L’Allegro

A poem by John Milton

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 heav’n yclep’d 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 blew,
And fresh-blown roses washed 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 wrincled Care derides,
And Laughter holding both his sides.
Com, and trip it as you go,
On the light fantastik 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 crue
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 list’ning 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 Hedge-row 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 sithe,
And every Shepherd tells his tale
Under the Hawthorn in the dale.
Streit 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 brest
The labouring clouds do often rest;
Meadows trim, with Daisies pide,
Shallow Brooks, and Rivers wide;
Towers and Battlements it sees
Boosom’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 Okes,
Where Corydon and Thyrsis met
Are at their savory dinner set
Of Hearbs and other Country Messes,
Which the neat-handed Phyllis dresses;
And then in haste her Bowre she leaves,
With Thestylis to bind the Sheaves;
Or if the earlier season lead,
To the tanned haycock in the Mead,
Some times 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 com forth to play
On a Sunshine Holyday,
Till the live-long day-light 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 pull’d she sed,
And he by Friar’s lantern led,
Tells how the drudging Goblin swet
To earn his Cream-bowle duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy Flale hath thresh’d the corn
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down, the Lubber Fend,
And, stretch’d out all the Chimney’s length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength,
And Crop-full out of dores he flings,
Ere the first Cock his Mattin rings.
Thus done the Tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering Winds soon lull’d asleep.
Towred Cities please us then,
And the busie humm of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of Peace high triumphs hold
With store of Ladies, whose bright eies
Rain influence, and judge the prise
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 eeves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson’s learnèd Sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakespeare, fancyies childe,
Warble his native Wood-notes wilde,
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 linced sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that ty.
The hidden soul of harmony.
That Orpheus self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heaped Elysian flowres, and hear
Such streins 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.

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