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And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes. Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more; Henceforth thou art the Genius of the shore, In thy large recompense, and shalt be good To all that wander in that perilous flood. 185 Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills,

While the still morn went out with sandals gray;

He touched the tender stops of various quills,

With eager thought warbling his Doric lay: And now the sun had stretched out all the hills, 190

And now was dropt into the western bay. At last he rose, and twitched his mantle blue:

Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new.

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OF DARKNESS VISIBLE

[From The Second Defense, 1654]

Nor was I ever prompted to such exertions by the influence of ambition, by the lust of lucre or of praise; it was only by the conviction of duty and the feeling of patriotism, a disinterested passion for the extension of civil and religious liberty. Thus, therefore, when I was publicly solicited to write a reply to the Defense of the royal cause, when I had to contend with the pressure of sickness, and with the apprehension of soon losing the sight of my remaining eye, and when my medical attendants clearly announced that if I did engage in the work it would be irreparably

lost, their premonitions caused no hesitation and inspired no dismay. I would not have listened to the voice even of Esculapius himself from the shrine of Epidauris, in preference to the suggestions of the heavenly monitor within my breast; my resolution was unshaken,

though the alternative was either the loss of my sight, or the aesertion of my duty: and I called to mind those two destinies, which the oracle of Delphi announced to the son of Thetis:

"Two fates may lead me to the realms of night,

If staying here, around Troy's wall I
fight,

To my dear home no more must I return;
But lasting glory will adorn my urn.

But, if I withdraw from the martial strife,
Short is my fame, but long will be my life."

I considered that many had purchased a less good by a greater evil, the meed of glory by the loss of life: but that I might procure great good by little suffering; that though I am blind, I might still discharge the most honorable duties, the performance of which, as it is something more durable than glory, ought to be an object of superior admiration and esteem; I resolved, therefore, to make the short interval of sight, which was left me to enjoy, as beneficial as possible to the public interest. Thus it is clear by what motives I was governed in the measures which I took, and the losses which I sustained. Let then the calumniators of the divine goodness cease to revile, or make me the object of their superstitious imaginations. Let them consider, that my situation, such as it is, is neither an object of my shame or my regret, that my resolutions are too firm to be shaken, that I am not depressed by any sense of the divine displeasure; that, on the other hand, in the most momentous periods, I have had full experience of the divine favor and protection; and that, in the solace and the strength which have been infused into me from above, I have been enabled to do the will of God; that I may oftener think on what he has bestowed, than on what he has withheld; that, in short, I am unwilling to exchange my consciousness of rectitude with that of any other person; and that I feel the recollection a treasured store of tranquillity and delight. But, if the choice were necessary, I would, sir, prefer my blindness' to yours; yours is a

cloud spread over the mind, which darkens both the light of reason and of conscience; mine keeps from my view only the colored surfaces of things, while it leaves me at liberty to contemplate the beauty and stability of virtue and of truth. How many things are there besides which I would not willingly see; how many which I must see against my will; and how few which I feel any anxiety to see! There is, as the apostle has remarked, a way to strength through weakness. Let me then be the most feeble creature alive, as long as that feebleness serves to invigorate the energies of my rational and immortal spirit; as long as in that obscurity, in which I am enveloped, the light of the divine presence more clearly shines, then, in proportion as I am weak, I shall be invincibly strong; and in proportion as I am blind, I shall more clearly see. O! that I may thus be perfected by feebleness, and irradiated by obscurity!

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Or of the Eternal coeternal beam May I express thee unblamed? since God is light,

And never but in unapproachèd light Dwelt from eternity-dwelt then in thee, Bright effluence of bright essence increate! Or hear'st thou rather pure Ethereal stream,

Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the Sun,

Before the Heavens, thou wert, and at the voice

Of God, as with a mantle, didst invest
The rising World of waters dark and deep,
Won from the void and formless Infinite!
Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,

Escaped the Stygian Pool, though long detained

In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight, Through utter and through middle Darkness borne,

With other notes than to the Orphean lyre I sung of Chaos and eternal Night, Taught by the Heavenly Muse to venture down

The dark descent, and up to re-ascend, Though hard and rare. Thee I revisit safe, And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou Revisit'st not these eyes, that roll in vain

To find thy piercing ray, and find no dawn;

So thick a drop serene hath quenched their orbs,

Or dim suffusion veiled. Yet not the more Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill, Smit with the love of sacred song; but chief

Thee, Sion, and the flowery brooks beneath, That wash thy hallowed feet, and warbling flow,

Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget
Those other two equaled with me in fate,
So were I equaled with them in renown,
Blind Thamyris and blind Mæonides,
And Tiresias and Phineus, prophets old:
Then feed on thoughts that voluntary move
Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird
Sings darkling, and, in shadiest covert hid,
Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the
year

Seasons return; but not to me returns
Day, or the sweet approach of even or morn
Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer's rose,
Or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;
But cloud instead and ever-during dark
Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of

men

Cut off, and, for the book of knowledge fair,

Presented with a universal blank

Of Nature's works, to me expunged and rased,

And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out. So much the rather thou, Celestial Light, Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers

Irradiate; there plant eyes; all mist from thence

Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell Of things invisible to mortal sight.

THE POET'S SERVICE TO THE STATE

[From Reason of Church Government, 1641]

After I had for my first years, by the ceaseless diligence and care of my father, (whom God recompense!) been exercised to the tongues, and some sciences, as my age would suffer, by sundry masters and teachers, both at home and at the schools, it was found that whether aught was imposed me by them that had the overlooking, or betaken to of mine own choice in English, or other tongue, prosing or versing, but chiefly

by this latter, the style, by certain vital signs it had, was likely to live. But much latelier in the private academies of Italy, whither I was favored to resort, perceiving that some trifles which I had in memory, composed at under twenty or thereabout, (for the manner is, that every one must give some proof of his wit and reading there,) met with acceptance above what was looked for; and other things, which I had shifted in scarcity of books and conveniences to patch up amongst them, were received with written encomiums, which the Italian is not forward to bestow on men of this side the Alps; I began thus far to assent both to them and divers of my friends here at home, and not less to an inward prompting which now grew daily upon me, that by labor and intense study, (which I take to be my portion in this life,) joined with the strong propensity of nature, I might perhaps leave something so written to aftertimes, as they should not willingly let it die.

Time serves not now, and perhaps I might seem too profuse to give any certain account of what the mind at home, in the spacious circuits of her musing, hath liberty to propose to herself, though of highest hope and hardest attempting; whether that epic form whereof the two poems of Homer, and those other two of Virgil and Tasso, are a diffuse, and the book of Job a brief model: or whether the rules of Aristotle herein are strictly to be kept, or nature to be followed, which in them that know art, and use judgment, is no transgression, but an enriching of art: and lastly, what king or knight, before the conquest, might be chosen in whom to lay the pattern of a Christian hero.

These abilities, wheresoever they be found, are the inspired gift of God, rarely bestowed, but yet to some (though most abuse) in every nation; and are of power, beside the office of a pulpit, to inbreed and cherish in a great people the seeds of virtue and public civility, to allay the perturbations of the mind, and set the affections in right tune; to celebrate in glorious and lofty hymns the throne and equipage of God's almightiness, and what he works, and what he suffers to be wrought with his providence in his church; to sing victorious agonies of martyrs and saints, the deeds and triumphs of just and pious nations, doing valiantly through faith against the enemies of Christ; to deplore the general re

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