[Milton-L] Merry Christmas

Nancy Charlton pluscachange at comcast.net
Tue Dec 25 16:55:21 EST 2007

There are no coincidences! Just after reading the 
poem aloud--as I do every Christmas morning--with 
all stops pulled out and no audience but the cat 
(name of Milton) who actually woke up,  I was 
about to download a modern-English ODE to print 
out. I checked my email first and fortunately, 
and there you were.  Thanks, Paul.

And to all: God rest ye merry.

Nancy Charlton

At 10:15 AM 12/25/2007 -0800, you wrote:
>Ode on the Morning of Christ's Nativity
>THIS is the month, and this the happy morn
>Wherein the Son of Heaven's Eternal King
>Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,
>Our great redemption from above did bring;
>For so the holy sages once did sing          5
>That He our deadly forfeit should release,
>And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.
>That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable,
>And that far-beaming blaze of Majesty
>Wherewith He wont at Heaven's high council-table   10
>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 darksome house of mortal clay.
>Say, heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein   15
>Afford a present to the Infant God?
>Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain
>To welcome Him to this His new abode,
>Now while the heaven, by the sun's team untrod,
>Hath took no print of the approaching light,   20
>And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright?
>See how from far, upon the eastern road,
>The star-led wizards haste with odours sweet:
>O run, prevent them with thy humble ode
>And lay it lowly at His blessed feet;   25
>Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet,
>And join thy voice unto the Angel quire
> From out His secret altar touch'd with hallow'd fire.
>It was the winter wild
>While the heaven-born Child   30
>All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies;
>Nature in awe to Him
>Had doff'd her gaudy trim,
>With her great Master so to sympathize:
>It was no season then for her   35
>To wanton with the sun, her lusty paramour.
>Only with speeches fair
>She woos the gentle air
>To hide her guilty front with innocent snow;
>And on her naked shame,   40
>Pollute with sinful blame,
>The saintly veil of maiden white to throw;
>Confounded, that her Maker's eyes
>Should look so near upon her foul deformities.
>But He, her fears to cease,   45
>Sent down the meek-eyed Peace;
>She, crown'd with olive green, came softly sliding
>Down through the turning sphere,
>His ready harbinger,
>With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing;   50
>And waving wide her myrtle wand,
>She strikes a universal peace through sea and land.
>No war, or battle's sound
>Was heard the world around:
>The idle spear and shield were high uphung;   55
>The hookèd chariot stood
>Unstain'd with hostile blood;
>The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng;
>And kings sat still with awful eye,
>As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by.   60
>But peaceful was the night
>Wherein the Prince of Light
>His reign of peace upon the earth began:
>The winds, with wonder <http://www.bartleby.com/106/2002.html#62.64>whist,
>Smoothly the waters kist   65
>Whispering new joys to the mild oceàn—
>Who now hath quite forgot to rave,
>While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmèd wave.
>The stars, with deep amaze,
>Stand fix'd in steadfast gaze,   70
>Bending one way their precious 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   75
>Until their Lord Himself bespake, and bid them go.
>And though the shady gloom
>Had given day her room,
>The sun himself withheld his wonted speed,
>And hid his head for shame,   80
>As his inferior flame
>The new-enlighten'd world no more should need;
>He saw a greater Sun appear
>Than his bright throne, or burning axle-tree could bear.
>The shepherds on the lawn   85
>Or ere the point of dawn
>Sate simply chatting in a rustic row;
>Full little thought they than
>That the mighty <http://www.bartleby.com/106/2002.html#62.89>Pan
>Was kindly come to live with them below;   90
>Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep
>Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep:—
>When such music sweet
>Their hearts and ears did greet
>As never was by mortal finger strook—   95
>Divinely-warbled voice
>Answering the stringèd noise,
>As all their souls in blissful rapture took:
>The air, such pleasure loth to lose,
>With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close.  100
>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 done,  105
>And that her reign had here its last fulfilling;
>She knew such harmony alone
>Could hold all Heaven and Earth in happier union.
>At last surrounds their sight
>A globe of circular light  110
>That with long beams the shamefaced night array'd;
