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Of other care they little reckoning make,
Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast,
And shove away the worthy bidden guest!
Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook, or have learn'd aught else the least 120
That to the faithful herdsman's art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw:
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed; 125
Bat, swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread:
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing sed:
But that two-handed engine at the door 130
Return, Alpheus; the dread voice is past
Their bells and flowerets of a thousand hues. J 35
Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart-star sparely looks;
Throw hither all your quaint enamell'd eyes,
That on the green turf suck the honied showers, 140
And purple all the ground with vcmal flowers.
Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,
The white pink, and the pansy freaked with jet,
The glowing violet, 145
The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine,
With cowslips wan that hang the pensive head,
And every flower that sad embroidery wears:
Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed,
And daffodillies fill their cups with tears, 1 SO
So, In his sixteenth sonnet, written in 1452, he supplicates C omwell
I~ 129. "Nothing said." By this Milton clearly alludes to those prelates and clergy of the established church who enjoyed fat salaries without performing any duties: who "sheared the sheep bu: dU not feed them."
L. 130, 131. "In these lines our author anticipates the execution of Archbishop Land by a 'twfthanded engine,' that Is, the axe; Insinuating that his death would remove all grievances in rrtlgioh, and complete the reformation of the church."— T. Warion. The sense of the passage is, "But there will soon be an end of these evils; the axe Is at hand, to take tiff the head of him who has been tlio great sbettor of these corruptions of the gospel. This will be done by one stroke."
L. 123. "That shrank thy streams," Umt Is, that silenced my pastoral poetry. The Blcllla.l muss Is now to return with all her store of rural Imagery. "The imagery here is from the noblest source."—Bridget.
L> 13*. "Use," In the sense of to haunt, to inltabit. See Iihihwc-11's " Dictionary of Archaic and
To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.
For, so to interpose a little ease,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise.
Ay me 1 whilst thee the shores ami sounding seas
Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurl'd; 1 •>!>
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;
Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied,
Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old, 160
Where the great Vision of the guarded Mount
Looks toward Namnneos and Bayona's hold;
Look homeward, angel, now, and melt with ruth:
And, 0 ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth. 165
Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more;
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore 170
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of Him that walk'd the wavos;
Where, other groves and other streams along,
With nectar pure his oozy locks he laves, 175
And hears the unexpressive nuptial song,
In the bless'd kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet societies,
That sing, and, singing, in their glory move, 180
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
To all that wander in that perilous flood. 185
Line 154. "Ay mcl" "Hero," Mr. Dunstcr observed, "the bnrat of grief U Infinitely beautiful when properly connected with what precedes It and to which It refers." L. 1S8. "Monstrous world," that Is, the sea, the world of monsters.
L. 160. "Bellerus," the name of a Cornish giant. On the southwestern shores of Cornwall there Is a stupendous pile of rock-work called the "giant's chair;" and not far from Land's End Is another most romantic projection of rock called St. Michael's Mount. There was a tradlUon that the " Vision" of St. Michael, seated on this crag, appeared to some hermits. The sense of this line and the follow•riar. taken with the preceding, Is this:—" Let every flower be strewed on the hearse where Lycldns 'ics, so to flatter ourselves for a moment with the noUon that his corpse Is present; and this, (ah m<> t) while Uie seas are wafUng It here and there, whether beyond the Hebrides or near the shore* 01 Cornwall, ftc."
L. 15a. "Naniancos" Is marked In the early editions of Mercntor'a Atlas as In QalllcfA, on tho northwest coast of Spain, near Cape Fililstcrrc. Bayona Is the strong casUe of the French, In the southwestern extremity of France, near the Pyrenees. In that same atlas this castle makes a very conspicuous tlgure.
L. 183. "Here is an apostrophe to the angel Michael, seated on the guarded mount. *Oh angel, look no longer seaward to Namancos and Bayona's hold: rather turn your eyes to another object: look homeward or landward; look towards your own coast now, and view with pity the corpse of the shipwrecked Lycidas flouting thither.' "—]'. IVarlon.
