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"Hence, Vain Deluding Joys"

(Magill's Quotations in Context)

Context: John Milton began the companion piece to "Il Penseroso," "L'Allegro," which is about gayety and mirth, with a command to Melancholy to be gone. Here he begins "Il Penseroso," which is about thoughtfulness, seriousness, and a pleasing kind of melancholy, by telling all sorts of Joys to go away, as being unworthy of his attention. He here achieves a delightfully comic effect, for in "L'Allegro," he has just written a magnificent encomium on joy and mirth and such emotions. But there are two sides to every complete nature, the light and the serious, and here Milton is glorifying the serious. At the beginning of "Il Penseroso" he tells all joys and idle fancies to leave him and occupy a brain not engrossed with thought. He begins the poem in this fashion:

Hence, vain deluding Joys,
The brood of Folly without father bred,
How little you bested,
Or fill the fixéd mind with all your toys;
Dwell in some idle brain,
And fancies fond with gaudy shapes possess,
As thick and numberless
As the gay motes that people the sunbeams,
Or likest hovering dreams,
The fickle pensioners of Morpheus' train.