Verse > Anthologies > Francis T. Palgrave, ed. > The Golden Treasury
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Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury.  1875.
 
J. Milton
 
CXIII. Il Penseroso
 
HENCE, vain deluding Joys, 
  The brood of Folly without father bred! 
How little you bestead 
  Or fill the fixèd mind with all your toys! 
Dwell in some idle brain,         5
  And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess 
As thick and numberless 
  As the gay motes that people the sunbeams, 
Or likest hovering dreams, 
  The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.  10
  
        But hail, thou goddess sage and holy, 
      Hail, divinest Melancholy! 
      Whose saintly visage is too bright 
      To hit the sense of human sight, 
      And therefore to our weaker view  15
      O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue; 
      Black, but such as in esteem 
      Prince Memnon's sister might beseem, 
      Or that starr'd Ethiop queen that strove 
      To set her beauty's praise above  20
      The sea-nymphs, and their powers offended: 
      Yet thou art higher far descended: 
      Thee bright-hair'd Vesta, long of yore, 
      To solitary Saturn bore; 
      His daughter she; in Saturn's reign  25
      Such mixture was not held a stain: 
      Oft in glimmering bowers and glades 
      He met her, and in secret shades 
      Of woody Ida's inmost grove, 
      While yet there was no fear of Jove.  30
  
        Come, pensive Nun, devout and pure, 
      Sober, steadfast, and demure, 
      All in a robe of darkest grain 
      Flowing with majestic train, 
      And sable stole of cypres lawn  35
      Over thy decent shoulders drawn: 
      Come, but keep thy wonted state, 
      With even step, and musing gait, 
      And looks commércing with the skies, 
      Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes:  40
      There, held in holy passion still, 
      Forget thyself to marble, till 
      With a sad leaden downward cast 
      Thou fix them on the earth as fast: 
      And join with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,  45
      Spare Fast, that oft with gods doth diet, 
      And hears the Muses in a ring 
      Aye round about Jove's altar sing: 
      And add to these retirèd Leisure 
      That in trim gardens takes his pleasure:—  50
      But first and chiefest, with thee bring 
      Him that yon soars on golden wing 
      Guiding the fiery-wheelèd throne, 
      The cherub Contemplatiòn; 
      And the mute Silence hist along,  55
      'Less Philomel will deign a song 
      In her sweetest saddest plight 
      Smoothing the rugged brow of Night, 
      While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke 
      Gently o'er the accustom'd oak.  60
      —Sweet bird, that shunn'st the noise of folly, 
      Most musical, most melancholy! 
      Thee, chauntress, oft, the woods among 
      I woo, to hear thy even-song; 
      And missing thee, I walk unseen  65
      On the dry smooth-shaven green, 
      To behold the wandering Moon 
      Riding near her highest noon, 
      Like one that had been led astray 
      Through the heaven's wide pathless way,  70
      And oft, as if her head she bow'd, 
      Stooping through a fleecy cloud. 
  
        Oft, on a plat of rising ground 
      I hear the far-off curfeu sound 
      Over some wide-water'd shore,  75
      Swinging slow with sullen roar: 
      Or, if the air will not permit, 
      Some still removèd place will fit, 
      Where glowing embers through the room 
      Teach light to counterfeit a gloom;  80
      Far from all resort of mirth, 
      Save the cricket on the hearth, 
      Or the bellman's drowsy charm 
      To bless the doors from nightly harm. 
  
        Or let my lamp at midnight hour  85
      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  90
      The immortal mind, that hath forsook 
      Her mansion in this fleshly nook: 
      And of those demons that are found 
      In fire, air, flood, or underground, 
      Whose power hath a true consent  95
      With planet, or with element. 
      Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy 
      In sceptr'd pall come sweeping by, 
      Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line, 
      Or the tale of Troy divine; 100
      Or what (though rare) of later age 
      Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage. 
  
        But, O sad Virgin, that thy power 
      Might raise Musæus from his bower, 
      Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing 105
      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, 110
      Of Camball, and of Algarsife, 
      And who had Canacé to wife 
      That own'd the virtuous ring and glass; 
      And of the wondrous horse of brass 
      On which the Tartar king did ride: 115
      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. 120
  
        Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career, 
      Till civil-suited Morn appear, 
      Not trick'd and frounc'd as she was wont 
      With the Attic Boy to hunt, 
      But kercheft in a comely cloud 125
      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. 130
      And when the sun begins to fling 
      His flaring beams, me, goddess, bring 
      To archèd walks of twilight groves, 
      And shadows brown, that Sylvan loves, 
      Of pine, or monumental oak, 135
      Where the rude axe, with heavèd 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, 140
      Hide me from day's garish eye, 
      While the bee with honey'd thigh 
      That at her flowery work doth sing, 
      And the waters murmuring, 
      With such consort as they keep 145
      Entice the dewy-feather'd Sleep; 
      And let some strange mysterious dream 
      Wave at his wings in airy stream 
      Of lively portraiture display'd, 
      Softly on my eyelids laid: 150
      And, as I wake, sweet music breathe 
      Above, about, or underneath, 
      Sent by some Spirit to mortals good, 
      Or the unseen Genius of the wood. 
        But let my due feet never fail 155
      To walk the studious cloister's pale, 
      And love the high-embowèd roof, 
      With antique pillars massy proof, 
      And storied windows richly dight 
      Casting a dim religious light. 160
      There let the pealing organ blow 
      To the full-voiced quire below 
      In service high and anthems clear, 
      As may with sweetness, through mine ear, 
      Dissolve me into ecstasies, 165
      And bring all Heaven before mine eyes. 
        And may at last my weary age 
      Find out the peaceful hermitage, 
      The hairy gown and mossy cell 
      Where I may sit, and rightly spell 170
      Of every star that heaven doth shew, 
      And every herb that sips the dew; 
      Till old experience do attain 
      To something like prophetic strain. 
  
        These pleasures, Melancholy, give, 175
      And I with thee will choose to live. 
 
 
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