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THE PASSION.*

I.

EREWHILE of musick, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of air and earth did ring,
And joyous news of heavenly Infant's birth,
My Muse with Angels did divide to sing;
But headlong joy is ever on the wing;

In wintry solstice, like the shorten'd light,
Soon swallow'd up in dark and long out-living night.

II.

For now to sorrow must I tune my song,
And set my harp to notes of saddest woe,
Which on our dearest Lord did seize ere long,

Dangers, and snares, and wrongs, and worse than so,
Which he for us did freely undergo:

Most perfect Hero, tried in heaviest plight
Of labours huge and hard, too hard for human wight!

III.

He, sovran Priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropt with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly tabernacle entered,

His starry front low-rooft beneath the skies:
O, what a mask was there, what a disguise!

Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide;
Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethren's side.

IV.

These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phoebus bound:
His godlike acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings, other where are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremona's trump doth sound:

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1. Erewhile, &c. Hence we may conjecture that this Ode was probably composed soon after that on the "Nativity." And this, perhaps, was a college exercise at Easter, as the last was at Christmas.T. WARTON.

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I cannot agree with Sir Egerton Brydges that this Ode or Elegy is "unaccountably inferior" to the preceding Hymn. True, this is not so highly finished as the other, but there are in it exquisite touches of beauty. A beloved friend and accomplished scholar of Oxford (J. W.) writes me-" That third stanza has often suffused my eyes and quickened my heart's pulsation: what a saddening, melancholy tenderness-a climax of pathos and of dear human sympathy in the last two lines!"

13. Most perfect Hero, Seo Heb. ii. 10. 20. Cremona's trump. Vida's "Christind," which our author seems to think the finest Latin poem on a religious subject, is here called Cremona's trump, because Vida was born at Cremona.

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Me softer airs befit, and softer strings

Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.

V.

Befriend me, Night, best patroness of grief;
Over the pole thy thickest mantle throw,
And work my flatter'd fancy to belief,
That heaven and earth are colour'd with my woe;
My sorrows are too dark for day to know:

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The leaves should all be black whereon I write ;
And letters, where my tears have wash'd a wannish white.

VI.

See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirl'd the Prophet up at Chebar flood;
My spirit some transporting Cherub feels,
To bear me where the towers of Salem stood,
Once glorious towers, now sunk in guiltless blood:
There doth my soul in holy vision sit,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatick fit.

VII.

Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heaven's richest store;
And here, though grief my feeble hands up lock,
Yet on the soften'd quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before;

For sure so well instructed are my tears,
That they would fitly fall in order'd characters.

VIII.

Or should I thence, hurried on viewless wing,
Take up a weeping on the mountains wild,
The gentle neighbourhood of grove and spring
Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild;
And I (for grief is easily beguiled)

Might think the infection of my sorrows loud
Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud.

This subject the author finding to be above the years he had when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.

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43. That sad sepulchral rock: That is, the Holy Sepulchre at Jerusalem.

51. Take up a weeping. Jer. ix. 10.
52. The gentle neighbourhood. A sweetly
beautiful couplet, which, with the two
preceding lines, opened the stanza so
well, that I particularly grieve to find it
terminate feebly in a most miserably dis-
gusting concetto.-DUNSTER.

F

ODES.

UPON THE CIRCUMCISION.*

YE flaming Powers, and winged Warriours bright,
That erst with musick, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the listening night;
Now mourn; and, if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distil no tear,

Burn in your sighs, and borrow

Seas wept from our deep sorrow:
He, who with all Heaven's heraldry whilere
Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease:
Alas, how soon our sin

Sore doth begin

His infancy to seize!

O more exceeding love, or law more just?
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love!
For we, by rightful doom remediless,

Were lost in death, till he that dwelt above
High throned in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, ev'n to nakedness;

And that great covenant which we still transgress
Entirely satisfied;

And the full wrath beside

Of vengeful justice bore for our excess;
And seals obedience first, with wounding smart,
This day; but, O! ere long,

Huge pangs and strong

Will pierce more near his heart.

O FAIREST flower, no sooner blown but blasted.
Soft silken primrose fading timelessly,

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ON THE DEATH OF A FAIR INFANT, DYING OF A COUGH.†

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*The "Circumcision" is better than the "Passion," and has two or three Miltonic lines.-BRYDGES.

