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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 whirld the Prophet up at Chebar flood ;
My spirit some transporting Cherub feels,
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.
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock
That was the casket of Heav'n'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
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.
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, 5
a weeping] Jeremiah, ix. 10. For the mountains will I take up a weeping,' &c. Warton.
* In Milton's MS. written with his own hand, --' On Time. To be set on a clock-case. Warton.
leaden-stepping hours] Carew's Poems, p. 78, ed. 1642.
• They [the hours] move with leaden feet. A. Dyce.
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
And perfectly divine,
With truth, and peace, and love, shall ever shine
throne Of him, t' 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,
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
1individual] Inseparable. P. L. iv. 485.
Warton, flaming] So P. Lost, ix. 156. xi. 101. Warton
Through the soft silence of the list'ning night; 5
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,
And seals obedience first, with wounding smart,
This day, but o ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near his heart.
17 remediless] P. Lost, ix. 919. Saras. Agon. v. 648. "all remediless. Warton, Todd.
Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of heav'n's joy,
Sphere-born harmonious sisters, Voice and Verse,
Wed your 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,
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
That we on earth with undiscording voice
May rightly answer that melodious noise ;
As once we did, till disproportion'd sin
* There are three copies of this ode, all in Milton's own hand writing.
O concent] So the Cant. MS, not 'consent.' Ed. 1645, .content ;' 1673, concent.' Warton. 18 • And Cherubim, sweet winged Squires.' So Cant. MS.