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ON THE LATE MASSACRE IN PIEDMONT, 1655. AVENGE, O Lord, thy slaughter'd saints, whose bones
Lie scatter'd on the Alpine mountains cold;
When all our fathers worshipp'd stocks & stones, Forget not : in thy book record their groans,
Who were thy sheep, and, in their ancient fold
Mother with infant down the rocks. Their moans The vales redoubled to the hills, and they
To Heaven. Their martyr'd blood & ashes sow
O’er all the Italian fields, where still doth sway
A hundred fold, who, having learn'd thy way,
ON HIS BLINDNESS.
When I consider how my light is spent,
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide, And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he, returning, chide ;
I fondly ask : but patience, to prevent
Either man's work, or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best: his state Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o’er land and ocean without rest ;
TO MR. LAWRENCE.
Lawrence, of virtuous father virtuous son,*
Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire, Where shall we sometimes meet, and, by the fire,
* The virtuous son was author of a work “ Of our Commůnion with Angels," printed in 1646. The father was member for Herefordshire, in the Little Parliament which began in 1653, and was active in settling the protectorate of Cromwell.
Help waste a sullen day, what may be won
On smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
The lily and rose, that neither sow'd nor spun. What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
To hear the lute well touch'd, or artful voice Warble immortal notes, and Tuscan air ?
He, who of those delights can judge, and spare To interpose them oft, is not unwise.
TO CYRIACK SKINNER. * CYRIACK, whose grandsire, on the royal bench
Of British Themis, with no mean applause, Pronounced, and in his volumes taught, our laws,
Which others, at their bar, so often wrench ; To-day deep thoughts resolve with me to drench
In mirth, that after no repenting draws;
Let Euclid rest, and Archimedes pause,
Toward solid good what leads the nearest way;
For other things, mild Heaven a time ordains, And disapproves that care, though wise in show,
That with superfluous burden loads the day, And when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.
TO THE SAME.
CYRIACK, this three-years-day, these eyes, though
To outward view, of blemish or of spot, [clear,
Nor, to their idle orbs, doth sight appear
Or man, or woman. Yet I argue not
Against Heaven's hand or will, nor bate a jot Of heart or hope; but still bear up, and steer Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
The conscience, friend, to have lost them, overplied,
Cyriack Skinner was one of the principal members of Ilarrington's political club. Wood says that he was ingenious young gentleman, and scholar to John Milton ; which Skinner sometimes held the chair.”-Ath. Oxon. ji. 591.
In liberty's detence, my noble task, Of which all Europe rings from side to side. [mask,
This thought might lead me through the world's vain Content, though blind, had I no better guide.
ON HIS DECEASED wife. Methought I saw my late espoused saint,
Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave, Whom Jove's great son to her glad husband gave,
Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint. Mine, as whom wash'd from spot of child-bed taint,
Purification in the old law did save,
Full sight of her in Heaven, without restraint,
Her face was veil'd, yet, to my fancied sight,
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O, as to embrace me she inclined, I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night
* This Sonnet was written about the year 1656, on the death of his second wife, Catherine, the daughter of Captain Woodcock, of Hackney, a rigid sectarist. She died in child-bed of a daughter, within a year after their marriage. Milton had now been long totally blind.
MORNING OF CHRIST'S NATIVITY.
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day, And chose, with us, a darksome house of mortal clay. Say heavenly muse, shall not thy sacred vein Afford a present to the Infant-God? Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, To welcome him to this his new abode, Now while the Heaven, by the sun's team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light, And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons
And join thy voice unto the angel quire;
• 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.
It was the winter wild,
All meanly wrapt, in the rude manger lies;
With her great Master so to sympathize :
To hide her guilty front, with innocent snow ;
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
But he, her fears to cease,
She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
With turtle wing, the amorous clouds dividing ; And, waving wide her myrtle wand She strikes an universal peace, through sea & land.
No war, or battle's sound,
The idle spear & shield were high up hung,
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng;
But peaceful was the night,
His reign of peace upon the earth began :
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean;