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COM U S.

The first scene discovers a wild wood. The ATTENDANT SPIRIT descends or

enters. ]

ATTENDANT SPIRIT.

BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aërial spirits live insphered
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,
Which men call Earth ; and with low-thoughted care
Confined, and pestered in this pinfold here,
Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindfull of the crown that Virtue gives,
After this mortal change, to her true servants,
Amongst the enthroned gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key,2
That opes the palace of eternity :

To such my errand is ; and but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours of this sin-worn mould.

But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway
Of every salt flood, and cach ebbing stream,
Took in by lot ’twixt high and nether Jove
Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles,
That, like to rich and various gems,: inlay
The unadornéd bosom of the deep:
Which he, to grace his tributary gods,
By course commits to several government,
And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns,
And wield their little tridents ; but this isle,
The greatest and the best of all the main,
He quarters to his blue-haired deities ;
And all this tract that fronts the falling sun
A noble peer of mickle trust and power
Has in his charge, with tempered awe to guide
An old and haughty nation, proud in arms :
Where his fair offspring, nursed in princely lore,
Are coming to attend their father's state,
And new-entrusted sceptre ; but their way
Lies through the perplexed paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horror of whose shady brows

[graphic]

Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger ; And here their tender age might suffer peril,

But that by quick command from sovran Jove
I was despatched for their defence and guard :
And listen why; for I will tell you now
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.

Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape
Crushed the sweet poison of misused wine,
After the Tuscan mariners transformed,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe's island fell (who knows not Circe,
The daughter of the sun, whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a grovelling swine ?):
This nymph, that gazed upon his clustering locks
With ivy berries wreathed, 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 named ;
Who, ripe and frolic of his full-grown age,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields,
At last betakes him to this ominous wood;
And, in thick shelter of black shades embowered,
Excels his mother at her mighty art,
Offering to every weary traveller

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed]

His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drouth of Phoebus ; which, as they taste

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