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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
unletter'd hinds, When, for their teeming flocks, and granges full, In wanton dance
Or, if our eyes 15e barred that happiness, might we but hear The folded flocks
penned in their wattled cotes, Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops, Or
whistle from the lodge, or village cock Count the night watches to his feathery
... murmurs mixed, whose pleasing poison The visage quite transforms of him that
drinks, And the inglorious likeness of a beast Fixes instead, unmoulding
Reason's mintage Charactered 20 in the face ; this have I learnt Tending my
flocks hard ...
This evening late, by then the chewing flocks Had ta'en their supper on the
savoury herb Of knot-grass dew-besprent,21 and were in fold, I sat me down to
watch upon a bank With ivy canopied, and interwove With flaunting honeysuckle,
Wherefore did Nature pour her bounties forth With such a full and unwithdrawing
hand, Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks, Thronging the seas with
spawn innumerable, But all to please and sate the curious taste ? And set to ...
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I much prefer John Kinsella's updated version 'A Dialogic Mask' which, rather engagingly, includes John Milton's original in a beautifully produced hardback. Comus is available from Arc Publications.