Poem of the Day 11

Such Musick (as ’tis said)
Before was never made,
But when of old the sons of morning sung,
While the Creator Great
His constellations set,
And the well-balanc’t world on hinges hung,
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltring waves their oozy channel keep.

–From “On the Morning of Christ’s Nativity,” by John Milton

Read the rest here.

Poem of the Day 10

On the Death of a Fair Infant Dying of a Cough

O Fairest flower no sooner blown but blasted,
Soft silken Primrose fading timelesslie,
Summers chief honour if thou hadst out-lasted
Bleak winters force that made thy blossome drie;
For he being amorous on that lovely die [ 5 ]
That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss
But kill’d alas, and then bewayl’d his fatal bliss.

II.

For since grim Aquilo his charioter
By boistrous rape th’ Athenian damsel got,
He thought it toucht his Deitie full neer, [ 10 ]
If likewise he some fair one wedded not,
Thereby to wipe away th’ infamous blot,
Of long-uncoupled bed, and childless eld,
Which ‘mongst the wanton gods a foul reproach was held.

III.

So mounting up in ycie-pearled carr, [ 15 ]
Through middle empire of the freezing aire
He wanderd long, till thee he spy’d from farr,
There ended was his quest, there ceast his care.
Down he descended from his Snow-soft chaire,
But all unwares with his cold-kind embrace [ 20 ]
Unhous’d thy Virgin Soul from her fair biding place.

IV.

Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
For so Apollo, with unweeting hand
Whilome did slay his dearly-loved mate
Young Hyacinth born on Eurotas strand, [ 25 ]
Young Hyacinth the pride of Spartan land;
But then transform’d him to a purple flower
Alack that so to change thee winter had no power.

V.

Yet can I not perswade me thou art dead
Or that thy coarse corrupts in earths dark wombe, [ 30 ]
Or that thy beauties lie in wormie bed,
Hid from the world in a low delved tombe;
Could Heav’n for pittie thee so strictly doom?
Oh no? for something in thy face did shine
Above mortalitie that shew’d thou wast divine. [ 35 ]

VI.

Resolve me then oh Soul most surely blest
(If so it be that thou these plaints dost hear)
Tell me bright Spirit where e’re thou hoverest
Whether above that high first-moving Spheare
Or in the Elisian fields (if such there were.) [ 40 ]
Oh say me true if thou wert mortal wight
And why from us so quickly thou didst take thy flight.

VII.

Wert thou some Starr which from the ruin’d roof
Of shak’t Olympus by mischance didst fall;
Which carefull Jove in natures true behoofe [ 45 ]
Took up, and in fit place did reinstall?
Or did of late earths Sonnes besiege the wall
Of sheenie Heav’n, and thou some goddess fled
Amongst us here below to hide thy nectar’d head.

VIII.

Or wert thou that just Maid who once before [ 50 ]
Forsook the hated earth, O tell me sooth,
And cam’st again to visit us once more?
Or wert thou that sweet smiling Youth!
Or that crown’d Matron sage white-robed truth?
Or any other of that heav’nly brood [ 55 ]
Let down in clowdie throne to do the world some good.

IX.

Or wert thou of the golden-winged hoast,
Who having clad thy self in humane weed,
To earth from thy præfixed seat didst poast,
And after short abode flie back with speed, [ 60 ]
As if to shew what creatures Heav’n doth breed,
Thereby to set the hearts of men on fire
To scorn the sordid world, and unto Heav’n aspire.

X.

But oh why didst thou not stay here below
To bless us with thy heav’nlov’d innocence, [ 65 ]
To slake his wrath whom sin hath made our foe
To turn Swift-rushing black perdition hence,
Or drive away the slaughtering pestilence,
To stand ‘twixt us and our deserved smart
But thou canst best perform that office where thou art. [ 70 ]

XI.

Then thou the mother of so sweet a child
Her false imagin’d loss cease to lament,
And wisely learn to curb thy sorrows wild;
Think what a present thou to God hast sent,
And render him with patience what he lent; [ 75 ]
This if thou do, he will an off-spring give
That till the worlds last end shall make thy name to live.

–John Milton

Poem of the Day 9

PSALM CXXXVI.

Let us with a gladsom mind
Praise the Lord, for he is kind,
For his mercies ay endure,
Ever faithfull, ever sure.

Let us blaze his Name abroad,
For of gods he is the God;
For, &c.

O let us his praises tell,
That doth the wrathfull tyrants quell.
For, &c.

That with his miracles doth make
Amazed Heav’n and Earth to shake.
For, &c.

That by his wisdom did create
The painted Heav’ns so full of state.
For his, &c.

That did the solid Earth ordain
To rise above the watry plain.
For his, &c.

That by his all-commanding might,
Did fill the new-made world with light.
For his, &c.

And caus’d the Golden-tressed Sun,
All the day long his cours to run.
For his, &c.

The horned Moon to shine by night,
Amongst her spangled sisters bright.
For his, &c.

He with his thunder-clasping hand,
Smote the first-born of Egypt Land.
For his, &c.

And in despight of Pharao fell,
He brought from thence his Israel.
For, &c.

The ruddy waves he cleft in twain,
Of the Erythræan main.
For, &c.

The floods stood still like Walls of Glass,
While the Hebrew Bands did pass.
For, &c.

But full soon they did devour
The Tawny King with all his power.
For, &c.

His chosen people he did bless
In the wastfull Wildernes.
For, &c.

In bloody battail he brought down
Kings of prowess and renown.
For, &c.

He foild bold Seon and his host,
That rul’d the Amorrean coast.
For, &c.

And large-lim’d Og he did subdue,
With all his over hardy crew.
For, &c.

And to his Servant Israel,
He gave their Land therin to dwell.
For, &c.

He hath with a piteous eye
Beheld us in our misery.
For, &c.

And freed us from the slavery
Of the invading enimy.
For, &c.

All living creatures he doth feed,
And with full hand supplies their need.
For, &c.

Let us therfore warble forth
His mighty Majesty and worth.
For, &c.

That his mansion hath on high
Above the reach of mortall ey.
For his mercies ay endure,
Ever faithfull, ever sure.

–John Milton (psalm translation)