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William Habington ward am 5. November 1605 zu Hendlip in Worcestershire geboren; seine Familie war römisch-katholisch und tief in die damaligen Unruhen verwickelt. Er ward von den Jesuiten zu St. Omer erzogen, trat aber, obwohl dafür bestimmt, nicht in ihren Orden, sondern kehrte nach England zurück und vermählte sich mit Lucia Herbert, Tochter des ersten Lord Powis, die er in seinen Gedichten als Castara feierte. An den Bewegungen seiner Zeit nahm er nur geringen Antheil; auch starb er schon am 30. November 1654.

Seine Gedichte erschienen zuerst 1634 und zerfallen in drei Abschnitte: a Mistress, a Wife, a Holy Man. Jedem derselben geht eine Einleitung in Prosa, a Character betitelt, voran. Sie zeichnen sich durch reine Sittlichkeit, tiefes und wahres Gefühl und Anmuth aus und wenn sich der Dichter auch mitunter in künstlichen Witzspielen nach dem Geschmack seiner Tage gefällt, so verzeiht man ihm das gern um seiner übrigen trefflichen Eigenschaften willen.

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John Milton, der berühmteste epische Dichter der Engländer, ward am 9. December 1608 in London, wo sein Vater Notarius war, geboren. Er erhielt eine gelehrte Bildung und bezog bereits durch seine Fähigkeiten ausgezeichnet, im sechszehnten Lebensjahre die Universität Cambrigde, wo er sich vorzüglich mit poetischen Studien beschäftigte. Nachdem er dort Magister der freien Künste geworden, lebte er längere Zeit zurückgezogen im elterlichen Hause und machte dann eine Reise durch Frankreich und Italien. Nach seiner Rückkehr legte er eine Schule an, um eine nene von ihm ersonnene Methode des Unterrichtes prastisch in den Leben zu rufen. Als die bürgerlichen Unruhen ausbrachen trat er auf die Seite des Protectors, das er wiederholt durch Schriften vertheidigte, worauf er lateinischer Geheimschreiber des Parlaments wurde. Er suchte später die Restauration zu verhindern, weshalb er durch Karl II. von der Amnestie ausgeschlossen wurde, doch erhielt er später durch Davenant's (S. d.) Vermittelung seine Verzeihung. Während der Zeit der Pest zog er sich nach Chalfont in Buckinghamshire zurück und vollendete hier sein grosses Epos: das verlorene Paradies, dem er später auf Veranlassung seines Freundes Elwood, eines Quäkers, das wiedergewonnene Paradies folgen liess. Milton starb, schon lange erblindet, (seit 1652) aber trotz seiner Blindheit fortwährend thätig , am Sten November 1674. Er war drei Mal verheirathet, seine erste Ehe war nicht glücklich, desto schöner und segensreicher aber die beiden andern.

Seine poetischen Werke von den andern kann hier nicht die Rede sein enthalten: the Paradise lost (zuerst erschienen London 1667 in 4) the Paradise regained (zuerst London 1670 in 8) die Dramen Samson Agonistes und Comus, die beschreibenden Gedichte L'Allegro und Il Penseroso, das elegische Gedicht Lycidas, die berühmte Ode auf Christi Geburt, lyrische kieinere Poesieen, Sonette u. A. m. Sie sind oft herausgegeben worden, am Besten von J. H. Todd, London 1801, 6 Bde u. öfterer.

Ein englischer Kritiker characterisirt Milton als Dichter mit folgenden Worten: Das Wesen seiner Werke ist mit einem Worte zu schildern, da dieses Wort die Vollendung der äussersten begreiflichen Grösse in sich fasst. Sie waren episch. Die Leidenschaft in ihnen erreicht uns durch die Vermittelung der Einbildungskraft, gross und fern, aber dauernd und allgemein. Der Cha

racter in denselben ist einfach, nicht vielseitig, nur den mächtigsten Umständen unterworfen und bis zur sublimsten Sphäre der Handlung emporgehoben. Diesen unterthan übt Milton jede Function des Dichters aus, Anmuth, natürliche Anschauung, unvergleichliche Schönheit der Beschreibung, Gedankenreichthum und Phantasie. An Kraft des Ausdrucks ist ihm nach unserer Meinung nie Jemand gleich gekommen.

L'Allegro.

Through the sweet-briar, or the vine,

On the twisted eglantine: Hence, loathed Melancholy,

While the cock with lively din Of Cerberus and blackest Midnight born, Scatters the rear of darknes thin, In Stygian cave forlorn,

And to the stack, or the barn-dore, 'Mongst horrid shapes, and shrieks, and sights Stoutly struts his dames before,

unholy,

Oft list'ning how the hounds and horn Find out some uncouth cell,

Chearly rouse the slumb'ring morn, Where brooding Darkness spreads his jealous From the side of some hoar hill,

wings,

Through the high wood echoing shrill:
And the night raven sings;

Sometime walking not unseen
There under ebon shades, and low brow'd rocks, By hedge-row elms, er hillocks green,
As ragged as thy locks,

