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Fear'd her stern frown, and she was Queen o'th' „What was that snaky-headed Gorgon shield,(Woods.
That wise Minerva wore, unconquer'd virgin,
Wherewith she freez'd her foes to congeald stone,
Rut rigid looks of chaste austerity, 450
And noble grace that dash'd brute violence
With sudden adoration, and blank awe ?
So dear to heav'n is saintly Chastity,
That when a soul is found sincerely so,
A thousand liveried angels lacky her,
Driving far off each thing of sin and guilt,
And in clear dream, and solemn vision,
Tell her of things that no gross ear can hear,
Till oft converse with heav'nly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on th' outward shape, 460
The unpolluted temple of the mind,
And turns it by degrees to the soul's essence,
Till all be made immortal : but when Lust,
By unchaste looks, loose gestures, and foul talk,
But most by lewd and lavish act of sin,
Lets in Defilement to the inward parts,
The soul grows clotted by contagion,
Imbodies and imbrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being.
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp 470
Oft seen in charnel vaults, and sepulchers,
Ling'ring, and sitting by a new-inade grave,
As loath to leave the body that it lov'd,
And link'd itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.
Y. BRO. How charming is divine philosophy ! Not harsh, and crabbed, as dull fools suppose, But musical as is Apollo's lute, And a perpetual feast of nectar'd sweets, Where no crude surfeit reigns. E. Bro. List, list, I hear
480 Some far-off balloo break the silent air.
Y. Bro. Methought so too; what should it be ? E. BRO. For certain Either some one like us night-founder'd here, Or else some neighbour wood-man, or at worst, Some roving robber calling to his fellows. [near.
Y. BRO. Heav'n keep my sister. Again, again and Best draw, and stand upon our guard.
E. BAO. I'll halloo; If he be friendly, he comes well; if not, Defence is a good cause, and Heav'n be for us.
The attendant Spirit habited like a shepherd.
That halloo I should know, what are you ? speak; Come not too pear, you fall on iron stakes else. SPI. What voice is that? my young Lord ? speak again.
492 YBRO. O brother, 'tis my father's shepherd, sure. E. BRO. Thyrsis ?: whose artful strains have oft The huddling brook to hear his madrigal, (delay'd And sweeten'd every musk rose of the dale. How cam'st thou here, good Swain? hath any ram Or straggling weather the pent flock forsook ?
How could'st thou find this dark sequester'd nook ?
spi. O my lov'd master's heir, and his next joy, I came not here on such a trivial toy 502 As a stray'd ewe, or to pursue the stealth Of pilfering wolf; not all the fleecy wealth That doth enrich these downs is worth a thought To this my errand, and the care.it brought. Bat, O my virgin Lady, where is she? . How chance she is not in your company ?
E. BRO. To tell thee sadly, Shepherd, without Or our neglect, we lost her as we came. [blame, SP1. Aye me unhappy! then my fears are true. 511 E. BRO. What fears good Thyrsis ? Prythee
briefly shew. SPI. I'll tell ye ; 'tis not vain or fabulous, (Though so esteem'd by shallow ignorance) What the sage poets, taught by th' heav'nly Muse, Story'd of old in high immortal verse, Of dire chimeras and inchanted iles, And rifted rocks whose entrance leads to Hell; For such there be, but unbelief is blind.
Within the navel of this hideous wood, 520 Immu'd in cypress shades a sorcerer dwells, Of Bacchus and of Circe born, great Comus, Deep skill'd in all his mother's witcheries, And here to every thirsty wanderer By sly enticement gives his baneful cup, With many murmurs mix'd, whose pleasing poison The visage quite transforms of him that drinks, And the inglorious likeness of a beast
Fixes instead, unmolding Reason's mintage
Character'd in the face; this have I learnt 530
Tending my flocks hard by i' th' hilly crofts
That brow this bottom glade, whence night by night
He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl
Like stable wolves, or tigers at their prey,
Doing abhorred rites to Hecate
In their obscured haunts of inmost bowers.
Yet have they many baits, and guileful spells,
To inveigle and invite th' unwary sense
Of them that pass unweeting by the way.
This evening late, by then the chewing flocks 540
Had ta'en their supper on the savory herb
Of knot-grass dew-besprent, and were in fold,
I sat me down to watch upon a bank
With ivy canopied, and interwove
With flaunting honey-suckle, and began,
Wrapt in a pleasing fit of melancholy,
To meditate my rural minstrelsy,
Till Fancy had her filt, but ere a close
The wonted roar was up amidst the woods,
And fill'd the air with barbarous dissonance; 350
At which I ceas’d, and listen'd them a while,
Till an unusual stop of sudden silence
Gave respit to the drousy flighted steeds,
That draw the litter of close-curtain's Sleep;
At last a soft and solemn breathing sound
Rose like a stream of rich distillid perfumes,
And stole upon the air, that even Silence
Was took ere she was ware, and wish'd she might
Deny her nature, and be never more
Still to be so displac'd. I was all ear, 560
And took in strains that might create a soul
Under the ribs of Death ; but o ere long
Too well I did perceive it was the voice
Of my most honour'd Lady, your dear sister.
Amaz'd I stood, harrow'd with grief and fear,
And O poor hapless nightingale thought I,
How sweet thou sing'st, how near the deadly snare?
Then down the lawns I ran with headlong haste,
Through paths and turnings often trod by day,
Till guided by mine ear I found the place, 570
Where that damn'd wisard hid in sly disguise
(For so by certain signs I knew) had met
Already, ere my best speed could prevent,
The aidless innocent Lady his wish'd prey,
Who gently ask'd if he had seen such two,
Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guess'd
Ye were the two she meant ; with that I sprung
Into swift flight, till I had found you here,
But further know I not.
Y. BRO. O Night and shades,
How are ye join'd with Hell in triple knot,
Against th' unarm'd weakness of one virgin
Alone, and helpless ! Is this the confidence
You gave me, Brother ?
E. BRO. Yes, and keep it still,
Lean on it safely; not a period
Shall be unsaid for me: against the threats
Of Malice or of Sorcery, or that power