Lines on Seeing a Lock of Milton’s Hair
|Lines on Seeing a Lock of Milton’s Hair (1818)
|Written on 21 January 1818. First published 15 November 1838.|
Chief of organic numbers!
Old scholar of the spheres!
Thy spirit never slumbers,
But rolls about our ears
For ever, and for ever:
O, what a mad endeavour
Who, to thy sacred and ennobled hearse,
Would offer a burnt sacrifice of verse
How heavenward thou soundedst,
Live temple of sweet noise;
And discord unconfoundedst, –
Giving delight new joys,
And pleasure nobler pinions –
O, where are thy dominions?
Lend thine ear,
To a young Delian oath – aye, by thy soul,
By all that from thy mortal lips did roll;
And by the kernel of thine earthly love,
Beauty, in things on earth and things above;
When every childish fashion
Has vanish’d from my rhyme,
Will I, grey-gone in passion,
Leave to an after time
Hymning and harmony
Of thee, and of thy works, and of thy life;
But vain is now the burning, and the strife,
Pangs are in vain – until I grow high-rife
With old philosophy;
And mad with glimpses at futurity!
For many years my offerings must be hush’d.
When I do speak, I’ll think upon this hour,
Because I feel my forehead hot and flush’d –
Even at the simplest vassal of thy power;
A lock of thy bright hair –
Sudden it came,
And I was startled, when I caught thy name
Coupled so unaware;
Yet at the moment, temperate was my blood –
Methought I had beheld it from the Flood.