Tuesday, December 9, 2008

John Milton and 400 candles

Happy Quadracentennial to John Milton, a champion of free expression and clarifier of self evident truths, born this day 9th December 1608. If Thomas Paine had authored a blog he may have called it "John Milton's Ghost." Enjoy an excerpt from Milton's "Lycidas" a woeful tale of a shepherd's friend drowned in the Irish sea which also predicts the demise of a corrupted clergy. The reading of these lines brings visions of artifacts from pre-christian times reaching up to earth with moss covered limbs to receive the dead in shrouded folds of forgotten history.

But O the heavy change, now thou art gon,
Now thou art gon, and never must return!
Thee Shepherd, thee the Woods, and desert Caves,
With wilde Thyme and the gadding Vine o'regrown,
And all their echoes mourn.
The Willows, and the Hazle Copses green,
Shall now no more be seen,
Fanning their joyous Leaves to thy soft layes.
As killing as the Canker to the Rose,
Or Taint-worm to the weanling Herds that graze,
Or Frost to Flowers, that their gay wardrop wear,
When first the White thorn blows;
Such, Lycidas, thy loss to Shepherds ear.

Where were ye Nymphs when the remorseless deep
Clos'd o're the head of your lov'd Lycidas?
For neither were ye playing on the steep,
Where your old Bards, the famous Druids ly,
Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,
Nor yet where Deva spreads her wisard stream:
Ay me, I fondly dream!
Had ye bin there — for what could that have don?
What could the Muse her self that Orpheus bore,
The Muse her self, for her inchanting son
Whom Universal nature did lament,
When by the rout that made the hideous roar,
His goary visage down the stream was sent,
Down the swift Hebrus to the Lesbian shore.

For the entire poem and very helpful definitions and explanations of the text visit this site.

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