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BEFORE the starrie threshold of Joves Court
My mansion is, where those immortall shapes
Of bright aereall Spirits live insphear'd
In Regions mild of calme and serene aire,
Above the smoake and stirre of this dim spot
Which men call Earth, and with low-thoughted care
Confin'd, and pester'd in this pin-fold here,
Strive to keepe up a fraile, and feaverish being
Unmindfull of the crowne that Vertue gives
After this mortall change to her true Servants
Amongst the enthron'd gods on Sainted seats.
Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key
That ope's the palace of ^Eternity:
To such my errand is, and but for such
I would not soile these pure ambrosial weeds
With the ranck vapours of this Sin-worne mould.
H^§: But to my task. Neptune besides the sway
Of every salt Flood, and each ebbing Streame
Tooke in my lot 'twixt high, and neather Jove
Imperial rule of all the Sea-girt lles
That like to rich, and various gemms inlay
The unadorned bosome of the Deepe,
Which he to grace his tributarie gods
By course commits to severall government
And gives them leave to weare their Saphire crowns,
And weild their little tridents, but this lle
The greatest, and the best of all the maine
He quarters to his blu-hair'd deities,
And all this tract that fronts the falling Sun
A noble Peere of mickle trust, and power
Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide
An old, and haughtie Nation proud in Armes:
Where his faire off-spring nurs't in Princely lore

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COMUS Are comming to attend their Fathers state,
A Maske And new-entrusted Scepter, but their way

Lies through the perplex't paths of this dreare wood,
The nodding horror of whose shadie brows
Threats the forlorne and wandring Passinger.
And here their tender age might suffer perill
But that by quick command from Soveraigne Jove
I was dispatcht for their defence, and guard,
And listen why, for I will tell yee now
What never yet was heard in Tale or Song
From old, or moderne Bard in hall or bowre.

Bacchus that first from out the purple Grape
Crush't the sweet poyson of mis-used Wine
After the Tuscan Mariners transform'd
Coasting, the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circes Hand fell (who knowes not Circe
The daughter of the Sun? whose charmed Cup
Whoever tasted lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a grovling Swine)
This Nymph that gaz'd upon his clustring locks
With Ivie berries wreath'd, and his blith 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 nam'd,
Who ripe, and frolick of his full growne age
Roaving the Celtick, and Iberian fields
At last betakes him to this ominous wood,
And in thick shelter of black shades imbowr'd
Excells his Mother at her mightie Art
Offring to every wearie Travailer
His orient liquor in a Chrystall glasse
To quench the drouth of Phoebus, which as they tast
(For most doe taste through fond intemperate thirst)
Soone as the Potion works, their humane count'nance
Th' expresse resemblance of the gods is chang'd
Into some brutish forme of Wolfe, or Beare
Or Ounce, or Tiger, Hog, or bearded Goat,
All other parts remaining as they were,


And they, so perfect in their miserie, COMUS

Not once perceive their foule disfigurement, A Maske

But boast themselves more comely then before

And all their friends; and native home forget

To roule with pleasure in a sensuall stie.

Therefore when any favour'd of high Jove

Chances to passe through this adventrous glade,

Swift as the Sparkle of a glancing Starre

I shoote from heav'n, to give him safe convoy,

As now I doe: but first I must put off

These my skie robes spun out of Iris wooffe,

And take the weeds and likenesse of a Swaine,

That to the service of this house belongs,

Who with his soft Pipe, and smooth-dittied Song,

"Well knows to still the wild winds when they roare,

And hush the waving woods, nor of lesse faith,

And in this office of his Mountaine watch,

Likeliest, and neerest to the present aide

Of this occasion. But I heare the tread

Of hatefull steps, I must be viewlesse now.

Comus enters with a Charming rod in one hand, his Glasse in the other, with him a rout of Monsters headed like sundry sorts of wilde Beasts, but otherwise like Men and Women, their apparell glistring, they come iu [inJ making a riotous and unruly noise, with Torches in their hands.

COMUS. The starre that bids the Shepheard fold,

Now the top of heav'n doth hold,

And the gilded Carre of Day

His glowing Axle doth allay,

In the steepe Atlantik streame,

And the slope Sun his upward beame

Shoots against the duskie Pole,

Pacing toward the other gole

Of his Chamber in the East.

Meane while welcome Joy, and Feast,

Midnight shout, and revelrie,

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COMUS Tipsie dance, and Jollitie.

A Maske Braid your Locks with rosie Twine,
Dropping odours, dropping Wine.
Rigor now is gone to bed,
And Advice with scrupulous head,
Strict Age, and sowre Severitie
With their grave Sawes in slumber lie.
We that are of purer fire,
Immitate the starrie quire,
Who in their nightly watchfull Spheares,
Lead in swift round the Months and Yeares.
The Sounds, and Seas with all their finnie drove,
Now to the Moone in wavering Morrice move,
And on the tawny sands and shelves,
Trip the pert Fairies and the dapper Elves;
By dimpled Brooke, and Fountaine brim,
The Wood-nymphs deckt with daisies trim,
Their merry wakes, and pastimes keepe,
What hath night to doe with sleepe?
Night hath better sweets to prove,
Venus now wakes, and wakens Love.
Come let us our rights begin
Tis onely day-light that makes Sin
Which these dun shades will ne're report.
Haile Goddesse of Nocturnall sport
Dark-vaild Cotytto, t' whom the secret flame
Of mid-night Torches burnes; mysterious Dame
That ne're at [art] call'd, but when the Dragon woome
Of Stygian darknesse spets her thickest gloome
And makes one blot of all the aire,
Stay thy clowdie Ebon chaire,
Wherein thou rid'st with Hecat', and befriend
Us thy vow'd Priests, till utmost end
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out
Ere the blabbing Easterne scout
The nice Morne on th' Indian steepe
From her cabin'd loop hole peepe,
And to the tel-tale Sun discry

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Wur conceal'd Solemnity. COMUS

Come, knit hands, and beate the ground A Maske

In a light fantastick round.


Breake off, breake off, I feele the different pace

Of some chast footing neere about this ground,

Run to your shrouds, within these Brakes, and Trees

Our number may affright: Some Virgin sure

(For so I can distinguish by mine Art)

Benighted in these woods. Now to my charmes

And to my wilie trains, I shall e're long

Be well stock't with as faire a Heard as graz'd

About my Mother Circe. Thus I hurle

My dazling Spells into the spungie aire

Of power to cheate the eye with bleare illusion,

And give it false presentments, lest the place

And my queint habits breed astonishment,

And put the Damsel to suspicious flight,

Which must not be, for that's against my course;

I under faire prastents of friendly ends,

And wel plac't words of glozing courtesie

Baited with reasons not unplausible

Wind me into the easie hearted man,

And hug him into snares; when once her eye

Hath met the vertue of this Magick dust,

I shall appeare some harmlesse Villager

Whom thrift keepes up about his Country geare

But here she comes, I fairly step aside

And hearken, if I may, her businesse here.


This way the noise was, if mine eare be true
My best guide now, me thought it was the sound
Of Riot, and ill manag'd Merriment,
Such as the jocond Flute, or gamesome Pipe
Stirs up among the loose unleter'd Hinds
When for their teeming Flocks, and granges full

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