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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,

205

Of calling shapes, and beck'ning 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
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong-siding champion, Conscience.—
O welcome pure-ey'd Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering Angel, girt with golden wings,
And thou, unblemish'd form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe

215

220

That he, the Supreme Good, t' whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
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
I'll venture, for my new enliven'd spirits
Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off.

221 Was I deceiv'd] Ov. Fast. v. 545.

225

" Fallor? an arma sonant? Non fallimur: arma sonabant.' Hurd.

SONG.

SWEET Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen
Within thy airy shell,

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

Where the love-lorn nightingale

231

Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well; 235 Canst thou not tell me of a gentle pair

That likest thy Narcissus are ?

O, if thou have

Hid them in some flow'ry cave,

Tell me but where,

240

Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere! So mayst thou be translated to the skies, And give resounding grace to all heav'n's harmonies.

Enter COMUS.

245

COм. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mould
Breathe such divine inchanting 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

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231 shell] The margin of the Cambridge MS. Cell.' Hurd and Warburton observe that shell' means the horizon, the hollow circumference of the heavens.

At

every

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, 255
Who, as they sung, would take the prison'd soul,
And lap it in Elysium; Scylla wept,

And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause:
Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense, 260
And in sweet madness robb'd it of itself;
But such a sacred, and home-felt delight,
Such sober certainty of waking bliss

264

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 Silvan, by blest song
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
LAD. Nay, gentle Shepherd, ill is lost that

praise

269

252 Of darkness] See T. Heywood's Love's Mistresse, p. 14, 4to. and Milton's Life, p. xv. note.

253 Circe] On Milton's having intermixed the Sirens ' with Circe,' T. Warton's note may be consulted, p. 283. 258 barking] Giles Fletcher's Christ's Victorie and Triumph, 1632, p. 55.

And more in heaps the barking surges band.'
A. Dyce.

259 Charybdis] Sil. Ital. xiv. 474.

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'Scyllæi tacuere canes, stetit atra Charybdis.' Warton.

267 goddess] See Cowley's Love's Riddle, p. 117.

That is address'd to unattending ears;
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my sever'd company,
Compell'd me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossy couch.

COм. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft
you thus ?

275

LAD. Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth.
COM. Could that divide you from near-ushering
guides?

LAD. They left me weary on a grassy turf. 280
COм. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
LAD. To seek i' th' valley some cool friendly
[Lady?
Coм. And left your fair side all unguarded,
LAD. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick

spring.

return.

COм. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
LAD. How easy my misfortune is to hit!

COM. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
LAD. No less than if I should my Brothers lose.
COм. Were they of manly prime, or youthful
bloom?

LAD. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. COM. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox In his loose traces from the furrow came,

273 extreme] Mirror for Mag. (ed. 1610) p. 430. In rustie armour, as in extream shift.'

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Todd.

292

292 loose] Benlowe's Theophila, p. 247. The tired oxe sent in loose traces home.' Medio die interjunxerunt.' Seneca de Tranq. Animi, Cap. ult. vol. i. p. 385. See Lip

295

And the swink'd 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' th' plighted clouds. I was awe-struck,
And as I pass'd, I worshipp'd; if those you seek,
It were a journey like the path to heaven,
To help you find them.

LAD. Gentle Villager,

- 304

sup

[pose,

What readiest way would bring me to that place?
COM. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
LAD. To find that out, good Shepherd, I
In such a scant allowance of star-light,
Would overtask the best land-pilot's art,
Without the sure guess of well-practis'd feet. 310
COм. 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;

sius's note on the force of this word. See too Arati Diosem. ver. 93.

297 human] The editions vary in pointing, either after 'human,' or after 'they stood.'

301 plighted] Folded. Milton's H. of England, b. ii. she wore a plighted garment of divers colours.' Todd.

301 plighted clouds] Euripidis Orest. 1647. εν αιθέρος πτυχᾶις. A. Dyce.

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