Till oft converse with heavenly habitants
Begin to cast a beam on the outward shape,
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,
Embodies, and embrutes, till she quite lose
The divine property of her first being:
Such are those thick and gloomy shadows damp
Oft seen in charnel vaults and sepulchres
Lingering, and sitting by a new-made grave,
As loth to leave the body that it loved,
And linked itself by carnal sensuality
To a degenerate and degraded state.

How charming is divine philosophy !
Nor harsh, and crabbed, as dull fools suppose,
But musical as is Apollo's lute,
And a perpetual feast of nectared sweets,
Where no crude surfeit reigns.


List, list! I hear
Some far off halloo break the silent air.

Methought so too; what should it be?

For certain
Either some one like us night-foundered here,
Or else some neighbour woodman, or, at worst,
Some roving robber calling to his fellows.

Heaven keep my sister ! Again, again, and near;
Best draw and stand upon our guard.


I'll halloo; If he be friendly, he comes well; if not, Defence is a good cause, and Heaven be for us. 1 Cf. John ii. 21. 2 Milton here somewhat betrays his materialist tendency.

3 This alludes more particularly to the philosophy of Plato, who went by the surname of divine.

[THE ATTENDANT SPIRIT habited like a Shepherd.] That halloo I should know; what are you? Speak! Come not too near, you fall on iron stakes else.


What voice is that? My young lord? Speak again.


O brother ! tis my father's shepherd, sure.


Thyrsis ? whose artful strains' have oft delayed
The huddling brook to hear his madrigal,
And sweetened every musk-rose of the dale.
How cam'st thou here, good swain ? Hath any ram
Slipped from the fold, or young kid lost his dam,
Or straggling wether the pent flock forsook ?
How couldst thou find this dark sequestered nook ?



O my loved master's heir, and his next joy!
I came not here on such a trivial toy
As a strayed 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.
But oh, my virgin lady! where is she?
How chance she is not in your company?


To tell thee sadly, shepherd, without blame,
Or our neglect, we lost her as we came.
Ay me unhappy! then my 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.

1 An elegant compliment to the musical abilities of Mr. Henry Lawes, a celebrated musician of the time, and who probably sustained the two parts of the genius of the wood and the attendant spirit. See Newton.

2 Soberly, truly.


Within the navel,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,
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? 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
He and his monstrous rout are heard to howl
Like stabled wolves, or tigers at their prey,
Doing abhorréd rites to Hecate
In their obscured 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,) 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 4 steeds
? Depth, middle.

? Both Spenser and Shakspeare use this word with the same accent as Milton has done here.

Besprent, i.e. sprinkled. “Knot-grass " is mentioned in Midsum. mer Night's Dream, iii. 7.

* So the commentators have rightly restored, instead of " drowsy. frighted.” Milton had in view Shakspeare, 2 Henry VI. act 4, sc. i.

“And now loud howling wolves arouse the jades,

That drag the tragic melancholy night,
Who, with their drowsy, slow, and tagging wings,
Clip dead men's graves."


That draw the litter of close-curtained sleep;
At last a soft and solemn-breathing sound!
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 :: but oh, ere long,
Too well I did perceive it was the voice
Of my most honoured lady, your dear sister.
Amazed I stood, harrowed with grief and fear,
And oh, 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,
Where that damned wizard, 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 wished prey,
Who gently asked if he had seen such two,
Supposing him some neighbour villager.
Longer I durst not stay, but soon I guessed
Ye were the two she meant; with that I sprung
Into swift flight, till I had found you here,
But further know I not.


O night and shades, How are ye joined with Hell in triple knot Against the unarmed weakness of one virgin Alone, and helpless! Is this the confidence You gave me, brother?


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
Which erring men call chance, this I hold firm:

· See the beginning of Twelfth Night. 2 This grotesque comparison is taken from one of Alciat's emblems, where a soul in the figure of an infant is represented within the ribs of a skeleton, as in a prison.

Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt,"
Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled ;
Yea even that which mischief meant most harm,
Shall in the happy trial prove most glory:
But evil on itself shall back recoil,
And mix no more with goodness; when at last,
Gathered like scum, and settled to itself,
It shall be in eternal restless change,
Self-fed, and self-consumed :: if this fail,
The pillared firmamentis rottenness,
And earth's base built on stubble. But come, let's on.
Against the opposing will and arm of Heaven
May never this just sword be lifted up!
But for that damned magician, let him be girt
With all the grisly legions that troop
Under the sooty flag of Acheron,
Harpies and Hydras, or all the monstrous forms
"Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out,
And orce him to restore his purchase back,
Or drag him by the curls to a foul death,
Cursed as his life.



Alas! good venturous youth,
I love thy courage yet, and bold emprise ;
But here thy sword can do thee little stead;
Far other arms, and other weapons, must
Be those that quell the might of hellish charms :
He with his bare wand can unthread thy joints,
And crumble all thy sinews.

Why prythee, shepherd,
How durst thou then thyself approach so near,
As to make this relation ?


Care and utmost shifts How to secure the lady from surprisal,

1 Milton seems to allude to the famous answer of the philosopher to a tyrant, who threatened him with death, “Thou mayst kill me, but thou canst not hurt me."-Thyer.

2 This image is taken from the conjectures of astronomers concern. ing the dark spots which, from time to time, appear on the surface of the sun's body, and, after a while, disappear again, which they suppose to be the scum of that fiery matter, which first breeds it, and then breaks through and consumes it.-Warburton.

3 Cf. Paradise Regained, iv. 455.

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