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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,
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 faeries 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 rites 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! to whom the secret flame
Of midnight torches burns ; mysterious dame,
That ne'er art call’d, but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darkness spits her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air ;
Stay the cloudy ebon chair,
Wherein thou rid'st with Hecate, and befriend
Us thy vow'd priests, till utmost end
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out ;
Ere the babbling eastern scout,
The nice Morn, on the Indian steep,
From her cabin'd loop-hole peep,

And to the tell-tale Sun descry
Our conceal'd solemnity.-
Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.

THE MEASURE Break off, break off, I feel the different pace Of some chaste footing near about this ground, Run to your shrouds, within these brakes and

trees ; Our number may affright: some virgin sure (For so I can distinguish by mine art) Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms, And to my wily trains : I shall ere long Be well-stock'd with as fair a herd as graz'd About my mother Circe, Thus I hurl My dazzling spells into the spungy air, Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion, And give it false presentments, lest the place And my quaint habits breed astonishment, And put the damsel to suspicious flight; Which must not be, for that's against my course : I, under fair pretence of friendly ends, And well-plac'd words of glozing courtesy, Baited with reasons not unplausible, Wind me into the easy-hearted man, And hug him into snares. When once her eye Hath met the virtue of this magic dust, I shall appear some harmless villager, Whom thrift keeps up about his country gear. But here she comes ; I fairly step aside, And hearken, if I may, her business here.

The LADY enters.

This way the noise was, if mine ear be true, My best guide now : methought it was the sound Of riot and ill-manag'd merriment, Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe, Stirs up among the loose unletter'd hinds; When for their teeming flocks, and granges full, In wanton dance they praise the bounteous Pan, And thank the gods amiss. I should be loath To meet the rudeness, and swill'd insolence, Of such late wassailers ; yet, O! where else Shall I inform my unacquainted feet In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? My brothers, when they saw me wearied out With this long way, resolving here to lodge Under the spreading favour of these pines, Stept, as they said, to the next thicket side, To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit As the kind hospitable woods provide. They left me then, when the gray-hooded Even, Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed, Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phoebus' wain. But where they are, and why they came not back, Is now the labour of my thoughts.

SONG.

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 ?

0, if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,

Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of parley, daughter of the sphere !

So may'st thou be translated to the skies, And give resounding grace to all Heaven's har. monies.

Enter COMUS.
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 smild! 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 won

der ! 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

praise That is address'd to unattending ears.

SPIRIT

There is a gentle nymph not far from hence, That with moist curb sways the smooth Severn

stream, Sabrina is her name, a virgin pure ; Whilom she was the daughter of Locrine, That had the sceptre from his father Brute. She, guiltless damsel, flying the mad pursuit Of her enraged stepdame Guendolen, Commended her fair innocence to the flood, That staid her flight with his cross-flowing course. The water-nymphs, that in the bottom play'd, Held up their pearled wrists, and took her in, Bearing her straight to aged Nereus' hall; Who, piteous of her woes, rear'd her lank head, And gave her to his daughters to imbathe In nectar'd lavers, strewed with asphodel; And through the porch and inlet of each sense Dropt in ambrosial oils, till she reviv'd, And underwent a quick immortal change, Made goddess of the river : still she retains

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