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A History of English Romanticism in the Eighteenth

And most of them imitative of Milton


"O lead me, queen sublime, to solemn glooms Congenial with my soul; to cheerless shades, To ruined seats, to twilight cells and bowers, Where thoughtful Melancholy loves to muse, Her favorite midnight haunts. . . Beneath yon ruined abbey's moss-grown piles Oft let me sit, at twilight hour of eve, When through some western window the pale moon _Pours her long-levelled rule streaming light:_ While sullen sacred silence reigns around, Save the lone screech-owl's note, who build his bower Amid the moldering caverns dark and damp;[12] Or the calm breeze, that rustles in the leaves Of flaunting ivy, that with mantle green Invests some wasted tower. . . Then when the sullen shades of evening close Where _through the room_ a blindly-glimmering gloom The _dying embers_ scatter, far remote From Mirth's mad shouts, that through the illumined roof Resound with festive echo, let me sit Blessed with the lowly cricket's drowsy dirge. . . This sober hour of silence will unmask False Folly's smile, that like the dazzling spells Of wily Comus cheat the unweeting eye With _blear illusion,_ and persuade to drink That charmed cup which _Reason's mintage fair_ _ Unmoulds_, and stamps the monster on the man."

I italicize the most direct borrowings, but both the Wartons had so saturated themselves with Milton's language, verse, and imagery that they ooze out of

them at every pore. Thomas Warton's poems, issued separately from time to time, were first published collectively in 1777. They are all imitative, and most of them imitative of Milton. His two best odes, "On the First of April" and "On the Approach of Summer," are in the familiar octosyllabics.

"Haste thee, Nymph! and hand in hand, With thee lead a buxom band; Bring fantastic-footed joy, With Sport, that yellow-tressed boy," etc.[13]

In Gray and Collins, though one can hardly read a page without being reminded of Milton, it is commonly in subtler ways than this. Gray, for example, has been careful to point out in his notes his verbal obligations to Milton, as well as to Shakspere, Cowley, Dryden, Pindar, Vergil, Dante, and others; but what he could not well point out, because it was probably unconscious, was the impulse which Milton frequently gave to the whole exercise of his imagination. It is not often that Gray treads so closely in Milton's footsteps as he does in the latest of his poems, the ode written for music, and performed at Cambridge in 1769 on the installation of the Duke of Grafton as Chancellor; in which Milton is made to sing a stanza in the meter of the "Nativity Ode";

"Ye brown o'er-arching groves That Contemplation loves, Where willowy Camus lingers with delight; Oft at the blush of dawn I trod your level lawn, Oft wooed the gleam of Cynthia, silver bright, In cloisters dim, far from the haunts of Folly, With Freedom by my side, and soft-eyed Melancholy."


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