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Short poem

John Milton (1608-1674)

To Mr. Lawrence

              1Lawrence, of virtuous father virtuous son,
              2     Now that the fields are dank, and ways are mire,
              3     Where shall we sometimes meet, and by the fire
              4     Help waste a sullen day; what may be won
              5From the hard season gaining? Time will run
              6     On smoother, till Favonius re-inspire
              7     The frozen earth, and clothe in fresh attire
              8     The lily and rose, that neither sow'd nor spun.
              9What neat repast shall feast us, light and choice,
            10     Of Attic taste, with wine, whence we may rise
            11     To hear the lute well touch'd, or artful voice
            12Warble immortal notes and Tuscan air?
            13     He who of those delights can judge, and spare
            14     To interpose them oft, is not unwise.


1] This sonnet is addressed to Edward Lawrence (1633-79), son of Henry Lawrence, President of Cromwell's Council of State.

6] Favonius: Zephyrus, the west wind.

8] Cf. Matt. vi.28.

10] Attic: i.e., frugal and refined.

12] Tuscan air: the songs of Italy.

13] spare to interpose them oft: refrain from indulging in them often; or, spare time to indulge in them often. The former accords better with the Horatian sentiment of the poem.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: John Milton, Poems, 2nd edn. (London: Thomas Dring, 1673); facs. edn., Complete Poetical Works reproduced in photographic facsimile, comp. H. F. Fletcher (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1943-48). PR 3551 F52 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1673
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.371; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/4/24

Composition date: 1655
Form: sonnet
Rhyme: abbaabbacdceed

Other poems by John Milton