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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 inrollid
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.
1 Acquist :' acquisition.
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.
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 3 by the author, yet it is a legitimate offepring, 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 bumble Servant,
1.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 in. cident. 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 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 aëreal 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’ds in this pinfold4 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
1. Thomas Egerton:' the fourth son of the Earl. He died at the age of twenty-three._ The Lady Alice,' as her portraits testify, was very beautiful. She became the Countess of Carbery.–3 • Pester'd:' i. e., crowded.+ • Pinfold:' i. e., sheepfold.
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 netherl 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 Peerl 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-entrusted scepter : but their way
Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horrour of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wandering passenger;
And here their tender age might suffer peril,
But that by quick command from sovran Jove
I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard :
And listen why; for I will tell you now
1. High and nether:' i. e., the upper and the lower dominions of Jove.• • Peer :' Earl of Bridgewater, then President of Wales and the Marches.
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 1 transform’d,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe's island fell : (Who knows not Circe, 2
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 clustering locks
With ivy berries wreath’d, and his blithe youth,
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 Celtick and Iberian3 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,
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquour in a crystal glass,
To quench the drouth of Phæbus; which as they taste
(For most do taste through fond intemperate thirst),
Soon as the potion works, their human countenance,
The 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 ;
i i Tuscan mariners :' changed into beasts ; see Ovid, Met. lib. ii.? Circe:' see the Odyssey.- Celtick and Iberian :' France and Spain.