[Milton-L] Yet one more poem about Milton

Nancy Charlton pluscachange at comcast.net
Tue Jul 18 18:51:39 EDT 2006

Through some hyperlinked serendipity, I came to the 
famouspoetsandpoems website, as comprehensive an anthology as I've 
seen on the web. I had never heard of William Lisle Bowles, and upon 
opening a poem title "In Youth" was delighted to find that the youth 
referred to is JM.

The link is 

but everything on the site seem to be in the public domain, so I'll 
paste the poem:

Milton, our noblest poet, in the grace
Of youth, in those fair eyes and clustering hair,
That brow untouched by one faint line of care,
To mar its openness, we seem to trace
The front of the first lord of the human race,
Mid thine own Paradise portrayed so fair,
Ere Sin or Sorrow scathed it: such the air
That characters thy youth. Shall time efface
These lineaments as crowding cares assail!
It is the lot of fallen humanity.
What boots it! armed in adamantine mail,
The unconquerable mind, and genius high,
Right onward hold their way through weal and woe,
Or whether life's brief lot be high or low!

I read on, finding Bowles' poems technically excellent in form but 
conventionally neo-Romantic with a little popular homiletics thrown 
in. It was interesting that on this July 18 there should be a poem 
titled "July 18, 1787," but the real prize was the complement to "In Youth:"

In Age

And art thou he, now "fallen on evil days,"
And changed indeed! Yet what do this sunk cheek,
These thinner locks, and that calm forehead speak!
A spirit reckless of man's blame or praise,--
A spirit, when thine eyes to the noon's blaze
Their dark orbs roll in vain, in suffering meek,
As in the sight of God intent to seek,
Mid solitude or age, or through the ways
Of hard adversity, the approving look
Of its great Master; whilst the conscious pride
Of wisdom, patient and content to brook
All ills to that sole Master's task applied,
Shall show before high heaven the unaltered mind,
Milton, though thou art poor, and old, and blind!

Nancy Charlton

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