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Should ye set an oligarchy of twenty engrossers over it, to bring a famine upon our minds again, when we shall know nothing but what is measured to us by their bushel ? Believe it, Lords and Commons, they who counsel ye to such a suppressing, do as good as bid ye suppress yourselves.
Hail, holy Light! offspring of Heaven first-born,
Or of the Eterual co-eternal beam,
May I express thee unblamed ? since God is light,
And never but in unapproached light
Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,
Bright effluence of bright essence increate.
Or hear’st thou rather, pure ethereal stream,
Whose fountain who shall tell ? Before the sun,
Before the heavens thou wert, and at the voice
Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising world of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless infinite.
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,
Escaped the Stygian pool, though long detain'd
In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to the Orphéan lyre,
I sung of Chaos and eternal Night;
Taught by the heavenly Muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to reascend,
Though hard and rare : thee I revisit safe,
And feel thy sovereign vital lamp ; but thou
Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain
To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;
So thick a drop serene hath quench'd their orbs,
Or dim suffusion veil'd. Yet not the more
Cease I to wander, where the Muses haunt
Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,
Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief
Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath,
That wash thy hallow'd feet, and warbling flow
Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equall'd with me in fate,
So were I equall’d with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris, and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresias, and Phineus, prophets old :
Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note. 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
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men
Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair
Presented with a universal blank
Of nature's works to me expunged and rased,
And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.
So much the rather thou, Celestial Light,
Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers
Irradiate; there plant eyes, all mist from thence
Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell
Of things invisible to mortal sight.
Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude;
And, with forced fingers rude
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due;
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer :
Who would not sing for Lycidas ? He knew
Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his watery bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.
Begin, then, Sisters of the sacred well,
That from beneath the seat of Jove doth spring!
Begin, and somewhat loudly sweep the string;
Hence with denial vain, and coy excuse :
So may some gentle Muse
With lucky words favour
destined urn; And, as he passes, turn, And bid fair peace be to my sable shroud.
For we were nursed upon the self-same hill, Fed the same flock, by fountain, shade, and rill. Together both, ere the high lawns appear'd
Under the opening eye-lids of the morn,
We drove a-field, and both together heard
What time the gray-fly winds her sultry horn,
Battening our flocks with the fresh dews of night,
Oft till the star, that rose at evening, bright,
Towards heaven's descent had slop'd his westering
Meanwhile the rural ditties were not mute,
Temper'd to the oaten flute;
Rough Satyrs danced, and Fauns with cloven heel
From the glad sound would not be absent long;
And old Damcetas loved to hear our song.
But, О the heavy change now thou art gone,
Now thou art gone, and never must return !
Thee, shepherd, thee, the woods, and desert caves,
With wild thyme and the gadding vine o'ergrown,
And all their echoes mourn :
The willows, and the hazel copses green,
Shall now no more be seen
Fanning their joyous leaves to thy soft lays,
As killing as the canker to the rose,
Or taint-worm to the weanling herds that graze,
Or frost to flowers, that their gay
When first the white-thron blows:
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to shepherd's ear.
Where were ye, nymphs, when the remorseless deep Closed o'er the head of your lov'd Lycidas ? For neither were ye playing on the steep, Where your old bards, the famous Druids, lie, Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wizard stream:
Ah me! I fondly dream,
been there ; for what could that have done? What could the Muse herself that Orpheus bore, The Muse herself, for her enchanting son, Whom universal nature did lament, When, by the rout that made the hideous roar, His gory visage down the stream was sent, Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore ?
Alas! what boots it with incessant care To tend the homely, slighted, shepherd's trade, And strictly meditate the thankless Muse ? Were it not better done, as others use, To sport with Amaryllis in the shade, Or with the tangles of Neæra's hair? Fame is the spur that the clear spirit doth raise (That last infirmity of noble mind) To scorn delights and live laborious days: But the fair guerdon when we hope to find, And think to burst out into sudden blaze, Comes the blind Fury with the abhorred shears, And slits the thin-spun life. “But not the praise.' Phoebus replied, and touch'd my trembling ears ; • Fame is no plant that grows on mortal soil, Nor in the glistering foil Set off to the world, nor in broad rumour lies : But lives and spreads aloft by those pure eyes, And perfect witness of all-judging Jove; As he pronounces lastly on each deed, Of so much fame in heaven expect thy meed.'