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Among thy slain self-kill'd,
Not willingly, but tangled in the fold
Of dire necessity, whose law in death conjoin'd
Thee with thy slaughter'd foes, in number more
Than all thy life hath slain before.
1st Semichor. While their hearts were jocund and sublime,
Drunk with idolatry, drunk with wine,
And fat regorg'd of bulls and goats,
Chaunting their idol, and preferring
Before our living Dread who dwells
In Silo," his bright sanctuary:
Among them he a Spirit of phrenzy sent,
Who hurt their minds,
And urg'd them on with mad desire,
To call in haste for their destroyer;
They, only set on sport and play,
Their own destruction to come speedy upon them.
So fond are mortal men,
Fallen into wrath divine,
As their own ruin on themselves to invite,
Insensate left, or to sense reprobate,
And with blindness internal struck.
2d Semichor. But he, though blind of sight,
Despis'd and thought extinguish’d quite,
With inward eyes illuminated,
His fiery virtue rous'd
From under ashes into sudden flame,
And as an evening dragon came,
Assailant on the perched roosts
And nests in order rang'd
Of tame villatick fowl; but as an eagle
His cloudless thunder bolted on their heads.
So Virtue, given for lost,
Depress'd, and overthrown, as seem'd
Like that self-begotten bird"
In the Arabian woods embost,”
That no second knows nor third,
And lay ere while a holocaust,”
From out her ashy womb now teem’d,
Revives, reflourishes, then vigorous most
When most unactive deem'd ;
And, though her body die, her fame survives
A secular* bird, ages of lives,
Man. Come, come; no time for lamentation now,
Nor much more cause ; Samson hath quit himself
Like Samson, and heroickly hath finish'd
A life heroick ; on his enemies
Fully reveng'd, hath left them years of mourning,
And lamentation to the sons of Caphtoro
Through all Philistian bounds; to Israel
Honour hath left, and freedom, let but them
Find courage to lay hold on this occasion;
To himself and father's house eternal fame;
And, which is best and happiest yet, all this
With God not parted from him, as was fear'd,
But favouring and assisting to the end.
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast; no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame; nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
Let us go find the body where it lies
Soak'd in his enemies' blood ; and from the stream
With layers pure, and cleansing herbs, wash off
The clotted gore. I, with what speed the while
(Gaza is not in plight to say us nay),
Will send for all my kindred, all my friends,
To fetch him hence, and solemnly attend
With silent obsequy, and funeral train,
Home to his father's house : there will I build him
A monument, and plant it round with shade
Of laurel ever green, and branching palm,
With all his trophies hung, and acts inroll'd
In copious legend, or sweet lyrick song.
Thither shall all the valiant youth resort,
And from his memory inflame their breasts
To matchless valour, and adventures high :
The virgins also shall, on feastful days,
Visit his tomb with flowers; only bewailing
His lot unfortunate in nuptial choice,
From whence captivity and loss of eyes.
Cho. All is best, though we oft doubt
What the unsearchable dispose
Of Highest Wisdom brings about,
And ever best found in the close.
Oft. He seems to hide his face,
But unexpectedly returns,
And to his faithful champion hath in place
Bore witness gloriously; whence Gaza mourns,
And all that band them to resist
His uncontrollable intent :
His servants He, with new acquisti
Of true experience, from this great event
With peace and consolation hath dismist,
And calm of mind all passion spent.
PRESENTED AT LUDLOW CASTLE, 1634, BEFORE JOHN, EARL OF BRIDGEWATER, THEN PRESIDENT OF WALES.
JOHN LORD VISCOUNT BRACKLEY,”
son AND HEIR APPARENT to THE EARL of BRIDGEwATER, ETC.
My Lord, This poem, which received its first occasion of birth from yourself and others of your noble family, and much honour from your own person in the performance, now returns again to make a final dedication of itself to you. Although not openly acknowledged" by the author, yet it is a legitimate offspring, so lovely, and so much desired, that the often copying of it hath tired my pen to give my several friends satisfaction, and brought me to a necessity of producing it to the public view; and now to offer it up in all rightful devotion to those fair hopes, and rare endowments of your much promising youth, which give a full assurance, to all that know you, of a future excellence. Live, sweet Lord, to be the honour of your name, and receive this as your own, from the hands of him, who hath by many favours been long obliged to your most honoured parents, and as in this representation your attendant Thyrsis, so now in all real expression, Your faithful and most humble Servant,
* “John Earl of Bridgewater, before whom Comus was first presented, and whose sons and daughter performed the characters of the Brothers and the Lady. It is said that these latter had been benighted in Haywood Forest, and that Milton founded Comus on this incident. Earl John died 1649. He was a royalist. * “Lord Brackley: " he became Earl of Bridgewater, and died in 1686. * “Not openly acknowledged' till 1645. * “H. Lawes:" a celebrated musician, who composed the music for Comus. He was an amiable man, and, though a royalist, an intimate friend of Milton's, who dedicated to him his 13th Sonnet. He composed an immense variety of sacred and other music.
THE ATTENDANT SPIRIT, after- FIRST BROTHER.
wards in the habit of THYRSIS. SECOND BROTHER. CoMUs, with his Crew. SABRINA, the Nymph. THE LADY.
THE CHIEF PERSONS, WHO PRESENTED, WERE
THE LORD BRACKLEY.
MR Thomas EGERTON," his brother.
THE LADY ALICE EGERTON.”
The first Scene discovers a wild Wood.
The ATTENDANT SPIRIT descends or enters.
BEFORE the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright ačreal spirits live inspher'd
In regions mild of calm and serene air,
Above the smoke and stir of this dim spot,
Which men call Earth; and, with low-thoughted care
Confin’d and pester'd? in this pinfold" here,
Strive to keep up a frail and feverish being,
Unmindful of the crown that Virtue gives,
After this mortal change, to her true servants,
Amongst the enthron’d gods on sainted seats,
Yet some there be, that by due steps aspire