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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, waves ;
That, like to rich and various gems, inlay
By course commits to several government,
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 nobler peer of mickle trust and power Henceforth thou art the genius of the shore, Has in his charge, with temper'il 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 oflspring, 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-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, 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, The chief persons, who presented, were Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields,
And, in thick shelter of black shades embower'd,
Offering to every weary traveller
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 aerial 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 disfigurement, Which men call earth; and, with low-thoughted care But boast themselves more comely than before ; Confin'd and pester'd in this pinfold 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, favor'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
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
Run to your shrouds, within these brakes and trees;
Our number may affright: some virgin sure
(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
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, 160
And well-plac'd 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 here.
THE LADY enters.
the noise was, if mine ear be true, 170 Dropping odors, dropping wine.
My best guide now; methought it was sound
Of riot and ill-manag'd merriment,
Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe,
Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds;
In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan,
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, 0! where else The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove, Shall I inform my unacquainted feet
My brothers, when they saw me wearied out
Under the spreading favor of these pines,
As the kind hospitable woods provide.
They left me then, when the gray-hooded Even,
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,
They had engag'd their wandering steps too far;
That Nature hung in Heaven, and fill'd their
To the misled and lonely traveller ?
200 Or 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
Was rife, and perfect in my listening ear;
140 Yet nought but single darkness do I find.
What this might be ? A thousand fantasies
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 I see ye visibly, and now believe
thus ? That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill Lad. Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth. Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
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? Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
Lad. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly I did not err, there does a sable cloud
spring Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, lady? And casts a gleam over this tufted grove:
Lad. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick I cannot halloo to my brothers, but
return. Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them. I'll venture; for my new-enliven'd spirits
Lad. How easy my misfortune is to hit! Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off. Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
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,
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, And give resounding grace to all Heaven's harmo. It were a journey like the path to Heaven, nies.
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, 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,
And if your stray attendants be yet lodg'd, 315
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, 260 Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds And in sweet madness robb’d it of itself; 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 itWhom 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
of dragon-watch, with unenchanted eye, 397 Enter The Two BROTHERS.
To save her blossoms, and defend her fruit,
You may as well spread out the unsunn'd heaps
Danger will wink on Opportunity,
Uninjur'd in this wild surrounding waste.
Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person
I do not, brother,
Inser, 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 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:
May trace huge forests, and unharbor'd heaths,
Where, through the sacred rays of Chastily, 425
By grots and caverns shagg’d with horrid shades,
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
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
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,
450 That musing Meditation most affects
And noble grace, that dash'd brute violence
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 ;
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 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,
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
Gave respite to the drowsy frighted steeds, (Enter the Attendant Spirit, habited like a shepherd.]
That draw the litter of close-curtain'd Sleep; 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 look 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 singst, 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 placc, 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,
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