On the Death of the Bishop of Ely.1 - Anno Aetates 17.

A poem by John Milton

My lids with grief were tumid yet,
And still my sullied cheek was wet
With briny dews profusely shed
For venerable Winton dead,2
When Fame, whose tales of saddest sound
Alas! are ever truest found,
The news through all our cities spread
Of yet another mitred head
By ruthless Fate to Death consign'd,
Ely, the honour of his kind.
At once, a storm of passion heav'd
My boiling bosom, much I grieved
But more I raged, at ev'ry breath
Devoting Death himself to death.
With less revenge did Naso3 teem
When hated Ibis was his theme;
With less, Archilochus,4 denied
The lovely Greek, his promis'd bride.
But lo! while thus I execrate,
Incens'd, the Minister of Fate,
Wondrous accents, soft, yet clear,
Wafted on the gale I hear.
Ah, much deluded! lay aside
Thy threats and anger misapplied.
Art not afraid with sounds like these
T'offend whom thou canst not appease?
Death is not (wherefore dream'st thou thus?)
The son of Night and Erebus,
Nor was of fell Erynnis born5
In gulphs, where Chaos rules forlorn,
But sent from God, his presence leaves,
To gather home his ripen'd sheaves,
To call encumber'd souls away
From fleshly bonds to boundless day,
(As when the winged Hours excite,
And summon forth the Morning-light)
And each to convoy to her place
Before th'Eternal Father's face.
But not the wicked-Them, severe
Yet just, from all their pleasures here
He hurries to the realms below,
Terrific realms of penal woe!
Myself no sooner heard his call
Than, scaping through my prison-wall,
I bade adieu to bolts and bars,
And soar'd with angels to the stars,
Like Him of old, to whom 'twas giv'n
To mount, on fiery wheels, to heav'n.
Bootes' wagon,6 slow with cold
Appall'd me not, nor to behold
The sword that vast Orion draws,
Or ev'n the Scorpion's horrid claws.7
Beyond the Sun's bright orb I fly,
And far beneath my feet descry
Night's dread goddess, seen with awe,
Whom her winged dragons draw.
Thus, ever wond'ring at my speed
Augmented still as I proceed,
I pass the Planetary sphere,
The Milky Way and now appear
Heav'ns crystal battlements, her door
Of massy pearl, and em'rald floor.
But here I cease. For never can
The tongue of once a mortal man
In suitable description trace
The pleasures of that happy place,
Suffice it that those joys divine
Are all, and all for ever, mine.

Reader Comments

Tell us what you think of 'On the Death of the Bishop of Ely.1 - Anno Aetates 17.' by John Milton

comments powered by Disqus

Home | Search | About this website | Contact | Privacy Policy