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becomes melancholy in the finer sense of the word, by the combined overshadowing of the hour and of thought.
12 “Like one that hath been led astray."-This calls to mind a beautiful passage about the moon, in Spenser's Epithalamium :
Who is the same that at my window peeps?
Is it not Cynthia, she that never sleeps,
But walks about high heaven all the night?
13" Where glowing embers."-Here, also, the reader is reminded of Spenser.-See p. 88:
A little glooming light much like a shade.
14" And may my lamp at midnight hour
The picturesque of the "be seen" has been much admired. Its good-nature seems to deserve no less approbation. The light is seen afar by the traveller, giving him a sense of home comfort, and, perhaps, helping to guide his way.
15" Call up him that left half told
Chaucer, with his Squire's Tale. But why did Milton turn Càmbuscàn, that is, Cambus the Khan, into Cambùscan. The accent in Chaucer is never thrown on the middle syllable.
The poet bewails the death of his young friend and fellowstudent, Edward King, of Christ's College, Cambridge, who was drowned at sea, on his way to visit his friends in Ireland. The vessel, which was in bad condition, went suddenly to the bottom, in calm weather, not far from the English coast; and all on board perished. Milton was then in his twenty-ninth year, and his friend in his twenty-fifth. The poem, with good reason, is
supposed to have been written, like the preceding ones, at Horton, in Buckinghamshire.
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year
Begin, then, sisters of the sacred well,
So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favor my destin'd urn,
And bid fair peace to be my sable shroud:
For we were nurst upon the self-same hill,
Temper'd to the oaten flute;
Rough Satyrs danc'd; and Fauns with cloven heel
But, O the heavy change, now thou art gone,
The willows, and the hazel copses green,
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays.
Or taint worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear,
Where were ye, Nymphs, when the remorseless deep Clos'd o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas? 18 For neither were ye playing on the steep, Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie, Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream :19
Had ye been there-for what could that have done?
When, by the rout that made the hideous roar,
Alas! what boots it with incessant care To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade, And strictly meditate the thankless Muse? Were it not better done, as others use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair? Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise (That last infirmity of noble minds) To scorn delights, and live laborious days; But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, And think to burst out into sudden blaze, Comes the blind Fury with th' abhorred shears, And slits the thin-spun life." But not the praise," Phoebus reply'd, and touch'd my trembling ears; "Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil,
Nor in the glist'ring foil
Set off to the world, nor in broad rumor lies,
Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed."
O fountain Arethuse, and thou honor'd-flood, Smooth-sliding Mincius, crown'd with vocal reeds, That strain I heard was of a higher mood:
But now my oat proceeds,
And listens to the herald of the sea
That came in Neptune's plea ;
He ask'd the waves, and ask'd the felon winds,
And sage Hippotades their answer brings,
Built in the eclipse, and rigg'd with curses dark,
Next Camus, reverend sire, went footing slow, His mantle hairy, and his bonnet sedge, Inwrought with figures dim, and on the edge Like to that sanguine flower inscrib'd with woe." "Ah! who hath reft," quoth he, "my dearest pledge?" Last came and last did go.21
The pilot of the Galilean lake;
Two massy keys he bore of metals twain
(The golden opes, and iron shuts amain),
He shook his mitred locks, and stern bespake:
"How well could I have spar'd for thee, young swain,^*
"Enow of such, as for their bellies' sake
"Creep, and intrude, and climb into the fold?
"Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold "A sheep-hook, or have learn'd aught else the least
"That to the faithful herdman's art belongs!
"What recks it them? What need they? They are sped; "And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs "Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw; "The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed; "But swoln with wind and the rank mist they draw, "Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread; "Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing said: "But that two-handed engine at the door "Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more." Return, Alpheus, the dread voice is past,23 That shrunk thy streams; return, Sicilian Muse, And call the vales, and bid them hither cast Their bells, and flowerets, of a thousand hues.
Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
The musk-rose, and the well-attir'd woodbine,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise.-
Where the great Vision of the guarded Mount26
Look homeward, Angel, now, and melt with ruth :
Weep no more, woful Shepherds, weep no more,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor;
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of Him that walk'd the waves
Where, other groves and other streams along,
With nectar pure his oozy locks he laves,