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C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

Invocation to the Muse

By John Milton (1608–1674)

From ‘Paradise Lost

DESCEND from Heaven, Urania, by that name

If rightly thou art called, whose voice divine

Following, above the Olympian hill I soar,

Above the flight of Pegasean wing!

The meaning, not the name, I call: for thou

Nor of the Muses nine, nor on the top

Of old Olympus dwell’st; but, heavenly born,

Before the hills appeared or fountain flowed,

Thou with Eternal Wisdom didst converse,

Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play

In presence of the Almighty Father, pleased

With thy celestial song. Up led by thee,

Into the heaven of heavens I have presumed,

An earthly guest, and drawn empyreal air,

Thy tempering. With like safety guided down,

Return me to my native element;

Lest, from this flying steed unreined (as once

Bellerophon, though from a lower clime)

Dismounted, on the Aleian field I fall,

Erroneous there to wander and forlorn.

Half yet remains unsung, but narrower bound

Within the visible diurnal sphere.

Standing on earth, not rapt above the pole,

More safe I sing with mortal voice, unchanged

To hoarse or mute, though fallen on evil days,

On evil days though fallen, and evil tongues,

In darkness, and with dangers compassed round,

And solitude; yet not alone, while thou

Visit’st my slumbers nightly, or when morn

Purples the east. Still govern thou my song,

Urania, and fit audience find, though few.

But drive far off the barbarous dissonance

Of Bacchus and his revelers, the race

Of that wild rout that tore the Thracian bard

In Rhodope, where woods and rocks had ears

To rapture, till the savage clamor drowned

Both harp and voice; nor could the Muse defend

Her son. So fail not thou who thee implores;

For thou art heavenly, she an empty dream.