1785 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Milton

A Lady, "Ode on Milton, addressed to the Lord Bishop of London" General Evening Post (18 January 1785).



Hail, happy bard! with glorious thoughts inspir'd!
Immortal themes thy lofty judgment fir'd;
Thy soul with sweet, celestial strains was won,
While secret powers led thy fancy on:
In tuneful clusters Cherubs round thee hung,
And lent new graces as the Poet sung.

Oh thou poetic prince of graceful ease!
Whose seraph notes, e'en savage minds can please;
In the smooth numbers of thy verse we stray,
Thro' sable mazes, to eternal day,
Where on the rosy beams of bliss we soar,
And the sweet plains of PARADISE explore.

Still as we read, our senses more refin'd,
A glow of rapture animates the mind;
Impress'd with beauties rising to our view,
With eager haste the pleasing tracks pursue:
First of thy race that trod the hallow'd ground,
And gain'd the top of Sion's sacred mound,
Or dar'd with soul sublime attempt the lyre,
That lights the mystic torch of gospel fire.

Had the Almighty King, enthron'd in state,
Reveal'd the hidden mysteries of fate,
Unfurl'd the clouds, unveil'd th' exanded sky,
And stood confess'd a god to mortals' eye;
Descending deign'd, in voice celestial, rare,
The wond'rous story of the fallen pair;
A secret long to angel knowledge given,
Lock'd in the bosoms of the blest in heaven;
In MILTON'S phrase, the Sovereign Lord of Grace,
Had taught the sacred facts to human race.

No more shall Pagan Poetry decoy
Our riper judgment to the feasts of Troy;
To Greece and Rome such mortal themes belong;
More perfect truths beam forth in MILTON'S song.
How poor that painter's skill, how unrefin'd,
Who drew the meditating poet blind?
His thoughts beyond weak nature ne'er aspir'd,
He knew not MILTON'S light to Heaven retir'd!

As round the world, the sight of PHOEBUS plays,
In diff'rent quarters darts refulgent rays,
To Eastern climes he moves in awful plight,
And lights a blaze of glory in their sight;
So MILTON'S orbs, eclips'd to human eye,
Blaz'd in meridian flame beyond the sky;
His lamps of light in higher regions burn'd,
From earthly sparks, to heav'nly glory turn'd!