John Milton


Catalogue of Titles

Logos Virtual Library


John Milton (1608-1674)



O Nightingale, that on yon bloomy Spray
xxWarbl’st at eeve, when all the Woods are still,
xxThou with fresh hope the Lover’s heart dost fill,
xxWhile the jolly hours lead on propitious May,
Thy liquid notes that close the eye of Day,
xxFirst heard before the shallow Cuckoo’s bill
xxPortend success in love; O if Jove’s will
xxHave linked that amorous power to thy soft lay,
Now timely sing, ere the rude Bird of Hate
xxForetell my hopeless doom in some Grove nigh:
xxAs thou from year to year hast sung too late
For my relief; yet hadst no reason why,
xxWhether the Muse, or Love call thee his mate,
xxBoth them I serve, and of their train am I.


Donna leggiadra, il cui bel nome honora
xxL’erbosa val di Reno, e il nobil varco,
xxBen è colui d’ ogni valore scarco
xxQual tuo spirto gentil non innamora,
Che dolcemente mostrasi di fuora,
xxDe’ suoi atti soavi giamai parco,
xxE i don’, che son d’ Amor saette ed arco,
xxLà onde l’ alta tua virtù s’ infiora.
Quando tu vaga parli, o lieta canti
xxChe mover possa duro alpestre legno,
xxGuardi ciascun agli occhi, ed agli orecchi
L’entrata, chi di te si trova indegno;
xxGrazia sola di sù gli vaglia, innanti
xxChe’l disio amoroso al cuor s’ invecchi.


Qual in colle aspro, al’ imbrunir di sera,
xxL’avezza giovinetta pastorella
xxVa bagnando l’ erbetta strana e bella,
xxChe mal si spande a disusata spera,
Fuor di sua natia alma primavera,
xxCosi Amor meco insù la lingua snella
xxDesta il fior nuovo di strania favella,
xxMentre io di te, vezzosamente altera,
Canto, dal mio buon popol non inteso,
xxE’l bel Tamigi cangio col bel Arno.
xxAmor lo volse, ed io a l’ altrui peso
Seppi ch’ Amor cosa mai volse indarno.
xxDeh! foss’ il mio cuor lento e’l duro seno
xxA chi pianta dal ciel sì buon terreno.


Ridonsi donne e giovani amorosi,
M’ occostandosi attorno, e, “Perchè scrivi,
Perchè tu scrivi in lingua ignota e strana
Verseggiando d’amor, e come t’osi?
Dinne, se la tua speme sia mai vana
E de’ pensieri lo miglior t’ arrivi.”
Cosi mi van burlando; “Altri rivi,
Altri lidi t’ aspettan, ed altre onde,
Nelle cui verdi sponde
Spuntati ad or ad or a la tua chioma
L’immortal guiderdon d’eterne frondi.
Perchè alle spalle tue soverchia soma?”
xxCanzon, dirotti, e tu per me rispondi:
Dice mia Donna, e’l suo dir è il mio cuore,
“Questa è lingua di cui si vanta Amore.”


Diodati, e te ’l dirò con maraviglia,
xxQuel ritroso io, ch’ Amor spreggiar soléa
xxE de’ suoi lacci spesso mi ridéa
xxGià caddi, ov’ uom dabben talor s’ impiglia.
Ne treccie d'oro, ne guancia vermiglia
xxM’ abbaglian sì, ma sotto nuova idea
xxPellegrina bellezza che ’l cuor bea,
xxPortamenti alti onesti, e nelle ciglia
Quel sereno fulgor d’ amabil nero,
xxParole adorne di lingua più d’ una,
xxE ’l cantar che di mezzo l’ emisfero
Traviar ben può la faticosa Luna;
xxE degli occhi suoi avventa si gran fuoco
xxChe l’ incerar gli orecchi mi fia poco.


Per certo i bei vostr’ occhi, Donna mia,
xxEsser non può che non sian lo mio sole,
xxSi mi percuoton forte, come ei suole
xxPer l’ arene di Libia chi s’ invia,
Mentre un caldo vapor (nè senti’ pria)
xxDa quel lato si spinge ove mi duole,
xxChe forsi amanti nelle lor parole
xxChiaman sospir; io non so che si sia:
Parte rinchiusa, e turbida si cela
xxScossomi il petto, e poi n’ uscendo poco,
xxQuivi d’ attorno o s’ agghiaccia, o s’ ingiela;
Ma quanto a gli occhi giunge a trovar loco
xxTutte le notti a me suol far piovose
xxFinchè mia Alba rivien colma di rose.


Giovane piano, e semplicetto amante
xxPoi che fuggir me stesso in dubbio sono,
xxMadonna, a voi del mio cuor l’ umil dono
xxFarò divoto; io certo a prove tante
L’ ebbi fedele, intrepido, costante,
xxDi pensieri leggiadro, accorto, e buono.
xxQuando rugge il gran mondo, e scocca il tuono,
xxS’ arma di se, e d’ intero diamante,
Tanto del forse, e d’ invidia sicuro,
xxDi timori, e speranze al popol use
xxQuanto d’ ingegno, e d’ alto valor vago,
E di cetra sonora, e delle Muse:
xxSol troverete in tal parte men duro
xxOve Amor mise l’ insanabil ago.


How soon hath Time, the subtle thief of youth,
xxStol’n on his wing my three and twentieth year!
xxMy hasting days fly on with full career,
xxBut my late spring no bud or blossom show’th.
Perhaps my semblance might deceive the truth,
xxThat I to manhood am arriv’d so near,
xxAnd inward ripeness doth much less appear,
xxThat some more timely-happy spirits indu’th.
Yet be it less or more, or soon or slow,
xxIt shall be still in strictest measure ev’n,
xxTo that same lot, however mean, or high,
Toward which Time leads me, and the will of Heav’n;
xxAll is, if I have grace to use it so,
xxAs ever in my great task-Master’s eye.



Captain or Colonel, or Knight in Arms,
xxWhose chance on these defenseless doors may seize,
xxIf ever deed of honour did thee please,
xxGuard them, and him within protect from harms;
He can requite thee, for he knows the charms
xxThat call Fame on such gentle acts as these,
xxAnd he can spread thy Name o’er Lands and Seas,
xxWhatever clime the Sun’s bright circle warms.
Lift not thy spear against the Muse’s Bower:
xxThe great Emathian Conqueror bid spare
xxThe house of Pindarus, when Temple and Tow’r
Went to the ground; and the repeated air
xxOf sad Electra’s Poet had the pow’r
xxTo save th’ Athenian Walls from ruin bare.


Lady that in the prime of earliest youth,
xxWisely hast shunn’d the broad way and the green,
xxAnd with those few art eminently seen
xxThat labour up the Hill of Heav’nly Truth,
The better part with Mary and with Ruth
xxChosen thou hast, and they that overween,
xxAnd at thy growing virtues fret their spleen,
xxNo anger find in thee, but pity and ruth.
Thy care is fixed and zealously attends
xxTo fill thy odorous Lamp with deeds of light,
xxAnd Hope that reaps not shame. Therefore be sure
Thou, when the Bridegroom with his feastful friends
xxPasses to bliss at the mid-hour of night,
xxHast gained thy entrance, Virgin wise and pure.



Daughter to that good Earl, once President
xxOf England’s Council, and her Treasury,
xxWho lived in both, unstained with gold or fee,
xxAnd left them both, more in himself content,
Till the sad breaking of that Parliament
xxBroke him, as that dishonest victory
xxAt Chaeronéa, fatal to liberty
xxKilled with report that Old man eloquent;
Though later born than to have known the days
xxWherein your Father flourished, yet by you,
xxMadam, methinks I see him living yet;
So well your words his noble virtues praise,
xxThat all both judge you to relate them true,
xxAnd to possess them, Honoured Margaret.



