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Francis T. Palgrave, ed. (1824–1897). The Golden Treasury. 1875.

John Milton

CXII. L’Allegro

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-brow’d rocks

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,

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 wash’d in dew

Fill’d 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 you 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-brier, 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

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,

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 furrow’d 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 landscape 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

Bosom’d 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 herbs, 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 tann’d haycock in the mead.

Sometimes with secure delight

The upland hamlets will invite,

When the merry bells ring round,

And the jocund rebecks sound

To many a youth and many a maid,

Dancing in the chequer’d shade;

And young and old come forth to play

On a sunshine holy-day,

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 pinch’d and pull’d, she said;

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 thresh’d the corn

That ten day-labourers could not end;

Then lies him down the lubber fiend,

And, stretch’d 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 lull’d asleep.

Tower’d 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

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;

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,

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 heap’d Elysian flowers, and hear

Such strains as would have won the ear

Of Pluto, to have quite set free

His half-regain’d Eurydice.

These delights if thou canst give,

Mirth, with thee I mean to live.