L. IS] "And wipe Uie tears for ever from his eves."— /«. xxv. a; Rtw. vll. 17.
Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills,
SCENE FROM COMUS.1
Lady. This way the noise was, if mine ear be true,
L. is*. By "•tops" Milton here means what we now call the holca of a flute or any species of pipe.
L. 169. This Is a Doric lay, because Theocritus and Moschus had respectively written a bucolic on the deaths of Daphnts and fiioo.
1 The fable of Coraua Is this. A beauUfnl lady, attended by her two brothers, is Journeying through a dreary wood. The brothers become separated from their sister, who la met by Comus, the god of low pleasures, who, wtth his followers, holds his orgies in the night. He addresses her In the disguised character of a peasant, but she resists all his arts, and Comns and his crew arc put to flight by the brothers, who come In time to rescue their sister. The object of the poem Is to show the full power of true virtue and chastity to triumph over all the assaults of wickedness; or, in the language of aiakspeare—
That virtue never will be moved,
Though lewdness court it In a shape of heaven. "Comns," says Sir Egcrton Brydgcs, H Is the Invention of a beautiful fable, enriched with shadowy beings and visionary delights: every line and word is pure poetry, and the sentiments are as exquisite as the Images, It Is a composition which no pen but Milton's could have produced.** It seems that an accidental event which occurred to tlie family of Milton's patron, John Egcrton, Earl of Brtdgewater, then keeping his court at Ludlow caaUe, gave birth to this fable. The earl's two sons and daughter, Lady Alice, were benighted, and lost their way In Hey wood-forest; and the two brothers, In the attempt to explore their path, left the sister alone. In a track of country rudely inhabited. On these simple facta the poet raised a superstructure of such fairy spells and poetical delight as has never since been equalled.
i WasmO, from the Anglo-Saxon trees h<rl, M be In health." It was anciently the pledge word In drinking, equivalent to the modern "your health." The bowl in which the liquor was presented was called the amotf-Aow^ and as it was peculiar to scenes of revelry and fesUvity, the term toauasi in time became synonymous with feasting and carousing. Thus, in Shakspeare, Lady Macbeth declares that she will "convince (that Is, overpower) the two chamberlains of Duncan with wine and Wssh," and Ben Junton, giving an account of a rural feast, says: The rout of rural folk come thronging In, Their rudeness then is thought no sin— The Jolly «wl walks the often round. And In their cups their cares are drown'd.
I cannot hilloo to my brothers, but
Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that livest unseen
Where the love-lorn nightingale
That likest thy Narcissus are?
Hid them in some flowery cave,
1 "The songs of this poem are of a lingular felicity; they are unbroken streams of exquisite Ima very, either Imaginative or descriptive, with a dance of numbers which sounds like aerial music: for Instance, the Lady's song to Echo."—Brydga.
i " Coinus'a address to the lady Is exceedingly beautiful in every respect; but all readers wQt acknowledge that the stylo of it Is much raised by the expression 'unless the goddess,' an elliptical expression, unusual In our language, though common enough In Greek and Latin. But If we wer* to (III II up and say, 'unless thou beest the go ideas,' how Hat and invlpid would It make the compoNitio,,, compared witn what It Is."—Zord Moabodda.
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise
Com. What chance, good lady, hath bereft you thus?
Lady. Dim darkness, and this leavie labyrinth.
Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering guidea?
Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
Lady. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly spring.
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, lady?
Lady. They were but twain, and purposed quick return.
Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
Lady. No less than if I should my brothers lose.
Com. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?
Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips.
Com. Two such I saw, what time the labor'd ox
Lady. Gentle villager,
What readiest way would bring me to that place?
Com. Due west it rises from tliis shrubby point.
Lady. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose,
Com. I know each lane, and every alley green,