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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 236 pages of information about MacMillan's Reading Books.
    Sent by some spirit to mortals good,
    Or the unseen Genius of the wood. 
      But let my due feet never fail,
    To walk the studious cloister’s pale,
    And love the high embowed roof,
    With antique pillars massy proof,
    And storied windows richly dight,
    Casting a dim religious light. 
    There let the pealing organ blow,
    To the full-voiced quire below,
    In service high, and anthems clear,
    As may with sweetness, through mine ear
    Dissolve me into ecstasies,
    And bring all Heaven before mine eyes. 
      And may at last my weary age
    Find out the peaceful hermitage. 
    The hairy gown and mossy cell
    Where I may sit and rightly spell
    Of every star that heaven doth show,
    And every herb that sips the dew;
    Till old Experience do attain
    To something like prophetic strain. 
      These pleasures, Melancholy, give,
    And I with thee will choose to live.

MILTON.

[Notes:  Il Penscioso = the thoughtful man.

Bestead = help, stand in good stead.

Fond = foolish; its old meaning.

Pensioners.  A word taken from the name of Elizabeth’s body-guard.  Compare “the cowslips tall her pensioners be” (’Midsummer Night’s Dream’).

Prince Memnon, of Ethiopia, fairest of warriors, slain by Achilles (Homer’s Odyssey, Book xi.).  His sister was Hemora.

Starred Ethiop Queen = Cassiope, wife of King Cepheus, who was placed among the stars.

Sea-nymphs = Nereids.

Vesta_, the Goddess of the hearth; here for Retirement.  Saturn, as having introduced, according to the mythology, civilization, here stands for culture.

Commercing = holding communion with.  Notice the accentuation.

Forget thyself to marble = forget thyself till thou are still and silent as marble.

Hist along = bring along with a hush. Hist is connected with hush.

Philomel = the nightingale.

Cynthia = the moon.

Dragon yoke.  Compare “Night’s swift dragons,” (’Midsummer Night’s Dream’).

Removed place = remote or retired place.  Compare “some removed ground” in ‘Hamlet.’

Nightly = by night.  Sometimes it means “every night successively.”

Thrice-great Hermes, a translation of Hermes Trismegistus, a fabulous king of Egypt, held to be the inventor of Alchemy and Astronomy.

Unsphere, draw from his sphere or station.

The immortal mind.  Plato treats of the immortality of the soul chiefly in the Phaedo.  The demon, with Socrates, is the attendant genius of an individual; with Plato it is more general; and the assigning the demons to the four elements is a notion of the later Platonists.

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