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AN EPITAPH ON THE ADMIRABLE DRAMATIC

POET W. SHAKESPEARE.

1630.

What needs my Shakespeare for his honour'd bones,
The labour of an age in pilèd stones ?
Or that his hallow'd reliques should be hid
Under a star-y-pointing pyramid P
Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,
What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?
Thou in our wonder and astonishment
Hast built thyself a live-long monument.
For whilst to the shame of slow-endeavouring art
Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart
Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book
Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,
Then thou our fancy of itself bereaving,
Dost make us marble with too much conceiving;
And so sepulchred in such pomp dost lie,
That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

ON THE UNIVERSITY CARRIER.

Who sickened in the time of his vacancy, being forbid to go to

by reason of the Plague.

ndon,

HERE lies old Hobson;" Death hath broke his girt,
And here, alas, hath laid him in the dirt;
Or else the ways being foul, twenty to one,
He's here stuck in a slough, and overthrown.
'Twas such a shifter, that if truth were known,
Death was half glad when he had got him down;

a

1 This Epitaph was prefixed to the folio edition of Shakespeare, 1632, but without Milton's name.

It is the first of his poems which was published.

2 This carrier gave rise to the old proverb of “Hobson's choice : this or

none," by always obliging the person who hired a horse of him to take the one standing next to the stable-door ;

so that every customer should have an equal chance of being well served, and every horse be used in its turn."-See Spectator, No. 509.

For he had any time this ten years full,
Dodged with him betwixt Cambridge and the Bull.
And surely death could never have prevailid,
Had not his weekly course of carriage fail'd;
But lately finding him so long at home,
And thinking now his journey's end was come,
And that he had ta'en up his latest inn,
In the kind office of a chamberlin
Show'd him 'nis room where he must lodge that night,
Pullid off his boots, and took away the light:
If any ask for him, it shall be said,
Hobson has supp'd, and's newly gone to bed.

ANOTHER ON THE SAME.

HERE lieth one, who did most truly prove
That he could never die while he could move ;
So hung his destiny, never to rot
While he might still jog on and keep his trot,
Made of sphere-metal never to decay
Until his revolution was at stay.
Time numbers motion, yet (without a crime
'Gainst old truth) motion number'd out his time:
And like an engine moved with wheel and weight,
His principles being ceased, he ended straight.
Rest that gives all men life, gave him his death,
And too much breathing put him out of breath;
Nor were it contradiction to affirm
Too long vacation hasten'd on his term.
Merely to drive the time away he sicken'd,
Fainted, and died, nor would with ale be quicken'd;
"Nay," quoth he, on his swooning bed out-stretch'd,
“If I mayn't carry, sure I'll ne'er be fetch'd,
But vow, though the cross doctors all stood hearers,
For one carrier put down to make six bearers."
Ease was his chief disease, and to judge right,
He died for heaviness, that his cart went light:

His leisure told him that his time was come,
And lack of load made his life burdensome,
That even to his last breath (there be that say't)
As he were press’d to death, he cried more weight;"
But had his doings lasted as they were,
He had been an immortal carrier.
Obedient to the moon he spent his date
In course reciprocal, and had his fate
Link'd to the mutual flowing of the seas,
Yet (strange to think) his wain was his increase :
His letters are deliver'd all and gone,
Only remains this superscription.

L'ALLEGRO.

HENCE, loathed Melancholy,

Of Cerberusa and blackest Midnight born, In Stygian cave forlorn,

'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy, Find out some uncouth cell,

Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings, And the night raven sings;

There under ebon shades, and low-brow'd rocks,
As ragged as thy locks,

In dark Cimmerian desert: ever dwell.
But come thou Goddess fair and free,
In heaven y-clep'd Euphrosyne,
And by men, heart-easing Mirth,
Whom lovely Venus at a birth
With two sister Graces more,
To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore;
Or whether (as some sager sing)
The frolic wind that breathes the spring,

1 These two Poems -L'Allegro and Il Penseroso--are supposed to have been written in Milton's youth, but were first published in 1648.

2 The three-headed dog which kept the gate of Hell.

3 The Cimmerians were proverbial for dwelling in dark caves.

Zephyr with Aurora playing,
As he met her once a Maying;
There on beds of violets blue,
And fresh-blown roses wash'd in dew,
Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,
So buxom, blithe, and debonair.

Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
Jest, and youthful Jollity,
Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,
Nods, and Becks, and wreathèd Smiles, .
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek ;
Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty;
And if I give thee honour due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew,
To live with her, and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free;
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And singing startle the dull night,
From his watch-tower in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to come in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good morrow,
Through the sweet-briar, or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine:
While the cock with lively din
Scatters the rear of darkness thin,
And to the stack, or the barn-door,
Stoutly struts his dames before:
Oft listening how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill:
Some time walking, not unseen,
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,

Right against the eastern gate,
Where the great sun begins his state,
Robed in flames, and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
While the ploughman near at hand
Whistles o'er the furrowed land,
And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe,
And every shepherd tells his tale
Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures
Whilst the landscape round it measures;
Russet lawns, and faliows gray,
Where the nibbling flocks do stray,
Mountains, on whose barren breast
The lab'ring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim with daisies pied,
Shallow brooks, and rivers wide.
Towers and battlements it sees
Bosom’d high in tufted trees,
Where perhaps some Beauty lies,
The Cynosure' of neighb'ring eyes.
Hard by, a cottage-chimney smokes,
Fron betwixt two agèd oaks,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis met,
Are at their savoury dinner set
Of herbs, and other country messes,
Which the neat-handed Phillis dresses,
And then in haste the bower she leaves,
With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;
Or, if the earlier season lead,
To the tann'd haycock in the mead,
Sometimes with secure delight
The upland hamlets will invite,
When the merry bells ring round,
And the jocund rebeckso sound

i The Pole star-alluding to its mag. netic attraction. The magnetio needle always points to it.

"Your eyes are lodestars," is said by Shakespeare.

2.A rebeck was a fiddle with three strings.

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