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Infamous hills, and sandy perilous wilds,
Where through the sacred rays of chastity,
No savage fierce, bandite, or mountaneer
Will dare to soil her virgin purity:
Yea there, where every desolation dwells
By grots, and caverns shagg’d with horrid shades,
She may pass on with unblench'd majesty,
Be it not done in pride, or in presumption.
Some say no evil thing that walks by night, 435
In fog, or fire, by lake, or moorish fen,
Blue meager hag, or stubborn unlaid ghost,
That breaks his magic chains at Curfeu time,
No goblin, or swart faery of the mine,
Hath hurtful pow'r o'er true virginity.
Do ye believe me yet, or shall I call
Antiquity from the old schools of Greece
To testify the arms of chastity?
Hence had the huntress Dian her dread bow,
Fair silver-shafted queen, for ever chaste, 445
Wherewith she tam’d the brinded lioness
And spotted mountain pard, but set at nought
The frivolous bolt of Cupid; Gods and men
Fear'dherstern frown, and she was queen o'th'woods.
What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield, 450
That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin,
Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone,
But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
And noble gracé that dash'd brute violence
With fudden adoration, and blank awe ? 455
So dear to Heav’n is saintly chastity,
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried Angels lacky her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And in clear dream, and solemn vision, 460
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
Till oft converse with heav’nly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on th'outward shape,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence, 465
Till all be made immortal: but when lust,
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by leud and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion, 470
Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
Oft seen in charnel vaults, and sepulchers,
Ling’ring, and sitting by a new made grave, 475
As loath to leave the body that it lov’d,
And link'd itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.
2. Bro. How charming is divine philosophy!
Not harsh, and crabbed, as dull fools suppose, 480
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns. Eld. Bro. List, lift, I Some far-off hallow break the silent air. (hear 2. Bro. Methought so too; what should it be? 485
Eld. Bro. For certain Either some one like us night-founder'd here, Or else fome neighbour wood-man, or, at worst, Some roving robber calling to his fellows. 489
2. Bro. Heav'n keep my Sister. Again, again, and Best draw, and stand upon our guard. (near;
Eld. Bro. I'll hallow; If he be friendly, he comes well; if not, Defense is a good cause, and Heav'n be for us.
The attendent Spirit habited like a shepherd. That hallow I should know, what are you? speak; Come not too near, you fall on iron ftakes else. 496 Spir. What voice is that? my young Lord? speak
again. 2. Bro. O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure. Eld. Bro. Thyrsis ? whose artful strains have oft
delay'd "The huddling brook to hear his madrigal 500 And sweeten'd every muskrose of the dale. How cam'st thou here, good Swain? hath any ram Slipt from the fold, or young kid lost his dam, Or straggling weather the pent flock forsook ? 504 How could'st thou find this dark sequester'd nook? Spir. O my lov’d master's heir, and his next joy,
I came not here on such a trivial toy
As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth
Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth 509
That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought
To this my errand, and the care it brought.
But, O my virgin Lady, where is she? .
How chance she is not in your company?
El.Bro.To tell thee sadly, Shepherd, without blame,
Or our neglect, we lost her as we came. 515
Spir. Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true.
Eld. Bro.What fears, good Thyrsis? Prethee briefly
Spir. I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous, (shew.
(Though so esteem’d by shallow ignorance) 519
What the fage poets, taught by th'heav'nly Muse,
Story'd of old in high immortal verse,
Of dire chimera's and inchanted iles,
And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to Hell;'
For such there be, but unbelief is blind.
Within the navel of this hideous wood, 525
Immur'd in cypress shades a sorcerer dwells,
Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus,
Deep skill’d in all his mother's witcheries,
And here to every thirsty wanderer
By fly enticement gives his baneful cup, 530
With many murmurs mix’d, whose pleasing poison
The visage quite transforms of him that drinks,
And the inglorious likeness of a beast
Fixes instead, unmolding reason's mintage
Character'd in the face; this have I learnt 535
Tending my flocks hard by i'th' hill crofts,
That brow this bottom glade, whence night by night
He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl
Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey,
Doing abhorred rites to Hecate
In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers.
Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells,
To’inveigle and invite th’unwary sense
Of them that pass unweeting by the way.
This evening late, by then the chewing flocks 545
Had ta'en their supper on the savory herb.
Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold,
I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove
With flaunting honey-suckle, and began, 550
Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
To meditate my rural minstrelsy,
Till fancy had her fill, but ere a close
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance; 555
At which I ceas’d, and listen’d them a while, ..
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respit to the drowsy flighted steeds,
That draw the litter of close-curtain'd sleep;
At last a soft and solemn breathing sound 560
Rose like a steam of rich distill’d perfumes,
And stole upon the air, that even Silence