John Milton

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L' Allegro

    HENCE, loathed Melancholy,
    ............Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born
    In Stygian cave forlorn
    ............'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights
5   unholy!
    Find out some uncouth cell,
    ............Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous wings,
    And the night-raven sings;
    ............There, under ebon shades and low-browed rocks,
10   As ragged as thy locks,
    ............In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.
    But come, thou Goddess fair and free,
    In heaven yclept Euphrosyne,
    And by men heart-easing Mirth;
15   Whom lovely Venus, at a birth,
    With two sister Graces more,
    To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore:
    Or whether (as some sager sing)
    The frolic wind that breathes the spring,
20   Zephyr, with Aurora pIaying,
    As he met her once a-Maying,
    There, on beds of violets blue,
    And fresh-blown roses washed in dew,
    Filled her with thee,. a daughter fair,
25   So buxom, blithe, and debonair.
    Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee
    Jest, and youthful Jollity,
    Quips and cranks and wanton wiles,
    Nods and becks and wreathed smiles
30   Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,
    And love to live in dimple sleek;
    Sport that wrinkled Care derides,
    And Laughter holding both his sides.
    Come, and trip it, as you go,
35   On the light fantastic toe;
    And in thy right hand lead with thee
    The mountain-nymph, sweet Liberty;
    And, if I give thee honour due,
    Mirth, admit me of thy crew,
40   To live with her, and live with thee,
    In unreproved pleasures free:
    To hear the lark begin his flight,
    And, singing, startle the dull night,
    From his watch-tower in the skies,
45   Till the dappled dawn doth rise;
    Then to come, in spite of sorrow,
    And at my window bid good-morrow,
    Through the sweet-briar or the vine,
    Or the twisted eglantine;
50   While the cock, with lively din,
    Scatters the rear of darkness thin,
    And to the stack, or the barn-door,
    Stoutly struts his dames before:
    Oft listening how the hounds and horn
55   Cheerly rouse the slumbering morn,
    From the side of some hoar hill,
    Through the high wood echoing shrill:
    Sometime walking, not unseen,
    By hedgerow elms, on hillocks green,
60   Right against the eastern gate
    Where the great Sun begins his state,
    Robed in flames and amber light,
    The clouds in thousand liveries dight;
    While the ploughman, near at hand,
65   Whistles o'er the furrowed land,
    And the milkmaid singeth blithe,
    And the mower whets his scythe,
    And every shepherd tells his tale
    Under the hawthorn in the dale.
70   Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,
    Whilst the landskip round it measures:
    Russet lawns, and fallows grey,
    Where the nibbling flocks do stray;
    Mountains on whose barren breast
75   The labouring clouds do often rest;
    Meadows trim, with daisies pied;
    Shallow brooks, and rivers wide;
    Towers and battlements it sees
    Bosomed high in tufted trees,
80   Where perhaps some beauty lies,
    The cynosure of neighbouring eyes.
    Hard by a cottage chimney smokes
    From betwixt two aged oaks,
    Where Corydon and Thyrsis met
85   Are at their savoury dinner set
    Of herbs and other country messes,
    Which the neat-handed Phyllis dresses;
    And then in haste her bower she leaves,
    With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;
90   Or, if the earlier season lead,
    To the tanned haycock in the mead.
    Sometimes, with secure delight,
    The upland hamlets will invite,
    When the merry bells ring round,
95   And the jocund rebecks sound
    To many a youth and many a maid
    Dancing in the chequered shade,
    And young and old come forth to play
    On a sunshine holiday,
100   Till the livelong daylight fail:
    Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
    With stories told of many a feat,
    How Faery Mab the junkets eat.
    She was pinched and pulled, she said;
105   And he, by Friar's lantern led,
    Tells how the drudging goblin sweat
    To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
    When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
    His shadowy flail hath threshed the corn
110   That ten day-labourers could not end;
    Then lies him down, the lubber fiend,
    And, stretched out all the chimney's length,
    Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
    And crop-full out of doors he flings,
115   Ere the first cock his matin rings.
    Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
    By whispering winds soon lulled asleep.
    Towered cities please us then,
    And the busy hum of men,
120   Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
    In weeds of peace, high triumphs hold
    With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
    Rain influence, and judge the prize
    Of wit or arms, while both contend
125   To win her grace whom all commend.
    There let Hymen oft appear
    In saffron robe, with taper clear,
    And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
    With mask and antique pageantry;
130   Such sights as youthful poets dream
    On summer eves by haunted stream.
    Then to the well-trod stage anon,
    If Jonson's learned sock be on,
    Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy's child,
135   Warble his native wood-notes wild.
    And ever, against eating cares,
    Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
    Married to immortal verse,
    Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
140   In notes with many a winding bout
    Of linked sweetness long drawn out
    With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
    The melting voice through mazes running,
    Untwisting all the chains that tie
145   The hidden soul of harmony;
    That Orpheus' self may heave his head
    From golden slumber on a bed
    Of heaped Elysian flowers, and hear
    Such strains as would have won the ear
150   Of Pluto to have quite set free
    His half-regained Eurydice.
    These delights if thou canst give,
    Mirth, with thee I mean to live.
   

Contributed by Robert Clark.