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But rigid looks of chaste austerity,
And noble grace that dash'd brute violence
With sudden adoration and blank awe?
So dear to heav'n is saintly Chastity,
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried angels lacky her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt;'.
And, in clear dream and solemn vision,
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
Till oft converse with heav'nly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on th' outward shape,
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence, .
Till all be made immortal; but when Lust,
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Lets in defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Imbodies, and imbrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp,
Oft seen in chárnel vaults and sepulchres
Ling'ring, and sitting by a new-made grave,
As loath to leave the body that it lov'd,
And link'd itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.
Sec. Br. How charming is divine Philosophy! Not harsh and crabbed, as dull fools suppose, But musical, as is Apollo's lute, And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets, Where no crude surfeit reigns. El. Br.
List, list, I hear Some far off halloo break the silent air.
Sec. Br. Methought so too; what should it be? El. Br.
For certain Either some one like us night-founder'd here, Or else some neighbour woodman, or, at worst, Some roving robber calling to his fellow's. Sec. Br. Heav'n keep my sister. Again, again,
and near! Best draw, and stand upon our guard.. El. Br.
I'll halloo: If he be friendly, he comes well; if not, Defence is a good cause, and heay’n be for us.
Enter the Attendant Spirit, habited like a
shepherd. That halloo I should know, what are you? speak; Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else. Spir. What voice is that? my young lord? speak
again. Sec. Br. Obrother,'tismy father's shepherd, sure.
El. Br. Thyrsis? whose artful strains have oft
delay'd The huddling brook to hear his madrigale, And sweeten'd every musk-rose of the dale! How cạm'st thou here, good swain? hath any ram Slipt from the fold, or young kid lost his dam, Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook ? How couldst thou find this dark sequester'd nook?
Spir. O my lov'd master's heir, and his next joy, I came not here on such a trivial toy As a stray'dewe, or to pursue the stealth Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth That doth enrich these downs, is worth a thought To this my errand, and the care it brought. But, O my virgin lady, where is she? How chance she is not in your company? El. Br. To tell thee sadly, shepherd, without
blame, Or our neglect, we lost her as we came.
Spir. Ah me unhappy! then my fears are true.
El. Br. What fears, good Thyrsis? Pr’ythee, .. · briefly shew.
Spir. I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous, (Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance)
What the sage poets, taught by th' heavenly muse, · Story'd of old in high immortal verse,
Of dire chimeras and enchanted isles,
And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to hell;.
For such there be, but unbelief is blind.'
Within the navel of this hideous wood,
Immur'd in cypress shade, a sorcerer dwells,
Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus,
Deep skill'd in all his mother's witcheries;
And here to every thirsty. wanderer
By sly enticement gives his baneful cup,
With many murmurs mixt, whose pleasing poison
The visage quite transforms of him that drinks,
And the inglorious likeness of a beast
Fixes instead, unmoulding reason's mintage
Character'd in the face: this have I learnt
Tending my flocks hard by i' th' hilly crofts,
That, brow this bottom-glade, whence night by .. night : He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl, Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey, Doing abhorred rites to Hecate In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers. Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells, T' inveigle and invite th' unwary sense Of them that pass unweeting by the way. This evening late, by then the chewing flocks Had ta’en their supper on the savoury herb
Of knot-grass dew-bespent, and were in fold,
I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove
With flaunting honey-suckle, and began,
Rapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
To meditate my rural minstrelsy, .
Till Fancy had her fill; but, ere a close,
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance;
At which I ceas'd, and listen’d them awhile,
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence ..
Gave respite to the drowsy frighted steeds,'
That draw the litter of close-curtain's Sleep;
At last a soft and solemn breathing sound
Rose like a steam of rich distill'd perfumes,
And stole upon the air, that even Silence
Was took ere she was ware, and wish'd she might
Deny her nature, and be never more,
Still to be so displac'd. I was all ear,
And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of Death: but, O! ere long
Too well I did perceive it was the voice
Of my most honour'd lady, your dear sister.
Amaz’d I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear;
And, O poor hapless nightingale, thought I,
How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare!