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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;
“ Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?" I fondly ask: but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “ God doth not need 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;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
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 Help waste a sullen day, what may be won From the hard season gaining ? Time will run
On smoother, till Favonius reinspire
The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire 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
He who of those delights can judge, and spare
TO CYRIAC SKINNER.
CYRIAC, 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, And what the Swede intends, and what the French.
To measure life learn thou betimes, and know Towards 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.
CYRIAC, this three years' day, these eyes, though clear,
To outward view, of blemish or of spot,
Bereft of light, their seeing have forgot;
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
In liberty's defence, 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,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have Full sight of her in heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind : 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, oh! as to embrace me she inclined, I waked-she fled-and day brought back my night.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
To welcome him to this his new abode,
Hath took no print of the approaching light, [bright? And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons
See, how from far, upon the eastern road,
And join thy voice unto the angel-quire,
It was the winter wild,
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies
With her great Master so to sympathize: