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James and Mary Ford, eds. Every Day in the Year. 1902.

November 30

When the Assault Was Intended to the City

By John Milton (1608–1674)

  • On Nov. 30, 1642, the troops of Charles I. reached Brentford on their march to London, and it was on this occasion that Milton wrote this well-known sonnet.

  • CAPTAIN or Colonel, or Knight in arms,

    Whose chance on these defenceless doors may seize,

    If deed of honour did thee ever please,

    Guard them, and him within protect from harms.

    He can requite thee, for he knows the charms

    That call fame on such gentle acts as these,

    And he can spread thy name o’er lands and seas,

    Whatever clime the sun’s bright circle warms.

    Lift not thy spear against the Muses bow’r:

    The great Emathian conqueror bid spare

    The house of Pindarus, when temple and tow’r

    Went to the ground: and the repeated air

    Of sad Electra’s poet had the pow’r

    To save the Athenian walls from ruin bare.