Infomotions, Inc.On The Morning Of Christs Nativity / Milton, John



Author: Milton, John
Title: On The Morning Of Christs Nativity
Publisher: Eris Etext Project
Tag(s): babe; holy; shame; loud; pale; vain; english literature
Contributor(s): Eric Lease Morgan (Infomotions, Inc.)
Versions: original; local mirror; HTML (this file); printable
Services: find in a library; evaluate using concordance
Rights: GNU General Public License
Size: 1,568 words (really short) Grade range: 18-21 (graduate school) Readability score: 45 (average)
Identifier: milton-on-528
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                                      1620
                       ON THE MORNING OF CHRISTS NATIVITY
                                 by John Milton
       On the Morning of Christs Nativity
              Compos'd 1629

                    1

  THIS is the Month, and this the happy morn
  Wherin the Son of Heav'ns eternal King,
  Of wedded Maid, and Virgin Mother born,
  Our great redemption from above did bring;
  For so the holy sages once did sing,
    That he our deadly forfeit should release,
  And with his Father work us a perpetual peace.

                    2

  That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
  And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty,
  Wherwith he wont at Heav'ns high Councel-Table,
  To sit the midst of Trinal Unity,
  He laid aside; and here with us to be,
    Forsook the Courts of everlasting Day,
  And chose with us a darksom House of mortal Clay.

                    3

  Say Heav'nly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein
  Afford a present to the Infant God?
  Hast thou no vers, no hymn, or solemn strein,
  To welcom him to this his new abode,
  Now while the Heav'n by the Suns team untrod,
    Hath took no print of the approching light,
  And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?

                    4

  See how from far upon the Eastern rode
  The Star-led Wisards haste with odours sweet,
  O run, prevent them with thy humble ode,
  And lay it lowly at his blessed feet;
  Have thou the honour first, thy Lord to greet,
    And joyn thy voice unto the Angel Quire,
  From out his secret Altar toucht with hallow'd fire.
             THE HYMN

                I

  It was the Winter wilde,
  While the Heav'n-born-childe,
    All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
  Nature in aw to him
  Had doff't her gawdy trim,
    With her great Master so to sympathize:
  It was no season then for her
  To wanton with the Sun her lusty Paramour.

                II

  Only with speeches fair
  She woo's the gentle Air
    To hide her guilty front with innocent Snow,
  And on her naked shame,
  Pollute with sinfull blame,
    The Saintly Vail of Maiden white to throw,
  Confounded, that her Makers eyes
  Should look so neer upon her foul deformities.

               III

  But he her fears to cease,
  Sent down the meek-eyd Peace,
    She crown'd with Olive green, came softly sliding
  Down through the turning sphear
  His ready Harbinger,
    With Turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing,
  And waving wide her mirtle wand,
  She strikes a universall Peace through Sea and Land.

                IV

  No War, or Battails sound
  Was heard the World around,
    The idle spear and shield were high up hung;
  The hooked Chariot stood
  Unstain'd with hostile blood,
    The Trumpet spake not to the armed throng,
  And Kings sate still with awfull eye,
  As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.

                V

  But peacefull was the night
  Wherin the Prince of light
    His raign of peace upon the earth began:
  The Windes with wonder whist,
  Smoothly the waters kist,
    Whispering new joyes the milde Ocean,
  Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
  While Birds of Calm sit brooding on the charmed wave.

                VI

  The Stars with deep amaze
  Stand fixt in stedfast gaze,
    Bending one way their pretious influence,
  And will not take their flight,
  For all the morning light,
    Or Lucifer that often warn'd them thence;
  But in their glimmering Orbs did glow,
  Untill their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go.

                VII

  And though the shady gloom
  Had given day her room,
    The Sun himself with-held his wonted speed,
  And hid his head for shame,
  As his inferiour flame,
    The new enlightn'd world no more should need;
  He saw a greater Sun appear
  Then his bright Throne, or burning Axletree could bear.

                VIII

  The Shepherds on the Lawn,
  Or ere the point of dawn,
    Sate simply chatting in a rustick row;
  Full little thought they than,
  That the mighty Pan
    Was kindly com to live with them below;
  Perhaps their loves, or els their sheep,
  Was all that did their silly thoughts so busie keep.

                IX

  When such musick sweet
  Their hearts and ears did greet,
    As never was by mortall finger strook,
  Divinely-warbled voice
  Answering the stringed noise,
    As all their souls in blisfull rapture took:
  The Air such pleasure loth to lose,
  With thousand echo's still prolongs each heav'nly close.

                 X

  Nature that heard such sound
  Beneath the hollow round
    Of Cynthia's seat, the Airy region thrilling,
  Now was almost won
  To think her part was don,
    And that her raign had here its last fulfilling;
  She knew such harmony alone
  Could hold all Heav'n and Earth in happier union.