Right against the eastern gate,
In dark Cimmerian desert ever dwell. Where the great Sun begins his state,
But come, thou Goddess, fair and free,

Roab'd in flames and amber light,
In Heav'n yclep'd Euphrosyne,

The clouds in thousand liveries dight, And by men, heart-easing Mirth,

While the plowman neer at hand Whom lovely Venus at a birth

Whistles o're the furrow'd land, Whit two sister Graces more

And the milkmaid singeth blithe, To ivy-crowned Bacchus bore;

And the mower whets his scythe, Or whether (as some sages sing)

And every shepherd tells his tale The frolic wind that breathes the spring, Under the hawthorn in the dale. Zephyr with Aurora playing,

Strait mine eye hath caught new pleasures, As he met her once a-maying,

Whilst the landskip round it measures; There on beds of violets blue,

Russet lawns, and fallows gray, And fresh-blown roses wash't in dew,

Where the nibling flocks do stray, Fill'd her with thee a daughter fair,

Mountains on whose barren brest So bucksom, blithe, and debonair.

The labouring clouds do often rest; Haste thee, Nymph, and bring with thee Meadows trim with daisies pied, Jest and youthful Jollity,

Shallow brooks and rivers wide. Quips and cranks, and wanton wiles,

Towers and battlements it sees Nods and becks, and wreathed smiles,

Boosom'd high in tufted trees, Such as hang on Hebe's cheek,

Where perhaps some beauty lies, Arid love to live in dimple sleek;

The Cynosure of neighb'ring eyes. Sport that wrinkled Care derides,

Hard by, a cottage chimney smokes, And Laughter holding both his sides.

From betwixt two aged okes, Come, and trip it as you go

Where Corydon and Thyrsis met, On the light fantastick toe;

Are at their savory dinner set And in thy right hand lead with thee,

Of hearbs, and other country messes, The inountain nymph, sweet Liberty;

Which the neat-handed Phyllis dresses; And if I give thee honour due,

And then in haste her bowre she leaves, Mirth, admit me of thy crew

With Thestylis to bind the sheaves; To live with her, and live with thee,

Or if the earlier season lead In unreproved pleasures free;

To the tann'd haycock in the mead. To hear the lark begin his flight,

Sometimes with secure delight And singing startle the dull night,

The upland hamlets will invite From his watch-towre in the skies,

When the merry bells ring round, Till the dappled dawn doth rise;

And the jocond rebecks sound Then to come in spight of sorrow,

To many a youth, and many a maid, And at my window bid good-morrow,

Dancing in the chequer'd shade;

Il Penseros 0.

And young and old com forth to play
On a sunshine holyday,
Till the live-long daylight fail;
Then to the spicy nut-brown ale,
With stories told of many a feat,
How faery Mab the junke eat,
She was pincht and pull’d, she said,
And by the friar's lantern led;
Tells how the drudging goblin swet,
To ern his cream-bowle duly set,
When in one night, ere glimpse of morn,
His shadowy flale hath thresh'd the corn
That ten day-labourers could not end;
Then lies him down the lubbar fiend,
And stretch'd out all the chimney's length,
Basks at the fire his hairy strength
And crop-full out of dores he fings,
Ere the first cock his mattin rings.
Thus done the tales, to bed they creep,
By whisp'ring winds soon lull'd asleep.
Towred cities please us then,
And the busie humm of men,
Where throngs of knights and barons bold,
In weeds of peace high triumphs hold,
With store of ladies, whose bright eyes
Rain influence, and judge the prize
Of wit, or arms, while both contend.
To win her grace, whom all commend.
There let Hymen oft appear
In saffron robe, with taper clear,
And Pomp, and Feast, and Revelry,
With Mask and antique Pageantry,
Such sights as youthful poets dream,
On summer eves by haunted stream.
Then to the well-trod stage anon,
If Jonson's learned sock be on,
Or sweetest Shakespear, Fancy's childe,
Warble his native wood-notes wilde.
And ever against eating cares,
Lap me in soft Lydian aires,
Married to immortal verse,
Such as the meeting soul may pierce
In notes, with many a winding bout
Of lincked sweetness long drawn out,
With wanton heed, and giddy cunning,
The melting voice through mazes running,
Untwisting all the chains, that tye
The hidden soul of harmony;
That Orpheus' self may heave his head
From golden slumber on a bed
Of heap'd Elysian flow’rs, and hear
Such strains as would have won the ear
Of Pluto, to have quite set free
His half-regain'd Eurydice.
These delights, if thou canst give
Mirth, with thee I mean to live.

