John Milton

(9 December 1608 – 8 November 1674 / London, England)

Methought I Saw My Late Espoused Saint


Methought I saw my late espoused Saint
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
Who Jove's great Son to her glad Husband gave,
Rescu'd from death by force though pale and faint.
Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heav'n without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was veil'd, yet to my fancied sight
Love, sweetness, goodness in her person shin'd
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O as to embrace me she enclin'd
I wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003
Edited: Thursday, October 24, 2013

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  • John Dollard (9/30/2006 8:32:00 AM)

    The phrase 'day brought back my night' is brilliant, and carries more freight than any other I know. There is the shock of the oxymoron: how can day bring night? But much more importantly, there are two ways in which day brings back Milton's night: first, emotionally-the 'emotional day' of the dream, in which his wife lives still, is replaced with the 'emotional night' of reality, in which she is dead. But also Milton was blind at the time, so that the 'visual day' of the dream, in which he could see, is replaced by the 'visual night' of reality, in which he is blind. All in five words. Astonishing. (Report) Reply

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