« PreviousContinue »
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
The stars with deep amaze,
Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
Bending one way their precious influence;
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 inferiour flame
The new-enlighten'd world no more should need:
He saw a greater sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axletree could bear.
The shepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustick row;
Full little thought they then,
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below:
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep:
When such musick sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet,
As never was by mortal finger strook;
Answering the stringed noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
The air, such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close. 100
can be more poetically grand then this stanza. In all Milton's noble poetry there are few passages finer than this.BRYDGES.
68. While birds of calm, &c. Another
glorious line. The whole stanza breathes the essence of descriptive poetry.
89. That the mighty Pin, &c. That is, to live with the shepherds on the lawn. Christ is frequently styled "the Shepherd" in the Scriptures.
Nature, that heard such sound,
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia's seat, the aery region thrilling,
To think her part was done,
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling:
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all heaven and earth in happier union.
At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light,
That with long beams the shamefaced night array'd;
And sworded Ceraphim,
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd,
With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born Heir.
Such musick, as 'tis said,
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
His constellations set,
And the well-balanced world on hinges hung;
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.
Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time;
And let the bass of Heaven's deep organ blow;
And, with your ninefold harmony,
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.
For, if such holy song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold;
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould;
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
131. Ninefold harmony. See Arcades, line 62.
136. Speckled Vanity. Vanity dressed in a variety of gaudy colours: unless he
means spots, the marks of disease and corruption, and the symptoms of approaching death.-T. WARTON.
140. The peering day is nere the first
Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Orb'd in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
And Heaven, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.
But wisest Fate says no,
This must not yet be so;
The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy,
Must redeem our loss;
So both himself and us to glorify:
Yet first, to those ychain'd in sleep,
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep;
With such a horrid clang
As on Mount Sinai rang,
While the red fire and smouldering clouds out brake: The aged earth aghast,
With terrour of that blast,
Shall from the surface to the centre shake;
When, at the world's last session,
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne.
And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins; for, from this happy day,
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurped sway,
And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
The oracles are dumb;
dawn of the Gospel, by the birth of the Redeemer. The Sun of Righteousness fully rose, when he began to exercise his ministry.-DUNSTER.
146. With radiant feet. Is. lii. 7. 156. The wakeful trump, &c. A line of great energy, elegant and sublime.-T. WARTON.
172. Swindges the scaly horrour, &c. This strong image is copied from the descriptions of serpents and dragons in the old Romances and in Ariosto. There
is a fine picture by Guido, representing Michael the arch-angel treading on Satan, who has such a tail as is here describedJos WARTON. The word swindge is now spelt without the d.
173. The oracles, &c. Attention is irresistibly awakened and engaged, by the air of solemnity and enthusiasm that reigns in this stanza and some that fol low. Such is the power of true poetry, that one is almost inclined to believe the superstitions real.-Jos. WARTON.
Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving. 175 Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving.
No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetick cell. 180
The lonely mountains o'er,
And the resounding shore,
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring and dale,
Edged with poplar pale,
The parting Genius is with sighing sent:
With flower-inwoven tresses torn,
The nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.
In consecrated earth,
And on the holy hearth,
The Lars and Lemures moan with midnight plaint:
In urns, and altars round,
A drear and dying sound
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar Power foregoes his wonted seat.
Peor and Baälim
Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice-batter'd god of Palestine;
Heaven's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine:
The Libyck Hammon shrinks his horn;
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn:
And sullen Moloch, fled,
Hath left in shadows dread
His burning idol all of blackest hue:
In vain with cymbals' ring
They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue:
183. A voice of weeping, &c. Matt. ii. 18. 191. The Lars (or rather Lares) and Lemures were heathen household gods. 197. Per. See Paradise Lost, i. 412. 199. Twice-batter'd god, Dagon. See 1 Sam. v. 3, 4.
200. Mooned, taken for the moon. "Mil
ton added this word to our language." TODD.
201. Heaven's queen and mother. She was called regina cæli and mater Deûm.
202. Shine is used by many of the old writers as a noun.
205. Moloch. See Par. Lost, i.392. Mil
The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
Isis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis, haste:
Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove or green,
Trampling the unshower'd grass with lowings loud: 215 Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest;
Nought but profoundest hell can be his shroud:
The sable-stoled sorcerers bear his worshipt ark.
He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded Infant's hand;
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn:
Longer dare abide;
Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
Our Babe, to show his Godhead true,
Can in his swaddling bands controul the damned crew.
So, when the sun in bed,
Curtain'd with cloudy red,
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to the infernal jail;
Each fetter'd ghost slips to his several grave;
And the yellow-skirted Fayes
Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-lov'd maze.
But see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest:
Time is, our tedious song should here have ending:
Hath fix'd her polish'd car,
Her sleeping Lord with handmaid lamp attending;
Bright-harness'd Angels sit in order serviceable.
ton, like a true poet. in describing the Syrian superstitions, selects such as were most susceptible of poetical enlargement; and which, from the wildness of their ceremonies, were most interesting to the fancy.-T. WAKT V. —215. Unshower'd, there being no rain in Egypt.
235 Fayes. It is a very poetical mode of expressing the departure of the fairies at the approach of morning, to say that they fly after the steeds of Night.-T. WARTON-242, Handmaid lamp; alluding, perhaps, to the parable of the Ten Virgins in the Gospel.