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When like the stars the singing angels shot

To earth, and heaven awaked all his eyes

To see another sun at midnight rise
On earth? was never sight of pareil fame,
For God before man like Himself did frame,
But God Himself now like a mortal man became.

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A child He was, and had not learned to speak,

That with his word the world before did make;
His mother's arms Him bore, He was so weak,

That with one hand the vaults of heaven could shake.

See how small room my infant Lord doth take,
Whom all the world is not enough to hold
Who of his years or of his age hath told ?
Never such age so young, never a child so old.

And yet but newly He was infanted,

And yet already He was sought to die;
Yet scarcely born, already banished ;

Not able yet to go, and forced to fly;

But scarcely fled away, when, by and by,
The tyrant's sword with blood is all defiled,
And Rachel, for her sons, with fury wild,
Cries, O thou cruel king; and, O my sweetest child!

Egypt his nurse became, where Nilus springs,

Who straight to entertain the rising sun,
The hasty harvest in his bosom brings;

But now for drought the fields were all undone,

And now with waters all is overrun:
So fast thy Cynthian mountains poured their snow,
When once they felt the sun so near them glow,
That Nilus Egypt lost, and to a sea did grow.

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The angels carolled loud their song of peace;

The cursed oracles were stricken dumb;
To see their Shepherd the poor shepherds press;

To see their King the kingly sophics come;
And then, to guide unto his master's home,

A star comes dancing up the orient,
That springs for joy over the strawy tent;
When gold to make their prince a crown they all present.

Young John, glad child, before he could be born,

Leaped in the womb, his joy to prophecy; Old Anna, though with age all spent and worn,

Proclaims her Saviour to posterity;

And Simeon fast his dying notes doth ply.
Oh, how the blessed souls about him trace!
It is the sire of heaven thou dost embrace:
Sing, Simeon, sing--sing, Simeon, sing apace.”

With that the mighty thunder dropt away

From God's unwary arm, now milder grown, And melted into tears; as if to pray

For pardon and for pity, it had known

That should have been for sacred vengeance thrown; There, too, the armies angelic devowed Their former rage, and all to Mercy bowed; Their broken weapons at her feet they gladly strowed.

Bring, bring, ye Graces, all your silver flaskets,

Painted with every choicest flower that grows,
That I may soon unflower your fragrant baskets,

To strow the fields with odours where He goes;

Let whatsoe'er He treads on be a rose. So down she lets her eyelids fall to shine Upon the rivers of bright Palestine, Whose woods drop honey, and her rivers skip with wine.


Twice had Diana bent her golden bow

And shot from heaven her silver shaft, to rouse The sluggish savages that den below,

And all the day in lazy covert drowse,

Since Him the silent wilderness did house: The heaven, his roof and arbour, harbour was; The ground his bed, and his moist pillow grass ; But fruit there none did grow, nor rivers none did pass.

At length an aged sire far off He saw

Come slowly footing; every step he guessed One of his feet he from the grave did draw;

Three legs he had—the wooden was the best;

And all the way he went, he ever blest
With benedicites and prayers store,
But the bad ground was blessed ne'er the more;
And all his head with snow of age was waxen hoar.

A good old hermit he might seem to be,

That for devotion had the world forsaken, And now was travelling some saint to see,

Since to his beads he had himself betaken,

Where all his former sins he might awaken, And them might wash away with dropping brine, And alms, and fasts, and church discipline; And dead, might rest his bones under the holy shrine.

But when he nearer came he bowed low,

With prone obeisance and with courtesy kind, That at his feet his head he seemed to throw;

What needs him now another saint to find?

Affections are the sails, and faith the wind,
That to this saint a thousand souls convey
Each hour: 0, happy pilgrims, thither stray!
What caren they for beasts, or for the weary way!

Soon the old palmer his devotions sung,

Like pleasing anthems modelled in time; For well that aged sire could tip his tongue

With golden foil of eloquence, and lime,

And lick his rugged speech with phrases prime. “Ah me!" quoth he, “how many years have been Since these old eyes the sun of heaven have seen! Certes the Son of heaven they now behold, I ween.

"Ah! might my humble cell so blessed be

As Heaven to welcome in its lowly roof,
And be the temple for thy Deity!

Lo, how my cottage worships thee aloof,

That underground hath hid his head in proof It doth adore Thee with the ceiling low, Here honey, milk, and chesnuts wild do grow, The boughs a bed of leaves upon thee shall bestow.

“ But, oh!” he said, and therewith sighed full deep,

“The heavens, alas! too envious are grown, Because our fields thy presence from them keep;

For stones do grow where corn was lately sown;

(So stooping down he gathered up a stone,) But thou with com canst make this stone to ear: What need we then the angry heavens to fear? Let them us envy still, so we enjoy Thee here."

Thus on they wandered; but those holy weeds

A monstrous serpent and no man did cover;
So under greenest herbs the adder feeds,

And round about that stinking corpse did hover

The dismal prince of gloomy night, and over His all-abhorred head the shadows erred Of thousand peccant ghosts, unseen, unheard; And all the tyrant fears, and all the tyrant feared.

He was the son of blackest Acheron,

Where many frozen souls do chattering lie,

And ruled the burning waves of Phlegethon,

Where many more in flaming sulphur fry,

At once compelled to live, and forced to die; Where nothing can be heard for the loud cry Of “Oh!” and “Oh!” and “Out, alas! that I Or once again might live, or once at length might die.”

Ere long they came near to a baleful bower,

Much like the mouth of that infernal cave
That gaping stood all comers to devour,

Dark, doleful, dreary, like a greedy grave,

That still for carrion carcases doth crave; The ground no herbs but venomous did bear, Nor ragged trees did leave; but every where Dead bones and skulls were cast, and bodies hanged were.

Upon the roof the bird of sorrow sat,

Elonging joyful day with her sad note; And through the shady air the fluttering bat

Did wave her leather sails and blindly float,

While with her wings the fatal screech owl smote The unblessed house: there, on a craggy stone, Celæno 16 hung, and made his direful moan; And all about the murdered ghosts did shriek and groan.

Like cloudy moonshine in some shadowy grove,

Such was the light in which Despair did dwell; But he himself with night for darkness strove;

His black uncombed locks dishevelled fell

About his face, through which, as brands of hell Sunk in his skull, his staring eyes did glow, That made him deadly look; their glimpse did show Like cockatrice's eyes, that sparks of poison throw.

His clothes were ragged clouts, with thorns pinned fast;

And as he musing lay to stony fright,

16 One of the harpies.

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