Posts Tagged ‘John Milton’

On Shakespeare

What needs my Shakespeare for his honored bones

The labor of an age in piled stones,

Or that his hallowed relics should be hid

Under a star-ypointing pyramid?

Dear son of memory, great heir of fame,

What need’st thou such weak witness of thy name?

Thou in our wonder and astonishment

Hast built thyself a livelong monument.

For, whilst, to the shame of slow-endeavouring art,

Thy easy numbers flow, and that each heart

Hath from the leaves of thy unvalued book

Those Delphic lines with deep impression took,

Then thou our fancy of itself bereaving,

Dost make us marble with too much conceiving,

And so sepúlchred in such pomp dost lie

That kings for such a tomb would wish to die.

When I consider how my light is spent,

   Ere half my days in this dark world and wide,

   And that one talent which is death to hide

Lodged with me useless, though my soul more bent

To serve therewith my Maker, and present

   My true account, lest He returning chide;

   “Doth God exact day-labor, light denied?”

I fondly ask. But Patience, to prevent

That murmur, soon replies, “God doth not need

   Either man’s work or His own gifts. Who best

   Bear His mild yoke, they serve Him best. His state

Is kingly: thousands at His bidding speed,

   And post o’er land and ocean without rest;

   They also serve who only stand and wait.”

Methought I saw my late espoused Saint

Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,

Whom Jove’s great Son to her glad Husband gave,

Rescu’d from death by force though pale and faint.

Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint

Purification in the old Law did save,

And such as yet once more I trust to have

Full sight of her in Heav’n without restraint,

Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:

Her face was veil’d, yet to my fancied sight

Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shin’d

So clear, as in no face with more delight.

But O as to embrace me she enclin’d

I wak’d, she fled, and day brought back my night.

John Milton

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