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Would soon unbosom all their echoes mild,
And I (for grief is easily beguil'd)

Might think th' 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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On Time *.

FLY envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
Call on the lazy leaden-stepping hours,
Whose speed is but the heavy plummet's pace;
And glut thyself with what thy womb devours,
Which is no more than what is false and vain,
And merely mortal dross;

So little is our loss,

So little is thy gain.

For when as each thing bad thou hast intomb'd,
And last of all thy greedy self consum❜d,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss;

And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good

* In these poems where no date is prefixed, and no circumstances direct us to ascertain the time when they were composed, we follow the order of Milton's own editions. And before this copy of verses, it appears from




the manuscript that the poet had written To be set on a clock-case.

12. individual] Eternal, inseparable. As in P. L. iv. 485. v. 610. See note on dividual, P. L. vii. 382. T. Warton.

14. sincerely good.] Purely,

And perfectly divine,

With truth, and peace, and love, shall ever shine
About the supreme throne

Of him, t' whose happy-making sight alone

When once our heav'nly-guided soul shall clime,
Then all this earthy grossness quit,

Attir'd with stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O



Upon the Circumcision.

YE flaming pow'rs, and winged warriors bright,
That erst with music, and triumphant song,
First heard by happy watchful shepherds' ear,
So sweetly sung your joy the clouds along
Through the soft silence of the list'ning 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 heav'n's heraldry whilere

perfectly, good; as in Comus, 455. T. Warton.

18.-happy-making sight,] The plain English of beatific vision. 7. Your fiery essence can distil no tear,

Burn in your sighs,] Milton is puzzled how to reconcile the transcendent essence of angels with the infirmities of men. He met with a similar difficulty in describing the repast of Raphael in Paradise; P. L.





v. 434-443. In the present
instance he wishes to make angels
weep. But being of the essence
of fire, they cannot produce
water. At length he recollects
that fire may produce burning
sighs. It is debated in Thomas
Aquinas whether angels have
not, or may not have, beards.
T. Warton.

10. He who with all heav'n's
heraldry whilere
Enter'd the world.]

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 thron'd 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*.

Great pomps and processions are proclaimed or preceded by heralds. It is the same idea in P. L. i. 752.



Of sovereign power, &c.



Improbus ille puer: crudelis tu quoque mater.

Richardson. 20. Emptied his glory,] An exMeanwhile the winged heralds by pression taken from Phil. ii. 7. but not as it is in our translation, He made himself of no reputation, but as it is in the original, izUTI Exos, He emptied himself.

And again, b. ii. 516. Or herald-
ry may mean retinue, train, the
procession itself; what he other-
wise calls pomp.
See the
P. L. viii. 60. T. Warton.
15. O more exceeding love or
law more just?
Just law indeed, but more ex-
ceeding love!]
Virgil, Ecl. viii. 49.

24. for our excess,] He has
used the word in the same sense
Paradise Lost, xi. 111.
Bewailing their excess-

but I think with greater propriety there than here.

*It is hard to say, why these three odes on the three grand

Crudelis mater magis, an puer im- incidents or events of the life of

probus ille ?

Christ, (the Nativity, the Passion,


At a Solemn Music.


BLEST pair of Sirens, pledges of heav'n's joy,
Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed divine sounds, and mix'd pow'r employ
Dead things with inbreath'd sense able to pierce,
And to our high-rais'd phantasy present
That undisturbed song of pure concent,

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Compare L'Allegro, 137. See also King James's Furies in the Invocation.

Musick and Poesie:
French Air and English Verse here
wedded lie, &c.


-marrying so my heavenly verse
Unto the harpe's accorder.

In that King's Poeticall Exercises,
Edinb. 4to. no date, printed by
R. Waldegrave. T. Warton.

6. of pure concent,] So we read in the manuscript, and in the edition of 1673, and we prefer the authority of both to the single one of the edition in 1645, which has of pure


6. Concent, not consent, (which Tonson first reads, ed. fol. 1695.) is the reading of the Cambridge manuscript. Hence we should correct Jonson, in an Epithalamium on Mr. Weston, vol. vii. 2. And in the Foxe, a. iii. s. iv. p. 483. vol. vii. Works, ed. 1616. And perhaps Shakespeare, K. Henr. V. a. i. s. 2.

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Aye sung before the sapphire-colour'd throne
To him that sits thereon

With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee,
Where the bright Seraphim in burning row
Their loud up-lifted angel-trumpets blow,
And the cherubic host in thousand quires
Touch their immortal harps of golden wires,
With those just spirits that wear victorious palms,
Hymns devout and holy psalms

Singing everlastingly;

That we on earth with undiscording voice
May rightly answer that melodious noise;

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14. Compare P. L. vi. 882. and the Epitaph. Damon. 216. Lætaque frondentis gestans umbracula palmæ. T. Warton. 17-25. That we on earth, &c. -renew that song.] Perhaps there are no finer lines in Milton, less obscured by conceit, less embarrassed by affected expressions, and less weakened by pompous epithets. And in this perspicuous and simple style are conveyed some of the noblest ideas of a most sublime philosophy, heightened by metaphors

and allusions suitable to the subject. T. Warton.

18. May rightly answer that melodious noise ;] The following lines were thus at first in the manuscript.

By leaving out those harsh ill sounding jurs

Of clamorous sin that all our music


And in our lives, and in our song
May keep in tune with heav'n, till
God ere long &c.

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