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the two boys cleverly introduced in Comus's speeches beginning “ Can any mortal mixture
“ of earth's mould," and "Two such I saw, will thus be better understood, and a new meaning will be found in the closing scene, in which the children are presented to their father and mother with words of no idle flattery. Lawes himself played the part of the Attendant Spirit ; and when this Spirit is pointedly praised for the beauty and power of his music (as in the passages beginning “Who with his soft pipe and smooth-dittied song,” and “Thyrsis! whose artful strains have oft delayed "'), we may be sure that his friend the poet intended the audience to take these words as referring to the musician himself as much as to his assumed character.
COMUS: A MASK
habit of Thyrsis ;
Sabrina, the Nymph.
Attendant Spirit descends or enters
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway
• In the division of the earth, Pluto or Hades obtained the Nether regions; he was hence called "Infernal Zeus," or "Nether Jove."
The nodding horrour of whose shady brows
Bacchus," that first from out the purple grape
· The genealogy which follows, like those in “L'Allegro" and “Il Penseroso,” is Milton's invention.
* Comus was the god of revelry and riot. He had appeared in English masques before Milton introduced him here.
Into some brutish form of wolf, or bear, Or ounce, or tiger, hog, or bearded goat, All other parts remaining as they were ; And they, so perfect is their misery, Not once perceive their foul disfigurement, But boast themselves more comely than before ; And all their friends and native home forget, To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty. Therefore when any favoured of high Jove Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade, Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star I shoot from heav'n, to give him safe convoy, As now I do. But first I must put off These my sky robes spun out of Iris' woof, And take the weeds and likeness of a swain That to the service of this house belongs, Who with his soft pipe and smooth-dittied song, Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar, And hush the waving woods; nor of less faith, And in this office of his mountain watch Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid Of this occasion. But I hear the tread Of hateful steps ; I must be viewless now.
Comus enters, with a charming-rod in one hand, his
glass in the other ; with him a rout of monsters, headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts, but otherwise like men and women, their apparel glistering ; they come in making a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in their hands
Comus. The star that bids the shepherd fold
And the slope Sun his upward beam Shoots against the dusky pole, Pacing toward the other goal Of his chamber in the east. Meanwhile welcome Joy, and Feast, Midnight Shout, and Revelry, Tipsy Dance, and Jollity. Braid your locks with rosy twine, Dropping odours, dropping wine. Rigour now is gone to bed, And Advice with scrup'lous head. Strict Age and sour Severity, With their grave saws, in slumber lie, We that are of purer fire, Imitate the starry quire, Who, in their nightly watchful spheres, Lead in swift round the months and years. The sounds and seas, with all their finny drove, Now to the moon in wav'ring morrice move ; And, on the tawny sands and shelves, Trip the pert fairies and the dapper elves. By dimpled brook and fountain-brim, The Wood-Nymphs, decked with daisies trim, Their merry wakes and pastimes keep. What hath Night to do with Sleep? Night hath better sweets to prove ; Venus now wakes, and wakens Love. Come, let us our rites begin ; 'Tis only daylight that makes sin, Which these dun shades will ne'er report.Hail, Goddess of nocturnal sport, Dark-veiled Cotytto ! 1 to whom the secret flame Of midnight torches burns! Mysterious dame, That ne'er art called but when the dragon womb · A Thracian goddess who was worshipped at night with licentious rites.