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And makes one blot of all the air !
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
Wherein thou ridest with Hecať, and befriend
Us thy vowed priests, till utmost end
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out
Ere the blabbing eastern scout,
The nice Morn on the Indian steep,
From her cabined loop-hole peep,
And to the tell-tale Sun descry
Our concealed solemnity.
Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.
Break off, break off! I feel the different pace
Of some chaste footing near about this ground.
Run to your shrouds within these brakes and
Our number may affright. Some virgin sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
Benighted in these woods! Now to my charms,
And to my wily trains: I shall ere long
Be well stocked with as fair a herd as grazed
About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl
My dazzling spells into the spongy air,
Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion,
And give it false presentments, lest the place
And my quaint habits breed astonishment,
And put the Damsel to suspicious flight;
Which must not be, for that's against my course.
I, under fair pretence of friendly ends,
And well-placed words of glozing courtesy,
Baited with reasons not unplausible,
Wind me into the easy-hearted man,
And hug him into snares. When once her eye
Hath met the virtue of this magic dust
I shall appear some harmless villager,
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear.
But here she comes; I fairly step aside,
And hearken, if I may her business hear.
The LADY enters Lady. This way the noise was, if mine ear be true, My best guide now. Methought it was the sound Of riot and ill-managed merriment, Such as the jocond flute or gamesome pipe Stirs up among the loose unlettered hinds, When, for their teeming flocks and granges full, In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan, And thank the gods amiss. I should be loth To meet the rudeness and swilled insolence Of such late wassailers; yet, oh! where else Shall I inform my unacquainted feet In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? My brothers, when they saw me wearied out With this long way, resolving here to lodge Under the spreading favour of these pines, Stepped, as they said, to the next thicketside To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit As the kind hospitable woods provide. They left me then when the grey-hooded Even, Like a sad Votarist in palmer's weed, Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus' wain. But where they are, and why they came not back, Is now the labour of my thoughts. 'T is likeliest They had ingaged their wandering steps too far; And envious darkness, ere they could return, Had stole them from me. Else, O thievish Night, Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end, In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars That Nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps With everlasting oil, to give due light To the misled and lonely travailler ? This is the place, as well as I may guess, Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth Was rife, and perfet in my listening ear; Yet nought but single darkness do I find. What might this be? A thousand fantasies Begin to throng into my memory, Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
And airy tongues that syllable men's names
On sands and shores and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion, Conscience.
O welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel girt with golden wings,
And thou unblemished form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honour unassailed. .
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err: there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
I cannot hallo to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
I'll venter; for my new-enlivened spirits
Prompt me, and they perhaps are not far off.
Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph, that liv'st unseen
Within thy airy shell
By slow Meander's margent green,
And in the violet-imbroidered vale
Where the love-lorn Nightingale
Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well:
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
That likesî thy Narcissus are?
O if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,
Tell me but where,
Sweet Queen of Parley, Daughter of the Sphere !
So may'st thou be translated to the skies, And give resounding grace to all Heaven's
Comus. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould
Breathe such divine inchanting ravishment?
Sure something holy lodges in that breast,
And with these raptures moves the vocal air
To testify his hidden residence.
How sweetly did they float upon the wings
Of silence, through the empty-vaulted night,
At every fall smoothing the raven down
Of darkness till it smiled! I have oft heard
My mother Circe with the Sirens three,
Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades,
Culling their potent hearbs and baleful drugs,
Who, as they sung, would take the prisoned soul,
And lap it in Elysium: Scylla wept,
And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause.
Yet they in pleasing slumber lulled the sense,
And in sweet madness robbed it of itself;
But such a sacred and home-felt delight,
Such sober certainty of waking bliss,
I never heard till now. I'll speak to her,
And she shall be my Queen.-Hail, foreign wonder !
Whom certain these rough shades did never breed,
Unless the Goddess that in rural shrine
Dwell'st here with Pan or Sylvan, by blest song
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise
That is addressed to unattending ears.
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my severed company,
Compelled me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossy couch.
Comus. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft you
Lady. Dim darkness and this leavy labyrinth.
Comus. Could that divide you from near-ushering
guides ? Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf. Comus. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
Lady. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly spring. Comus. And left your fair side all unguarded, Lady? Lady. They were but twain, and purposed quick
return. Comus. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them. Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit! Comus. Imports their loss, beside the present need? Lady. No less than if I should my brothers lose. Comus. Where they of manly prime, or youthful
bloom? Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazored lips.
Comus. Two such I saw, what time the laboured ox
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swinked hedger at his supper sat.
I saw them under a green mantling vine,
That crawls along the side of yon small hill,
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots;
Their port was more than human, as they stood.
I took it for a faery vision
Of some gay creatures of the element,
That in the colours of the rainbow live,
And play i' the plighted clouds. I was awe-strook,
And, as I passed, I worshiped. If those you seek,
It were a journey like the path to Heaven
To help you find them.
What readiest way would bring me to that place?
Comus. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
Lady. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppose, In such a scant allowance of star-light, Would overtask the best land-pilot's art, Without the sure guess of well-practised feet.
Comus. I know each lane, and every alley green, Dingle, or bushy dell, of this wild wood, And every bosky bourn from side to side, My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood; And, if your stray attendance be yet lodged, Or shroud within these limits, I shall know Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark From her thatched pallet rouse. If otherwise,