The Elegy on the Death of a Fair Infant" is praised by Warton, and we'l characterized in his last note upon it; but it has more of research and 'aloured fancy than of feeling, and is not a general favourite.--BRYDGES. It was written at the age of seventeen.

20. Emptied his glory. An expression | r putation,"-but, as it is in the original, taken from Phil. ii. 7, but not as in our (avrOV EKεVWσE,) "He emptied himself." translation,-"He made himself of no -NEWTON.

Summer's chief honour, if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak Winter's force that made thy blossom dry;
For he, being amorous on that lovely dye

That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss,
But kill'd, alas! and then bewail'd his fatal bliss.

II.

For since grim Aquilo, his charioteer,
By boisterous rape the Athenian damsel got,
He thought it touch'd his deity full near,
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away the infamous blot

Of long uncoupled bed and childless eld,
Which, 'mongst the wanton gods, a foul reproach was held.

III.

So, mounting up in icy-pearled car,

Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wander'd long, till thee he spied from far;
There ended was his quest, there ceased his care.
Down he descended from his snow-soft chair;

But, all unwares, with his cold-kind embrace
Unhous'd thy virgin soul from her fair biding-place.

IV.

Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand,
Whilom did slay his dearly-loved mate,
Young Hyacinth, born on Eurotas' strand,
Young Hyacinth, the pride of Spartan land;

But then transform'd him to a purple flower:
Alack, that so to change thee Winter had no power!

V.

Yet can I not persuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corse corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Or that thy beauties lie in wormy bed,
Hid from the world in a low-delved tomb.
Could Heaven for pity thee so strictly doom?

O, no! for something in thy face did shine
Above mortality, that show'd thou wast divine.

8. Aquilo, or Boreas, the North wind. enamoured of Orithyia, the daughter of Erechtheus, King of Athens.

12. Infamous, the common accent in old English poetry.

23. For so Apollo, &c. From these lines one would suspect, although it does not immediately follow, that a boy was the subject of the de; but in the last stanza the poet says expressly,

Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
Her false-imagined loss cease to lament.

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Yet, in the eighth stanza, the person lamented is alternately supposed to have been sent down to earth in the shape of two divinities, one of whom is styled a "just maid." and the other a "sweet smiling youth." But the child was cer tainly a niece, a daughter of Milton's sister Philips.

40. Were, instead of are, for rhyme.47. Earth's sons, the giants.-30. Maid, Justice.-54. Youth, Mercy.

67. To turn swift-rushing, &c. Among

VI.

Resolve me then, O soul most surely blest,
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear,)
Tell me, bright spirit, where'er thou hoverest;
Whether above that high first-moving sphere,
Or in the Elysian fields, (if such there were,)

O, say me true, if thou wert mortal wight,
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy flight?

VII.

Wert thou some star, which from the ruin'd roof
Of shak'd Olympus by mischance didst fall;
Which careful Jove in Nature's true behoof
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall?
Or did of late Earth's sons besiege the wall

Of sheeny Heaven, and thou, some goddess fled,
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar'd head?

VIII

Or wert thou that just Maid, who once before
Forsook the hated earth, O, tell me sooth,
And cam'st again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou that sweet-smiling youth?
Or that crown'd matron sage, white-robed Truth?
Or any other of that heavenly brood,
Let down in cloudy throne to do the world some good?

IX.

Or wert thou of the golden-winged host,
Who, having clad thyself in human weed,
To earth from thy prefixed seat didst post,
And after short abode fly back with speed,
As if to show what creatures heaven doth breed;
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire
To scorn the sordid world, and unto heaven aspire?

X.

But, O! why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy Heaven-loved innocence,
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe,
To turn swift-rushing black Perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering Pestilence,

the blessings which the Heaven-loved innocence of this child might have imparted, by remaining upon earth, the application to present circumstances, the supposition that she might have averted the pesti lence now raging in the kingdom, is happily and beautifully conceived. On the whole, from a boy of seventeen, this de is an extraordinary effort of fancy, ex

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pression, and versification; even in the conceits, which are many, we perceive strong and peculiar marks of genius. I think Milton has here given a very remarkable specimen of his ability to suc ceed in the Spenserian stanza. He moves with great ease and address amidst the embarrassment of a frequent return of rhyme.-T. WARTON.

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