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[graphic]

Come, knit hands, and beat the ground,
In a light fantastic round.

The Measure.

Break off, break off, I feel the different pace Of some chaste footing near 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 charms,

And to my wily trains: I shall, ere long,

Be well stocked with as fair a herd as grazed

About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl

My dazzling spells into the spongy air,

Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion,

And give it false presentments, lest the place

And my quaint habits breed astonishment,

And put the damsel to suspicious flight,

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

I, under fair pretence of friendly ends,

And well-placed words of glozing courtesy,

Baited' with reasons not implausible,

Wind me into the easy-hearted man,

And hug him into snares. When once her eye

Hath met the virtue of this magic dust,

I shall appear some harmless villager,

Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear.

But here she comes; I fairly step aside,

And hearken, if I may, her business here.

[The Lady enters.]

[graphic]

LADY.

This way the noise was, if mine oar bo true, 15

My best guide now: methought it was the sound
Of riot and ill-managed merriment,
Such as the jocund flute, 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 swilled 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,
Stepped, 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 grey-hooded even,
Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed,
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus' wain.
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!

Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end,

In thy dark lanthorn thus close up the stars

That Nature hung in heaven, and filled 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 listening 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 beckoning 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.

Oh, welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,

Thou hovering angel girt with golden wings,

And thou unblemished form of chastity!

I sec ye visibly, and now believe

That he, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill

Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,

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