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This is the month, and this the happy morn,
This Ode, in which the many learned allusions are highly poetical, was probably composed as a college-exercise at Cambridge, our author being now only twenty-one years old. In the edition of 1645, in its title it is said to have been written in 1629. We are informed by himself, that he was employed in writing this piece, in the conclusion of the sixth Elegy to his friend Deodate, which appears to have been sent about the close of the month December. Deodate had inquired how he was spending his time. Milton answers, v. 81. “ Paciferum canimus coelesti semine regem,
Faustaque sacratis sæcula pacta libris ;
“ Qui suprema suo cum patre regna colit.
Of wedded Maid and Virgin Mother born,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
The concluding pentameter of the paragraph points out the best part of the Ode.
« Et subita elisos ad sua fana deos.” See st. xix. and st. xxvi.
“ The Oracles are dumb,
“ No voice or hideous hum,” &c. The rest of the Ode chiefly consists of a string of affected conceits, which his early youth, and the fashion of the times, can only excuse. But there is a dignity and simplicity in these lines, worthy the maturest years, and the best times, st. iv.
“ No war, or battle's sound,
“ The idle spear and shield were high up hung ;
“ The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
“ As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was nigh.” Nor is the poetry of the stanza immediately following, an expression or two excepted, unworthy of Milton. But I must avoid general anticipation, and come to particulars. T. WARTON.
Ver. 3. Of wedded Maid and Virgin Mother born,] This is in Crashaw's manner, who calls the Virgin Mary“ maiden Wife, and maiden Mother too.” See his Poems, p. 119. Paris edit. 1652. Sylvester calls her“ maid and mother," Du Bart. 1621, p. 17. But see the Christus Patiens of Gregory Nazianzen, at the beginning, S. Greg. Naz. Opp. fol. Par. tom. ii. 1611.
Ως εκ στόματος ΜΗΤΡΟΠΑΡΘΕΝΟΥ κόρης. ToDD. Ver. 5.
sages] The prophets of the Old Testament. T. WARTON.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
Hath took no print of the approaching light,
a darksome house of mortal clay.] So, in The Scourge of Villanie, 1598. B. ïïi. Sat. viii. of the soul leaving the body :
“ Leauing his smoakie house of mortall clay.” TODD. Ver. 19.
by the sun's team untrod,] Perhaps from Shakspeare's “ heavenly-harness'd team," Hen. IV. P. I. which Randolph imitates, Poems, 2d edit. 1640. p. 74.
66 the sunne,
“ Where he unharness'd, and where's teame begunne.” Sylvester has the sun's “ tyer-less teem," Du Bart. 1621, p. 84. Again, “ The Sun turns back his teem," p. 226. In Kyd's Cornelia, 1595, we find Night's “slow-pac'd team ;" and, in Fletcher's Faithful Shepherdess, Night's “ lazy team." TODD. Ver. 21.
the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright ?] See the note on Comus, v. 113. The stars are
See, how from far, upon the eastern road,
And join thy voice unto the Angel quire,
called “the skie's bright sentinels," in Poole's English Parnassus, p. 542. And “ the spangled squadrons of the night, in Chamberlayne's Pharonnida, 1659. B. iv. p. 39. Sylvester, as Mr. Dunster also remarks, calls the angels “heaven's glorious host in nimble squadrons,” &c. Du Bart. p. 13. Drummond describes the angels “ arch'd in squadrons bright,” Poems, p. 286. And Spenser, F. Q. ii. viii. 2.
“ They for us fight, they watch and dewly ward,
TODD. Ver. 23. The star-led wisards] Wise-men. So Spenser calls the ancient philosophers, the “ antique wisards," Faer. Qu. iv. xii. 2. And he says that Lucifera's kingdom was upheld by the policy, “and strong advizement, of six wisards old.” That is, six wise counsellers. Ibid. i. iv, 12, 18. Proteus is styled the “ Carpathian wisard,” Comus, ver. 872. See also what is said of the river Dee, in Lycidas, ver. 55. T. WARTON.
Bancroft, in his Second Booke of Epigrammes, 12mo. 1639. Ep. 228, adopts Milton's epithet :
“ The starre-led sages, that would Christ behold,
“ Did presents bring," &c. TODD. Ver. 28. From out his secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.] Alluding to Isaiah vi. 6, 7. In his Reason of Ch. Government Milton has another beautiful allusion to the same passage, which I quoted in a note on Par. Lost, B. i. 17. As Pope's Messiah