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Befriend me, Night, best patroness of grief,
The leaves should all be black whereon I write, And letters where my tears have wash'd a wannish white.
See, see the chariot, and those rushing wheels,
In pensive trance, and anguish, and ecstatic fit.
Mine eye hath found that sad sepulchral rock That was the casket of Heav'n's richest store, And here though grief my feeble hands up lock, Yet on the soften'd quarry would I score
My plaining verse as lively as before;
30 Over] So P. L. iv. 609.
'And o'er the dark her silver mantle throw.' Steevens.
For sure so well instructed are my tears, That they would fitly fall in order'd characters
Or should I thence hurried on viewless wing, 50
Might think th' infection of my sorrows loud Had got a race of mourners on some pregnant cloud. This subject the Author finding to be above the years he had, when he wrote it, and nothing satisfied with what was begun, left it unfinished.
FLY, envious Time, till thou run out thy race,
a weeping] Jeremiah, ix. 10. For the mountains will I take up a weeping,' &c. Warton.
* In Milton's MS. written with his own hand,—' On Time. To be set on a clock-case.' Warton.
leaden-stepping hours] Carew's Poems, p. 78, ed. 1642.
'They [the hours] move with leaden feet. A. Dyce.
And merely mortal dross;
So little is our loss,
So little is thy gain.
For when as each thing bad thou hast intomb'd,
And last of all thy greedy self consum'd,
Then long Eternity shall greet our bliss
With an individual kiss;
And Joy shall overtake us as a flood,
When every thing that is sincerely good
And perfectly divine,
With truth, and peace, and love, shall ever shine supreme throne
Of him, t' whose happy-making sight alone
When once our heav'nly-guided soul shall clime, Then all this earthly grossness quit,
Attir'd with stars, we shall for ever sit, Triumphing over Death, and Chance, and thee, O Time.
UPON THE CIRCUMCISION.
YE flaming Pow'rs, and winged Warriors bright,
19 individual] Inseparable. P. L. iv. 485.
1 flaming] So P. Lost, ix. 156. xi. 101. Warton.
Through the soft silence of the list'ning night; 5 Now mourn, and if sad share with us to bear Your fiery essence can distil no tear,
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow:
He who with all heav'n's heraldry whilere Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease; Alas, how soon our sin
Sore doth begin
His infancy to seize !
O more exceeding love, or law more just?
Were lost in death, till he that dwelt above
And that great covenant which we still transgress Entirely satisfied,
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful justice bore for our excess,
And seals obedience first, with wounding smart, This day, but O ere long,
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more near his heart.
17 remediless] P. Lost, ix. 919. Samas. Agon. v. 648. 'all remediless.' Warton, Todd.
AT A SOLEMN MUSIC.*
BLEST pair of Sirens, pledges of heav'n's joy,
With saintly shout, and solemn jubilee,
That we on earth with undiscording voice
* There are three copies of this ode, all in Milton's own hand writing.
concent] So the Cant. MS. not 'consent. Ed. 1645, 'content;' 1673, concent.' Warton.
1 And Cherubim, sweet winged Squires.' So Cant. MS.