Nursing the dream of Church and Caesar’s State,
Empire and Faith:—while Fancy’s favourite child,
The myriad-minded, moving up sedate
Beckon’d his countryman, and inly smiled:—
Then that august Theophany paled from view,
To higher stars drawn up, and kingdoms new.
The last ten years of Milton’s life were passed at his house situate in the (then) ‘Artillery Walk,’ Bunhill, near Aldersgate. He is described as a spare figure, of middle stature or a little less, who walked, generally clothed in a gray camblet overcoat, in the streets between Bunhill and Little Britain.
Vergil; placed first as most like Milton in consummate art and permanent exquisiteness of phrase. It is to him, also, (if to any one), that Milton is metrically indebted.—The other poets classed as ‘Imperial’ are Homer, Sappho, Archilochus, Dante, Shakespeare. The supremacy in rank which the writer has here ventured to limit to these seven poets, (though with a strong feeling of diffidence in view of certain other Hellenic and Roman claims), is assigned to Sappho and Archilochus, less on account of the scanty fragments, though they be ‘more golden than gold,’ which have reached us, than in confidence that the place collateral with Homer, given them by their countrymen (who criticized as admirably as they created), was, in fact, justified by their poetry.
The dream; Dante’s political wishes and speculations, wholly opposed to Milton’s, are, however, like his in their impracticable originality.
Theophany; Vision of the Gods.
February 11: 1655
As when the King
’Mid Babylonian gold,
And picture-woven walls, and lamps that gleam’d
Unholy radiance, sate,
And with some smooth slave-mate
Toy’d, and the wine laugh’d round, and music stream’d
Voluptuous undulation, o’er the hall,—
Till on the palace-wall
Forth came a hand
And wrote the judgment-sign,
And Babylon fell!—So now, in that his place
Of Tudor-Stuart pride,
The golden gallery wide,
’Mid venal beauty’s lavish-arm’d embrace,
And hills of gambler-gold, a godless King
Moved through the revelling
With quick brown
And lips of gay reply;
Wise in the wisdom not from Heaven!—as one
Who from his exile-days
Had learn’d to scorn the praise
Of truth, the crown by martyr-virtue won:
Below ambition:—Grant him regal ease!
The rest, as fate may please!
royal heir, restored
Not by the bitter sword,
But when the heart of these great realms in free,
Full, triple, unison beat
The Martyr’s son to greet,
Her ancient law and faith and flag with thee
Rethroned,—not thus!—in this inglorious hall