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Or let my lamp, at midnight hour,
Be seen in some high lonely tower,
Where I may oft out-watch the Bear,
With thrice great Hermes, or unsphere
The spirit of Plato to unfold
What worlds, or what vast regions, hold
Th' immortal mind that hath forsook
Her mansion in this fleshly nook:
And of those Demons that are found
In fire, air, flood, or under ground,
Whose power hath a true consent
With planet, or with element.
Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy
In scepter'd pall come sweeping by,
Presenting Thebes', or Pelop's line,
Or the tale of Troy divine,
Or what (though rare) of later age
Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage.
But, I sad Virgin, that thy power
Might raise Musæus from his bower;
Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
Such notes as, warbled to the string,
Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek
And made Hell grant what Love did seek
Or call up him that left half told,
The story of Cambuscan bold,
of Camball, and of Algarsife,
And who had Canace to wife,
That own'a the virtuous ring and glass,
And of the wondrous horse of brass,
On which the Tartar king did ride;
And if aught else great bards beside
In sage and solemn tunes have sung,
Of turneys and of trophies hung,
Of forests and enchantments drear,
Where more is meant than meets the ear.
88. Hermes Trismegistus. The great Egyptian philosopher who fourished, it is supposed, near the time of Moses.
99. The ancient tragedians drew the subjects of their principal dramas from the history of the kings of Thehes, &c.
104. Museus, a celebrated ancient poet. 109. An allusion to a tale which Chaucer left unfinished. Spenser endeavoured to complete it. Fae. Qu. B. 4. Can. 2. St. 32.
Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career,
Till civil-suited Morn appear,
Not trick'd and frounced as she was wont
With the Attic boy to hunt,
But kercheft in a comely cloud,
While rocking winds are piping loud,
Or usher'd with a shower still,
When the gust hath blown his fill,
Ending on the rustling leaves,
With minute drops from off the eaves.
And when the Sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me Goddess bring
To arched walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown that Sylvan loves
Of pine or monumental oak,
Where the rude axe with heaved stroke
Was never heard the Nymphs to daunt,
Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt.
There in close covert by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look,
Hide me from Day's garish eye,
While the bee with honied thigh,
That at her flowery work doth sing,
And the waters murmuring,
With such concert as they keep,
Entice the dewy-feather'd sleep:
And let some strange mysterious dream
Wave at his wings in aery stream
Of lively portraiture display'd,
Softly on my eye-lids laid.
And as I wake, sweet music breathe
Above, about, or underneath,
Sent by some Spirit to mortals good,
Or th' unseen Genius of the wood.
But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloister's pale,
And love the high-embowed roof,
With antique pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight
C:usting a dim religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voiced quire below
In service high, and anthemis clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into extasies,
And bring all Heav'n before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peaceful hermitage,
The hairy gown and niossy cel,
Where I may sit and rightly spell
Of every star that Heav'n doth shew,
And every herb that sips the dew;
Till old experience do attain
To something like prophetic strain.
These pleasures, Melancholy, give
And I with thee will choose to live.
Mark what radiant state she spreads,
In circle round her shining throne, 15
Shooting her beams like silver threads;
This, this is she alone,
Sitting like a Goddess bright,
In the centre of her light.
Might she the wise Latona be, 20
Or the tower'd Cybele,
Mother of a hundred gods;
Juno dares not give her odds;
Who hath thought this clime had held 2
As they come forward the Genius of the wood appears
and turning towards them, speaks.
Gen. Stay, gentle Swains, for tho' in this disguise,
I see bright honour sparkle through your eyes;
Of famous Arcady ye are, and sprung
Of that renowned flood, so often sung,
Divine Alpheus, who by secret sluice 30
Stole under seas to meet his Arethuse;
And ye, the breathing roses of the wood,
Fair silver-buskin’d Nymphs, as great and good,
I know this quest of yours, and free intent,
Was all in honour and devotion meant 35
To the great mistress of yon princely shrine,
Whom with low reverence I adore as mine,
And with all helpful service will comply
To further this night's glad solemnity;
And lead ye where ye may more near behold
What shallow-searching Fame hath left untold;
Which I full oft amidst these shades alone
Have sat to wonder at, and gaze upon :
For know by lot from Jove I am the power
Of this fair wood, and live in oaken bower 45
To nurse the saplings tall, and curl the grove
With ringlets quaint, and wanton windings wove.
And all my plants I save from nightly ill
Of noisome winds, and blasting vapours chill:
30. Alpheus, a river of Arcadia, which runs for some way under the sea, and rises again with the sountain Arethuse, near Syrocuse in Sicily.
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And from the boughs brush off the evil dew, 50 And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blue, Or what the cross dire-looking planet smites, Or hurtful worm with canker'd venom bites. When Evening grey doth rise, I fetch my round Over the mount, and all this hallow'd ground; 55 And early ere the odorous breath of Morn Awakes the slumb’ring leaves, or tassel’d horn Shakes the high thicket, haste I all about, Number my ranks, and visit every sprout With puissant words, and murmurs made to bless; But else in deep of night, when drowsiness 61 Hath lock’d up mortal sense, then listen I To the celestial Sirens' harmony, That sit upon the nine infolded spheres, And sing to those that hold the vital shears, 65 And turn the adamantine spindle round, On which the fate of gods and men is wound. Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie, To lull the daughters of Necessity, And keep unsteady Nature to her law, 70 And the low world in measured motion draw After the heavenly tune, which none can hear Of human mould with gross unpurged ear; And yet such music worthiest were to blaze The peerless height of her immortal praise, 75 Whose lustre leads us, and for her most fit, If my inferior hand or voice could hit Inimitable sounds; yet as we go, Whate'er the skill of lesser gods can shew, I will assay, her worth to celebrate, 80 And so attend ye toward her glittering state; Where ye may all that are of nobie stem Approach, and kiss her sacred vesture's hem.
O'er the smooth enamell’d green,
Where no print of step hath been, 85
Follow me as I sing,
And touch the warbled string,
Under the shady roof
Of branching elm star-proof,