1817 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

Anonymous, "The Maid alone, with Milton in her Hand" American Beacon [Norfolk VA] (6 June 1817).



"Hail wedded love! mysterious law, &c."
"Our maker bids increase; who bids abstain,
But our destroyer — foe to man and God!"

It must be so — Milton, thou reasonest well;
Else why this pleasing hope, this fond desire,
This longing after something unpossessed;
Or whence this secret dread and inward horror,
Of dying unespoused? Why shrinks the soul
Back on itself, and startles at virginity?
'Tis instinct — faithful instinct — stirs within us;
'Tis nature's self points out an alliance,
And imitates a husband in the sex.

Marriage! thou pleasing, yet anxious thought,
Thro' what variety of hopes and fears,
Thro' what new scenes and changes must we pass?
The unchang'd state, in prospect lies before me,
But shadows, clouds and darkness rest upon it.
Here will I hold — if nature prompts the wish,
(And that she does is plain in all her works)
Our duty and our interest bid indulge it,
For the great end of nature's law is bliss.

But yet — in wedlock woman must obey!
I'm weary with these doubts — the priest shall end them!
Nor rashly do I venture — loss and gain,
Bondage and pleasure meet my thoughts at once;
I wed, my liberty is gone forever;
But happiness, from time itself secured,
Love first shall recompence my loss of freedom;
And when my charms shall fade away,
My eyes grow dim, my stature bend with years;
Then virtuous friendship shall succeed to love;
Then pleas'd I'll scorn infirmity and death,
Rendered immortal in a filial race.