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Amongst the enthron'd Gods on sainted seats.
Yet some there be that by due steps aspire
To lay their just hands on that golden key,
That opes the palace of eternity;
To such my errand is ; and but for such,
I would not soil these pure ambrosial weeds
With the rank vapours
of this sin-worn mould.
But to my task. Neptune, besides the sway
Of every salt flood, and each ebbing stream,
Took in by lot 'twixt high and nether Jove
Imperial rule of all the sea-girt isles,
That like to rich and various gems inlay
The unadorned bosom of the deep;
Which he, to grace his tributary Gods,
By course commits to several government,
And gives them leave to wear their sapphire crowns,
And wield their little tridents : but this Isle,
The greatest and the best of all the main,
He quarters to his blue-hair'd deities;
And all this tract that fronts the falling sun
A noble Peer of mickle trust and power
Has in his charge, with temper'd awe to guide
An old and haughty nation proud in arms:
Where his fair offspring, nurs'd in princely lore,
Are coming to attend their father's state,
And new-intrusted sceptre; but their way
Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear
wood, The nodding horror of whose shady brows Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger;
And here their tender age might suffer peril,
But that by quick command from sovereign Jove
I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard;
And listen why, for I will tell you now
What never yet was heard in tale or song,
From old or modern bard, in hall or bower.
Bacchus, that first from out the purple grape
Crush'd the sweet poison of misused wine,
After the Tuscan mariners transform’d,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe's island fell: who knows not Circe, 50
The daughter of the sun, whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a grovelling swine?
This Nymph that gaz'd upon his clust'ring locks,
With ivy berries wreath'd, and his blithe youth, 55
Had by him, ere he parted thence, a son
Much like his father, but his mother more,
Whom therefore she brought up,and Comus nam'd:
Who ripe, and frolic of his full grown age,
Roving the Celtic and Iberian fields,
At last betakes him to this ominous wood,
And in thick shelter of black shades imbower'd
Excels his mother at her mighty art,
60 who knows] Spenser's Britain's Ida, c. i. st. 1.
' In Ida's vale (who knows not Ida's vale). Todd. 18 Comus] Consult Warton's and Todd's note on the subject of Comus: from which we find, that though he had appeared as a dramatic personage before, Milton first raised him into poetical celebrity.
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drouth of Phæbus, which as they
(For most do taste through fond intemp'rate thirst)
Soon as the potion works, their human count'nance,
Th' express resemblance of the Gods, is chang'd
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, 75
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual sty.
Therefore, when any favour'd of high Jove
Chances to pass through this adventurous 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
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 mon.sters, 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, Now the top of heaven doth hold; And the gilded car of day His glowing axle doth allay In the steep Atlantic stream; And the slope sun his upward beam Shoots against the dusky pole, Pacing toward the other goal Of his chainber 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 scrupulous head, Strict Age, and sour Severity, With their grave saws in slumber lie. We that are of purer fire
93 star] Chapman's Homer's Hymn to Pan. When Hes. perus calls to fold the flocks of men.'
97 Atlantic] Beaumont's Psyche, c. iii. s. xi. p. 27.
108 Advice] The Cambridge MS. · And quick Law,' which Warburton prefers.
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 wavering 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 deck'd 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 rights begin,
'Tis only day-light that makes sin,
Which these dun shades will ne'er report.
Hail Goddess of nocturnal sport,
Dark-veil'd Cotytto, t' whom the secret flame
Of midnight torches burns; mysterious dame, 130
That ne'er art calld, but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air ;
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
Wherein thou rid'st with Hecat, and befriend 135
Us thy vow'd priests, till utmost end
They soone bring night,
Other sweets to waite thee then.'
Donne's Poems, p. 121. And see Seven Champions of Christendom, p. 55. 4to. 1638
123 rights].“ Rites. Fenton, Newton, Warton, (ed. 1). 132 spets] •Spits.' Fenton, Tickell, Newton, wrongly,