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    by John Milton
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    Hence, loathed Melancholy,
    Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born,
    In Stygian cave forlorn
    'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights unholy!
    Find out some uncouth cell,
    Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings,
    And the night raven sings;
    There under ebon shades, and low-browed rocks,
    As ragged as thy locks,
    In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
    But come thou Goddess fair and free,
    In heav'n ycleped Euphrosyne,
    And by Men, heart-easing Mirth,
    Whom lovely Venus at a birth
    With two sister Graces more
    To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore;
    Or whether (as some sager sing)
    The frolic wind that breathes the spring,
    Zephyr, with Aurora playing,
    As he met her once a-Maying,
    There on beds of violets blue,
    And fresh-blown roses washed in dew,
    Filled her with thee a daughter fair,
    So buxom, blithe, and debonair.
    Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
    Jest, and youthful Jollity,
    Quips, and Cranks, and wanton Wiles,
    Nods, and Becks, and wreathed 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 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-tow'r 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 list'ning how the hounds and horn
    Cheerly rouse the slumb'ring morn,
    From the side of some hoar hill,
    Through the high wood echoing shrill:
    Sometime 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
    Whilst the landscape round it measures;
    Russet lawns, and fallows grey,
    Where the nibbling flocks do stray;
    Mountains, on whose barren breast
    The lab'ring clouds do often rest;
    Meadows trim with daisies pied,
    Shallow brooks, and rivers wide.
    Towers and battlements it sees
    Bosomed high in tufted trees,
    Where perhaps some Beauty lies,
    The Cynosure of neighb'ring eyes.
    Hard by, a cottage chimney smokes,
    From betwixt two aged oaks,
    Where Corydon and Thyrsis met
    Are at their savoury dinner set
    Of herbs, and other country messes,
    Which the neat-handed Phillis dresses;
    And then in haste her bow'r she leaves,
    With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;
    Or, if the earlier season lead,
    To the tanned haycock in the mead;
    Sometimes with secure delight
    The upland hamlets will invite,
    When the merry bells ring round,
    And the jocund rebecks sound
    To many a youth and many a maid,
    Dancing in the chequered shade;
    And young and old come forth to play
    On a sunshine holiday,
    Till the live-long daylight fail;
    Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
    With stories told of many a feat,
    How Fairy Mab the junkets eat;
    She was pinched and pulled she said,
    And he by friar's lanthorn led
    Tells how the drudging Goblin sweat
    To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
    When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
    His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn,
    That ten day-lab'rers could not end;
    Then lies him down the lubber fiend,
    And stretched 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 lulled asleep.
    Towered 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 mask, 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 sweetest Shakespeare, 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 linked sweetness long drawn out,
    With wanton heed, and giddy cunning,
    The melting voice through mazes running,
    Untwisting all the chains that tie
    The hidden soul of harmony;
    That Orpheus' self may heave his head
    From golden slumber on a bed
    Of heaped Elysian flowers, and hear
    Such strains as would have won the ear
    Of Pluto, to have quite set free
    His half-regained Eurydice.
    These delights if thou canst give,
    Mirth, with thee I mean to live.
    If you're writing a L'Allegro essay and need some advice, post your John Milton essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

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