Page images

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: 430

Yea there, where every desolation dwells

By grots, and caverns fliagg'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 sen,

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. 440

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, andshewasqueeno'th' woods.

What was that snaky-headed Gorgon fliield, 450

That wife Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin,

Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeal'd stone,

But rigid looks of chaste austerity,

And noble grace that dash'd brute violence

G g With With sudden 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 foul'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 foul 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 fhadows 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 Where no crude surfeit reigns. Eld. Bro. List, list, 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 some 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 sliepherd.

That hallow I should know, what are you? speak; Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes 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? whole artful strains have oft delay'd The huddling brook to hear his madrigal 500 And sweeten'd every muskrofe 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,

G g 2 I

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,withoutblame, Or our neglect, we lost her as we came. 515

Spir. Ay me unhappy! then my fears are true. Eld.Bro.What fears, goodThyrsis? Pretheebrrefly Spir. I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous, (shew. (Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance) 519 What the sage 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 sty 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

ChaCharacter'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 540

In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers.

Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells,

To' inveigle and invite th' unwary fense

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 sill, 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 clofe-curtain'd fleep;

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


« PreviousContinue »