Home  »  Complete Poems Written in English  »  L’Allegro

John Milton. (1608–1674). Complete Poems.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.



HENCE, loathèd Melancholy,

Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born,

In Stygian cave forlorn

’Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights 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,

As ragged as thy locks,

In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell.

But come, thou Goddess fair and free,

In heaven yclep’d Euphrosyne,

And by men, heart-easing Mirth,

Whom lovely Venus at a birth

With two sister Graces more

To ivy-crownèd Bacchus bore;

Or whether (as some sager sing)

The frolic Wind that breathes the spring,

Zephyr with Aurora playing,

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,

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 wreathèd Smiles,

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 ye go,

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,

To live with her, and live with thee,

In unreprovèd pleasures free;

To hear the lark begin his flight,

And singing startle the dull night,

From his watch-tower in the skies,

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;

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

Cheerily 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,

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,

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.

Straight mine eye hath caught new pleasures,

Whilst the lantskip round it measures:

Russet lawns, and fallows gray,

Where the nibbling flocks do stray;

Mountains on whose barren breast

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,

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

Are at their savoury dinner set

Of hearbs and other country messes,

Which the neat-handed Phillis dresses;

And then in haste her bower she leaves,

With Thestylis to bind the sheaves;

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,

And the jocond 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 holyday,

Till the livelong daylight fail:

Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,

With stories told of many a feat,

How fairy Mab the junkets eat:

She was pinched and pulled, she said;

And he, by Friar’s lanthorn 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

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,

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,

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

Of 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;

Such sights as youthful Poets dream

On summer eves by haunted stream.

Then to the well-trod stage anon,

If Johnson’s learned sock be on,

Or sweetest Shakespeare, Fancy’s child,

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,

In notes with many a winding bout

Of linkèd sweetness long drawn out

With wanton heed and giddy cunning,

The melting voice through mazes running,

Untwisting all the chains that tie

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

Of Pluto to have quite set free

His half-regained Eurydice.

These delights if thou canst give,

Mirth, with thee I mean to live.