                XI

  At last surrounds their sight
  A Globe of circular light,
    That with long beams the shame-fac't night array'd,
  The helmed Cherubim
  And sworded Seraphim,
    Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displaid,
  Harping in loud and solemn quire,
  With unexpressive notes to Heav'ns new-born Heir.

                XII

  Such Musick (as 'tis said)
  Before was never made,
    But when of old the sons of morning sung,
  While the Creator Great
  His constellations set,
    And the well-ballanc't world on hinges hung,
  And cast the dark foundations deep,
  And bid the weltring waves their oozy channel keep.

                XIII

  Ring out ye Crystall sphears,
  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 Base of Heav'ns deep Organ blow,
  And with your ninefold harmony
  Make up full consort to th' Angelike symphony.

                XIV

  For if such holy Song
  Enwrap our fancy long,
    Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold,
  And speckl'd vanity
  Will sicken soon and die,
    And leprous sin will melt from earthly mould,
  And Hell it self will pass away,
  And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.

                XV

  Yea Truth, and Justice then
  Will down return to men,
    Th' enameld Arras of the Rain-bow wearing,
  And Mercy set between,
  Thron'd in Celestiall sheen,
    With radiant feet the tissued clouds down stearing,
  And Heav'n as at som festivall,
  Will open wide the Gates of her high Palace Hall.

                 XVI

  But wisest Fate sayes no,
  This must not yet be so,
    The Babe lies yet in smiling Infancy,
  That on the bitter cross
  Must redeem our loss;
    So both himself and us to glorifie:
  Yet first to those ychain'd in sleep,
  The wakefull trump of doom must thunder through the deep,

                 XVII

  With such a horrid clang
  As on mount Sinai rang
    While the red fire, and smouldring clouds out brake:
  The aged Earth agast
  With terrour of that blast,
    Shall from the surface to the center shake,
  When at the worlds last session,
  The dreadfull Judge in middle Air shall spread his throne.

                XVIII

  And then at last our bliss
  Full and perfect is,
    But now begins; for from this happy day
  Th' old Dragon under ground
  In straiter limits bound,
    Not half so far casts his usurped sway,
  And wrath to see his Kingdom fail,
  Swindges the scaly Horrour of his foulded tail.

                XIX

  The Oracles are dumm,
  No voice or hideous humm
    Runs through the arched roof in words deceiving.
  Apollo from his shrine
  Can no more divine,
    With hollow shreik the steep of Delphos leaving.
  No nightly trance, or breathed spell,
  Inspire's the pale-ey'd Priest from the prophetic cell.

                XX

  The lonely mountains o're,
  And the resounding shore,
    A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
  From haunted spring, and dale
  Edg'd with poplar pale,
    The parting Genius is with sighing sent,
  With flowre-inwov'n tresses torn
  The Nimphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.

                XXI

  In consecrated Earth,
  And on the holy Hearth,
    The Lars, and Lemures moan with midnight plaint,
  In Urns, and Altars round,
  A drear, and dying sound
    Affrights the Flamins at their service quaint;
  And the chill Marble seems to sweat,
  While each peculiar power forgoes his wonted seat.

                XXII

  Peor, and Baalim,
  Forsake their Temples dim,
    With that twise-batter'd god of Palestine,
  And mooned Ashtaroth,
  Heav'ns 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 Thamuz mourn.

                XXIII

  And sullen Moloch fled,
  Hath left in shadows dred,
    His burning Idol all of blackest hue,
  In vain with Cymbals ring,
  They call the grisly king,
    In dismall dance about the furnace blue;
  The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
  Isis and Orus, and the Dog Anubis hast.

                XXIV

  Nor is Osiris seen
  In Memphian Grove, or Green,
    Trampling the unshowr'd Grasse with lowings loud:
  Nor can he be at rest
  Within his sacred chest,
    Naught but profoundest Hell can be his shroud,
  In vain with Timbrel'd Anthems dark
  The sable-stoled Sorcerers bear his worshipt Ark.

                XXV

  He feels from Juda's Land
  The dredded Infants hand,
    The rayes of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
  Nor all the gods beside,
  Longer dare abide,
    Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
  Our Babe to shew his Godhead true,
  Can in his swadling bands controul the damned crew.

                XXVI

  So when the Sun in bed,
  Curtain'd with cloudy red,
    Pillows his chin upon an Orient wave,
  The flocking shadows pale,
  Troop to th' infernall jail,
    Each fetter'd Ghost slips to his severall grave,
  And the yellow-skirted Fayes,
  Fly after the Night-steeds, leaving their Moon-lov'd maze.

                XXVII

  But see the Virgin blest,
  Hath laid her Babe to rest.
    Time is our tedious Song should here have ending,
  Heav'ns youngest teemed Star,
  Hath fixt her polisht Car,
    Her sleeping Lord with Handmaid Lamp attending:
  And all about the Courtly Stable,
  Bright-harnest Angels sit in order serviceable.

                -THE END-
.

Colophon

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