Hence, vain deluding Joyes,

The brood of Folly without father bred, How little you bested

Or fill the fixed mind with all your toyes ? Dwell in some idle brain,

And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess, As thick and numberless

As the gay motes that people the sunbeams, Or likest hovering dreams

The tickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.
But hail, thou Goddess, sage and holy,
Hail divinest Melancholy,
Whose saintly visage is too bright
To hit the sense of human sight,
And therefore to our weaker view
O’relaid with black, staid Wisdom's hue;
Black, but such as in esteem
Prince Memnon's sister might beseem,
Or that starr'd Ethiope queen that strove
To set her beautie's praise above
The sea-nymphs, and their pow'rs offended :
Yet thou art higher far descended.
Thee bright-hair'd Vesta long of yore
To solitary Saturn bore;
His daughter she (in Saturn's reign,
Such mixture was not held a stain)
Oft in glimmering bowres and glades
He met her, and in secret shades
Of woody Ida's inmost grove,
While yet there was no fear of Jove.
Come pensive nun, devout and pure,
Sober, stedfast, and demure,
All in a robe of darkest grain,
Following with majestick train,
And sable stole of Ciprus lawn,
Over thy decent shoulders drawn.
Come, but keep thy wonted state,
With even step, and musing gate,
And looks commercing with the skies,
Thy rapt soul sitting in thine eyes :
There held in holy passion still,
Forget thyself to marble, till
With a sad leaden downward cast
Thou fix them on the earth as fast:

And joyn with thee calm Peace, and Quiet,
Spare Fast, that oft with Gods doth diet,
And hears the Muses in a ring,
Aye round about Jove's altar sing:
And add to these retired Leasure,
That in trim gardens takes his pleasure;
But first, and chiefest, with thee bring,
Him that yon soars on golden wing,
Guiding the fiery-wheeled throne,
The cherub Contemplation;
And the mute Silence hist along,

'Less Philomel will deign a song, In her sweetest, saddest plight, Smoothing the rugged brow of Night, While Cynthia checks her dragon yoke, Gently o’er th' accustom'd oke; Sweet bird that shunn'st the noise of folly, Most musical, most melancholy! Thee chauntress oft the woods among, I woo to hear thy even-song; And missing thee, I walk unseen On the dry smooth-shaven green. To behold the wand'ring moon Riding neer her highest noon, Like one that had bin led astray Through the Heav'ns wide pathles way; And oft, as if her head she bow'd Stooping through a fleecy cloud. Oft on a plat rising ground, I hear the far-off curfew sound, Over some wide-water'd shoar, Swinging slow with sullen roar; Or if the ayre will not permit, Some still removed place will fit, Where glowing embers through the room Teach light to counterfeit a gloom, Far from all resort of mirth, Save the cricket on the hearth, Or the bellman's drowsie charm, To bless the dores from nightly harm. Or let my lamp at midnight hour, Be seen in some high lonely towre, Where I may oft out-watch the Bear, With thrice great Hermes, or unsphear The spirit of Plato to unfold What worlds, or what vast regions hold The inmortal mind that hath forsook Her mansion in this fleshly nook: And of those daemons that are found In fire, air, flood, or under ground, Whose power hath a true consent, With planet, or with element. Sometime let gorgeous Tragedy In scepter'd pall come sweeping by, Presenting Thebes' or Pelops' line, Or the tale of Troy divine, Or what (though rare) of later age Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage. But, O sad Virgin, that thy power Might raise Musaeus from his bower, Or bid the soul of Orpheus sing Such notes, as warbled to the string, Drew iron tears down Pluto's cheek, And made Hell grant what Love did seek. Or call up him that left half told The story of Cambuscan bold, Of Camball, and of Algarsife, And who haud Canace to wife,

That own'd the vertuous ring and glass,
And of the wondrous horse of brass,
On which the Tartar king did ride;
And if aught else great bards beside
In sage and solemn tunes have sung,
Of turneys and of trophies hung,
Of forests and inchantments drear,

Where more is meant than meets the ear.
Thus Night oft see me in thy pale career,
Till civil-suited morn appeer,
Not trickt and flounct as she was wont
With the Attick boy to hunt,
But cherchef'd in a comely cloud,
While rocking winds are piping loud,
Or usher'd with a shower still,
When the gust hath blown his fill,
Ending on the rustling leaves,
With minute drops m off the eaves.
And when the sun begins to fling
His flaring beams, me Goddess bring

To arched walks of twilight groves,
And shadows brown that Sylvan loves
Of pine, or monumental oake,
Where the rude ax with heaved stroke

Was never heard the nymphs to daunt,
Or fright them from their hallow'd haunt.
There in close covert by some brook,
Where no profaner eye may look,
Hide me from Day's garish eye,
While the bee with honied thigh,
That at her flowry work doth sing,
And the waters murmuring,
With such consort as they keep,

Entice the dewy-feather'd sleep:
And let some strange mysterious dream

Wave at his wings in airy stream
Of lively portraiture display'd,
Softly on my eyelids laid.
And as I wake, sweet music breathe
Above, about, or underneath,
Sent by some spirit to mortals good,
Or th' unseen Genius of the wood.
But let my due feet never fail
To walk the studious cloysters pale,
And love the high embowed roof,
With antick pillars massy proof,
And storied windows richly dight,
Casting a dimm religious light.
There let the pealing organ blow
To the full-voic'd quire below

In service high, and anthems cleer,
As may with sweetness, through mine ear,
Dissolve me into exstasies,
And bring all Heav'n before mine eyes.
And may at last my weary age
Find out the peacefull hermitage,
The hairy gown and mossy cell,

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