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MASK .

THE FIRST SCENE DISCOVERS A WILD WOUD.

THE ATTENDANT SPIRIT DESCENDS OR ENTERS.

Before the starry threshold of Jove's court
My mansion is, where those immortal shapes
Of bright aerial 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 pin-fold 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
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 nether 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 Peer 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-intrusted sceptre; but their way
Lies through the perplex'd paths of this drear wood,
The nodding horrour of whose shady brows
Threats the forlorn and wand'ring passenger;
And here their tender age might suffer peril,
But that by quick command from sovereign Jove

I was dispatch'd for their defence and guard;
And listen why, for I will tell you now
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 transform’d,
Coasting the Tyrrhene shore, as the winds listed,
On Circe's island fell: (Who knows not Circe
The daughter of the sun? whose charmed cup
Whoever tasted, lost his upright shape,
And downward fell into a groveling swine)
This Nymph that gaz'd upon his clust'ring 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 Celtic and Iberian fields,
At last betakes him to this ominous wood,
And in thick shelter of black shades imbowr'd
Excels his mother at her mighty art,
Offering to every weary traveller
His orient liquor in a crystal glass,
To quench the drowth of Phoebus, which as they taste,
(For most do taste through fond intemp'rate thirst)

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Soon as the potion works, their human countnance,
Th' 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,
And all their friends and native home forget,
To roll with pleasure in a sensual stie.
Therefore when any favour'd of high Jove
Chances to pass through this advent'rous glade,
Swift as the sparkle of a glancing star
I shoot from Heav'n, to give him safe convoy,
As now I do: But first I must put off
These my sky robes spun out of Iris' woof,
And take the weeds and likeness of a swain,
That to the service of this house belongs,
Who with his soft pipe, and smooth-dittied song,
Well knows to still the wild winds when they roar,
And hush the waving woods, nor of less faith,
And in this office of his mountain watch,
Likeliest, and nearest to the present aid
Of this occasion. But I hear the tread
Of hateful steps, I must be viewless now.

2

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 Heav'n 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.
Mean while welcome Joy, and Feast,
Midnight Shout, and Revelry,
Tipsy Dance, and Jollity.
Braid your locks with rosy twine,
Dropping odours, dropping wine.
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

fire Imitate the starry quire,

purer

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