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By dimpled brook, and fountain brim,
The wood-nymphs deck'd with daisies trim,
Their merry wakes and pastimes keep;
What hath night to do with sleep?
Night hath better sweets to prove,
Venus now wakes, and wakens Love
Come let us our rites begin,
'Tis only day-light that makes sin,
Which these dun shades will ne'er report.
Hail Goddess of nocturnal sport,
Dark-veil'd Cotytto,' t' whom the secret flame
Of midnight torches burns; mysterious dame,
That ne'er art call’d, but when the dragon womb
Of Stygian darkness spets her thickest gloom,
And makes one blot of all the air;
Stay thy cloudy ebon chair,
Wherein thou rid'st with Hecat, and befriend
Us thy vow'd priests, till utmost end
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out,
Ere the babbling eastern scout,
The nice morn, on the Indian steep
From her cabin'd loophole peep,
And to the tell-tale sun descry
Our conceal'd solemnity.
Come, knit hands, and beat the ground
In a light fantastic round.
Break off, break off, I feel the different pace
Of some chaste footing near about this ground.
Run to your shrouds, within these brakes and trees;
Our number may affright: Some virgin sure
(For so I can distinguish by mine art)
Benighted in these woods. Now to my charms,
And to my wily trains; I shall ere long
Be well-stock'd with as fair a herd as grazed
About my mother Circe. Thus I hurl
· The goddess of wantonness, worshipped by the ancient Greeks at night
My dazzling spells into the spungy air,
Of power to cheat the eye with blear illusion,
And give it false presentments, lest the place
And my quaint habits breed astonishment
And put the damsel to suspicious flight,
Which must not be, for that's against my course :
I, under fair pretence of friendly ends,
And well-placed words of glozing courtesy
Baited with reasons not unplausible,
Wind me into the easy-hearted man,
And hug him into snares. When once her eye
Hath met the virtue of this magic dust,
T shall appear some harmless villager,
Whom thrift keeps up about his country gronto
But here she comes, I fairly step aside,
And hearken, if I may, her business here.
The Lady enters. LADY. This way the noise was, if mine ear be true, My best guide now; methonght it was the sound Of riot and ill-managed merriment, Such as the jocund fute, 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 loath To meet the rudeness, and swill'd insolence Of such late wassailers; yet O where else Shall I inform my unacquainted feet In the blind mazes of this tangled wood ? My Brothers, when they saw me wearied out With this long way, resolving here to lodge Under the spreading favour of these pines, Stepp'd, as they said, to the next thicket side To bring me berries, or such cooling fruit As the kind hospitable woods provide. They left me then, when the gray-hooded Even Like a sad votarist in palmer's weed,
Rose from the hindmost wheels of Phæbus' wain.
But where they are, and why they came not back
Is now the labour of my thoughts; 'tis likeliest
They had engaged their wandering steps too far;
And envious darkness, ere they could return,
Had stole them from me: else, O thièvish Nighty
Why shouldst thou, but for some felonious end,
In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars,
That nature hung in heaven, and fill’d their lamps
With everlasting oil, to give due light
To the misled and lonely traveller ?
This is the place, as well as I may guess,
Whence even now the tumult of loud mirth
Was rife, and perfect in my listening ear,
Yet nought but single darkness do I find.
What might this be? A thousand fantasies
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beck’ning shadows dire,
And airy tongues, that syllable men's names
On sands, and shores, and desert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong-siding champion, Conscience. —
O welcome pure-eyed Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hov'ring Angel, girt with golden wings,
And thou, unblemish'd form of Chastity!
I see ye visibly, and now believe
That He, the Supreme Good, t' whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glist’ring guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honour unassaild.
Was I deceived, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err, there does a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove:
I cannot halloo to my Brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
I'll venture, for my new enliven'd spirits
Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off
SWEET Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen
Within thy airy 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 ?
O, if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,
Tell me but where,
Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere!
So mayst thou be translated to the skies,
And give resounding grace to all heav'n's harmonies
Com. Can any mortai mixture of earth's mould
Breathe such divine enchanting ravishment P
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
Of silence, through the empty vaulted night,
At every fall smoothing the raven down
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 lull’d the sense,
And in sweet madness robb’d it of itself;
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.
Whom certain these rough shades did never breed,
Unless the goddess that in rural shrine
Dwell'st here with Pan, or Silvan, by blest song
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood.
Lad. 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,
Compell’d me to awake the courteous Echo
To give me answer from her mossy couch.
Com. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft you
Lad. Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth.
Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering guides ?
Lad. They left me weary on a grassy turf.
Com. By falsehood, or discourtesy, or why?
Lad. To seek i' th' valley some cool friendly spring.
Com. And left your fair side all unguarded, Lady?
LAD. They were but twain, and purposed quick return.
Com. Perhaps forestalling night prevented them.
Lad. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need!
Lad. No less than if I should my Brothers lose.
Com. Were they of manly prime, or youthful bloom ?
LAD. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips.
Com. Two such I saw, what time the labour'd ox
In his loose traces from the furrow came,
And the swink'd' hedger at his
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 colours of the rainbow live,
And play i' th' plighted clouds. I was awe-struck,
And as I pass'd, I worshipp'd; if those you seek,