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EREWHILE of music, and ethereal mirth,
Wherewith the stage of air and earth did ring,
And joyous news of heav'nly 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.
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!
He, sovereign priest, stooping his regal head,
That dropp'd with odorous oil down his fair eyes,
Poor fleshly tabernacle entered,
4 divide] Spens. F. Queen. iii. i. 40.
• And all the while sweet music did divide
Her looser notes with Lydian harmony.' Hor. Od. i. xv. 15.
• Imbelli cithara carmina divides. Warton.
His starry front low-roof'd beneath the skies:
O what a mask was there, what a disguise !
Yet more; the stroke of death he must abide, 20 Then lies him meekly down fast by his brethren's
These latest scenes confine my roving verse;
To this horizon is my Phoebus bound;
His god-like acts, and his temptations fierce,
And former sufferings other where are found;
Loud o'er the rest Cremona's trump doth sound
Me softer airs befit, and softer strings
Of lute, or viol still, more apt for mournful things.
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:
The leaves should all be black whereon I write, And letters where my tears have wash'd, a wannish
See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
That whirl’d the Prophet up at Chebar flood;
My spirit some transporting Cherub feels,
26 Cremona's trump] Vida's Christiad. 30 Over] So P. L. iv. 609.
. And o'er the dark her silver mantle throw. Steevens.
To bear me where the tow'rs of Salem stood, Once glorious tow'rs, now sunk in guiltless blood : There doth
my soul in holy vision sit In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
hath found that sad sepulchral rock That was the casket of Heav'n's richest store, And here though grief my
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.
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 beguild)
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.
a weeping] Jeren ix. 10. For the mountains will I take up a weeping,' &c. Warton.
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 intombid,
And last of all thy greedy self consumid,
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
And perfectly divine,
With truth, and peace, and love, shall ever shine
About the supreme throne
Of him, ť whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heav'nly-guided soul shall clime,
Then all this earthly grossness quit,
Attir'd with stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O
* In Milton's MS. written with his own hand,– On Time. To be set on a clock-case.' Warton. 2 leaden-stepping hours) Carew's Poems, p. 78, ed. 1642.
“They (the hours) move with leaden feet.' A. Dyce. 12 individual] Inseparable. P. L. iv. 485. v. 610. Warton.
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 listning 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
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
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice bore for our excess,
flaming] So P. Lost, ix. 156. xi. 101. Warton. 17 remediless] P. Lost, ix. 919. Sams. Agon. v. 648. All remediless. Warton, Todd.