Page images
[graphic][merged small][merged small][merged small]


Ay me unhappy! then


fears are true.


What fears, good Thyrsis? Prythee briefly shew.


I'll tell ye; 'tis not vain or fabulous

(Though so esteemed by shallow Ignorance)

What the sage poets, taught by the heavenly muse,

Storied 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 navel19 of this hideous wood,
Immured in cypress shades, a sorcerer dwells,
Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus,

Deep skilled in all his mother's witcheries;
And here to every thirsty wanderer,

By sly enticement, gives his baneful cup,

[graphic][ocr errors][ocr errors]

With many murmurs mixed, whose pleasing poison
The visage quite transforms of him that drinks,
And the inglorious likeness of a beast
Fixes instead, unmoulding Reason's mintage
Charáctered 20 in the face; this have I learnt
Tending my flocks hard by i' the hilly crofts
That brow this bottom glade; whence night by night

[ocr errors]

He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl

Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey,
Doing abhorred rites to Hecate

In their obscuréd haunts of inmost bowers.

Yet have they many baits and guileful spells
To inveigle and invite the 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-besprent,21 and were in fold,
I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove
With flaunting honeysuckle, and began,
Wrapt 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 filled the air with barbarous dissonance;
At which I ceased, and listened them a while,
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respite to the drowsy-flighted 22 steeds
That draw the litter of close-curtained sleep;
At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound 23
Rose like a steam of rich distilled perfumes,


And stole upon the air, that even Silence

Was took ere she was 'ware, and wished she might

Deny her nature, and be never more

Still to be so displaced. I was all ear,

And took in strains that might create a soul

Under the ribs of Death: 24 but oh, ere long,

« PreviousContinue »