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156.-pale: enclosed place. Cloister has also literally this meaning, but Milton had in mind the special application of the word to the covered walks in the English Colleges.
157.-love. We have to supply a new subject here: let me love. embowed: vaulted.
158.-antique. If we retain Milton's own spelling, antick, the meaning would be “fancifully ornamented.” massy-proof: proof against mass, i. e., able to bear the weight.
159.-storied: painted with (Scripture) histories. dight: decorated. Cf. L'All., ver. 62.
161-6.-If we suppose this poem to be an indication of Milton's personal tastes, we see that at this time he was far from feeling the antagonism towards the ritual of the Church which he shows later in his prose writings. See Introduction, p. 47.
169.-hairy gown: the coarse dress of the hermit. 170.-spell: study laboriously.
171.-of. The sense would be unaltered by the omis. sion of this preposition. It may be taken as equivalent to “about.”
COMUS For the occasion and the actors, see Introduction, pp. 33 ff.
Title.—Comus. The name is from a Greek word mean. ing "revel” or “band of revelers.” The personification as the God of Mirth belongs to late classical mythology. He had already appeared in English literature in Jonson's masque of Pleasure Reconciled to Virtue (1619), and still earlier in French. presented: represented, acted. discovers: reveals, the usual technical term for displaying a scene on the stage.
1ff.—This opening speech by the Attendant Spirit serves as a sort of prologue to explain the situation.
2.-those: i. e., those well known.
3.—insphered. It has been questioned whether this means “each in his separate star," or refers to the spheres of the Ptolemaic system. But perhaps it is better taken as merely “surrounded by regions,” etc.
7.-pestered: clogged, hampered. pinfold: properly "a pound for cattle:” here, “a narrow enclosure.”
8.--this mortal change. The “change by death” is the meaning that first strikes one, but the use of this inclines us to accept M.'s explanation, “this mortal state of life.”
11.-gods: saints in the company of God. 12.-due. Cf. Il Pens., ver. 155 and note.
16.-ambrosial: heavenly, as ambrosia was the food of the gods. For weeds, cf. L'All., ver. 120 and note.
17.-mould: earth, rather than the human form he is wearing.
18-23.— When Saturn's empire was divided, Neptune was assigned the Sea, Jupiter Heaven, Pluto Hades; hence nether Jove == Pluto.
23.-unadorned: i. e., otherwise unadorned.
29.-quarters: assigns. blue-haired: from the color of the sea. V. notes that this was the conventional color of sea-nymphs' hair in the masques, and Bell (quoted by T.) traces the epithet back to Ovid.
30.-this tract: Wales.
31.-peer: the Earl of Bridgewater, to celebrate whose installation as Lord President of Wales, Comus was produced. mickle: great. The word survives in Scottish.
33.—i. e., of course, the Welsh.
35.-state: referring to the ceremony of installation. Cf. L'All., ver. 60 and note.
38.—horror: used with the classical connotation of "rough," "shaggy,” “bristling."
45.-hall or bower: in the general assemblage in the hall of state, or in the lady's chamber.
43-5.-V. takes this as a claim to originality for the whole work, but it seems rather to be an admission that the character and parentage of Comus are of Milton's own invention.
48.—The reference is to the story of Bacchus, who, sailing to Naxos, was seized and bound by the sailors, who intended to sell him as a slave. But he freed him. self from his fetters, turned the masts and oars into serpents and himself into a lion, while the sailors went mad, jumped overboard, and were changed into dolphins. transformed: note the Latinism in the use of the past participle.
49.-Tyrrhene shore: the western shore of the central part of Italy.
55.—The association of ivy with Bacchus was tradi. tional. Cf. L'All., ver. 16.
59.-frolic... age: rejoicing in his prime.
65.-orient. The associations which the word carries are of brightness, richness, and mystery.
66.-drouth: dryness, thirst. 67.-fond: foolish. Cf. Il Pens., ver. 6 and note. 69.-express: complete and exact. 71.-ounce: a kind of lynx. 77.-In Homer's account of Circe, the minds of the yictims remain unchanged. This gives greater pathos, but Milton's version implies greater degradation.
83.–Iris: the goddess of the rainbow.
86.-This is usually interpreted as a compliment to Lawes, who wrote the music for the masque.
87.-knows to still: another Latinism. Cf. Lyc., ver. 10, 11, “He knew Himself to sing.”
88.-nor...faith: nor less faithful than skilful in music.
89-91.—He explains his choice of a disguise by saying that as a shepherd his appearance will be plausible in this place where he has to be at hand to give assistance.
93.-star: the evening star, Hesperus. fold: the verb from fold, a sheep pen.
97.-steep: deep, or descriptive of the rising appearance of the sea seen from the shore. stream: the ancients regarded the Atlantic as a great stream flowing round the earth.
98.-slope: that has sloped down below the horizon.
100, 1. Critics usually quote Psalm XIX, 4, 5, “In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber.”
105.-rosy twine: wreaths of roses. 110.-saws: maxims.
112.---starry quire: referring to the belief that the spheres make music as they move. Quire is the older spelling of choir. From the next line it appears that the spirits inhabiting the spheres are meant.
115.-sounds: straits, the geographical term. 116.-morrice: morrice or Moorish dance. 118.-pert: smart. dapper: neat, dainty. 121.-wakes: night watches.
129.-Cottyto: a Thracian goddess of debauchery, whose licentious rites were celebrated by night.
131.-called: invoked. dragon-womb: "alluding perhaps to the idea that the chariot of the night was drawn by dragons” (V.) or "that the womb of darkness breeds monsters” (T.). Cf. note to Il Pens., ver. 59.
132.-Stygian: of the underworld; from Styx, one of the four rivers of Hades. spets: spits.
135.—Hecať: Hecate, the goddess of witchcraft, often confused with the goddess of Hades.
139.-nice: fastidious, prudish (used sneeringly). Indian steep: the eastern ascent of the heaveng.
140.-cabined. “Confined,” “narrow," is the usual meaning, but it does not seem very appropriate here.
The phrase is perhaps better understood as equivalent to "the loop-hole of her cabin,” the cabined being used merely to make loop-hole more vivid, but not to be emphasized itself.
144.—round: a country dance.
Stage direction. — The Measure: i. e., the dance takes place here.
147.-shrouds: covers, hiding places. brakes: brusbwood, undergrowth.
154.-spongy: that can hold the spells as a sponge holds water.
156.-blear illusion: illusion that makes bleared or dim. presentments: pictures, appearances.
157.-quaint habits: odd garments.
163.-wind: creep like a serpent, insinuate myself into his bosom.
165.—virtue: power. Cf. 11 Pens., ver. 113, "virtuous ring.”
167.—Keeps awake about his country affairs.
168.-fairly: quietly. “Fair and softly'' was a com. mon phrase meaning "gently."