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Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more, To lay their just hands on that golden key,
That opes the palace of Eternity :
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove 20 Through the dear might of him that walk'd the Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles,
That, like to rich and various gems, inlay
Which he, to grace his tributary gods,
By course commits to several government, In the blest kingdoms meek of joy and love.
And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns, There entertain him all the saints above,
And wield their little tridents : but this isle, In solemn troops, and sweet societies,
The greatest and the best of all the main, That sing, and, singing in their glory, move, He quarters to his blue-hair'd deities; And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
And all this tract that fronts the falling Sun 30 Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more; 180 A noble peer of mickle trust and power Henceforth thou art the genius of the shore, Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide In thy large recompense, and shalt be good An old and haughty nation, proud in arms : To all that wander in that perilous flood.
Where his fair offspring, nurs'd in princely lore, Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and Are coming to attend their father's state, rills,
And new-entrusted sceptre : but their way While the still Morn went out with sandals gray; Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood, He touch'd the tender stops of various quills, The nodding horrour of whose shady brows With eager thought warbling his Doric lay ;
Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger;
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape
Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine,
After the Tuscan mariners transform'd,
On Circe's island fell : (Who knows not Circe, 50 THE ATTENDANT Spirit, afterwards in the habit of The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup THYRSIS.
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a grovelling swine ?) Comus, with his crew.
This nymph, that gaz'd upon his clustering locks THE LADY.
With ivy berries wreath'd, and his blithe youth, FIRST BROTHER.
Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son SECOND BROTHER.
Much like his father, but his mother more, Sabrina, the Nymph.
Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus nam'd:
Who, ripe and frolic of his full grown age,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields
At last betakes him to this ominous wood;
And, in thick shelter of black shades imbower'd,
Excels his mother at her mighty art,
To quench the drought of Phæbus; which as they
(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst :) The ATTENDANT SPIRIT descends or enters.
Soon as the potion works, their human countenance,
The express resemblance of the gods, is chang'd BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court Into some brutish form of wolf, or bear, 70 My mansion is, where those immortal shapes Or ounce, or tiger, hog, or bearded goat, Of bright aëreal spirits live inspher'd
All other parts remaining as they were ; In regions mild of calm and serene air,
And they, so perfect is their misery, Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,
Not once perceive their foul disfigureinent, Which men call earth; and, with low-thoughted care But boast themselves more comely than before ; Confin'd and pester'd in this pin-fold here,
And all their friends and native home forget, Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being, To roll with pleasure in a sensual stye. Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives,
Therefore when any, favour'd of high Jove, After this mortal change, to her true servants, 10 Chances to pass through this adventurous glade, Amongst the enthron'd gods on sainted seats. Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire
I shoot from Heaven, to give him safe convoy,
As now I do: but first I must put off
Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
Break off, break off, I feel the different pace Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar,
Of some chaste footing near about this ground. And hush the waving woods ; nor of less faith,
Run to your shrouds, within these brakes and trees; And in this office of his mountain watch
Our number may afsright : some virgin sure Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid 90
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
149 Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
Benighted in these woods Now to my charms, Of hateful steps; I must be viewless now.
And to my wily trains: I shall ere long
Be well-stocked with as fair a herd as graz'd Comus enters with a charming-rod in one hanı, his About my mother Circe. Thus I hurī
glass in the other ; with him a rout of monsters, My dazzling spells into the spungy air,
And put the damsel to suspicious flight;
Which must not be, for that's against my course:
I, under fair pretence of friendly ends, The star, that bids the shepherd fold,
And well-plac'd words of glozing courtesy Now the top of Heaven doth hold;
Baited with reasons not unplausible, And the gilded car of day
Wind me into the easy-hearted man, His glowing axle doth allay
And hug him into snares. When once her eye In the steep Atlantic stream ;
Hath met the virtue of this magic dust, And the slope Sun his upward beam
I shall appear some harmless villager, Shoots against the dusky pole,
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear. Pacing towards the other goal
100 But here she comes; I fairly step aside, Of his chamber in the east.
And hearken, if I may, her business here.
The Lady enters.
This way the noise was, if mine ear be true,
My best guide now; methought it was the sound Rigour now is gone to bed,
Of riot and ill-manag'd merriment, And advice with scrupulous head.
Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe, Strict Age and sour Severity,
Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds; With their grave saws, in slumber lie. 110 When for their teeming flocks, and granges full, We, that are of purer fire,
In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan, Imitate the starry quire,
And thank the gods amiss. I should be loth Who, in their nightly watchful spheres,
To meet the rudeness, and swill'd insolence, Lead in swift round the months and years.
Of such late wassailers; yet, O! where else The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove,
Shall I inform my unacquainted feet Now to the Moon in wavering morrice move;
In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? And, on the tawny sands and shelves, 119 My brothers, when they saw me wearied out Trip the pert faeries and the dapper elves,
With this long way, resolving here to lodge By dimpled brook and fountain brim,
Under the spreading favour of these pines, The wood-nymphs, deck'd with daisies trim, Stept, as they said, to the next thicket side, Their merry wakes and pastimes keep ;
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit What hath night to do with sleep?
As the kind hospitable woods provide. Night hath better sweets to prove,
They left me then, when the gray-hooded Eren, Venus now wakes, and wakens love.
Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed, Come, let us our rites begin ;.
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus' wain. 'Tis only day-light that makes sin,
But where they are, and why they came not back, Which these dun shades will ne'er report: - Is now the labour of my thoughts; 'uis likeliest Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport,
128 They had engag'd their wandering steps too far; Dark-veil'd Cotytto! to whom the secret flame And envious darkness, ere they could return, Of midnight torches burns; mysterious dame, Had stole them from me: else, O thievish Night, That ne'er art call’d, but when the dragon woom Why should’st thou, but for some felonious end, Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom, In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars, And makes one blot of all the air ;
That Nature hung in Heaven, and filled their Stay the cloudy ebon chair,
lamps Wherein thou rid'st with Hecat', and befriend With everlasting oil, to give due light Us thy vow'd priests, till utmost end
To the misled and lonely traveller ?
200 Of all thy dues be done, and none left out;
This is the place, as well as I may guess, Ere the babbling eastern scout,
Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth The nice Morn, on the Indian steep
Was rife, and perfect in my listening ear ; From her cabin'd loop-hole peep,
140 Yet nought but single darkness do I find. And to the tell-tale Sun descry
What this might be? A thousand fantasies conceal'd solemnity.
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire, Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
How to regain my sever'd company,
Com. What chance, good lady, hath bereft you I see ye visibly, and now believe
thus? That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things Lad. Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth. ill
Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
guides? Would send a glistering guardian, if need were, Lad. They left me weary on a grassy turf. 280 To keep my life and honour unassail'd. 220 Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why? Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud
Lad. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
spring I did not err, there does a sable cloud
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, lady? Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
Lad. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick And casts a gleam over this tufted grove : I cannot halloo to my brothers, but
Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them. Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest Lad. How easy my misfortune is to hit! I'll venture ; for my new-enliven'd spirits
Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need ? Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off. Lad. No less than if I should my brothers lose.
Com. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?
289 SWEET Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv’st unseen
Lad. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. Within thy aery shell,
Com. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox
231 By slow Meander's margent green,
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swink'd hedger at his supper sat ;
I saw them under a green mantling vine,
That crawls along the side of yon small hill, Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots ; That likest thy Narcissus are?
Their port was more than human, as they stood :
I took it for a faery vision
300 Tell me but where,
That in the colours of the rainbow live,
240 Sweet queen of parley, daughter of the sphere !
And play i' the plighted clouds. I was aw-struck, So may'st thou be translated to the skies,
And, as I past, I worshipt ; if those you seek, And give resounding grace to all Heaven's har. It were a journey like the path to Heaven, monies.
To help you find them.
What readiest way would bring me to that place? Enter Conus.
Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point. Comus. Can any mortal mixture of earth's Lad. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose, mould
In such a scant allowance of star-light, Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment ? 245 Would overtask the best land-pilot's art, Sure something holy lodges in that breast,
Without the sure guess of well-practis'd feet. 310 And with these raptures moves the vocal air Com. I know each lane, and every alley green, To testify his hidden residence.
Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood, How sweetly did they float upon the wings And every bosky bourn from side to side, Of silence, through the empty vaulted night, My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood ; At every fall smoothing the raven-down 251 And if your stray attendants be yet lodg'd, 315 Of darkness, till it smid! I have oft heard Or shroud within these limits, I shall know My mother Circe with the Syrens three,
Ere morrow wake, or the low roosted lark
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise
Till further quest.
Shepherd, I take thy word And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause : And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy, Yet they in pleasing slumber lull’d the sense, Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds And in sweet madness robb’d it of itself ; 261 With smoky rafters, than in tap’stry halls But such a sacred and home-felt delight,
In courts of princes, where it first was nam'd 325 Such sober certainty of waking bliss,
And yet is most pretended : in a place I never heard till now. — I'll speak to her, Less warranted than this, or less secure, And she shall be my queen. - Hail, foreign wonder! I cannot be, that I should fear to change it. Whom certain these rough shades did never breed, Eye me, blest Providence, and square my trial Unless the goddess that in rural shrine
To my proportion'd strength. - Shepherd, lead on. Dwell'st here with Pan, or Sylvan ; by blest song
395 Enter The Two BROTHERS.
Of dragon-watch, with unenchanted eye,
To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit, El. Br. Unmuffile, ye faint stars; and thou, fair From the rash hand of bold Incontinence. Moon,
You may as well spread out the unsunn'd heaps That wont'st to love the traveller's benison,
Of misers' treasure by an outlaw's den, Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud, And tell'me it is safe, as bid me hope And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here
Danger will wink on Opportunity, In double night of darkness and of shades; 335 And let a single helpless maiden pass Or, if your influence be quite damm'd up
Uninjur'd in this wild surrounding waste. With black usurping mists, some gentle taper, Of night, or loneliness, it recks me not ; Though a rush-candle from the wicker hole I fear the dread events that dog them both, 405 Of some clay habitation, visit us
Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person With thy long-levell’d rule of streaming light; Of our unowned sister. And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
I do not, brother, Or Tyrian Cynosure.
Infer, as if I thought my sister's state Sec. Br.
Or, if our eyes
Secure, without all doubt or controversy ; Be barr'd that happiness, might we but hear Yet, where an equal poise of hope and fear The folded flocks penn'd in their wattled cotes,
Does arbitrate the event, my nature is Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops, 345 That I incline to hope, rather than fear, Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock
And gladly banish squint suspicion. Count the night watches to his feathery dames, My sister is not so defenceless left 'Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering, As you imagine ; she has a hidden strength, 415 In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs. Which you remember not. But, О that hapless virgin, our lost sister!
What hidden strength, Where may she wander now, whither betake her Unless the strength of Heaven, if you mean From the chill dew, among rude burs and thistles ?
that? Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now, El. Br. I mean that too, but yet a hidden strength, Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm Which, if Heaven gave it, may be term'd her Leans her unpillow'd head, fraught with sad
own ; fears.
355 | 'Tis Chastity, my brother, Chastity : What, if in wild amazement and affright?
She, that has that, is clad in complete steel ; Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp And, like a quivered nymph with arrows keen, Of savage hunger, or of savage heat ?
May trace huge forests, and unharbour'd heaths, El. Br. Peace, brother : be not over-exquisite Infamous hills, and sandy perilous wilds; To cast the fashion of uncertain evils :
Where, through the sacred rays of Chastity, 425 For grant they be so, while they rest unknown, No savage fierce, bandite, or mountaineer, What need a man forestall his date of grief, Will dare to soil her virgin purity : And run to meet what he would most avoid ? Yea there, where very Desolation dwells, Or, if they be but false alarms of fear,
By grots and caverns shagg'd with horrid shades, How bitter is such self-delusion !
365 She may pass on with unblench'd majesty, I do not think my sister so to seek,
Be it not done in pride, or in presumption.
Some say, no evil thing that walks by night
Blue meager hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost
Hath hurtful power o'er true virginity.
Do ye believe me yet, or shall I call
376 | Hence had the huntress Dian her dread bow,
And spotted mountain-pard, but set at nought
woods. But he, that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts, What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield, Benighted walks under the mid-day Sun;
That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin, Himself is his own dungeon.
385 Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeald stone, Sec. Br.
