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But where they are, and why they came not back, Is now the labour of my
thoughts ; 'tis likeliest They had engaged their wandering steps too far ; And
envious darkness, ere they could return, Had stole them from me ; else, O
thievish Night 18 ...
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound, The virtuous mind, that ever
walks attended By a strong siding champion, Conscience. Oh, welcome, pure-
eyed Faith, white-handed Hope, Thou hovering angel girt with golden wings, And
... in Virtue's book, And the sweet peace that goodness bosoms ever, As that the
single want of light and noise (Not being in danger, as I trust she is not) Could stir
the constant mood of her calm thoughts, And put them into misbecoming plight.
I do not, brother, Infer, as if I thought my sister's state Secure without all doubt or
controversy ; Yet, where an equal poise of hope and fear Does arbitrate the event
, my nature is That I incline to hope rather than fear, And gladly banish squint ...
Amazed I stood, harrowed with grief and fear : And oh, poor hapless nightingale,
thought I, How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare ! Then down the
lawns I ran with headlong haste, Through paths and turnings often trod by day,
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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.