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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
That, like to rich and various gems, inlay
By course commits to several government,
And wield their little tridents: but this isle,
The greatest and the best of all the main,
And new-intrusted sceptre: but their way
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape
After the Tuscan mariners transform'd,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe's island fell: (Who knows not Circe, 50 THE PERSONS.
The daughter of the Sun, whose charmed cup THE ATTENDANT Spirit, afterwards in the habit of Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape, THYRSIS.
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,
Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therefore she brought up, and Comus nam'd:
Who, ripe and frolic of his full-grown age,
And, in thick shelter of black shades embower'd,
Offering to every weary traveller
(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
All other parts remaining as they were ;
And all their friends and native home forget,
80 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 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 affright: 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 Of hateful steps; I must be viewless now.
Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms,
And to my wily trains : I shall ere long Comus enters with a charming-rod in one hand, his About my mother Circe. Thus 1 hurl
Be well-stocked with as fair a herd as graz'd glass in the other ; with him a rout of monsters, My dazzling spells into the spungy air, headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts
, but otherwise of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion, like men and women, their apparel glistering ; they And give it false presentments, lest the place come in making a riotous and unruly noise, with And my quaint habits breed astonishment, torches in their hands.
And put the damsel to suspicious flight;
160 The Star, that bids the shepherd fold,
I, under fair pretence of friendly ends,
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
But here she comes; I fairly step aside,
And hearken, if I may, her business here.
THE LADY enters.
This way the noise was, if mine ear be true, 170 Dropping odors, dropping wine.
My best guide now; methought it was the sound Rigor now is gone to bed,
Of riot and ill-manag'd merriment, And Advice with scrupulous head.
Such as the jocund Alute, 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 swillid 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
180 Now to the Moon in wavering morrice move; In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? And, on the tawny sands and shelves,
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 favor of these pines, The wood-nymphs, deck'd with daisies trim, 120 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 Even, Venus now wakes, and wakens Love.
Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed,
189 Come, let us our rites begin;
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus' wain. "Tis only daylight that makes sin,
But where they are, and why they came not back, Which these dun shades will ne'er report :- Is now the labor of my thoughts; 'tis likeliest Hail, goddess of nocturnal sport,
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, 130 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 fill'd their Stay the cloudy ebon chair,
lamps Wherein thou rid’st with Hecať, 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 Our conceal'd solemnity.—
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire, Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
Com. What chance, good lady, hath berest you
Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering
guides? To keep my life and honor unassail'd.
220 Lad. They left me weary on a grassy turf. 280 Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
Lad. To seek i’ the valley some cool friendly
spring Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, lady ?
Lad. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick
Lad. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
Lad. No less than if I should my brothers lose.
289 SWEET Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen Lad. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. Within thy aery shell,
231 Com. Two such I saw, what time the labor'd ox 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,
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,
240 That in the colors of the rainbow live, 300 Sweet queen of parley, daughter of the sphere! And play i’ the plighted clouds. I was awe-struck,
So may'st thou be translated to the skies, And, as I past, I worshipt; if those you seek,
To help you find them.
What readiest way would bring me to that place ?
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,
Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood,
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise,
Till further quest.
Shepherd, I take thy word
With smoky rafters, than in tap’stry halls
In courts of princes, where it first was nam'd 325
And yet is most pretended : in a place
To my proportion'd strength-Shepherd, lead on.
395 Enter The Two BROTHERS.
Of dragon-watch, with unenchanted eye,
To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit, El. Br. Unmuffle, ye faint stars; and thou, fair From the rash hand of bold Incontinence. Moon,
You may as well spread out the unsunn'd heaps
Danger will wink on Opportunity,
Though a rush-candle from the wicker hole I fear the dread events that dog them both, 405
Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person With thy long-leveli'd rule of streaming light; of our unowned sister. And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
I do not, brother,
Infer, as if I thought my sister's state
Secure, without all doubt or controversy ;
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
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 quiver'd nymph with arrows keen, Of savage hunger, or of savage heat?
May trace huge forests, and unharbor'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. Or so unprincipled in Virtue's book,
Some say, no evil thing that walks by night And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever, In fog or fire, by lake or moorish fen, As that the single want of light and noise Blue meager hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost (Not being in danger, as I trust she is not,) That breaks his magic chains at Curfeu time, 435 Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts, No goblin, or swart faery of the mine, And put them into misbecoming plight.
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 Were all-to ruffled, and sometimes impair’d. The frivolous bolt of Cupid ; gods and men He that has light within his own clear breast, Fear'd her stern frown, and she was queen o' the May sit i' the centre, and enjoy bright day :
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 congeal'd stone. Sec. Br. "Tis most true, But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
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?
That, when a soul is found sincerely so,
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 unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk, And here to every thirsty wanderer But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
By sly enticement gives his baneful cup, Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
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 being.
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 scen in charnel vaults and sepulchres 471 Tending my flocks hard by i' the hilly crofts, Lingering, and siiting 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,
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 savory herb 541
Sec. Br. Methought so too; what should it be? Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold,
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 Br.
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 (Enter the Attendant Spirit, habited like a shepherd.) That draw the litter of close-curtain's Sleep;
Gave respite to the drowsy frighted steeds, That halloo I should know; what are you? speak; At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else. Rose like a steam of rich distillid perfumes, Spir. What voice is that? my young lord ? speak And stole upon the air, that even Silence again.
492 Was took ere she was 'ware, and wish'd she might Sec. Br. O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure. Deny her nature, and be never more, El. Br. Thyrsis? Whose artful strains have oft Still to be so displac'd. I was all ear, 560 delay'd
And took in strains that might create a soul The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,
Under the ribs of Death ; but O! ere long, And sweeten'd every musk-rose of the dale ? Too well I did perceive it was the voice How cam'st thou here, good swain? hath any ram of my most honor'd lady, your dear sister. Slipt from the fold, or young kid lost his dam, Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear, Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook ? And, O poor hapless nightingale, thought I, How could'st thou find this dark sequester'd nook? How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly Spir. O my lov'd master's heir, and his next joy,
snare! I came not here on such a trivial toy 502 Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste, As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth Through paths and turnings often trod by day, Of pilfering wolf: not all the fleecy wealth, Till, guided by mine ear, I found the placo, 570 That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought Where that damnd wisard, hid in sly disguise, To this my errand, and the care it brought. (For so by certain signs I knew.) had met But, O my virgin lady, where is she?
Already, ere my best speed could prevent, How chance she is not in your company?
The aidless innocent lady, his wish'd prey ; El. Br. To tell thee sadly, shepherd, without Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two, blame,
Supposing him some neighbor villager.
Spir. Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true. Ye were the two she meant; with that I sprung El. Br. What fears, good Thyrsis? Pr'ythee Into swift flight, till I had found you here; briefly show.
But further know I not. Spir. I'll tell ye: 'tis not vain or fabulous. Sec. Br.
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 still ; For such there be, but unbelief is blind.
Lean on it safely ; not a period