Verse > Anthologies > Hunt and Lee, eds. > The Book of the Sonnet
Hunt and Lee, comps.  The Book of the Sonnet.  1867.
VIII. A Dream of His Lost Wife
By John Milton (1608–1674)
METHOUGHT I saw my late espoused saint
  Brought to me, like Alcestis, from the grave,
  Whom Jove’s great son to her glad husband gave,
  Rescued from death by force, though pale and faint.
Mine (as whom, washed from spot of child-bed taint,        5
  Purification in th’ old Law did save,
  And such as yet once more I trust to have
  Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint)
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
  Her face was veiled, yet to my fancied sight,        10
  Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shined
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
  But O, as to embrace me she inclined,
  I waked, she fled, and day brought back my night! 1
Note 1. This conclusion has been thought a “conceit,” but it is not. The idea is perfectly warranted by the feeling. Returning day, to those who have undergone such calamities, does bring back a veritable night-like gloom to the soul, darker even for the light.
  But with no irreverence be it said, that Milton should not have used the word “taint” in connection with child-bed. There is no taint where the mind is not tainted; and the word on such an occasion desecrated both mind and heart. [back]

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