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To stand 'twixt us and our deserved smart?
Then thou, the mother of so sweet a child,
This, if thou do, he will an offspring give,
FLY, envious Time, till thou run out thy race;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain!
For when as each thing bad thou hast entomb'd,
AT A SOLEMN MUSICK.†
BLEST pair of Sirens, pledges of Heaven's joy;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood;
With Truth, and Peace, and Love, shall ever shine
Of him, to whose happy-making sight alone
Attired with stars, we shall for ever sit,
Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O Time.
* In Milton's manuscript, written with his own hand, the title is,-"On Time. To be set on a clock-case."
†The "Ode at a Solemn Musick" is a short prelude to the strain of genius which produced "Paradise Lost." Warton says, that perhaps there are no finer lines in Milton than one long passage which he cites, (17-24.) I must say that this is going a little too far. That they are very fine I admit; but the sublime philosophy, to which he alludes as their prototype, must not be put in comparison with the fountains of Paradise Lost." So far they are exceedingly curious, that they show how early the poet had constructed in his own mind the language of his divine imagery, and how rich and vigorous his style was, atmost in his boyhood.-BRYDGES.
12. Individual: Eternal, inseparable.
14. Sincerely: Purely, perfectly.
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee;
That we on earth, with undiscording voice,
In first obedience, and their state of good.
O, may we soon again renew that song,
And keep in tune with Heaven, till God ere long
To live with him, and sing in endless morn of light!
AN EPITAPH ON THE MARCHIONESS OF
THIS rich marble doth inter
The honour'd wife of Winchester,
A viscount's daughter, an earl's heir,
Added to her noble birth,
More than she could own from earth.
After so short time of breath,
To house with darkness and with death.
6. The undisturbed song of pure concent, is the diapason of the music of the spheres, to which, in Plato's system, God himself listens.-T. WARTON. See note on line 62 of "Arcades," p. 451.
17. That we on earth, &c. Perhaps there are no finer lines in Milton, less obscured by conceit, less embarrassed by
* In Howell's entertaining Letters, there is one to this lady, the Lady Jane Savage Marchioness of Winchester,-dated March 15, 1626. He says, he assisted her in Tearning Spanish; and that Nature and the Graces exhausted all their treaBure and skill in "framing this exact model of female perfection."
affected expressions, and less weakened by pompous epithets: and in this perspicuous and simple style are conveyed some of the noblest ideas of a most sublime philosophy, heightened by metaphors and allusions suitable to the sub ject.-T. WARTON.
Yet had the number of her days
Her high birth, and her graces sweet,
But with a scarce well-lighted flame;
So have I seen some tender slip,
Gentle lady, may thy grave
22. Cypress bud: An emblem of a funeral, called by Horace funebris, and by Spenser "the cypress funeral." 28. Atropos, the fate who presided over death,
Sent thee from the banks of Came,
SONG ON MAY MORNING.*
Now the bright morning-star, day's harbinger,
Hail, bounteous May, that dost inspire
59. Banks of Cime: The Camus anglicised. See Lycidas," 103. "I have been told that there was a Cambridge-collec tion of verses on her death, among which Milton's elegiack ode first appeared."-T. WARTON.
63. Syrian shepherdess: Rachel. Gen. XXX. 22, 23.
* This beautiful little song presents an eminent proof of Milton's attention to the effect of metre, in that admirable change of numbers with which he describes the appearance of the May Morning, and salutes her after she has appeared; as different as the subject is, and produced by the transition from iambies to trochaics. So in "L'Allegro," he banishes Melancholy in iambics, but invites Euphrosyne and her attendants in trochaics.-TODD.
68. Through pangs, &c. We cannot too much admire the beauty of this line: I wish it had closed the poem, which it would have done with singular effect. What follows serves only to weaken it, and the last verse is an eminent instance of the bathos.-DUNSTER.
ANNO ÆTATIS XIX.
At a VACATION EXERCISE in the College, part Latin, part English. The Latin speeches ended, the English thus began:
HAIL, native Language, that by sinews weak
The daintiest dishes shall be served up last.
19. Not those newfangled toys, &c. Perhaps he here alludes to Lilly's "Euphues," a book full of affected phraseology, which pretended to reform or refine the English language. The ladies and the courtiers were all instructed in this new style, and it was esteemed a mark of ignorance or unpoliteness not to understand Euphuism.
21. But cull, &c. From a youth of nineteen these are striking expressions of a consciousness of superior genius, and of an ambition to rise above the level of the fashionable rhymers. At so early an age
* Written in 1627. The "Verses at a Vacation Exercise in College," are full of ingenuity and imagery, and have several fine passages; but, though they blame "new-fangled toys" with a noble disdain, they are themselves in many parts too fantastic.-BRYDGES.
Milton began to conceive a contempt for the poetry in vogue; and this he seems to have retained to the last. In the "Tractate on Education," recommending to his pupils the study of good critics, he adds, "This would make them soon perceive what despicable creatures our common rhymers and play-writers be; and show what religious, what glorious, what magnificent use might be made of poetry." Milton's own writings are the most illustrious proof of this.-T. WAR