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    Il Penseroso

    by John Milton
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    Hence, vain deluding joys,
    The brood of folly without father bred,
    How little you bestead,
    Or fill the fixed mind with all your toys!
    Dwell in some idle brain,
    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.
    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
    O'erlaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue;
    Black, but such as in esteem
    Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
    Or that starred Ethiop queen that strove
    To set her beauty's praise above
    The Sea-Nymphs, and their pow'rs offended.
    Yet thou art higher far descended;
    Thee bright-haired Vesta long of yore
    To solitary Saturn bore;
    His daughter she (in Saturn's reign
    Such mixture was not held a stain).
    Oft in glimmering bow'rs and glades
    He met her, and in secret shades
    Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
    While yet there was no fear of Jove.
    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,
    Over thy decent shoulders drawn:
    Come, but keep thy wonted state,
    With even step, and musing gait,
    And looks commercing with the skies,
    Thy 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.
    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 fiery-wheeled 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,
    While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke,
    Gently o'er th' accustomed oak;
    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
    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 heav'n's wide pathless way;
    And oft, as if her head she bowed,
    Stooping through a fleecy cloud.
    Oft on a plat of rising ground,
    I hear the far-off curfew sound,
    Over some wide-watered shore,
    Swinging slow with sullen roar;
    Or if the air will not permit,
    Some still removed place will fit,
    Where glowing embers through the room
    Teach light to counterfeit a gloom;
    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
    Be seen in some high lonely tow'r,
    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
    The immortal mind, that hath forsook
    Her mansion in this fleshly nook:
    And of those Demons that are found
    In fire, air, flood, or under ground,
    Whose power hath a true consent
    With planet, or with element.
    Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy
    In sceptered pall come sweeping by,
    Presenting Thebes, or Pelops' line,
    Or the tale of Troy divine,
    Or what (though rare) of later age
    Ennobled hath the buskined stage.
    But, O sad Virgin, that thy power
    Might raise Musaeus from his bower,
    Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing
    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,
    Of Camball, and of Algarsife,
    And who had Canace to wife,
    That owned the virtuous ring and glass,
    And of the wondrous horse of brass
    On which the Tartar king did ride;
    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.
    Thus, Night, oft see me in thy pale career,
    Till civil-suited Morn appear,
    Not tricked and frounced as she was wont
    With the Attic Boy to hunt,
    But kerchiefed in a comely cloud,
    While rocking winds are piping loud,
    Or ushered with a shower still,
    When the gust hath blown his fill,
    Ending on the rustling leaves
    With minute drops from off the eaves.
    And when the sun begins to fling
    His flaring beams, me, Goddess, bring
    To arched walks of twilight groves,
    And shadows brown that Sylvan loves
    Of pine, or monumental oak,
    Where the rude axe with heaved stroke
    Was never heard the Nymphs to daunt,
    Or fright them from their hallowed haunt.
    There in close covert by some brook,
    Where no profaner eye may look,
    Hide me from day's garish eye,
    While the bee with honeyed thigh,
    That at her flowery work doth sing,
    And the waters murmuring
    With such consort as they keep,
    Entice the dewy-feathered Sleep;
    And let some strange mysterious dream
    Wave at his wings in airy stream
    Of lively portraiture displayed,
    Softly on my eyelids laid.
    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
    To walk the studious cloister's pale,
    And love the high embowed roof,
    With antique pillars massy proof,
    And storied windows richly dight,
    Casting a dim religious light:
    There let the pealing organ blow
    To the full voiced choir below,
    In service high, and anthems clear,
    As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
    Dissolve me into ecstasies,
    And bring all Heav'n 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
    Of every star that heav'n doth show,
    And every herb that sips the dew;
    Till old experience do attain
    To something like prophetic strain.
    These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
    And I with thee will choose to live.
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