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To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench
Toward solid good what leads the nearest way; For other things mild Heaven a time ordains, And disapproves that care, though wise in show, That with superfluous burden loads the day; And, when God sends a cheerful hour, 'refrains.
TO THE SAME.
CYRIAC! this three years' day these eyes, though clear,
To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask? The conscience, Friend! to' have lost them overplied
In liberty's defence, my noble task,
Of which all Europe rings from side to side. This thought might lead me through the world's vain mask
Content though blind, had I no better guide.
ON HIS DECEASED WIFE".
METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused saint Brought to me, like Alcestes, from the grave, Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave, Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint Purification in the' old Law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint, Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was veil'd; yet to my fancied sight Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But, O! as to embrace me she inclined, I waked; she fled; and day brought back my night.
6 This Sonnet was written about the year 1656, on the death of his second wife, Catharine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock, of Hackney, a rigid sectarist. She died in childbed of a daughter, within a year after their marriage. Milton had now been for some time totally blind.
MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.
THIS is the month, and this the happy morn,
That he our deadly forfeit should release, And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
He laid aside; and, here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
Say, heavenly Muse! shall not thy sacred vein
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain,
Hath took no print of the approaching light, And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
See, how from far, upon the eastern road,
It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapp'd in the rude manger lies: Nature, in awe to him,
Had doff'd her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize: It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.
Only with speeches fair
She wooes the gentle air
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow; And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw ; Confounded, that her Maker's
Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace;
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding Down through the turning sphere,
His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; And, waving wide her myrtle wand,
She strikes an universal peace through sea and land.
Nor war, nor battle's sound,
Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high up hung; The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng; And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began: The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kiss'd,
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean; Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed
The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fix'd in stedfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence;
And will not take their flight,
For all the morning light,
Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence;
But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.
And, though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
And hid his head for shame,
As his inferior flame
The new-enlighten'd world no more should need;
He saw a greater sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axle-tree, could