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They had engag'd their wandering steps too far,
And envious darkness, ere they could return,
Had stole them from me; else, O thievish Night, 195
Why should'st thou, but for some felonious end,
In thy dark lantern thus close up the stars,
That nature hung in Heav'n, and fill’d their la:nps
With everlasting oil, to give due light
To the milled 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 205
Begin to throng into my memory,
Of calling shapes, and beckoning shadows dire,
And aery tongues, that syllable mens names'
On sands, and shores, and defert wildernesses.
These thoughts may startle well, but not astound 210
The virtuous mind, that ever walks attended
By a strong siding champion, conscience.---
O welcome pure-ey'd Faith, white-handed Hope,
Thou hovering Angel girt with golden wings,
And thou unblemish'd form of Chastity;
I see you visibly, and now believe
That he, the Supreme Good, t' whom all things ill
Are but as slavish officers of vengeance,
Would send a glistering guardian, if need were,
To keep my life and honor unaffail'd.
Was I deceiv'd, or did a sable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night?
I did not err, there does a fable cloud
Turn forth her silver lining on the night,
And casts a gleam over this tufted grove.
I cannot hallow to my Brothers, but
Such noise as I can make to be heard farthest
I'll venture, for my new inliven’d spirits
Prompt me; and they perhaps are not far off.
S O N
G. SWEET Echo, sweetest nymph, that liv'st unseen
Within thy aery shell,
By Now Meander's margent green, And in the violet-embroider'd vale,
Where the love-lorn nightingale Nightly to thee her sad song mourneth well; 235 Canç thou not tell ine of a gentle pair
That likest thy Narcissus are?
O if thou have
Hid them in some flowery cave,
Tell me but where,
240 Sweet queen of parly, daughter of the sphere,
So may'st thou be translated to the skies, And give resounding grace to all Heav'n's harmonies.
COM. Can any mortal mixture of earth's mold Breathe such divine inchanting ravishment? 245 Sure something holy lodges in that breast, And with these raptures moves the vocal air To testify his hidden residence: How sweetly did they flote upon the wings VOL. III,
Of filence, through the empty-vaulted night, 250
At every fall smoothing the raven down
Of darkness till it smil'd! I have oft heard
My mother Circe with the Syrens three,
Amidst the flowery-kirtled Naiades
Culling their potent herbs, and baleful drugs, 255
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, 260
And in sweet madness robb’d it of itself;
But such a sacred, and home-felt delight,
Such fuber certainty of waking bliss,
I never heard till now. I'll speak to her,
And the shall be my queen. Hail, foreign wonder, 265
Whom certain these rough fhades did never breed,
Unless the Goddess that in rural shrine
Dwell'st here with Pan, or Sylvan, by blest song
Forbidding every bleak unkindly fog
To touch the prosperous growth of this tall wood. 270
LA. Nay, gentle Shepherd, ill is loft that praise
That is address’d to unattending ears;
Not any boast of skill, but extreme shift
How to regain my sever'd company,
Compellid me to awake the courteous Echo
275 To give me answer from her mofly couch. [thus?
COM. What chance, good Lady, hath bereft you LA. Dim darkness, and this leafy labyrinth.
Com. Could that divide you from near-ushering
guides ? LA. They left me weary on a grassy turf. 280 Com. By falfhood, or discourtesy, or why? La. To seek i'th' valley fome cool friendly spring. Com. And left your fair fide all unguarded, Lady? LA. They were but twain, and purpos’d quick re
Com. Perhaps fore-ftalling night prevented them.
LA. How easy my misfortune is to hit!
Com. Imports their loss, beside the present need?
LA. No less than if I should my Brothers lose.
Com. Were they of manly prime, or youthful
bloom ? La. As smooth as Hebe's their unrazor'd lips. 290
Com. Two such I law, what time the labord ox In his loose traces from the furrow came, And the swinkt hedger at his supper sat; I saw them under a green mantling vine That crawls along the side of yon small hill, 295 Plucking ripe clusters from the tender shoots ; Their port was more than human, as they stood: I took it for a faëry vision Of some gay creatures of the element, That in the colors of the rainbow live,
300 And play i'th' plighted clouds. I was aw-struck, And as I paft, I worshipt; if those you
It were a journey like the path to Heaven,
To help you find them.
LA. Gentle Villager,
would bring me to that place ? 305 COM. Due west it rises from this shrubby point.
LA. To find out that, good Shepherd, I suppose,
In such a scant allowance of star-light,
Would overtalk the best land-pilot's art,
Without the sure guess of well-practis'd feet. 310
COM. I know each lane, and every alley green,
Dingle, or buihy dell of this wild wood,
And every bosky bourn from fide to side,
My daily walks and ancient neighbourhood;
And if your stray-attendence be yet lodg’d,
Or shroud within these limits, I shall know
Ere morrow wake, or the low-roosted lark
From her thatcht pallat rouse; if otherwise,
I can conduct you, Lady, to a low
But loyal cottage, where you may be safe
320 Till further quest.
LA. Shepherd, I take thy word,
And trust thy honest offer'd courtesy,
Which oft is fooner found in lowly sheds
With smoky rafters, than in tap'ftry halls
And courts of princes, where it first was nam'd,
And yet is most pretended : In a place
Less warranted than this, or less secure,
I cannot be, that I should fear to change it.
Eye me, blest Providence, and square my trial
To my proportion’d strength! Shepherd, lead on. 330
The two BROTHERS. 1 Bro. Unmuffle, ye faint Stars, and thou fair Moon, That wont'st to love the traveller's benizon,