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It is a spectacular collection of poems and songs in which Milton’s particular dramatic and natural chic is evident. The poetry is effervescent as it is spontaneous gush of thoughts, rhythmic and the lyrical measures delight the reader and bound him to read till it ends.
45 pages, with a reading time of ~0.75 hours (11,302 words), and first published in 1645. This DRM-Free edition published by epubBooks, 2015.
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HENCE, loathed 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 yclept Euphrosyne, And by men heart-easing Mirth; Whom lovely Venus, at a birth, With two sister Graces more, To ivy-crowned 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 wreathed 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 unreproved 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 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 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 landskip round it measures: Russet lawns, and fallows grey, 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 herbs and other country messes, Which the neat-handed Phyllis 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 jocund 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 holiday, 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 pinched and pulled, 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 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 To win her grace whom all commend.