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Upon the Circumcision by John Milton


"Upon the Circumcision" is a poem written by John Milton. Even though this is often dated as 1633, the actual date is unknown. However, scholars agree that it was one of Milton's early writings. The poem is about the Feast of Circumcision which takes place on January 1. Nonetheless, the poem also speaks of Christ's life, the liturgical calendar, and the apocalyptic events they pointed towards.

"Upon the Circumcision" is written as two stanzas with fourteen lines each. The first stanza contains the rhyme scheme ABCBACCDDCEFFE. The second stanza is written as ABCBACCDDCEFFE as well. This gives the overall poem uniformity and, since it's a rhyme scheme made up by Milton, it helps set the rhythm for the reader.


Upon the Circumcision

Ye flaming Powers, and winged Warriours bright,
That erst with Musick, and triumphant song
First heard by happy watchful Shepherds ear,
So sweetly sung your Joy the Clouds along
Through the soft silence of the list'ning night;
Now mourn, and if sad share with us to bear
Your fiery essence can distill no tear,
Burn in your sighs, and borrow
Seas wept from our deep sorrow,
He who with all Heav'ns heraldry whileare
Enter'd the world, now bleeds to give us ease;
Alas, how soon our sin
Sore doth begin
His Infancy to sease!

O more exceeding love or law more just?
Just law indeed, but more exceeding love!
For we by rightfull doom remediles
Were lost in death, till he that dwelt above
High thron'd in secret bliss, for us frail dust
Emptied his glory, ev'n to nakednes;
And that great Cov'nant which we still transgress
Intirely satisfi'd,
And the full wrath beside
Of vengeful Justice bore for our excess,
And seals obedience first with wounding smart
This day, but O ere long
Huge pangs and strong
Will pierce more neer his heart.

Next: When I consider How My Light is Spent
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Literary Movement
17th Century


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