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IL PENSEROSO By John Milton

 

HENCEvain deluding Joys

............The brood of Folly without father bred!

How little you bested

............Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys!

Dwell in some idle brain

............And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess

As thick and numberless

............As the gay motes that people the sun-beams

Or likest hovering dreams

............The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.

Buthail! thou Goddess sage and holy!

Haildivinest Melancholy!

Whose saintly visage is too bright

To hit the sense of human sight

And therefore to our weaker view

O'erlaid with blackstaid Wisdom's hue;

Blackbut such as in esteem

Prince Memnon's sister might beseem

Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove

To set her beauty's praise above

The Sea-Nymphsand their powers offended.

Yet thou art higher far descended:

Thee bright-haired Vesta long of yore

To solitary Saturn bore;

His daughter she; in Saturn's reign

Such mixture was not held a stain.

Oft in glimmering bowers and glades

He met herand in secret shades

Of woody Ida's inmost grove

Whilst yet there was no fear of Jove.

Comepensive Nundevout and pure

Sobersteadfastand demure

All in a robe of darkest grain

Flowing with majestic train

And sable stole of cypress lawn

Over thy decent shoulders drawn.

Come; but keep thy wonted state

With even stepand musing gait

And looks commercing with the skies

Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes:

Thereheld in holy passion still

Forget thyself to marbletill

With a sad leaden downward cast

Thou fix them on the earth as fast.

And join with thee calm Peace and Quiet

Spare Fastthat oft with gods doth diet

And hears the Muses in a ring

Aye round about Jove's altar sing;

And add to these retired Leisure

That in trim gardens takes his pleasure;

Butfirst and chiefestwith thee bring

Him that yon soars on golden wing

Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne

The Cherub Contemplation;

And the mute Silence hist along

'Less Philomel will deign a song

In her sweetest saddest plight

Smoothing the rugged brow of Night

While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke

Gently o'er the accustomed oak.

Sweet birdthat shunn'st the noise of folly

Most musicalmost melancholy!

Theechauntressoft the woods among

I wooto hear thy even-song;

Andmissing theeI walk unseen

On the dry smooth-shaven green

To behold the wandering moon

Riding near her highest noon

Like one that had been led astray

Through the heaven's wide pathless way

And oftas if her head she bowed

Stooping through a fleecy cloud.

Ofton a plat of rising ground

I hear the far-off curfew sound

Over some wide-watered shore

Swinging slow with sullen roar;

Orif the air will not permit

Some still removed place will fit

Where glowing embers through the room

Teach light to counterfeit a gloom

Far from all resort of mirth

Save the cricket on the hearth

Or the bellman's drowsy charm

To bless the doors from nightly harm.

Or let my lampat midnight hour

Be seen in some high lonely tower

Where I may oft outwatch the Bear

With thrice great Hermesor unsphere

The spirit of Platoto unfold

What worlds or what vast regions hold

The immortal mind that hath forsook

Her mansion in this fleshly nook;

And of those demons that are found

In fireairfloodor underground

Whose power hath a true consent

With planet or with element.

Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy

In sceptred pall come sweeping by

Presenting Thebesor Pelops' line

Or the tale of Troy divine

Or what (though rare) of later age

Ennobled hath the buskined stage.

ButO sad Virgin! that thy power

Might raise Musaeus from his bower;

Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing

Such notes aswarbled to the string

Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek

And made Hell grant what love did seek;

Or call up him that left half-told

The story of Cambuscan bold

Of Camballand of Algarsife

And who had Canace to wife

That owned the virtuous ring and glass

And of the wondrous horse of brass

On which the Tartar king did ride;

And if aught else great bards beside

In sage and solemn tunes have sung

Of turneysand of trophies hung

Of forestsand enchantments drear

Where more is meant than meets the ear.

ThusNightoft see me in thy pale career

Till civil-suited Morn appear

Not tricked and frouncedas she was wont

With the Attic boy to hunt

But kerchieft in a comely cloud

While rocking winds are piping loud

Or ushered with a shower still

When the gust hath blown his fill

Ending on the rustling leaves

With minute-drops from off the eaves.

Andwhen the sun begins to fling

His flaring beamsmeGoddessbring

To arched walks of twilight groves

And shadows brownthat Sylvan loves

Of pineor monumental oak

Where the rude axe with heaved stroke

Was never heard the nymphs to daunt

Or fright them from their hallowed haunt.

Therein close covertby some brook

Where no profaner eye may look

Hide me from day's garish eye

While the bee with honeyed thigh

That at her flowery work doth sing

And the waters murmuring

With such consort as they keep

Entice the dewy-feathered Sleep.

And let some strange mysterious dream

Wave at his wingsin airy stream

Of lively portraiture displayed

Softly on my eyelids laid;

Andas I wakesweet music breathe

Aboveaboutor underneath

Sent by some Spirit to mortals good

Or the unseen Genius of the wood.

But let my due feet never fail

To walk the studious cloister's pale

And love the high embowed roof

With antique pillars massy proof

And storied windows richly dight

Casting a dim religious light.

There let the pealing organ blow

To the full-voiced quire below

In service high and anthems clear

As may with sweetnessthrough mine ear

Dissolve me into ecstasies

And bring all Heaven before mine eyes.

And may at last my weary age

Find out the peaceful hermitage

The hairy gown and mossy cell

Where I may sit and rightly spell

Of every star that heaven doth shew

And every herb that sips the dew

Till old experience do attain

To something like prophetic strain.

These pleasuresMelancholygive;

And I with thee will choose to live.