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COMUS enters with a charming-rod in one hand, his glass in the other; with him a rout of monsters, headed like sundry sorts of wild beasts, but otherwise like men and women, their apparel glistering; they come in making a riotous and unruly noise, with torches in their hands.

Comus. The star that bids the
shepherd fold,

Now the top of heaven doth hold;
And the gilded car of day
His glowing axle doth allay
In the steep Atlantic stream;

And the slope sun his upward beam
Shoots against the dusky pole,
Pacing toward the other goal
Of his chamber in the east.
Meanwhile welcome Joy, and Feast,
Midnight Shout and Revelry,
Tipsy Dance and Jollity.
Braid your locks with rosy twine,
Dropping odors, dropping wine.
Rigor now has 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

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Lead in swift round the months and


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 fairies and the dapper elves.

By dimpled brook, and fountain brim, The wood-nymphs decked 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 daylight that makes sin, Which these dun shades will ne'er report.

Hail, Goddess of nocturnal sport, Dark-veil'd Cotytto! t'whom the secret flame

Of midnight torches burns; mysterious dame,

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And hug him into snares. 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.


This way the noise was, if mine ear be true,

My best guide now; methought it was the sound

Of riot and ill-managed merriment, Such as the jocund flute, or gamesome pipe Stirs up among the loose unlettered 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 swilled 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

They had engaged their wandering steps too far;

And envious darkness, ere they could return,

Had stole them from me: else, O thievish Night,

Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end,


In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars,

That Nature hung in heaven, and filled their lamps

With everlasting oil, to give due light

To the misled and lonely traveller? This is the place, as well as I may guess,

Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth

Was rife, and perfect in my listening


Yet nought but single darkness do I find.

Under the spreading favor of these pines, Stepped, 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 grayhooded 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 labor of my thoughts; 'tis likeliest

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Or whistle from the lodge, or village cock

Count the night watches to his feathery dames,

'Twould be some solace yet, some little cheering

In this close dungeon of innumerous boughs.

But O that hapless virgin, our lost sister!

Where may she wander now, whither betake her

From the chill dew, among rude burrs and thistles? Perhaps some cold bank is her bolster now,

Or 'gainst the rugged bark of some broad elm

Leans her unpillowed head, fraught

with sad fears.

What, if in wild amazement and affright,

Or, while we speak, within the direful grasp

Of savage hunger, or of savage heat? 1 Br. - Peace, brother, be not over-exquisite

To cast the fashion of uncertain evils;

For grant they be so, while they rest unknown,

What need a man forestall his date of grief,

And run to meet what he would most avoid?

Or if they be but false alarms of fear,
How bitter is such self-delusion!
I do not think my sister so to seek,
Or so unprincipled in virtue's book,
And the sweet peace that goodness
bosoms ever,

As that the single want of light and noise

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She plumes her feathers, and lets grow her wings,

That in the various bustle of resort Were all too ruffled, and sometimes impaired.

He that has light within his own clear breast,

May sit the centre, and enjoy bright day:

But he that hides a dark soul, and foul thoughts, Benighted walks under the mid-day sun; Himself is his own dungeon. 2 Br. - 'Tis most true, That musing meditation most affects The pensive secrecy of desert cell, Far from the cheerful haunt of men and herds,

And sits as safe as in a senate house; For who would rob a hermit of his weeds,

His few books, or his beads, or maple dish,

Or do his gray hairs any violence? But beauty, like the fair Hesperian


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