A Book was writ of late called Tetrachordon;
And wov’n close, both matter, form and style;
xxThe Subject new: it walked the Town a while,
xxNumb’ring good intellects; now seldom pored on.
Cries the stall-reader, “Bless us! what a word on
A title page is this!” and some in file
xxStand spelling false, while one might walk to Mile-
xxEnd Green. Why is it harder, Sirs, then Gordon,
Colkitto, or Macdonnel, or Galasp?
xxThose rugged names to our like mouths grow sleek
xxThat would have made Quintilian stare and gasp.
Thy age, like ours, O Soul of Sir John Cheke,
xxHated not Learning worse than Toad or Asp,
xxWhen thou taught’st Cambridge, and King Edward Greek.



I did but prompt the age to quit their clogs
By the known rules of ancient liberty,
xxWhen straight a barbarous noise environs me
xxOf Owls and Cuckoos, Asses, Apes and Dogs.
As when those Hinds that were transformed to Frogs
Railed at Latona’s twin-born progeny
xxWhich after held the Sun and Moon in fee.
xxBut this is got by casting Pearl to Hogs;
That bawl for freedom in their senseless mood,
xxAnd still revolt when truth would set them free.
xxLicense they mean when they cry liberty;
For who loves that, must first be wise and good;
xxBut from that mark how far they rove we see,
xxFor all this waste of wealth, and loss of blood.



Harry, whose tuneful and well-measured Song
xxFirst taught our English Music how to span
xxWords with just note and accent, not to scan
xxWith Midas’ Ears, committing short and long;
Thy worth and skill exempts thee from the throng,
xxWith praise enough for Envy to look wan;
xxTo after age thou shalt be writ the man
xxThat with smooth air couldst humor best our tongue.
Thou honour’st Verse, and Verse must lend her wing
xxTo honour thee, the Priest of Phoebus’ Choir
xxThat tun’st their happiest lines in Hymn, or Story.
Dante shall give Fame leave to set thee higher
xxThen his Casella, whom he woo’d to sing,
xxMet in the milder shades of Purgatory.



When Faith and Love, which parted from thee never,
xxHad ripened thy just soul to dwell with God,
xxMeekly thou didst resign this earthy load
xxOf Death, called Life; which us from Life doth sever.
Thy Works and Alms and all thy good Endeavor
xxStayed not behind, nor in the grave were trod;
xxBut as Faith pointed with her golden rod,
xxFollowed thee up to joy and bliss for ever.
Love led them on, and Faith who knew them best
xxThy handmaids, clad them o’er with purple beams
xxAnd azure wings, that up they flew so dressed,
And speak the truth of thee on glorious Themes
xxBefore the Judge, who thenceforth bid thee rest
xxAnd drink thy fill of pure immortal streams.



Fairfax, whose name in arms through Europe rings,
xxFilling each mouth with envy, or with praise,
xxAnd all her jealous monarchs with amaze,
xxAnd rumors loud, that daunt remotest kings,
Thy firm unshak’n virtue ever brings
xxVictory home, though new rebellions raise
xxTheir Hydra heads, and the false North displays
xxHer broken league, to imp their serpent wings.
O yet a nobler task awaits thy hand;
xxYet what can War, but endless war still breed,
xxTill Truth and Right from Violence be freed,
And Public Faith cleared from the shameful brand
xxOf Public Fraud. In vain doth Valor bleed
xxWhile Avarice and Rapine share the land.



On the proposals of certain ministers
at the Committee for Propagation of the Gospel

Cromwell, our chief of men, who through a cloud
xxNot of war only, but detractions rude,
xxGuided by faith and matchless Fortitude
xxTo peace and truth thy glorious way hast ploughed,
And on the neck of crowned Fortune proud
xxHast reared God’s Trophies, and his work pursued,
xxWhile Darwen stream with blood of Scots imbrued,
xxAnd Dunbar field resounds thy praises loud,
And Worcester’s laureate wreath; yet much remains
xxTo conquer still; peace hath her victories
xxNo less renowned then war, new foes arise
Threatning to bind our souls with secular chains:
xxHelp us to save free Conscience from the paw
xxOf hireling wolves whose Gospel is their maw.



