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I have oft heard My mother Circe with the Sirens three, Amidst the flowery-kirtled
Naiades Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs, Who, as they sung, would
take the prisoned soul And lap it in Elysium : Scylla wept,9 And chid her barking ...
... and lets grow her wings, That in the various bustle of resort Were all too ruffled,
and sometimes impaired. He that has light within his own clear breast May sit i'
the centre, and enjoy bright day ; But he that hides a dark soul and foul thoughts,
So dear to Heaven is saintly chastity,13 That when a soul is found sincerely so, A
thousand liveried angels lackey her, Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And, in clear dream and solemn vision, Tell her of things that no gross ear can
Or have I said enough ? To him that dares Arm his profane tongue with
contemptuous words Against the sun-clad power of chastity, Fain would I
something say, yet to what end ? Thou hast nor ear, nor soul, to apprehend The
sublime notion, ...
This grotesque comparison is taken from one of Alciat's emblems, where a soul in
the figure of an infant is represented within the ribs of a skeleton, as in a prison.
20 P. 50. Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt. Milton seems to allude to the ...
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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.