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On which the fate of gods and men is wound.
Such sweet compulsion doth in music lie,
To lull the daughters of Necessity,
And keep unsteady Nature to her law,
And the low world in measured motion draw
After the heavenly tune, which none can hear
Of human mould with gross unpurgèd ear.
And yet such music worthiest were to blaze
The peerless height of her immortal praise
Whose lustre leads us, and for her most fit,
If my inferior hand or voice could hit
Inimitable sounds. Yet, as we go,
Whate'er the skill of lesser gods can show
I will assay, her worth to celebrate,
And so attend ye toward her glittering state;
Where ye may all, that are of noble stem,
Approach, and kiss her sacred vesture's hem.

II. SONG

O'er the smooth enamelled green,
Where no print of step hath been,

Follow me, as I sing

And touch the warbled string:
Under the shady roof
Of branching elm star-proof

Follow me.
I will bring you where she sits,
Clad in splendour as befits

Her deity.
Such a rural Queen
All Arcadia hath not seen.

III. SONG

Nymphs and Shepherds, dance no more

By sandy Ladon's lilied banks; On old Lycæus, or Cyllene hoar,

Trip no more in twilight ranks;
Though Erymanth your loss deplore,

A better soil shall give ye thanks.
From the stony Mænalus

Bring your flocks, and live with us;
Here ye shall have greater grace,
To serve the Lady of this place.
Through Syrinx your Pan's mistress were,
Yet Syrinx well might wait on her.

Such a rural Queen
'All Arcadia hath not seen.

COMUS, A MASK

THE PERSONS

THE ATTENDANT SPIRIT, afterwards in the habit of THYRSIS.

Comus, with his Crew.
THE LADY.
FIRST BROTHER.

SECOND BROTHER.
SABRINA, the Nymph.
PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634, BEFORE THE EARL OF

BRIDGEWATER, THEN PRESIDENT OF WALES

The Chief Persons which presented were :-
The Lord Brackley ; Mr. Thomas Egerton, his Brother;

The Lady Alice Egerton.
The first Scene discovers a wild wood.

The ATTENDANT SPIRIT descends or enters.
BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial Spirits live insphered
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot
Which men call Earth, and, with low-thoughted care,
Confined and pestered in this pinfold here,
Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives,
After this mortal change, to her true servants
Amongst the enthronèd gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key
That opes the Palace of Eternity.
To such my errand is; and, but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.

But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway Of every salt flood and each ebbing stream, Took in, by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove, Imperial rule of all the sea-girt Isles That, like to rich and various gems, inlay The unadorned bosom of the Deep; Which he, to grace his tributary gods, By course commits to several government, And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns And wield their little tridents. But this Isle, The greatest and the best of all the main, He quarters to his blue-haired deities; And all this tract that fronts the falling sun A noble Peer of mickle trust and power Has in his charge, with tempered awe to guide An old and haughty Nation, proud in arms: Where his fair offspring, nursed in princely lore, Are coming to attend their father's state, And new-intrusted sceptre. But their way Lies through the perplexed paths of this drear wood, The nodding horror of whose shady brows Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger; And here their tender age might suffer peril, But that, by quick command from sovran Jove, I was despatched for their defence and guard ! And listen why; for I will tell you now What never yet was heard in tale or song, From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.

Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape Crushed the sweet poison of misusèd wine, After the Tuscan mariners transformed, Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed, On Circe's island fell. (Who knows not Circe, The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup Whoever tasted lost his upright shape, And downward fell into a grovelling swine?) This Nymph, that gazed upon his clustering locks, With ivy berries wreathed, and his blithe youth, Had by him, ere he parted thence, a Son Much like his father, but his mother more,

Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus named:
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 imbowered,
Excels his mother at her mighty art;
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drouth of Phoebus; which as they taste
(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst),
Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance,
The express resemblance of the gods, is changed
Into some brutish form of wolf or bear,
Or ounce or tiger, hog, or bearded goat
All other parts remaining as they were.
And they, so perfect is their misery,
Not once perceive their foul disfigurement,
But boast themselves more comely than before,
'And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.
Therefore, when any favoured of high Jove
Chances to pass through this adventrous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star
I shoot from heaven, to give him safe convoy,
As now I do. But first I must put off
These my sky-robes, spun out of Iris' woof,
And take the weeds and likeness of a swain
That to the service of this house belongs,
Who, with his soft pipe and smooth-dittied song,
Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar,
And hush the waving woods; nor of less faith,
And in this office of his mountain watch
Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid
Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
Of hateful steps; I must be viewless now.

Comus enters, with a charming-rod in one hand, his glass in the

other; with him a rout of Monsters, headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts, but otherwise like men and women, their apparel glistering. They come in making a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in their hands.

Comus. The star that bids the shepherd fold Now the top of heaven doth hold; And the gilded car of Day His glowing axle doth allay In the steep Atlantic stream: And the slope Sun his upward beam Shoots against the dusky pole, Pacing toward the other goal Of his chamber in the east. Meanwhile, welcome joy and feast, Midnight shout and revelry, Tipsy dance and jollity. Braid your locks with rosy twine, Dropping odours, dropping wine. Rigour now is gone to bed; And Advice with scrupulous head, Strict Age, and sour Severity, With their grave saws, in slumber lie. We, that are of purer fire, Imitate the starry Quire, Who, in their nightly watchful spheres, Lead in swift round the months and years. The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove, Now to the Moon in wavering morrice move; And on the tawny sands and shelves Trip the pert Fairies and the dapper Elves. . By dimpled brook and fountain-brim, The Wood-Nymphs, decked with daisies trim, Their merry wakes and pastimes keep: What hath night to do with sleep ? Night hath better sweets to prove; Venus now wakes, and wakens Love. Come, let us our rites begin; 'T is only daylight that makes sin, Which these dun shades will ne'er report. Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport, Dark-veiled Cotytto, to whom the secret flame Of midnight torches burns! mysterious Dame, That ne'er art called but when the dragon womb Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,

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