Vane, young in years, but in sage counsel old,
xxThan whom a better Senator ne’er held
xxThe helm of Rome, when gowns not arms repelled
xxThe fierce Epirot and the African bold,
Whether to settle peace, or to unfold
xxThe drift of hollow states, hard to be spelled,
xxThen to advise how war may best, upheld,
xxMove by her two main nerves, Iron and Gold
In all her equipage: besides to know
xxBoth spiritual power and civil, what each means,
xxWhat severs each, thou hast learned, which few have done.
The bounds of either sword to thee we owe.
xxTherefore on thy firm hand religion leans
xxIn peace, and reck’ns thee her eldest son.



Avenge, O Lord, thy slaughtered Saints, whose bones
xxLie scattered on the Alpine mountains cold,
xxEv’n them who kept thy truth so pure of old
xxWhen all our Fathers worshiped Stocks and Stones,
Forget not: in thy book record their groans
xxWho were thy Sheep and in their ancient Fold
xxSlain by the bloody Piemontese that rolled
xxMother with Infant down the Rocks. Their moans
The Vales redoubled to the Hills, and they
xxTo Heav’n. Their martyred blood and ashes sow
xxO’er all th’Italian fields where still doth sway
The triple Tyrant: that from these may grow
xxA hundredfold, who having learned thy way
xxEarly may fly the Babylonian woe.


When I consider how my light is spent,
xxE’er half my days, in this dark world and wide,
xxAnd that one Talent which is death to hide,
xxLodged with me useless, though my Soul more bent
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
xxMy true account, lest he returning chide;
xx“Doth God exact day-labour, light denied?”
xxI fondly ask; But patience to prevent
That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need
xxEither man’s work or his own gifts; who best
xxBear his mild yoke, they serve him best; his State
Is Kingly. Thousands at his bidding speed
xxAnd post o’er Land and Ocean without rest:
xxThey also serve who only stand and wait.”


Lawrence of virtuous Father virtuous Son,
xxNow that the Fields are dank, and ways are mire,
xxWhere shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
xxHelp waste a sullen day; what may be Won
From the hard Season gaining? Time will run
xxOn smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
xxThe frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire
xxThe Lily and Rose, that neither sowed nor spun.
What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
xxOf Attic taste, with Wine, whence we may rise
xxTo hear the Lute well touched, or artful voice
Warble immortal Notes and Tuscan Air?
xxHe who of those delights can judge, and spare
xxTo interpose them oft, is not unwise.


Cyriack, whose Grandsire on the Royal Bench
xxOf British Themis, with no mean applause
xxPronounced and in his volumes taught our Laws,
xxWhich others at their Bar so often wrench:
Today deep thoughts resolve with me to drench
xxIn mirth, that after no repenting draws;
xxLet Euclid rest and Archimedes pause,
xxAnd what the Swede intend, and what the French.
To measure life, learn thou betimes, and know
xxToward solid good what leads the nearest way;
xxFor other things mild Heav’n a time ordains,
And disapproves that care, though wise in show,
xxThat with superfluous burden loads the day,
xxAnd when God sends a cheerful hour, refrains.



Cyriack, this three years’ day these eyes, though clear
xxTo outward view, of blemish or of spot;
xxBereft of light thir seeing have forgot,
xxNor to their idle orbs doth sight appear
Of Sun or Moon or Star throughout the year,
xxOr man or woman. Yet I argue not
xxAgainst heav’n’s hand or will, nor bate a jot
xxOf heart or hope; but still bear up and steer
Right onward. What supports me, dost thou ask?
xxThe conscience, Friend, to have lost them overplied
xxIn liberty’s defense, my noble task,
Of which all Europe talks from side to side.
xxThis thought might lead me through the world’s vain mask
xxContent though blind, had I no better guide.


Methought I saw my late espoused Saint
xxBrought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
xxWhom Jove’s great Son to her glad Husband gave,
xxRescued from death by force though pale and faint.
Mine as whom washed from spot of child-bed taint,
xxPurification in the old Law did save,
xxAnd such, as yet once more I trust to have
xxFull sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
xxHer face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight,
xxLove, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
xxBut oh, as to embrace me she inclined,
xxI waked, she fled, and day brought back my night.

Catalogue of Titles