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That with long beams the shamefaced night array'd ;
The helméd Cherubim
And sworded Seraphim
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd,
Harping in loud and solemn quire
With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born Heir.

115

Such music (as 'tis said)
Before was never made
But when of old the Sons of Morning sung,
While the Creator great

120
His constellations set,
And the well-balanced world on hinges lung ;
And cast the dark foundations deep,
And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.

125

Ring out, ye crystal spheres !
Once bless our human ears,
If ye have power to touch our senses so ;
And let your silver chime
Move in melodious time ;
And let the bass of heaven's deep organ blow :
And with your ninefold harmony
Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.

130

For if such holy song
Enwrap our fancy long,
Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold ; 135
And speckled Vanity
Will sicken soon and die,
And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould ;
And Hell itself will pass away,
And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day. 140

Yea, Truth and Justice then
Will down return to men,

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Orb'd in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
Mercy will sit between,
Throned in celestial sheen,
With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering ;
And Heaven, as at some festival,
Will open wide the gates of her high palace-hall.

But wisest Fate says No;
This must not yet be so ;

150
The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy
That on the bitter cross
Must redeem our loss ;
So both Himself and us to glorify :
Yet first, to those ychain'd in sleep

155 The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep,

With such a horrid clang
As on Mount Sinai rang
While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake;
The aged Earth aghast

160
With terrour of that blast
Shall from the surface to the centre shake,
When, at the world's last session,
The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread His throne.

165

And then at last our bliss
Full and perfect is,
But now begins ; for from this happy day
The old Dragon under ground
In straiter limits bound,
Not half so far casts his usurpéd sway ;
And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
Swinges the scaly horrour of his folded tail.

170

The oracles are dumb ;
No voice or hideous hum

Runs through the archéd roof in words deceiving : 175
Apollo from his shrine
Can no more divine,
With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving :
No nightly trance or breathéd spell
Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell. 180

The lonely mountains o’er
And the resounding shore
A voice of weeping heard and loud lament;
From haunted spring and dale
Edged with poplar pale

185
The parting Genius is with sighing sent;
With flower-inwoven tresses torn
The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

190

In consecrated earth
And on the holy hearth
The Lars and Lemurés moan with midnight plaint;
In urns, and altars round
A drear and dying sound
Affrights the Flamens at their service quaint ;
And the chill marble seems to sweat,
While each peculiar Power foregoes his wonted seat.

195

Peor and Baälim
Forsake their temples dim,
With that twice-batter'd god of Palestine ;
And moonéd Ashtaroth

200
Heaven's queen and mother both,
Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine ;
The Libyc Hammon shrinks his horn,
In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.

205

And sullen Moloch, fled,
Hath left in shadows dread

His burning idol all of blackest hue ;
In vain with cymbals ring
They call the grisly king,
In dismal dance about the furnace blue ;
The brutish gods of Nile as fast
Isis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis, haste.

210

215

Nor is Osiris seen
In Memphian grove, or green,
Trampling the unshower'd grass with lowings loud :
Nor can he be at rest
Within his sacred chest ;
Nought but profoundest Hell can be his shroud ;
In vain with timbrellid anthems dark
The sable-stoléd sorcerers bear his worshipt ark.

220

He feels from Juda's land
The dreaded Infant's hand ;
The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
Nor all the gods beside
Longer dare abide,
Nor Typhon huge ending in snaky twine :
Our Babe, to show his Godhead true,
Can in his swaddling bands control the damnéd crew

225

So, when the sun in bed
Curtain'd with cloudy red

230
Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
The flocking shadows pale
Troop to the infernal jail,
Each letter'd ghost slips to his several grave ;
And the yellow-skirted fays

235 Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.

But see, the Virgin blest
Hath laid her Babe to rest ;

240

Time is, our tedious song should here have ending :
Heaven's youngest-teeméd star
Hath fixed her polish'd car,
Her sleeping Lord with hand-maid lamp attending :
And all about the courtly stable
Bright-harness'd angels sit in order serviceable.

J. Milton.

II.

LXXXVI.

SONG FOR SAINT CECILIA'S DAY, 1687.

5

From harmony, from heavenly harmony

This universal frame began :
When Nature underneath a heap

Of jarring atoms lay
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high

Arise, ye more than dead !
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry
In order to their stations leap,

And Music's power obey,
From harmony, from heavenly harmony

This universal frame began :

From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

10

15

What passion cannot Music raise and quell ?

When Jubal struck the chorded shell
His listening brethren stood around,

And, wondering, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound.

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