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In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight
Through utter and through middle darkness borne,
With other notes than to the Orphean lyre,
I sung of chaos and eternal night;
Taught by that heavenly muse to venture down
The dark descent, and up to re-ascend,
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 Phineas, prophets old:
That 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 ev'n or morn,
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But clouds 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 razed,
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.
O SAY what is that thing call'd light,
Which I must ne'er enjoy;
What are the blessings of the sight?
O tell your poor blind boy!
You talk of wond'rous things you see,
You say the sun shines bright;
I feel him warm, but how can he
Or make it day or night?
My day or night myself I make,
Whene'er I sleep or play;
And could I ever keep awake,
With me 'twere always day.
With heavy sighs I often hear
You mourn my hapless woe;
But sure with patience I can bear
A loss I ne'er can know.
Then let not what I cannot have
My cheer of mind destroy :
While thus I sing, I am a king,
Although a poor blind boy.
NOR amidst all these triumphs dost thou scorn
The humble glow-worms to adorn,
And with those living spangles gild,
(O greatness without pride!) the bushes of the field.
All the world's brav'ry that delights our eyes,
Is but thy sev'ral liveries;
Thou the rich die on them bestow'st,
Thy nimble pencil paints the landscape as thou go'st.
A crimson garment in the rose thou wear'st;
A crown of studded gold thou bear'st,
The virgin lilies, in their white,
Are clad but with the lawn of almost naked light.
The violet, Spring's little infant, stands
Girt in thy purple swaddling bands;
On the fair tulip thou dost dote;
Thou cloth'st it a gay and party-colour'd coat.
O loss of sight, of thee I most complain!
Blind among enemies, O worse than chains,
Dungeon, or beggary, or decrepit age!
Light, the prime work of God, to me is extinct,
And all her various objects of delight
Annull'd, which might in part my grief have eased,
Inferior to the vilest now become,
Of man or worm; the vilest here excel me;
They creep, yet see; I, dark in light, exposed
To daily fraud, contempt, abuse, and wrong,
Within doors or without, still as a fool,
In power of others, never in my own;
Scarce half I seem to live, dead more than half.
O dark, dark, dark, amid the blaze of noon,
Irrecoverably dark, total eclipse
Without all hope of day!
O first created beam, and thou great Word,
'Let there be light, and light was over all ;'
Why am I thus bereaved thy prime decree?
The sun to me is dark
And silent as the moon
When she deserts the night,
Hid in her vacant interlunar cave.
Since light so necessary is to life,
And almost life itself, if it be true
That light is in the soul,
She all in every part; why was this sight
To such a tender ball as the eye confined
So obvious and so easy to be quench'd ?
And not, as feeling, through all parts diffused,
That she might look at will through every pore.
MILTON. Samson Agonistes.
WHEN I consider how my light is spent
Ere half my days, in this dark world and wide,
And that one talent which is death to hide,
Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent,
To serve therewith my Maker, and present
My true account, lest he returning chide;
Doth God exact day-labour, light denied ?
I fondly ask; but Patience, to prevent
That murmur, soon replies; God doth not need
Either man's work, or his own gifts; who best
Bear his mild yoke, they serve him best: his state
Is kingly; thousands at his bidding speed,
And post o'er land and ocean without rest;
They also serve who only stand and wait.
He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune; for they are impediments to great enterprises, either of virtue or mischief. * * * The most ordinary cause of a single life is liberty, especially in certain self-pleasing and humorous minds, which are as sensible of every restraint, as they will go near to think their girdles and garters to be bonds and shackels. Unmarried men are best friends, best masters, best servants; but not always best subjects; for they are light to run away; and almost all fugitives are of that condition.
To whom it is as necessary,
As to be born and breathe, to marry,
Hudibras, Part III., Canto 1.
FOR as in running, ev'ry pace
Is but between two legs a race,
In which both do their uttermost
To get before and win the post,
Yet when they're at their races' ends,
They're still as kind and constant friends,
And, to relieve their weariness,
By turns give one another ease;
So all those false alarms of strife
Between the husband and the wife,
And little quarrels, often prove
To be but new recruits of love;
When those wh' are always kind or coy,
In time must either tire or cloy.
Nor are their loudest clamours more,
Than as they're relish'd, sweet or sour;
Like music, that proves bad or good,
According as 'tis understood.
In all amours, a lover burns
With frowns as well as smiles by turns;
And hearts have been as oft with sullen
As charming looks surprized and stolen.
Then why should more bewitching clamour
Some lovers not as much enamour?
For discords make the sweetest airs,
And curses are a kind of pray'rs;
Too slight alloys for all those grand
Felicities by marriage gain'd.
For nothing else has power to settle
Th' interests of love perpetual ;
An act and deed that makes one heart
Become another's counterpart,
And passes fines on faith and love,
Inroll'd and register'd above,
To seal the slippery knots of vows,
Which nothing else but death can loose.
And what security's too strong,
To guard that gentle heart from wrong,