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of other care they little reckoning make,
Than how to scramble at the shearers' feast,
And shove away the wortlıy bidden guest!
Blind mouths! that scarce themselves know how to hold
A sheep-hook, or have learn'd anght else the least
That to the faithful herdsman's art belongs!
What recks it them? What need they? They are sped;
And, when they list, their lean and flashy songs
Grate on their scrannel pipes of wretched straw:
The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed;
But, swoln with wind, and the rank mist they draw,
Rot inwardly, and foul contagion spread:
Besides what the grim wolf with privy paw
Daily devours apace, and nothing sed :
But that two-handed engine at the door
Stands ready to smite once, and smite no more.

Return, Alpheus; the dread voice is past
That shrunk thy streams; return, Sicilian Muse,
And call the vales, and bid them hither cast
Their bells and flowerets of a thousand hues.
Ye valleys low, where the mild whispers use
Of shades, and wanton winds, and gushing brooks,
On whose fresh lap the swart-star sparely looks;
Throw hither all your quaint enamellid eyes,
That on the green turf suck the honied showers,
And purple all the ground with vernal flowers.
Bring the rathe primrose that forsaken dies,
The tufted crow-toe, and pale jessamine,
The white pink, and the pansy freaked with jet,
The glowing violet,
The musk-rose, and the well-attired woodbine,
With cowslips wan that hang the pensive heard,
And every flower that sad embroidery wears :
Bid amaranthus all his beauty shed,
And daffodillies fill their cups with tears,

135

110

145

150

So, in his sixteenth Sonnet, written in 1652, he supplicates Comwell

To save free conscience from the paw

or hireling wolves, whose gospel is their maw. Line 124. "Scrannel" is thin, lean, meagre. "A scrannel pipe of straw is contemptuousiy used for Virgil's 'tepuis avena.'"--T. Wurton.

L. 129. “Nothing said." By this Milton clearly alludes to those prelates and clergy of the established church who enjoyed fat salaries without performing any duties: who "sheared the sheep bu: did not feed them."

L. 130, 131. *In these lines our author anticipates the execution of Archbishop Laud by a 'two. handed engine,' that is, the axe; insinuating that his death would remove all grievances in religion, and complete the reformation of the church."-T. Warton, The sense of the passage is, “But there will soon be an end of these evils; the axe is at hand, to take off the head of him who has been the great abettor of these corruptions of the gospel. This will be done by one stroke."

L. 133. "That shrunk thy streams," that is, that silenced my pastoral poetry. The Siciliaa musa is now to return with all her store of rural imagery. "The imagery here is from the noblest source."--Bridges.

L. 136. "Use," in the sense of to haunt, to inhabit. See Halliwell's “ Dictionary of Archaic and Provincial Words, 2 vols. 8vo.

L. 138. "Svart” is swarthy, brown. The dog-star is called the “xwart-star," by turning the efect huto the canse

135

160

165

To strew the laureate hearse where Lycid lies.
For, so to interpose a little ease,
Let our frail thoughts dally with false surmise.
Ay me! whilst thee the shores and sounding seas
Wash far away, where'er thy bones are hurled;
Whether beyond the stormy Hebrides,
Where thou perhaps under the whelming tide
Visit'st the bottom of the monstrous world;
Or whether thou, to our moist vows denied,
Sleep'st by the fable of Bellerus old,
Where the great Vision of the guarded Mount
Looks toward Namancos and Bayona's hold;
Look homeward, angel, now, and melt with ruth:
And, O ye dolphins, waft the hapless youth.

Weep no more, woful shepherds, weep no more;
For Lycidas your sorrow is not dead,
Sunk though he be beneath the watery floor:
So sinks the day-star in the ocean-bed,
And yet anon repairs his drooping head,
And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky:
So Lycidas sunk low, but mounted high,
Through the dear might of Him that walk'd the waves;
Where, other groves and other streams along,
With nectar pure his oozy locks he laves,
And hears the unexpressive nuptial song,
In the bless'd kingdoms meek of joy and love.
There entertain him all the saints above,
In solemn troops, and sweet societies,
That sing, and, singing, in their glory move,
And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.
Now, Lycidas, the shepherds weep no more:
Henceforth thou art the Genius of the shore,
In thy large recompense, and shalt be gool
To all that wander in that perilous flood.

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175

180

185

Line 154. "Ay me!" "Here,” Mr. Dunster observes, “the burst of grief is infinitely beautim, when properly connected with what precedes it and to which it refers."

L. 158. "Monstrous world," that is, the sea, the world of monsters.

L. 160. "Bellerus," the name of a Cornish giant. On the southwestern shores of Cornwall there is a stupendong pile of rock-work called the “giant's chair;" and not far from Land's End is another most romantic projection of rock called St. Michael's Mount. There was a tradition that the "Vision" of St. Michael, seated on this crag, appeared to some hermits. The sense of this line and the following, taken with the preceding, is this:-“Let every flower be strewed on the hearse where Lycidas lies, so to flatter ourselves for a moment with the notion that his corpse is present; and this, (ah me!) while the seas are waiting it here and there, whether beyond the Hebrides or near the shores of Cornwall, &c."

L. 162. “Namancos" is marked in the early editions of Mercator's Atlns as In Gallicia, on the northwest coast of Spain, near Cape Finisterre. Bayona is the strong castle of the French, in the southwestern extremity of France, near the Pyrenees. In that same atlas this castle makes a very conspicuous figure,

L. 163. "Here is an apostrophe to the angel Michael, sented on the guarded mount. Oh angel, look no longer seaward to Namancos and Bayona's hold: rather turn your eyes to another object: look homeward or landward ; look towaris your own coast now, and view with pity the corpse of the shipwrecked Lycidas floating thither.'"-T. Wartor.

