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All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe to him,

Had doffed her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathise : It was no season then for her

To wanton with the Sun, her lusty paramour.

II.

Only with speeches fair

She woos 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 eyes

Should look so near upon her foul deformities.

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III.

But he, her fears to cease,

Sent down the meek-eyed Peace:

She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding Down through the turning sphere,

His ready harbinger,

With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; 50 And, waving wide her myrtle wand,

She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.

IV.

No war, or battle's sound,

Was heard the world around;

The idle spear and shield were high uphung;

The hooked chariot stood,

Unstained with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng;

And kings sat still with awful eye,

As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by. 60

V.

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 kissed,

Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean,

Who now hath quite forgot to rave,

While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmèd

wave.

VI.

The stars, with deep amaze,
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze,

Bending one way their precious influence,

And will not take their flight,

For all the morning light,

Or Lucifer that often warned them thence;

VII.

And, though the shady gloom

Had given day her room,

But in their glimmering orbs did glow,
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

The Sun himself withheld his wonted speed,

And hid his head for shame,

As his inferior flame

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VIII.

The shepherds on the lawn,

Or ere the point of dawn,

Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;

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The new-enlightened world no more should need:

He saw a greater Sun appear

Than his bright throne or burning axletree could

bear.

Full little thought they than
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.

IX.

When such music sweet

Their hearts and ears did greet

As never was by mortal finger strook,
Divinely-warbled voice

Answering the stringed noise,

As all their souls in blissful rapture took :

The air, such pleasure loth to lose,

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With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly

close.

X.

Nature, that heard such sound

Beneath the hollow round

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Of Cynthia's seat the Airy region thrilling,

Now was almost won

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.

XI.

At last surrounds their sight

A globe of circular light,

110

That with long beams the shamefaced Night arrayed;

The helmèd cherubim

And sworded seraphim

Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed, Harping in loud and solemn quire, With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born Heir.

XII.

Such music (as 'tis said)
Before was never made,

But when of old the Sons of Morning sung,

While the Creator great

His constellations set,

XIII.

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 with your ninefold harmony

Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.

And let your silver chime

Move in melodious time;

And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow; 130

XIV.

For, if such holy song

Enwrap our fancy long,

I 20

Time will run back and fetch the Age of Gold;
And speckled Vanity

Will sicken soon and die;

And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould; And Hell itself will pass away, And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

139

XV.

Yea, Truth and Justice then

Will down return to men,

Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,

Mercy will sit between,

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.

XVI.

But wisest Fate says No,

This must not yet be so;

The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy

That on the bitter cross

Must redeem our loss,

So both himself and us to glorify:

Yet first, to those ychained in sleep,

The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through

the deep,

XVII.

With such a horrid clang
As on Mount Sinai rang,

While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake:

The aged Earth, aghast,

160

With terror of that blast,

Shall from the surface to the centre shake,

150

When, at the world's last session,

The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne.

XVIII.

And then at last our bliss

Full and perfect is,

But now begins; for from this happy day
The Old Dragon under ground,

In straiter limits bound,

Not half so far casts his usurpèd sway,

And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.

170

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