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EXTRACT FROM COMUS. THIS way the noise was, if mine ear be true, My best guide now; methought it was the sound Of riot and ill-managed merriment, Such as the jocund fute, or gamesome pipe Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds, When for their teeming flocks, and granges full, In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan, And thank the Gods amiss. I should be loth To meet the rudeness and swill'd insolence Of such late wassailers; yet oh, where else Shall I inform my unacquainted feet In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? My brothers, when they saw me wearied out With this long way, resolving here to lodge Under the spreading favour of these pines, Stept, as they said, to the next thicket side To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit As the kind hospitable woods provide. They left me then, when the gray hooded even, Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed, Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus' wain. But where they are, and why they came not back, Is now the labour of my thought; 'tis likeliest They had engaged their wandering steps too far, And envious darkness, ere they could return, Had stole them from me; else, thievish night, Why wouldst thou, but for some felonious end, In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars,

That nature hung in Heav'n, and fill'd their lamps
With everlasting oil, to give due light
To the misled and lonely traveller?
This is the place, as well as I may guess,
Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth
Was rife and perfect in my list’ning ear;
Yet nought but single darkness do I find.
What might this be? A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beck’ning shadows dire,
And airy tongues, that syllable men's names
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion, Conscience.
O welcome pure-ey'd faith, white-handed hope,
Thou hovering angel, girt with golden wings,
And thou, unblemish'd form of chastity;
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That he, the Supreme Good, t' whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glist'ring guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honour unassail'd.
Was I deceiy'd, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err; there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
I cannot halloo to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
I'll venture; for my new enliven'd spirits
Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off.

Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv’st unseen

Within thy airy shell,

By slow Meander's margent green, And in the violet embroider'd vale,

Where the love-born nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well;

Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair

That likest thy Narcissus are?

O if thou have
Hid them in some flow'ry cave,

Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of Parly, daughter of the sphere,

So may'st thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all Heaven's harmonies

Comus. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment? Sure something holy lodges in that breast, And with these raptures moves the vocal air To testify his hidden residence: How sweetly did they float upon the wings Of silence, through the empty vaulted night, At every fall smoothing the raven down Of darkness till it smil'd! I have oft heard My mother Circe, with the Sirens three, Amidst the flow'ry-kirtled Naiades Culling their potent herbs, and baleful drugs, Who, as they sung, would take the prison'd soul, And lap it in Elysium; Scylla wept, And chid her barking waves into attention, And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause: Yet they in pleasing slumber lulld the sense, And in sweet madness robb'd it of itself; But such a sacred and home-felt delight, Such sober certainty of waking bliss, I never heard till now. I'll speak to her, And she shall be my queen. Hail foreign wonder, Whom certain these rough shades did never breed, Unless the Goddess that in rural shrine Dwell'st here with Pan, or Sylvan, by blest song Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog To touch the prosp'rous growth of this tall wood.




O gentle sleep, Nature's soft nurse, how have I frighted thee, That thou no more wilt weigh my eye-lids down, And steep my senses in forgetfulness! Why rather, sleep, liest thou in smoky cribs, Upon uneasy pallets stretching thee, And hush'd with buzzing night-flies to thy slumber; Than in the perfum'd chambers of the great, Under the canopies of costly state, And lull'd with sounds of sweetest melody? O thou dull god, why liest thou with the vile, In loathsome beds; and leav'st the kingly couch, A watch-case, or a common larum-bell? Wilt thou upon the high and giddy mast, Seal up the ship-boy's eyes, and rock his brains In cradle of the rude imperious surge; And in the visitation of the winds, Who take the ruffian billows by the top, Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them With deafʼning clamours in the slippery clouds, That, with the hurly, death itself awakes ? Canst thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude; And, in the calmest and the stillest night, With all appliances and means to boot, Deny it to a king ?




[From the “Fall of Jerusalem."]
Javan. Oh ! farewell then
The faithless dream, the sweet yet faithless dream,
That Miriam loves me!

Miriam. Love thee! I am here,
Here at dead midnight by the fountain's side,

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