How faery Mab the junkets eat;
She was pinch’d, and pull’d, she said;
And he, by friar’s lantern led.
Tells how the drudging goblin sweat
To earn his cream-bowl duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flail hath thresh’d the corn,
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down the lubber fiend,
And, stretch’d out all the chimney’s length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength;
And crop-full out of door he flings,
Ere the first cock his matin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whispering winds soon lull’d asleep.
Tower’d cities please us then,
And the busy hum of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace high triumphs hold.
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit or arms, while both contend
To win her grace, whom all commend.
There let Hymen oft appear
In saffron robe, with taper clear,
And pomp, and feast, and revelry,
With mask and antique pageantry.
Such sights, as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson’s learned sock be on.
Or sweetest Shakspeare, Fancy’s child,
Warble his native wood-notes wild.
And ever, against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian airs,
Married to immortal verse;
Such as the meeting soul may pierce,
In notes, with many a winding bout
Of linked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains that tie
The hidden soul of harmony;
That Orpheus’ self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heap’d Elysian flowers, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half-regain’d Eurydice.
These delights if thou canst give,
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.
[Notes: L’Allegro the Cheerful man: as Il Penseroso, the Thoughtful man, (the title of the companion poem).
Cerberus. The dog that guarded the infernal regions.
Cimmerian. The Cimmerians were a race dwelling beyond the ocean stream, in utter darkness.
Euphrosyne Mirth or gladness.
In unreproved pleasures = In innocent pleasures.
Then to come = Then (admit me) to come.
Corydon and Thyrsis. Names for a rustic couple taken from the mythology of the Latin poets. So Phillis and Thestylis.