« PreviousContinue »
Of midnight torches burn. Mysterious dame!
SONG. By Comus and Woman.
Why should niggard rules control
Comus. Come, knit hands and beat the ground In a light fantastic round.
Break off, break off; I feel the diff'rent pace
Run to your shrouds within these brakes and trees;
Enter the Lady. Lady. This
the noise was, if mine ear be true, My best guide now: methought it was the sound 230 Of riot and ill-manag'd 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 loath To meet the rudeness and swill'd insolence Of such late rioters; yet oh! where else Shall I inform my unacquainted feet In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? 246 Comus aside. ] I'll ease her of that care, and be her
guide. Lady. My brothers, when they saw me weary'd out “ With this long way, resolving here to lodge “ Under the spreading favour of these pines,” Stepp’d, 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 weeds,
249 " Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus’wain ;' But where they are, and why they come not back, Is now the labour of my thoughts : 'tis likeliest They had engag'd their wand'ring steps too far. « This is the place, as well as I may guess, “ Whence, ev'n 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, 260, “ And aery tongues, that syllable mens' 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 hov’ring angel, girt with golden wings, “ And thou unblemish'd form of Chastity! “ I see you visibly, and now believe, " That he, the supreme Good (to whom all things ill “ Are but as slavish officers of vengeance) 271 “ Would send a glist’ring guardian, if need were, “To keep my life and honour unassail'd. “ Was I deceiv’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 28. I'll venture, for my new enliven’d spirits Prompt me, and they perhaps are not far off.
Oh! if thou have
Comus aside.] 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 300 “ To testify his hidden residence : “ How sweetly did they float upon the wings “ Of silence through the empty-vaulted night, “ At ev'ry 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,
310 “ And chid her barking waves into attention, “ And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause ; “ Yet they in pleasing slumber lull’d the sense, “ And sweet in 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!