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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
Now the top of heaven doth hold;
Who in their nightly watchful spheres
Lead in swift round the months and
That ne'er art called, but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air;
Us thy vowed priests, till utmost end Of all thy dues be done, and none left out,
Ere the babbling eastern scout,
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 trees;
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 Circé. Thus I hurl
My dazzling spells into the spungy 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 suspicions flight,
Which must not be, for that's against my course:
I, under fair pretence of friendly ends,
And well-placed words of glozing
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 jocund 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 loath
To meet the rudeness, and swilled insolence
Of such late wassailers; yet O! 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 favor of these pines,
Stepped, as they said, to the next
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
As the kind, hospitable woods provide.
They left me then, when the gray
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 labor of my thoughts; 'tis likeliest
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted
I cannot halloo to my brothers, but Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
I'll venture, 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-embroidered vale,
Where the love-lorn nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well;
Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair
Hid them in some flowery cave,
So mayst thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all heaven harmonies.
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 homefelt 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 Silvan, 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
Or if they be but false alarms of fear,
As that the single want of light and noise
(Not being in danger, as I trust she is not)
Could stir the constant mood of her calm thoughts,
And put them into misbecoming plight.
Virtue could see to do what virtue would
By her own radiant light, though sun and moon
Were in the flat sea sunk. And Wisdom's self
Oft seeks to sweet retired solitude, Where, with her best nurse, Contemplation,
From the rash hand of bold incontinence.
You may as well spread out the unsunned heaps
Of miser's treasure by an outlaw's den,
And tell me it is safe, as bid me hope Danger will wink on opportunity, And let a single helpless maiden pass Uninjured in this wild surrounding waste.
Of night, or loneliness, it recks me not;
I fear the dread events that dog them both.
Lest some ill-greeting touch attempt the person
Of our unowned sister.
1 Br. I do not, brother, Infer, as if I thought my sister's