John Milton

Here you will find the Long Poem On the Morning of Christs Nativity of poet John Milton

On the Morning of Christs Nativity


This is the month, and this the happy morn, 
Wherein the Son of Heaven?s eternal King, 
Of wedded maid and Virgin Mother born, 
Our great redemption from above did bring; 
For so the holy sages once did sing, 
That he our deadly forfeit should release, 
And with his Father work us a perpetual peace. 


That glorious Form, that Light unsufferable, 
And that far-beaming blaze of majesty, 
Wherewith he wont at Heaven?s high council-table 
To sit the midst of Trinal Unity, 
He laid aside, and, here with us to be, 
Forsook the Courts of everlasting Day, 
And chose with us a darksome house of mortal clay. 


Say, Heavenly Muse, shall not thy sacred vein 
Afford a present to the Infant God? 
Hast thou no verse, no hymn, or solemn strain, 
To welcome him to this his new abode, 
Now while the heaven, by the Sun?s team untrod,
Hath took no print of the approaching light, 
And all the spangled host keep watch in squadrons bright? 


See how from far upon the Eastern road 
The star-led Wisards haste with odours sweet! 
Oh! run; prevent them with thy humble ode, 
And lay it lowly at his blessèd feet; 
Have thou the honour first thy Lord to greet, 
And join thy voice unto the Angel Quire, 
From out his secret altar touched with hallowed fire. 

The Hymn

It was the winter wild, 
While the heaven-born child 
All meanly wrapt in the rude manger lies; 
Nature, in awe to him, 
Had doffed her gaudy trim, 
With her great Master so to sympathize: 
It was no season then for her 
To wanton with the Sun, her lusty Paramour. 


Only with speeches fair 
She woos the gentle air 
To hide her guilty front with innocent snow, 
And on her naked shame, 
Pollute with sinful blame, 
The saintly veil of maiden white to throw; 
Confounded, that her Maker?s eyes 
Should look so near upon her foul deformities. 


But he, her fears to cease,
Sent down the meek-eyed Peace: 
She, crowned with olive green, came softly sliding 
Down through the turning sphere, 
His ready Harbinger, 
With turtle wing the amorous clouds dividing; 
And, waving wide her myrtle wand, 
She strikes a universal peace through sea and land. 


No war, or battail?s sound, 
Was heard the world around; 
The idle spear and shield were high uphung; 
The hookèd chariot stood, 
Unstained with hostile blood; 
The trumpet spake not to the armèd throng; 
And Kings sat still with awful eye, 
As if they surely knew their sovran Lord was by. 


But peaceful was the night 
Wherein the Prince of Light 
His reign of peace upon the earth began. 
The winds, with wonder whist, 
Smoothly the waters kissed, 
Whispering new joys to the mild Ocean, 
Who now hath quite forgot to rave, 
While birds of calm sit brooding on the charmed wave. 


The stars, with deep amaze, 
Stand fixed in steadfast gaze, 
Bending one way their precious influence, 
And will not take their flight, 
For all the morning light, 
Or Lucifer that often warned them thence; 
But in their glimmering orbs did glow, 
Until their Lord himself bespake, and bid them go. 


And, though the shady gloom 
Had given day her room, 
The Sun himself withheld his wonted speed, 
And hid his head of shame, 
As his inferior flame 
The new-enlightened world no more should need: 
He saw a greater Sun appear 
Than his bright Throne or burning axletree could bear. 


The Shepherds on the lawn, 
Or ere the point of dawn, 
Sat simply chatting in a rustic row; 
Full little thought they than 
That the mighty Pan 
Was kindly come to live with them below: 
Perhaps their loves, or else their sheep, 
Was all that did their silly thoughts so busy keep. 


When such music sweet 
Their hearts and ears did greet 
As never was by mortal finger strook, 
Divinely-warbled voice 
Answering the stringèd noise, 
As all their souls in blissful rapture took: 
The air, such pleasure loth to lose, 
With thousand echoes still prolongs each heavenly close. 


Nature, that heard such sound 
Beneath the hollow round 
Of Cynthia?s seat the airy Region thrilling, 
Now was almost won 
To think her part was done, 
And that her reign had here its last fulfilling: 
She knew such harmony alone 
Could hold all Heaven and Earth in happier union. 


At last surrounds their sight 
A globe of circular light, 
That with long beams the shamefaced Night arrayed; 
The helmèd Cherubim 
And sworded Seraphim 
Are seen in glittering ranks with wings displayed, 
Harping in loud and solemn quire, 
With unexpressive notes, to Heaven?s newborn Heir. 


Such music (as