L. 18 "And wipe the tears for ever from his eyes.".-13. xxv. 8; Rev. vii. 17.

Thus sang the uncouth swain to the oaks and rills,
While the still morn went out with sandals gray ;
He touch'd the tender stops of various quills,
With eager thought warbling his Doric lay:
And now the sun had stretch'd out all the hills,
And now was dropp'd into the western bay:
At last he rose, and twitch'd his mantle blue:
Tomorrow to fresh woods and pastures new,

190

SCENE FROM COMUS.1

A wild wood. The lady enters.
Lady. This way the noise was, is 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 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 loth
To meet the rudeness and swilld insolence
Of such late wassailers;2 yet, O! where else
Shall I inform my unacquainted feet
In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ?

L. 188. By "stopy" Milton here means what we now call the holes of a flute or any species of pipe.

L. 189. This is a Doric lay, because Theocritus and Moschus had respectively written a bucolic on the deaths of Daphnis and Bion.

1 The fable of Comus is this. A beautiful lady, attended by her two brothers, is journeying through a dreary wood. The brothers become separated from their sister, who is met by Comus, the god of low pleasures, who, with his followers, holds hiy orgies in the night. He addresses her in the diskotsed character of a peasant, but she resists all his arts, and Comus and his crew are put to flight by the brothers, who come in time to rescue their sister. The object of the poem is to show the full power of true virtue and chastity to triumph over all the assaults of wickedness; or, in the language or Shakspeare

That virtue never will be moved, Though lewdness court it in a shape of heaven. "Comns," says Sir Egerton Brydges, “is the invention of a benutiful fable, enriched with shadowy beings and visionary delights: every line and word is pure poetry, and the sentiments are as exquis site as the images. It is a composition which no pen but Milton's could have produced." It seems that an accidental event which occurred to the family of Milton's patron, John Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater, then keeping his court at Ludlow castle, gave birth to this fable. The earl's two song and daughter, Lady Alice, were benighted, and lost their way in Heywood-forest; and the two brothers, in the attempt to explore their path, left the sister alone, in a track of country rudely in. habited. On these simple facts the poet raised a superstructure of such fairy spells and poetical delight as has never since been equalled.

9 Wassail, from the Anglo-Saxon was hal, “be in health." It was anciently the pledge word in drinking, equivalent to the modern “your health." The bowl in which the liquor was presented was called the wassail-bowl, and as it was peculiar to scenes of revelry and festivity, the term wassait in time became synonymous with feasting and carousing. Thus, in Shakspeare, Lady Macbeth de clares that she will “convince (that is, overpower) the two chamberlains of Duncan with wine and keel," and Ben Jonson, giving an account of a rural feast, says:

The rout of rural folk come thronging in,
Their rudeness then is thought no sin-
The Jolly wassel walks the often round,
And in their cups their cares are drown'd.

I cannot balloo to my brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest,
I'll venture; for my new-enlivend spirits
Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off.

S

Song.
Sweet Echo, sweetest nymph, that livest 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?

() if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,

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

So mayst thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all heaven's harmonies.

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 Or silence, through the empty-vaulted night, At every fall smoothing the raven-clown Of darkness, till it smiled! I have oft heard My mother Circe with the sirens 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 lullid the sense, And in sweet madness robb'd it of itsell; 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 wonder! 2 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

1 "The songs of this poem are of a singular felicity; they are unbroken streame of exquisite ima very, either imaginative or descriptive, with a dance of numbers which sounds like aérial music: for Instance, the Lady's song to Echo."-Brydges.

2 " Comus's address to the lady is exceedingly beautiful in every respect; but all readers will acknowledge that the style of it is much raised by the expression 'unless the goddess,' an elliptical expression, unusual in our language, though common enough in Greek and Latin. But if we were to oli it up and say, unless thou becst the goldeas,' how fat and insipid would it make the compo. sition, compared with what it is.". Lord Monooddo.

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;
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my sever'd company,
Compelld me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossy couch.

Com. What chance, good lady, hath berest you thus?
Lady. Dim darkness, and this leavie labyrinth.
Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering guideu?
Lady. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
Lady. To seek i' the valley some cool friendly spring.
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, lady?
Lady. They were but twain, and purposed quick return.
Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
Lady. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need ?
Lady. No less than if I should my brothers lose,
Com. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom ?
Lady. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips.

Com. Two such I saw, what time the labor'd ox
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swink'd i hedger at his supper sat;
I saw them under a green mantling vine,
That crawls along the side of yon small hill,
Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots:
Their port was more than human as they stood:
I took it for a faery vision
Of some gay creatures of the element,
That in the colors of the rainbow live,
And play in the plighted clouds. I was awe-struck,
And, as I pass'd, I worshipp'd; of those you seek,
It were a journey like the path to heaven,
To help you find them.
Lady.

Gentle villager,
What readiest way would bring me to that place?

Com. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.

Lady. To find out that, good shepherd, I suppose,
In such a scant allowance of star-light,
Would overtask the best land-pilot's art,
Without the sure guess of well-practised feet.

Com. I know each lane, and every alley green,
Dingle, or bushy dell of this wild wood,
And every bosky bourn from side to side,
My daily walks and ancient neighborhood;
And if your stray attendants be yet lodged,
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the luw-roosted lark
From her thatch'd pallet rouse; if otherwise,
I can conduct you, lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
Till farther quest.

1 "Swinl'u," i. e, ured, faligocd.

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