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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.


Sweet Echo, sweetest Nymph, that liv'st unseen
Within thy aery shell,

By slow Meander's margent green,

And in the violet-embroider'd 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?

O, if thou have

Hid them in some flowery cave,

Tell me but where,

Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere
So may'st thou be translated to the skies,

And give resounding grace to all Heaven's har


Enter COмus.

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 every fall smoothing the raven-down
Of darkness, till it smil'd! I have oft heard
My mother Circe with the Syrens three,
Amidst the flowery-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,

And chid her barking waves into attention,
And fell Charybdis murmur'd soft applause :
Yet they in pleasing slumber lull'd the sense,
And in sweet 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!
Whom certain these rough shades did never breed,
Unless the Goddess that in rural shrine

Dwell'st here with Pan, or Sylvan; by blest song

Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog

To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood. Lady. Nay, gentle shepherd, ill is lost that


That is address'd to unattending ears:


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

Lady. Dim darkness, and his leafy labyrinth. Comus. Could that divide you from near ushering guides?

Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf. Comus. By falshood, or discourtesy, or why? Lady. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly


Comus. And left your fair side all unguarded,

Lady. They were but twain, and purpos'd quick


Comus. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.

Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit!

Comus. Imports their loss, beside the present.


Lady. No less than if I should my Brothers lose. Comus. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom?

Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. Comus. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox

In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swink'd dedger 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,

And play i' the plighted clouds. I was aw-struck,
And, as I past, I worshipt; if those you seek,
It were a journey like the path of Heaven,
To help you find them.


Gentle Villager,

What readiest way would bring me to the place? Comus. Due west it rises from this shrubby point. Lady. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppose 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.

Comus. 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;
And if your stray attendance be yet lodg'd,
Or shroud within this limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise,
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low

But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
Till further quest.


Shepherd, I take thy word

And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy,

Which oft is sooner found in lowly sheds
With smoaky rafters, than in tap'stry halls
In courts of princes, where it first was nam'd,
And yet is most pretended; In a place
Less warranted than this, or less secure,

I cannot be, that I should fear to change it.-
Eye me, blest Providence, and square my trial
To my proportion'd strength! Shepherd, lead on.

Enter the two BROTHERS.

Elder Brother. Unmuffle, ye faint stars; and thou, fair moon,

That wont'st to love the traveller's benison,

Stoop thy pale visage through an amber cloud,
And disinherit Chaos, that reigns here

In double night of darkness and of shades;

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