The White Shoe Irregular:
It was fun while it lasted.

To Milton (a translation)

Marilyn Nelson

Milton! You should be here with us today
To set us straight. We're like a filthy lake
That doesn't move: can't write, can't fight, can't pray.
Time was, a home was all that it would take
To make us happy. Now we're so blasť
That we need more. O, we have gone astray.
Come back; tell us your death was a mistake;
We'll be politer — better — if you stay.

Milton, your soul lived galaxies away,
And one could drown beneath your soggy prose.
You're kind of like a sky not wearing clothes.
You walked along the road to Judgment Day
Wearing a sort of beatific smirk,
Letting your heart do all the dirty work.

·  ·  ·

(London, 1802

Milton! Thou should'st be living at this hour:
England hath need of thee: she is a fen
Of stagnant waters: altar, sword, and pen,
Fireside, the heroic wealth of hall and bower,
Have forfeited their ancient English dower
Of inward happiness. We are selfish men;
Oh! raise us up, return to us again;
And give us manners, virtue, freedom, power.

Thy soul was like a Star, and dwelt apart:
Thou hadst a voice whose sound was like the sea:
Pure as the naked heavens, majestic, free,
So didst thou travel on life's common way,
In cheerful godliness; and yet thy heart
The lowliest duties on herself did lay.

— William Wordsworth)