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To the first edition of the author's poems, printed in 1645, was prefixed the following advertisement of
The STATIONER to the READER.
T is not any private respect of gain, gentle Reader,
for the slightest pamphlet is now-a-days more vendible than the works of learnedeft men; but it is the love I have to our own language, that hath made me diligent to collect and fet forth fuch pieces both in profe and verfe, as may renew the wonted honor and esteem of our English tongue: and it's the worth of these both English and Latin poems, not the florish of any prefixed encomiums, that can invite thee to buy them, though these are not without the highest commendations and applause of the learnedeft Academics, both domestic and foreign; and amongst those of our own country, the unparallel'd atteftation of that renown'd Provost of Eton, Sir Henry Wotton. I know not thy palate how it relishes fuch dainties, nor how harmonious thy foul is; perhaps more trivial airs may please thee better. But howsoever thy opinion is spent upon these, that encouragement I have already received from the most ingenious men in their clear and courteous entertainment of Mr. Waller's late choice pieces, hath once more made me adventure into the world, presenting it with these ever-green, and not to be blasted laurels. The Author's more peculiar excellency in thefe ftudies was too well known to conceal his papers, or to keep me from attempting to folicit them from
The STATIONER to the READER. him. Let the event guide itself which way it will, I shall deferve of the age, by bringing into the light as true a birth, as the Muses have brought forth fince our famous Spenfer wrote; whofe poems in these English ones are as rarely imitated, as fweetly excell'd. Reader, if thou art eagle-ey'd to censure their worth, I am not fearful to expose them to thy exactest perusal.
Thine to command,
POEMS on feveral OCCASIONS.
On the Death of a fair Infant, dying of a cough*.
Fairest flower no fooner blown but blafted, Soft filken primrose fading timelefly, Summer's chief honor, if thou hadst out-lasted Bleak Winter's force that made thy bloffom dry; For he being amorous on that lovely dye
That did thy cheek envermeil, thought to kiss, But kill'd, alas, and then bewail'd his fatal bliss.
* This elegy was not inserted in the first edition of the author's poems printed in 1645, but was added in the fecond edition printed in 1673. It was compos'd in the year 1625, that being the 17th year of Milton's age. In fome editions the title runs thus, On the death of a fair Infant, a nephew of his, dying of a cough: but the fequel shows plainly that the child was not a nephew, but a niece, and confequently a daughter of his fifter Philips, and probably her first child.
For fince grim Aquilo his charioteer
Of long-uncoupled bed, and childless eld,
Which 'mongst the wanton Gods a foul reproach was
So mounting up in icy-pearled car,
Through middle empire of the freezing air
He wander'd long, till thee he spy'd from far:
But all unwares with his cold kind embrace Unhous'd thy virgin foul from her fair biding-place.
Yet art thou not inglorious in thy fate;
But then transform'd him to a purple flower:
Yet can I not perfuade me thou art dead,
Or that thy corfe corrupts in earth's dark womb,
Hid from the world in a low delved tomb;
Could Heav'n for pity thee fo ftrictly doom?