'Tis most true,
450 That musing Meditation most affects
And noble grace, that dash'd brute violence The pensive secrecy of desert cell,
With sudden adoration and blank awe? Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds, So dear to Heaven is saintly Chastity, And sits as safe as in a senate-house;
That, when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried angels lackey her,
And, in clear dream and solemn vision,
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear ; Laden with blooming gold, had need the guard Till oft converse with heavenly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape,
Within the navel of this hideous wood, 520 The unpolluted temple of the mind,
Immur'd in cypress shades a sorcerer dwells, And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,
460 Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus, Till all be made immortal : but when Lust,
Deep skill'd in all his mother's witcheries;
By sly enticement gives his baneful cup,
With many murmurs mix’d, whose pleasing poison The soul grows clotted by contagion,
The visage quite transforms of him that drinks, Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose
And the inglorious likeness of a beast The divine property of her first bei
Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp, Character'd in the face : this have I learnt 530 Oft seen in charnel vaults and sepulchres 471 Tending my flocks hard by i’ the hilly crofts, Lingering, and sitting by a new made grave, That brow this bottom-glade; whence night by As loth to leave the body that it lov’d,
night And link'd itself by carnal sensuality
He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl, To a degenerate and degraded state.
Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey,
In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers.
Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells, And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets,
To inveigle and invite the unwary sense Where no crude surfeit reigns.
Of them that pass unweeting by the way. El. Br.
List, list; I hear This evening late, by then the chewing flocks Some far off halloo break the silent air.
481 Had ta'en their supper on the savoury herb 541 Sec. Br. Methought so too; what should it be ? Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold, El. Br.
For certain | I sat me down to watch upon a bank
Till fancy had her fill; but, ere a close,
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods, El. B.
I'll halloo : And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance; 550 If he be friendly, he comes well; if not,
At which I ceas'd, and listen'd them a while, Defence is a good cause, and Heaven be for us. Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respite to the drowsy frighted steeds, (Enter the Attendant Spirit, habited like a shepherd.] At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound
That draw the litter of close-curtain'd Sleep; That halloo I should know; what are you? speak; Rose like a steam of rich distill’d perfumes, Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else. And stole upon the air, that even Silence Spir. What voice is that? my young lord ? speak Was took ere she was 'ware, and wish'd she might again.
492 | Deny her nature, and be never more, Sec. B. O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure. Still to be so displac'd. I was all ear,
560 El. B. Thyrsis? Whose artful strains have oft And took in strains that might create a soul delay'd
Under the ribs of Death: but 0! ere long, The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,
Too well I did perceive it was the voice And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale? Of my most honour'd lady, your dear sister. How cam'st thou here, good swain ? hath any ram Amaz’d I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear, Slipt from the fold, or young kid lost his dam, And, O poor hapless nightingale, thought I, Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook ? How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly How could'st thou find this dark sequester'd nook?
snare! Spir. O my lov'd master's heir, and his next joy, Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste, I came not here on such a trivial toy 502 Through paths and turnings often trod by day, As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth
Till, guided by mine ear, I found the place, 570 Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth, Where that damn'd wisard, hid in sly disguise, That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought (For so by certain signs I knew,) had met To this my errand, and the care it brought. Already, ere my best speed could prevent, But, O my virgin lady, where is she?
The aidless innocent lady, his wish'd prey ; How chance she is not in your company?
Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two, El. B. To tell thee sadly, shepherd, without blame, Supposing him some neighbour villager. Or our neglect, we lost her as we came. 510 Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guess'd Spir. Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true. Ye were the two she meant; with that I sprung El. B. What fears, good Thyrsis? Pr’ythee briefly Into swift flight, till I had found you here; show.
But further know I not. Spir. I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous,
O night, and shades ! 580 (Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance) How are ye join'd with Hell in triple knot What the sage poets, taught by the heavenly Muse, Against the unarm'd weakness of one virgin, Storied of old in high immortal verse,
Alone and helpless! Is this the confidence Of dire chimeras, and enchanted isles,
You gave me, brother? And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to Hell; El. Br.
Yes, and keep it sull; For such there be, but unbelief is blind.
Lean on it safely ; not a period