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Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,
Break off, break off, I feel the diff'rent 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 Circè. Thus I hurl My dazzling spells into the spungy air, Of pow'r 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 unplausible, Wind me into the easy-hearted man,
1 A goddess of night, the under-world, and magic.
And hug him into snares. When once her eye
Enter the Lady
Lady. This way the noise was, if mine ear be true, 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 unlettered 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 Ev'n, Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed, Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus' wain; But where they are, and why they came not back, Is now the labour of my thoughts ; 'tis likeliest They had engaged their wand'ring 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,
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph, that liv'st unseen
Within thy aery 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 ?
Oh, if thou have
Tell me but where,
So mayst thou be translated to the skies,
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, At ev'ry fall smoothing the raven-down Of Darkness, till it smiled! 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 prisoned soul, And lap it in Elysium : Scylla wept, And chid her barking waves 1 into attention, And fell Charybdis murmured soft applause :
Virgil's "Multis circum latrantibus undis," "Æneid,” vii. 588.
Yet they in pleasing slumber lulled the sense,
thus ? Lady. Dim carkness, and this leafy labyrinth. Comus. Could that divide you from near-ush'ring
guides? Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf. 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,