Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
 
The Star That Bids the Shepherd Fold
By John Milton (1608–1674)
 
From ‘Comus

i
THE STAR that bids the Shepherd fold,
Now the top of Heav’n doth hold,
And the gilded Car of Day,
His glowing Axle doth allay
In the steep Atlantick stream,        5
And the slope Sun his upward beam
Shoots against the dusky Pole,
Pacing toward the other gole
Of his Chamber in the East.
Mean while welcom Joy, and Feast,        10
Midnight shout, and revelry,
Tipsie dance, and Jollity.
Braid your Locks with rosie Twine
Dropping odours, dropping Wine.
Rigor now is gon to bed,        15
And Advice with scrupulous head,
Strict Age, and sowre Severity,
With their grave Saws in slumber ly.
We that are of purer fire
Imitate the Starry Quire,        20
Who in their nightly watchfull Sphears,
Lead in swift round the Months and Years.
The Sounds, and Seas with all their finny drove
Now to the Moon in wavering Morrice 1 move,
And on the Tawny Sands and Shelves,        25
Trip the pert Fairies and the dapper Elves;
By dimpled Brook, and Fountain brim,
The Wood-Nymphs deckt with Daisies trim,
Their merry wakes and pastimes keep:
What hath night to do with sleep?        30
Night hath better sweets to prove,
Venus now wakes, and wak’ns Love.
Com let us our rights begin,
’Tis onely day-light that makes Sin
Which these dun shades will ne’re report.        35
Hail Goddesse of Nocturnal sport
Dark vaild Cotytto, 2 t’ whom the secret flame
Of mid-night Torches burns; mysterious Dame
That ne’re art call’d, but when the Dragon woom
Of Stygian darknes spets her thickest gloom,        40
And makes one blot of all the ayr,
Stay thy cloudy Ebon chair,
Wherin thou rid’st with Hecat’, 3 and befriend
Us thy vow’d Priests, til utmost end
Of all thy dues be done, and none left out,        45
Ere the blabbing Eastern scout,
The nice Morn on th’ Indian steep
From her cabin’d loop hole 4 peep,
And to the tel-tale Sun discry
Our conceal’d Solemnity.        50
Com, knit hands, and beat the ground,
In a light fantastick round.
 
Note 1. Wavering morrice: morris, corruption of Moorish, a popular old dance introduced into England from Spain during the reign of Edward III. [back]
Note 2. Dark vaild Cotytto: “A goddess worshipped by the Thracians, and apparently identical with Phrygian Cybelé. Her worship was introduced at Athens and Corinth, where it was celebrated, in private, with great indecency and licentiousness.” Harper’s Dict. of Class. Lit. and Ant. [back]
Note 3. Hecat’: “A mysterious divinity sometimes identified with Diana and sometimes with Proserpina. As Diana represents the moonlight splendour of night, so Hecate represents its darkness and terrours. She haunted cross-roads and graveyards, was the goddess of sorcery and witchcraft, and wandered by night, seen only by the dogs, whose barking told of her approach.” (Gayley). [back]
Note 4. Cabin’d loop hole: “The first rift in the clouds, through which the dawn light streams.” (Moody, Cambridge Edition). [back]
 
 
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