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LXXXIII

A WISH

Happy were he could finish forth his fate
In some unhaunted desert, where, obscure
From all society, from love and hate

Of worldly folk, there should he sleep secure; 5 Then wake again, and yield God ever praise;

Content with hip, with haws, and brambleberry;
In contemplation passing still his days,
And change of holy thoughts to make him merry:

Who, when he dies, his tomb might be the bush 10 Where harmless robin resteth with the thrush: -Happy were he!

R. Devereux, Earl of Essex

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LXXXIV

SAINT JOHN BAPTIST

The last and greatest Herald of Heaven's King
Girt with rough skins, hies to the deserts wild,
Among that savage brood the woods forth bring,

Which he more harmless found than man, and mild. 5 His food was locusts, and what there doth spring,

With honey that from virgin hives distill’d;
Parch'd body, hollow eyes, some uncouth thing
Made him appear, long since from earth exiled.

There burst he forth: All ye whose hopes rely 10 On God, with me amidst these deserts mourn, Repent, repent, and from old errors turn!

Who listen’d to his voice, obey'd his cry?
Only the echoes, which he made relent,
Rung from their flinty caves, Repent! Repent!

W. Drummond

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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; 5. 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
10 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.

15 Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein

Afford a present to the Infant God?
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain
To welcome Him to this His new abode,

Now while the heaven, by the sun's team untrod,
20 Hath took no print of the approaching light,
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons
bright?

See how from far, upon the eastern road,
The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet:
O run, prevent them with thy humble ode.

And lay it lowly at His blessed feet;
5 Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,

And join thy voice unto the Angel quire
From out His secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.

THE HYMN

It was the winter wild
While the heaven-born Child
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;

Nature in awe to Him
5 Had doff'd her gaudy trim,

With her great Master so to sympathize:
It was no season then for her
To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.

Only with speeches fair 10 She woos the gentle air

To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
And on her naked shame,
Pollute with sinful blame,

The saintly veil of maiden white to throw; 15 Confounded, that her Maker's eyes

Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
But He, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace;

She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding 20 Down through the turning sphere,

His ready harbinger,
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;
And waving wide her myrtle wand,

She strikes a universal peace through sea and land. 25 No war, or battle's sound

Was heard the world around:
The idle spear and shield were high uphung;
The hooked chariot stood

Unstain'd with hostile blood;
The trumpet spake not to the arméd throng;
And kings sat still with awful eye,
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.

5 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
10 Whispering new joys to the mild oceán-

Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charméd wave.
The stars, with deep amaze,

Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,
15 Bending one way their precious influence;

And will not take their flight
For all the mor light,
Or Lucifer that often warn’d them thence;

But in their glimmering orbs did glow 20 Until their Lord Himself bespake, and bid them go.

And though the shady gloom
Had given day her room,
The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,

And hid his head for shame, 25 As his inferior flame

The newenlighten'd world no more should need;
He saw a greater Sun appear
Than his bright throne, or burning axlet ree could bear.

The shepherds on the lawn 30 Or ere the point of dawn

Sate simply chatting in a rustic row;
Full little thought they than
That the mighty Pan

Was kindly come to live with them below; 35 Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep

Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep:-
When such music sweet
Their hearts and ears did greet

As never was by mortal finger strook-
Divinely-warbled voice
Answering the stringéd noise,

As all their souls in blissful rapture took: 5 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 airy region thrilling, 10 Now was almost won

To think her part was done,
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling;
She knew such harmony alone

Could hold all Heaven and Earth in happier union. 15 At last surrounds their sight

A globe of circular light
That with long beams the shamefaced night array’d;
The helméd Cherubim

And sworded Seraphim
20 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 'tis said)

Before was never made
25 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, 30 And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.

Ring out, ye crystal spheres!
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so;

And let your silver chime 35 Move in melodious time;

And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow;
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.

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