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Of lively portraiture display'd,
Softly on my eye-lids 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 cloyster's pale,
And love the high embowed roof,
With antic pillars, massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dim religious light:
There let the pealing organ blow,
To the full-voiced quire below,
In service high and anthems clear,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear
Dissolve me into ecstasies,
And bring all Heaven 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 Heaven doth shew,
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.
ODE ON THE NATIVITY.
This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven's Eternal King,
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring;
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That he our deadly forfeit should release,
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.
That glorious form, that light unsufferable,
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty,
Wherewith he wont at Heaven's high council-table
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
He laid aside, and here with us to be,
Forsook the courts of everlasting day,
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay.
It was the winter wild,
While the heaven-born child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
Nature, in awe to him,
Had doff'd her gaudy trim,
With her great Master so to sympathize.
No war, or battle's sound,
Was heard the world around :
The idle spear and shield were high up hung ;
The hooked chariot stood
Unstain'd with hostile blood :
The trumpet spake not to the armed throng :
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovereign Lord was by.
But peaceful was the night,
Wherein the Prince of Light
His reign of peace upon the earth began;
The winds, with wonder whist,
Smoothly the waters kist,
Whispering new joys to the mild ocean,
Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.
The shepherds on the lawn,
Or e'er the point of dawn,
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they then,
That the mighty Pan
Was kindly come to live with them below;
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep,
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep.
When such music sweet
The hearts and ears did greet
As never was by mortal finger strook ;
Divinely warbled voice
Answering the stringed noise,
As all their souls in blissful rapture took :
The air, such pleasure loth to lose,
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.
Nature, that heard such sound,
Beneath the hollow round
Of Cynthia's seat, the aëry region thrilling,
Now was almost won
To think her part was done,
And that her reign had here it last fulfilling,
She knew such harmony alone
Could hold all heaven and earth in happier union.
At last surrounds their sight
A globe of circular light,
That with long beams the shamefaced night array'd ;
The helmed Cherubim,
And sworded Seraphim,
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd, Harping in loud and solemn quire, With unexpressive notes to Heaven's new-born Heir.
Such music (as 't is said)
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator great
His constellations set,
And the well-balanced world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their cozy channel keep.
Ring out, ye crystal spheres,
Once bless our human ears,
ye have power to touch our senses so ;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time :
And let the base of heaven's deep organ blow;
And, with your ninefold harmony,
Make up full concert to the angelic symphony.
For, if such holy song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back and fetch the age of gold ;
And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould,
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.
Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,
Orb'd in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
And heaven, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall.
But wisest Fate says No,
This must not yet be so ;
The Babe lies yet in smiling infancy,
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss ;
So both himself and us to glorify;
Yet first, to those inchain'd in sleep,
The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the
With such a horrid clang
As on Mount Sinai rang,
While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake :
The aged earth aghast,
With terror of that blast,
Shall from the centre to the surface shake;
When, at the world's last session,
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread his throne.
And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begin; for, from this happy day,
The old Dragon, under ground
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurped sway;
And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.