Page images

'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,
AVho ripe, and frolic of his full grown age,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian field, 60

At last betakes him to this ominous wood,
And in thick shelter of black shades imbower'd
Excels her mother at his mighty art,
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drouth of Phcebus, which as they taste
(For most do taste through fond intemp'rate thirst)
Soon as the potion works their human coum'nance,
Th' express resemblance of the gods, is chang'd
Into some brutish form of wolf, or bear, 70

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 comly than before,
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.
Therefore when any favor'd of high Jove
Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star 80

I shoot from heav'n, 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 service of this house belongs,
'Who with his soft-pipe, and smooth-ditticd 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 prsent aid 99

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 r!-.r in the other; 'with him a rout of monsters, headed iih sundry sort of wild beasts, hut otherwise like men and 'Women, their apparel glittering; they come in making a riotous and unruly noise, -with torches in their hards.

COM. The star that bids the shepherd fold,
Now the top of Heav'n doth hold.
And the gilded ear of Day,
His glowing axle doth allay
In the steep Atlantic stream,
And the slope Sun his upward beam
Shoots against the dusky pole,
Pacing toward the other goal 100

Of his chamber in the East.
Meanwhile welcome Joy and Feast,
Midnight Shout and Revelry,
Tipsy Dance, and Jollity.
Braid your locks with rosy twine,
Dropping odors, dropping wine.

Rigor now is gone to bed,
And Advice with scrupulous head,
Strict Age and sour Severity
With their grave saws in slumber lie. 110

We that are of purer fire
Imitate the starry quire,
Who in their nightly watchful spheres,
Lead in swift round the months and years.
The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove,
Now to the moon in wavering morrice move;
And on the tawny sands and shelves
Trip the pert faeries and the dapper elves.
By dimpled brook and fountain brim,
The wood-nymphs deck'd with daisies trim, 120
Their merry wakes and pastimes keep:
What hath night to do with sleep?
Night hath better sweet to prove,
Venus now wakes, and wakens Love.
Come let us our rites begin,
'Tis only day-light that makes sin,
Which these dun shades will ne'er report.
Hail Goddess of nocturnal sport,
Dark-veil'd Cotytto, to whom the secret flame
Of midnight-torches burns; mysterious dame, 130
That ne'er art call'd, but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darkness, spits her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air,
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair, .

Wherein thou ridst with Hecate, and befriend
Ui thy vow'd priests, till utmost end

Of all thy dues be done, and none left out,

Ere the blabbing eastern scout,

The nice Morn on th' Indian steep

From her cabin'd loop-hole peep, MO

And to the tell-tale sun descry

Our conceal'd 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 trees;
Our number may affright: some virgin sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
Benighted in these woods. Noy to my charms, HO
And to my wily trains; I shall ere long
Be well-stock'd with as fair a herd as graz'd
About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl
Mv dazzling spells into the spungy air,
Of power to cheat the eye with clear illusion,
And give it false presentment, lest the place
And my quaint habits breeil 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, 1GJ

And well plac'd words of glozing courtsey
Baited with reasons not unplauiiblc,

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 this country gear.

But here she comes, I fairly step aside,

And hearken, if may, her business here.


This way the noise was, if mine ear be true, 170
My best guide now; metbought it was the sound,
Of riot and ill-manag'd merriment,
Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe
Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds,
When for their teeming flocks, and granges full,
In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan,
And thank the Cods amiss. I should be loath
To meet the rudeness, and swill'd insolence
Of such late wassailers; yet O where else
Shall I inform my unacquainted feet' 189

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
Stept, as they said, to the'next thickest side
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, ] 89


« PreviousContinue »