>The helmèd Cherubim
>And sworded Seraphim
>Are seen in glittering ranks with wings display'd,
>Harping in loud and solemn quire  115
>With unexpressive notes, to Heaven's new-born Heir.
>Such music (as 'tis said)
>Before was never made
>But when of old the Sons of Morning sung,
>While the Creator great  120
>His constellations set
>And the well-balanced world on hinges hung;
>And cast the dark foundations deep,
>And bid the weltering waves their oozy channel keep.
>Ring out, ye crystal spheres!  125
>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 bass of heaven's deep organ blow;  130
>And with your ninefold harmony
>Make up full consort to the angelic symphony.
>For if such holy song
>Enwrap our fancy long,
>Time will run back, and fetch the age of gold;  135
>And speckled Vanity
>Will sicken soon and die,
>And leprous Sin will melt from earthly mould;
>And Hell itself will pass away,
>And leave her dolorous mansions to the peering day.  140
>Yea, Truth and Justice then
>Will down return to men,
>Orb'd in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing,
>Mercy will sit between
>Throned in celestial sheen,  145
>With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering;
>And Heaven, as at some festival,
>Will open wide the gates of her high palace-hall.
>But wisest Fate says No;
>This must not yet be so;  150
>The Babe yet lies in smiling infancy
>That on the bitter cross
>Must redeem our loss;
>So both Himself and us to glorify:
>Yet first, to those ychain'd in sleep  155
>The wakeful trump of doom must thunder through the deep;
>With such a horrid clang
>As on Mount Sinai rang
>While the red fire and smouldering clouds outbrake:
>The aged Earth aghast  160
>With terror of that blast
>Shall from the surface to the centre shake,
>When, at the world's last sessiòn,
>The dreadful Judge in middle air shall spread His throne.
>And then at last our bliss  165
>Full and perfect is,
>But now begins; for from this happy day
>The old Dragon under ground,
>In straiter limits bound,
>Not half so far casts his usurpèd sway;  170
>And, wroth to see his kingdom fail,
>Swinges the scaly horror of his folded tail.
>The Oracles are dumb;
>No voice or hideous hum
>Runs through the archèd roof in words deceiving.  175
>Apollo from his shrine
>Can no more divine,
>With hollow shriek the steep of Delphos leaving:
>No nightly trance or breathèd spell
>Inspires the pale-eyed priest from the prophetic cell.  180
>The lonely mountains o'er
>And the resounding shore
>A voice of weeping heard, and loud lament;
> From haunted spring and dale
>Edged with poplar pale  185
>The parting Genius is with sighing sent;
>With flower-inwoven tresses torn
>The Nymphs in twilight shade of tangled thickets mourn.
>In consecrated earth
>And on the holy hearth  190
>and Lemurès moan with midnight plaint;
>In urns, and altars round
>A drear and dying sound
>Affrights the 
>at their service quaint;
>And the chill marble seems to sweat,  195
>While each peculiar Power foregoes his wonted seat.
>Peor and Baalim
>Forsake their temples dim,
>With that 
>god of Palestine;
>And moonèd Ashtaroth  200
>Heaven's queen and mother both,
>Now sits not girt with tapers' holy shine;
>The Lybic Hammon shrinks his horn:
>In vain the Tyrian maids their wounded Thammuz mourn.
>And sullen Moloch, fled,  205
>Hath left in shadows dread
>His burning idol all of blackest hue;
>In vain with cymbals' ring
>They call the grisly king,
>In dismal dance about the furnace blue;  210
>The brutish gods of Nile as fast,
>Isis, and Orus, and the dog Anubis, haste.
>Nor is <http://www.bartleby.com/106/2002.html#62.213>Osiris seen
>In Memphian grove, or green,
>Trampling the 
>grass with lowings loud:  215
>Nor can he be at rest
>Within his sacred chest;
>Nought but profoundest Hell can be his shroud;
>In vain with timbrell'd anthems dark
>The sable-stolèd sorcerers bear his worshipt ark.  220
>He feels from Juda's land
>The dreaded Infant's hand;
>The rays of Bethlehem blind his dusky eyn;
>Nor all the gods beside
>Longer dare abide,  225
>Not Typhon huge ending in snaky twine:
>Our Babe, to show His Godhead true,
>Can in His swaddling bands control the damnèd crew.
>So, when the sun in bed
>Curtain'd with cloudy red  230
>Pillows his chin upon an orient wave,
>The flocking shadows pale
>Troop to the infernal jail,
>Each fetter'd ghost slips to his several grave;
>And the yellow-skirted fays  235
>Fly after the night-steeds, leaving their moon-loved maze.
>But see! the Virgin blest
>Hath laid her Babe to rest;
>Time is, our tedious song should here have ending:
>Heaven's youngest-teemèd star  240
>Hath fix'd her polish'd car,
>Her sleeping Lord with hand-maid lamp attending:
>And all about the courtly stable
>Bright-harness'd Angels sit in order serviceable.
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