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Lines on Seeing a Lock of Milton’s Hair

    Chief of organic numbers!
       Old scholar of the spheres!
    Thy spirit never slumbers,
       But rolls about our ears
    For ever, and for ever:
    O, what a mad endeavour
          Worketh he,
Who, to thy sacred and ennobled hearse,
Would offer a burnt sacrifice of verse
          And melody.

    How heavenward thou soundedst,
       Live temple of sweet noise;
    And discord unconfoundedst, –
       Giving delight new joys,
    And pleasure nobler pinions –
    O, where are thy dominions?
          Lend thine ear,
To a young Delian oath – aye, by thy soul,
By all that from thy mortal lips did roll;
And by the kernel of thine earthly love,
Beauty, in things on earth and things above;
    When every childish fashion
       Has vanish’d from my rhyme,
    Will I, grey-gone in passion,
       Leave to an after time
          Hymning and harmony
Of thee, and of thy works, and of thy life;
But vain is now the burning, and the strife,
Pangs are in vain – until I grow high-rife
        With old philosophy;
And mad with glimpses at futurity!

For many years my offerings must be hush’d.
   When I do speak, I’ll think upon this hour,
Because I feel my forehead hot and flush’d –
   Even at the simplest vassal of thy power;
          A lock of thy bright hair –
          Sudden it came,
And I was startled, when I caught thy name
          Coupled so unaware;
Yet at the moment, temperate was my blood –
Methought I had beheld it from the Flood.