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With this long way, resolving here to lodge,
Under the spreading favour of these pines,
Stept, as they said, to the next thicket side,
To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit
As the kind hospitable woods provide.
They left me then, when the gray-hooded Even,
Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed,
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus' wain:
But where they are, and why they came not back,
Is now the labour of my thoughts; 'tis likeliest
They had engag'd their wandering steps too far;
And envious Darkness, ere they could return,
Had stole them from me: else, O thievish Night,
Why should'st thou, but for some felonious end,
In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars,
That Nature hung in Heaven, and fill'd their lamps
With everlasting oil, to give due light
To the misled and lonely traveller?
This is the place, as well as I may guess,
Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth
Was rife, and perfect in my listening ear;
Yet nought but single darkness do I find.
What might this be? A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
And aery tongues, that syllable men's names
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound,
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion, Conscience.
O welcome, pure ey'd Faith, white handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings,
And thou, unblemish'd form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honour unassail'd.
Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err: there does a sable cloud .
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
I cannot halloo to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make, to be heard farthest,
I'll venture; for my new-enliven'd spirits
Prompt me; and they, perhaps, are not far off.
Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that livost, unseen,
Within thy aery shell,
By slow Meander's margent green, And in the violet-embroider'd vale,
Where the love-lorn nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well; Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair,
That likest thy Narcissus are?
O, if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,
Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of parley, daughter of the sphere!
So may'st thou be translated to the skies, [nies. And give resounding grace to all Heaven's harmo
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's soul, And lap it in Elysium: Scylla wept, I 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 bless'd song Forbidding every bleak, unkindly fog To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
Lad. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise,
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 mossy couch. [thus?
Com. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft you
Lad. Dim darkness and this leafy labyrinth.
Com. Could that divide you from near ushering
Lad. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
La. To seek i'the valley some cool friendly spring.
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, Lady?
Lad. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick
Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
Lad. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
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? Lad. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips.
Com. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox 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, 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 awe-struck, And, as I pass'd, I worship’d: if those you seek, It were a journey like the path to Heaven, To help you find them.
Lad. Gentle villager, What readiest way would bring me to that place?
Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
Lad. 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.
Com. I know each lane, and every alley green, Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood,
And every bosky bourn from side to side,
My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood;
And if your stray attendance be yet lodg'd,
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise,
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
Till further quest.
Lad. Shepherd I take thy word,
And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy,
Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
With smoky rafters, than in tap'stry halls
In courts of princes, where it first was nam’d, .
And yet is most pretended: in a place
Less warranted than this, or less secure,
I cannot be, that I should fear to change it. -
Eye me, bless'd Providence, and square my trial
To my proportion'd strength.-Shepherd, lead on.
[Exeunt. Enter the Two BROTHERS. . , El. Br. Unmuffle, ye faint stars; and thou, fair
That wont'st to love the traveller's benison,
Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud,
And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here
In double night of darkness and of shades;
Or, if your influence be quite dam'd up
With black usurping mists, some gentle taper,
Though a rush-candle from the wicker hole
Of some clay habitation, visit us
With thy long-leveli'd rule of streaming light;
And thou shalt be our star of Arcady,
Or Tyrian Cynosure.