John Milton


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John Milton (1608-1674)


Part of an Entertainment presented to the Countess Dowager of Derby at Harefield, by some Noble persons of her Family, who appear on the Scene in pastoral habit, moving toward the seat of State, with this Song.


Look Nymphs, and Shepherds look,
What sudden blaze of majesty
Is that which we from hence descry
Too divine to be mistook:
xxThis, this is she
To whom our vows and wishes bend,
Here our solemn search hath end.

Fame that her high worth to raise,
Seemed erst so lavish and profuse,
We may justly now accuse
Of detraction from her praise,
xxLess then half we find expressed,
xxEnvy bid conceal the rest.

Mark what radiant state she spreads,
In circle round her shining throne,
Shooting her beams like silver threads.
This, this is she alone,
xxSitting like a Goddess bright,
xxIn the center of her light.

Might she the wise Latona be,
Or the towered Cybele,
Mother of a hundred gods;
Juno dares not give her odds;
xxWho had thought this clime had held
xxA deity so unparalleled?

As they come forward, the Genius of the Wood appears, and turning toward them, speaks.

Genius. Stay gentle Swains, for though in this disguise,
I see bright honor sparkle through your eyes.
Of famous Arcady ye are, and sprung
Of that renowned flood, so often sung,
Divine Alpheus, who by secret sluice,
Stole under Seas to meet his Arethuse;
And ye the breathing Roses of the Wood,
Fair silver-buskined Nymphs as great and good,
I know this quest of yours, and free intent
Was all in honour and devotion meant
To the great Mistress of yon princely shrine,
Whom with low reverence I adore as mine,
And with all helpful service will comply
To further this night’s glad solemnity;
And lead ye where ye may more near behold
What shallow-searching Fame hath left untold;
Which I full oft amidst these shades alone
Have sat to wonder at, and gaze upon:
For know by lot from Jove I am the pow’r
Of this fair wood, and live in Oak’n bow’r,
To nurse the Saplings tall, and curl the grove
With Ringlets quaint, and wanton windings wove.
And all my Plants I save from nightly ill,
Of noisome winds, and blasting vapors chill;
And from the Boughs brush off the evil dew,
And heal the harms of thwarting thunder blew,
Or what the cross dire-looking Planet smites,
Or hurtful Worm with cankered venom bites.
When Ev’ning gray doth rise, I fetch my round
Over the mount, and all this hallowed ground,
And early ere the odorous breath of morn
Awakes the slumb’ring leaves, or tasseled horn
Shakes the high thicket, haste I all about,
Number my ranks, and visit every sprout
With puissant words, and murmurs made to bless;
But else in deep of night, when drowsines
Hath locked up mortal sense, then listen I
To the celestial Sirens’ harmony,
That sit upon the nine enfolded Spheres
And sing to those that hold the vital shears
And turn the Adamantine spindle round,
On which the fate of gods and men is wound.
Such sweet compulsion doth in musick lie,
To lull the daughters of Necessity,
And keep unsteady Nature to her law,
And the low world in measur’d motion draw
After the heavenly tune, which none can hear
Of human mould with gross unpurgèd ear;
And yet such music worthiest were to blaze
The peerless height of her immortal praise,
Whose lustre leads us, and for her most fit,
If my inferior hand or voice could hit
Inimitable sounds, yet as we go,
Whate’er the skill of lesser gods can show,
I will assay, her worth to celebrate,
And so attend ye toward her glittering state;
Where ye may all that are of noble stem
Approach, and kiss her sacred vesture’s hem.


O’er the smooth enameld green
Where no print of step hath been,
xxxxFollow me as I sing,
xxxxAnd touch the warbled string.
Under the shady roof
Of branching Elm Star-proof,
xxxxFollow me;
I will bring you where she sits
Clad in splendor as befits
xxxxHer deity.
Such a rural Queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.


Nymphs and Shepherds dance no more
xxxxBy sandy Ladon’s Lillied banks.
On old Lycaeus or Cyllene hoar,
xxxxTrip no more in twilight ranks,
Though Erymanth your loss deplore,
xxxxA better soil shall give ye thanks.
From the stony Mænalus,
Bring your Flocks, and live with us.
Here ye shall have greater grace,
To serve the Lady of this place.
xxxxThough Syrinx your Pan’s Mistress were,
xxxxYet Syrinx well might wait on her.
xxxxxxxxSuch a rural Queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.

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