Elegy V. - Anno Aetates 20. - On the Approach of Spring.
Time, never wand'ring from his annual round,
Bids Zephyr breathe the Spring, and thaw the ground;
Bleak Winter flies, new verdure clothes the plain,
And earth assumes her transient youth again.
Dream I, or also to the Spring belong
Increase of Genius, and new pow'rs of song?
Spring gives them, and, how strange soere it seem,
Impels me now to some harmonious theme.
Castalia's fountain and the forked hill1
By day, by night, my raptur'd fancy fill,
My bosom burns and heaves, I hear within
A sacred sound that prompts me to begin,
Lo! Phoebus comes, with his bright hair he blends
The radiant laurel wreath; Phoebus descends;
I mount, and, undepress'd by cumb'rous clay,
Through cloudy regions win my easy way;
Rapt through poetic shadowy haunts I fly:
The shrines all open to my dauntless eye,
My spirit searches all the realms of light,
And no Tartarean gulphs elude my sight.
But this ecstatic trance this glorious storm
Of inspiration what will it perform?
Spring claims the verse that with his influence glows,
And shall be paid with what himself bestows.
Thou, veil'd with op'ning foliage, lead'st the throng
Of feather'd minstrels, Philomel! in song;
Let us, in concert, to the season sing,
Civic, and sylvan heralds of the spring!
With notes triumphant spring's approach declare!
To spring, ye Muses, annual tribute bear!
The Orient left and Aethiopia's plains
The Sun now northward turns his golden reins,
Night creeps not now, yet rules with gentle sway,
And drives her dusky horrors swift away;
Now less fatigued on his aetherial plain
Bootes2 follows his celestial wain;
And now the radiant centinels above
Less num'rous watch around the courts of Jove,
For, with the night, Force, Ambush, Slaughter fly,
And no gigantic guilt alarms the sky.
Now haply says some shepherd, while he views,
Recumbent on a rock, the redd'ning dews,
This night, this surely, Phoebus miss'd the fair,
Who stops his chariot by her am'rous care.
Cynthia,3 delighted by the morning's glow,
Speeds to the woodland, and resumes her bow;
Resigns her beams, and, glad to disappear,
Blesses his aid who shortens her career.
Come Phoebus cries Aurora come too late
Thou linger'st slumb'ring with thy wither'd mate,4
Leave Him, and to Hymettus' top repair,
Thy darling Cephalus expects thee there.
The goddess, with a blush, her love betrays,
But mounts, and driving rapidly obeys.
Earth now desires thee, Phoebus! and, t'engage
Thy warm embrace, casts off the guise of age.
Desires thee, and deserves; for who so sweet,
When her rich bosom courts thy genial heat?
Her breath imparts to ev'ry breeze that blows
Arabia's harvest and the Paphian rose.
Her lofty front she diadems around
With sacred pines, like Ops on Ida crown'd,
Her dewy locks with various flow'rs new-blown,
She interweaves, various, and all her own,
For Proserpine in such a wreath attired
Taenarian Dis5 himself with love inspired.
Fear not, lest, cold and coy, the Nymph refuse,
Herself, with all her sighing Zephyrs sues,
Each courts thee fanning soft his scented wing,
And all her groves with warbled wishes ring.
Nor, unendow'd and indigent, aspires
Th'am'rous Earth to engage thy warm desires,
But, rich in balmy drugs, assists thy claim
Divine Physician! to that glorious name.
If splendid recompense, if gifts can move
Desire in thee (gifts often purchase love),
She offers all the wealth, her mountains hide,
And all that rests beneath the boundless tide.
How oft, when headlong from the heav'nly steep
She sees thee plunging in the Western Deep
How oft she cries Ah Phoebus! why repair
Thy wasted force, why seek refreshment there?
Can Tethys6 win thee? wherefore should'st thou lave
A face so fair in her unpleasant wave?
Come, seek my green retreats, and rather chuse
To cool thy tresses in my chrystal dews,
The grassy turf shall yield thee sweeter rest,
Come, lay thy evening glories on my breast,
And breathing fresh through many a humid rose,
Soft whisp'ring airs shall lull thee to repose.
No fears I feel like Semele7 to die,
Nor lest thy burning wheels8 approach too nigh,
For thou can'st govern them. Here therefore rest,
And lay thy evening glories on my breast.
Thus breathes the wanton Earth her am'rous flame,
And all her countless offspring feel the same;
For Cupid now through every region strays
Bright'ning his faded fires with solar rays,
His new-strung bow sends forth a deadlier sound,
And his new-pointed shafts more deeply wound,
Nor Dian's self escapes him now untried,
Nor even Vesta9 at her altar-side;
His mother too repairs her beauty's wane,
And seems sprung newly from the Deep again.
Exulting youths the Hymenaeal10 sing,
With Hymen's name roofs, rocks, and valleys ring;
He, new attired and by the season dress'd
Proceeds all fragrant in his saffron vest.
Now, many a golden-cinctur'd virgin roves
To taste the pleasures of the fields and groves,
All wish, and each alike, some fav'rite youth
Hers in the bonds of Hymenaeal truth.
Now pipes the shepherd through his reeds again,
Nor Phyllis wants a song that suits the strain,
With songs the seaman hails the starry sphere,
And dolphins rise from the abyss to hear,
Jove feels, himself, the season, sports again
With his fair spouse, and banquets all his train.
Now too the Satyrs in the dusk of Eve
Their mazy dance through flow'ry meadows weave,
And neither God nor goat, but both in kind,
Sylvanus,11 wreath'd with cypress, skips behind.
The Dryads leave the hollow sylvan cells
To roam the banks, and solitary dells;
Pan riots now; and from his amorous chafe
Ceres12 and Cybele seem hardly safe,
And Faunus,13 all on fire to reach the prize,
In chase of some enticing Oread14 flies;
She bounds before, but fears too swift a bound,
And hidden lies, but wishes to be found.
Our shades entice th'Immortals from above,
And some kind Pow'r presides oter ev'ry grove,
And long ye Pow'rs o'er ev'ry grove preside,
For all is safe and blest where ye abide!
Return O Jove! the age of gold restore
Why chose to dwell where storms and thunders roar?
At least, thou, Phoebus! moderate thy speed,
Let not the vernal hours too swift proceed,
Command rough Winter back, nor yield the pole
Too soon to Night's encroaching, long control.
Elegy V. - Anno Aetates 20. - On the Approach of Spring. by John Milton