‘Hail, holy light…’


…from the quills of the dead white poets


John Milton (1608 – 1674)


 Hail, holy light, offspring of Heaven first-born,

 Or of th’ Eternal coeternal beam

 May I express thee unblam’d? Since God is light,

 And never but in unapproached light

 Dwelt from eternity, dwelt then in thee,

 Bright effluence of bright essence increate.

 Or hear’st thou rather pure ethereal stream,

 Whose fountain who shall tell? Before the Sun,

 Before the Heavens thou wert, and at the voice

 Of God, as with a mantle didst invest

 The rising world of waters dark and deep,

 Won from the void and formless Infinite.

 Thee I revisit now with bolder wing,

 Escap’d the Stygian Pool, though long detain’d

 In that obscure sojourn, while in my flight

 Through utter and through middle darkness borne,

 With other notes than to Orphean lyre

 I sung of Chaos and eternal Night,

 taught by the heav’nly Muse to venture down

 The dark descent, and up to reascend,

 Though hard and rare: thee I revisit safe,

 And feel thy sovran vital lamp; but thou

 Revisit’st not these eyes, that roll in vain

 To find thy piercing ray, and finding no dawn;

 So thick a drop serene hath quencht their orbs,

 Or dim suffusion veil’d. Yet not more

 Cease I to wander where the Muses haunt

 Clear spring, or shady grove, or sunny hill,

 Smit with love of sacred song; but chief

Thee Sion and the flowery brooks beneath,

 That wash thy hallow’d feet, and warbling flow,

 Nightly I visit: nor sometimes forget

 Those other two equall’d with me in fate,

 So were I equall’d with them in renown,

 Blind Thamyris and blind Maeonides,

 And Tiresias and Phineus prophets old.

 Then feed on thoughts, that voluntary move

 Harmonious numbers; as the wakeful bird

 Sings darkling, and in shadiest covert hid

 Tunes her nocturnal note. Thus with the year

 Seasons return, but not to me returns

 Day, or the sweet approach of ev’n or morn,

 Or sight of vernal bloom, or summer’s rose,

 or flocks, or herds, or human face divine;

 But cloud instead, and ever-during dark

 Surrounds me, from the cheerful ways of men

 Cut off, and for the book of knowledge fair

 Presented with a universal blank

 Of Nature’s works to me expung’d and ras’d

 And wisdom at one entrance quite shut out.

 So much the rather thou Celestial Light

 Shine inward, and the mind through all her powers

 Irradiate, there plant eyes, all mist from thence

 Purge and disperse, that I may see and tell

 Of things invisible to mortal sight.

(From Paradise Lost, Book III


About Paul Jacko

Jacko was born in Czechoslovakia not long before the communist putsch in February 1948. He studied industrial chemistry there and left in 1969 for Australia, where he became a lawyer and established his own practice. He has now retired and beside hunting, fishing, camping, prospecting and playing golf he amuses himself by writing.
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One Response to ‘Hail, holy light…’

  1. Manchester Man says:

    Once again another great entry.

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