To John Milton (II)

Though friendly praise hath but its hour.
And little praise with thee hath been;
The bay may lose its summer flower,
But still its leaves are green;
And thine, whose buds are on the shoot,
Shall only fade to change to fruit.

Fame lives not in the breath of words,
In public praises' hue and cry;
The music of these summer birds
Is silent in a winter sky,
When thine shall live and flourish on,
Oer wrecks where crowds of fames are gone.

The ivy shuns the city wall,
When busy clamorous crowds intrude,
And climbs the desolated hall
In silent solitude;
The time-worn arch, the fallen dome,
Are roots for its eternal home.

The bard his glory neer receives
Where summer's common flowers are seen,
But winter finds it when she leaves
The laurel only green;
And time from that eternal tree,
Shall weave a wreath to honour thee;

A sunny wreath for poets meet,
From Helicon's immortal soil,
Where sacred Time with pilgrim feet
Walks forth to worship, not to spoil,
A wreath which Fame creates and bears,
And deathless genius only heirs.

Nought but thy ashes shall expire;
Thy genius, at thy obsequies,
Shall kindle up its living fire
And light the muse's skies;
Ay, it shall rise, and shine, and be
A sun in song's posterity.

1 comment:

Nomad said...

This is so full of excellent lines, images, contrasts-- summer and winter, light and dark, cold and warmth, silence and sound, crowding and solitude, to list a few!-- and sound-patterns! Is it known what occasioned his writing it? And by the way, what is the pretend attribution about ('William Davenant')?

I seem to recall, from studying Milton for a term at uni. years and years ago, that it was said he had read most every book available (in the Western world, at least) in his day, knowing his Greek and Latin, of course, quite as well as his English. At any rate, the classical imagery is particularly apt for the praise of someone who was steeped in a classical education and tradition, and whose English verse even holds very much a Latinate word-arrangement.

Striking, lovely and strong!