Roman phraseology however, by which he would excuse the expression strike a peace, is here quite out of the question. It is not a league or agreement of peace between two parties that is intended. A quick and universal diffusion is the idea. It was done as with a stroke. T. Warton.

IV.

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. 60

V.

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,

Whisp'ring new joys to the mild ocean,

Who now hath quite forgot to rave,

While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

55. The idle spear and shield were high up hung.] So Propertius, ii. xxv. 8.

Et vetus in templo bellica parma

vacat.

But chivalry and Gothic manners were here in Milton's mind. T. Warton.

64. The winds, &c.] Ovid, Metam. ii. 745.

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64. The winds with wonder whist] Whist, silenced, as in Spenser, Faery Queen, b. vii. cant. 7. st. 59.

So was the Titaness put down and whist:

and in Shakespeare, Tempest, act i. sc. 5. Ariel's song.

The wild waves whist.

It is commonly used as an interjection commanding silence. And hence, I suppose, the game of Whist hath its name, as it requires silence and attention.

64. In Stanyhurst's Virgil, Intentique ora tenebant, is translated, They whisted all, b. ii. 1. T. Warton.

VI.

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.
VII.

The shepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,

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

Than his bright throne, or burning axletree could bear.

VIII.

77. And though the shady gloom, &c.] This stanza is a copy of one in Spenser's Aprill.

I saw Phœbus thrust out his golden

hed

Upon her to gaze :

But when he saw, how broad her
beames did spred,
It did him amaze.
He blusht to see another sun belowe:
Ne durst againe his fierie face out
showe, &c.

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So also G. Fletcher on a similar subject in his Christ's Victorie, p. i. st. 78.

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85

-Heaven awakened all his eyes
To see another sunne at midnight
rise.

"the And afterwards he adds, "cursed oracles were strucken "dumb." T. Warton.

86. Or e'er the point of dawn,] Ere with e'er or ever following is changed into or; and there are frequent instances of it not only in all our old writers, but likewise in the English translation of the Bible.

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