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twenty-one years old; yet it has been pronounced by critics as unsurpassed by any production of its class since the age of Pindar. Here is a splendid stanza :

No war, or battle's sound, was heard the world around;
The idle spear and shield were high uphung;

The hooked chariot stood unstain'd with hostile blood;

The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng;

And kings sat still with awful eye,

As if they surely knew their sovereign Lord was by.

How fine is that passage referring to the silencing of the heathen oracles :

The oracles are dumb; no voice or hideous hum
Runs through the arched roof in word: deceiving;
Apollo from his shrine can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving;

No nightly trance, or breathed spell,

Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.

The village of Horton is associated with the earlier portion of the poet's life; it was there that he wrote his Comus, Lycidas, and Il Penseroso. At Chalfont St. Giles he wrote his great epic. Fuscli thought the second book of Paradise Lost the grandest effort of the human mind we possess. How splendid is his Invocation to Lighthow touchingly it closes!

Thus with the year

Seasons return; but not to me returns

Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine:
But cloud instead, and ever-during dark

of men

Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair,
Presented with a universal blank

Of nature's works, to me expunged and razed,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.



According to Sir Egerton Brydges, Milton's sonnet on his loss of sight, is unequalled by any composition of its class in the language:

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,
post o'er land and ocean without rest:


They also serve who only stand and wait!”

Il Penseroso abounds with striking passages; such as the following, to Contemplation :

Come, pensive nun, devout and pure,

Sober, steadfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Flowing with majestic train,
And sable state of cypress lawn,
On thy decent shoulders drawn!

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With a sad, leaden, downward cast,
Thou fix them on the earth as fast:
And join with thee calm peace and quiet-
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 retired leisure,

That in trim gardens takes his pleasure;

But first and chiefest, with thee bring
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fairy-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation.


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What pen but Milton's could have produced-from so slight an incident as that which occurred at Ludlow Castle when the poet was its guest-a dramatic poem (Comus) so replete with beautiful imagery, and so lustrous with the graces of style? Here are a few lines:


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!




So dear to heaven is saintly chastity,
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried angels lacquey her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And, in clear dream and solemn vision,
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
Till oft converse with heavenly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on th' outward shape,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,
Till all be made immortal.




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