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Hence, loathed Melancholy,
But come, thou goddess fair and free,
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 honour 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 milkmaid singeth blithe, And the mower whets his scythe, And every shepherd tells his tale* Under the hawthorn in the dale.
Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
Tells how the drudging Goblin sweat, To earn his cream-bowl duly set, When in one night, ere glimpse of morn, His shadowy flail had thrash'd the corn, That ten day-labourers could not end; Then lies him down the lubber fiend, And stretch'd out all the chimney's length Basks at the fire his hairy strength ; And crop-full out of doors he flings, Ere the first cock his matin rings. Thus done the tales, to bed they creep, By whispering winds soon lulld to sleep. Tower'd cities please us then, And the busy hum of men, Where throngs of knights and barons bold, In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold, With store of ladies, whose bright eyes Rain influence, and judge the prize Of wit, or arms, while both contend To win her grace, whom all commend. There let Hymen oft appear In saffron robe, with taper clear; And pomp, and feast, and revelry, With masque and antique pageantry; Such sights as youthful poets dream On summer eves by haunted stream. Then to the well-trod stage anon, If Jonson's learned sock be on, Or sweeteet Shakspeare, Fancy's child, Warble his native wood-notes wild. And ever against eating cares, Lap me in soft Lydian airs, Married to immortal verse, Such as the meeting soul may pierce, In notes with many a winding bout Of linkèd sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
Milton shows his early fondness for the Italian language, by taking from it the titles of these poems. L'Allegro is the mirthful (man), and Il Penseroso the melancholy (pensive rather, or thoughtful). These two poems are supposed, with good reason, to have been written at Horton in Buckinghamshire, where his parents were residing at the time of their composition. I mention this circumstance, first because it is pleasant to know when poetry is written in poetical places, and next for the sake of such readers as may happen to know the spot.
1“ Some, sager, sing." —Ben Jonson, in one of his Masks. “Because,” says Warburton, “those who give to Mirth such gross companions as Eating and Drinking, are the less sage mythologists."
2“ Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles.”—What a Crank is, the commentators are puzzled to say. They guess, from analogy with “winding turns” (which