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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 210
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion, Conscience.
0, welcome, pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering angel girt with golden wings,
And thou unblemished form of Chastity !
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, to whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honour unassailed. ..... 220
Was I deceived, 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 hallo to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
I'll venture; for my new-enlivened spirits
Prompt me, and they perhaps are not far off.

230

Song.
Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen

Within thy airy shell

By slow Meander's margent green, And in the violet-embroidered vale

Where the love-lorn 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 flowery cave,
Tell me but where,

240 Sweet Queen of Parley, 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, 250 At every fall smoothing the raven down Of darkness till it smiled! I have oft heard My mother Circe with the Sirens three, Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades, Culling their potent herbs and baleful drugs, Who, as they sung, would take the prisoned soul, And lap it in Elysium : Scylla wept, And chid her barking waves into attention, And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause. Yet they in pleasing slumber lulled the sense, 260 And in sweet madness robbed 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

VOL 1.

Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood. 270

Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that praise
That is addressed to unattending ears.
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my severed company,
Compelled me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossy couch.
Comus. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft you

thus ? Lady. Dim darkness and this leavy labyrinth. Comus. Could that divide you from near-ushering

guides ? Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf. 280 Comus. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why? Lady. To seek i'the valley some cool friendly spring. Comus. And left your fair side all unguarded, Lady? Lady. They were but twain, and purposed quick

return. Comus. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them. Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit ! Comus. Imports their loss, beside the present need? Lady. No less than if I should my brothers lose. Comus. Werethey ofmanly prime, or youthful bloom? Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazored lips.

Comus. Two such I saw, what time the laboured ox In his loose traces from the furrow came, And the swinked hedger at his supper sat. I saw them under a green mantling vine, That crawls along the side of yon small hill, Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots ; Their port was more than human, as they stood. I took it for a faery vision Of some gay creatures of the element, That in the colours of the rainbow live,

300 And play i' the plighted clouds. I was awe-strook,

292

And, as I passed, I worshiped. If those you seek,
It were a journey like the path to Heaven
To help you find them.
Lady.

Gentle villager,
What readiest way would bring me to that place?

Comus. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.

Lady. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose, In such a scant allowance of star-light, Would overtask the best land-pilot's art, Without the sure guess of well-practised feet. 310

Comus. I know each lane, and every alley green,
Dingle, or bushy dell, of this wild wood,
And every bosky bourn from side to side,
My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood;
And, if your stray attendance be yet lodged,
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatched pallet rouse. If otherwise,
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
Till further quest.
Lady.

Shepherd, I take thy word,
And trust thy honest-offered courtesy,
Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds,
With smoky rafters, than in tapestry halls
And courts of princes, where it first was named,
And yet is most pretended. In a place
Less warranted than this, or less secure,
I cannot be, that I should fear to change it.
Eye me, blest Providence, and square my trial
To my proportioned strength! Shepherd, lead on.

320

The Two BROTHERS.

Eld. Bro. Unmuffle, ye faint stars; and thou, fair moon,

331 That wont'st to love the traveller's benison,

Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud,
And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here
In double night of darkness and of shades;
Or, if your influence be quite dammed up
With black usurping mists, some gentle taper,
Though a rush-candle from the wicker hole
Of some clay habitation, visit us
With thy long levelled rule of streaming light, 340
And thou shalt be our Star of Arcady,
Or Tyrian Cynosure.
Sec. Bro.

Or, if our eyes
Be barred that happiness, might we but hear
The folded flocks, penned in their wattled cotes,
Or sound of pastoral reed with oaten stops,
Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock
Count the night-watches to his feathery dames,
'Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering,
In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.
But, Oh, that hapless virgin, our lost sister!
Where may she wander now, whither betake her
From the chill dew, amongst rude burs and thistles ?
Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now,
Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm
Leans her unpillowed head, fraught with sad fears.
What if in wild amazement and affright,
Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp
Of savage hunger, or of savage heat !

Eld. Bro. Peace, brother : be not over-exquisite To cast the fashion of uncertain evils;

360 For, grant they be so, while they rest unknown, What need a man forestall his date of grief, And run to meet what he would most avoid ? Or, if they be but false alarms of fear, How bitter is such self-delusion ! I do not think my sister so to seek, Or so unprincipled in virtue's book,

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