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That murmur, soon replies, “ God doth not need
Either man's words, 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 or ocean without rest ;
They also serve who only stand and wait.”
[The lady enters.) THIS way the noise
if mine ear be true, My best guide, now; methought it was the sound Of riot and ill-managed merriment, Such as the jocund flute or gamesome pipe Stirs up among the loose, unlettered hinds, When, for their teeming flocks and granges full, In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan, And thank the gods amiss. I should be loath To meet the rudeness and swilled insolence Of such late wassailers; yet, oh! where else Shall I inform my unacquainted feet, In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ! My brothers, when they saw me, wearied out With this long way, resolving here to lodge, Under the spreading favor of these pines, Stept, as they said, to the next thicket side, To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit As the kind, hospitable woods provide. They left me then, when the gray-hooded even, Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed, Rose from the hindmost wheel of Phæbus' wain : But where they are, and why they come not back, Is now the labor of my thoughts; 't is likeliest They had engaged their wandering steps too far, And envious darkness, ere they could return, Had stole them from me; else, oh, thievish night, Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end, In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars,
That Nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps,
With everlasting oil, to give due light
To the misled and lonely traveller ?
This is the place, as well as I may guess,
Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth
Was rife and perfect in my listening ear;
Yet nought but simple darkness do I find.
What might this be? A thousand phantasies
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
And airy tongues, that syllable men's names
On sands, and shores, and desért wildernesses.
Those thoughts may startle well, but not astound,
The virtuous mind, that ever walks 'attended
By a strong champion - Conscience.
O welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings,
And thou, unblemished form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honor unassailed.
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove;
I cannot halloo to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard furthest,
I'll venture; for my new enlivened spirits
Prompt me, and they perhaps are not far off,
Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv’st unseen
Within thy airy shell,
By slow Meander's margent stream,
And in the violet-embroidered vale,
Where the lovelorn nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song moureth well,
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That likest thy Narcissus are ?
O, if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,
Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of poetry, daughter of the sphere !
So mayest thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all heaven's harmonies.
Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould
Breathe such divine, enchanting ravishment ?
Sure something holy lodges in that breast,
And with these raptures moves the vocal air,
To testify his hidden residence.
How sweetly did they float upon the wings
Of silence, through the empty vaulted night,
At every fall, smoothing the raven-down
Of darkness, till it smiled! I have oft heard
My mother Circe, with the Syrens three,
Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades,
Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs,
Who, as they sung, would take the prisoned soul
And lap it in Elysium; Scylla wept,
And chid her basking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause.
Yet they in pleasing slumber lulled the sense,
And in sweet madness robbed it of itself;
But such a sacred and homefelt delight,
Such sober certainty of waking bliss,
I never heard till now.
ADDRESS TO MIRTH.
Haste thee, nymph, and bring with thee
Jest, and youthful jollity,
Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles,
Nods, and becks, and wreathéd smiles,
Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
And love to live in dimple sleek;
Sport, that wrinkled Care derides,
And Laughter, holding both his sides.
Come, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right-hand lead with thee
The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty:
And, if I give thee honor due,
Mirth, admit me of thy crew,
To live with her and live with thee,
In unreproved pleasures free; -
To hear the lark begin his flight,
And, singing, startle the dull night,
From his watch-tower in the skies,
Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
Then to come, in spite of sorrow,
And at my window bid good-morrow,
Through the sweet-briar, or the vine,
Or the twisted eglantine;
While the cock, with lively din,
Scatters the rear of darkness thin,
And to the stack or the barn-door
Stoutly struts his dames before :
Oft listening how the hounds and horn
Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn,
From the side of some hoar hill,
Through the high wood echoing shrill :
Sometimes walking, not unseen,
By hedge-row elms, on hillocks green,
Right against the eastern gate,
Where the great sun begins his state,
Robed in flames, and amber light,
The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
While the ploughman, near at hand,
Whistles o'er the furrowed land,
And the milk-maid singeth blithe,
And the mower whets his scythe,
And every shepherd tells his tale,
Under the hawthorn in the dale,
[From "n Penseroso."] ADDRESS TO MELANCHOLY.
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 cypress-lawn, Over thy decent shoulders drawn. Come, but keep thy wonted state, With even step, and musing gait, And looks commercing with the skies, And rapt soul sitting in thine eyes; 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; *
* But first, and chiefest, with thee bring Him that yon soars on golden wing, Guiding the fiery-wheeléd throne, The cherub Contemplation: And the mute silence hist along, 'Less Philomel will deign a song, In her sweetest, saddest plight, Smoothing the rugged brow of night,