Page images

Enter COMUS.

Comus. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould Breathe such divine enchanting 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 smil'd! I have oft heard My mother Circe with the Syrens three, Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades, Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs; Who, as they sung, would take the prison'd soul, And lap it in Elysium : Scylla wept, And chid her barking waves into attention, And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause: Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense, And in sweet madness robb'd 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

That is address'd to unattending ears :
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my sever'd company,
Compell’d me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her


couch. Comus. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft


thus ? Lady. Dim darkness, and his leafy labyrinth. Comus. Could that divide you from near usher

ing guides? Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf. Comus. By falshood, 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 purpos’d quick

return. Comus. Perhaps forestalling night prevented Lady. No less than if I should my Brothers lose. Comus. Were they of manly prime, or youthful

them. Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit! Comus. Imports their loss, beside the present


bloom? Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. Comus. Two such I saw, what time the la

bour'd ox In his loose traces from the furrow came, And the swink'd dedger 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 aw-struck, And, as I past, I worshipt; if those you seek, It were a journey like the path of Heaven, To help you find them. Lady.

Gentle Villager, What readiest way would bring me to the 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-practis'd feet.

Comus. I know each lane, and every alley green, Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood,


The express resemblance of the Gods, is chang'd
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 stye.
Therefore when any, favour'd of high Jove,
Chances to pass through this adventurous 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 seryice 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.

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 Atlantick stream;
And the slope sun his upward beam
Shoots against the dusky pole,
Pacing toward the other goal
Of his chamber in the East.
Mean while 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,

« PreviousContinue »