Home  »  library  »  poem  »  From ‘Comus’

C.D. Warner, et al., comp. The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes. 1917.

From ‘Comus’

By John Milton (1608–1674)

Song of the Spirits

(See full text.)


Listen where thou art sitting

Under the glassy, cool, translucent wave,

In twisted braids of lilies knitting

The loose train of thy amber-dropping hair;

Listen for dear honor’s sake,

Goddess of the silver lake,

Listen and save!

Listen, and appear to us,

In name of great Oceanus,

By the earth-shaking Neptune’s mace,

And Tethys’s grave majestic pace;

By hoary Nereus’s wrinkled look,

And the Carpathian wizard’s hook;

By scaly Triton’s winding shell,

And old soothsaying Glaucus’s spell;

By Leucothea’s lovely hands,

And her son that rules the strands;

By Thetis’s tinsel-slippered feet,

And the songs of Sirens sweet;

By dead Parthenope’s dear tomb,

And fair Ligea’s golden comb,

Wherewith she sits on diamond rocks

Sleeking her soft alluring locks;

By all the nymphs that nightly dance

Upon thy streams with wily glance;

Rise, rise, and heave thy rosy head

From thy coral-paven bed,

And bridle in thy headlong wave,

Till thou our summons answered have.

Listen and save!

Sabrina rises, attended by Water-Nymphs, and sings:
By the rushy-fringèd bank,

Where grow the willow and the osier dank,

My sliding chariot stays,

Thick set with agate, and the azurn sheen

Of turkis blue, and emerald green,

That in the channel strays:

Whilst from off the waters fleet

Thus I set my printless feet

O’er the cowslip’s velvet head,

That bends not as I tread.

Gentle swain, at thy request

I am here!

Spirits—Goddess dear,

We implore thy powerful hand

To undo the charmèd band

Of true virgin here distressed

Through the force and through the wile

Of unblessed enchanter vile.

Sabrina—Shepherd, ’tis my office best

To help ensnarèd chastity.

Brightest Lady, look on me.

Thus I sprinkle on thy breast

Drops that from my fountain pure

I have kept of precious cure;

Thrice upon thy finger’s tip,

Thrice upon thy rubied lip:

Next this marble-venomed seat,

Smeared with gums of glutinous heat,

I touch with chaste palms moist and cold.

Now the spell hath lost his hold;

And I must haste ere morning hour

To wait in Amphitrite’s bower.


Spirits—Come, Lady, while heaven lends us grace

Let us fly this cursèd place,

Lest the sorcerer us entice

With some other new device.

Not a waste or needless sound,

Till we come to holier ground;

I shall be your faithful guide

Through this gloomy covert wide,

And not many furlongs thence

Is your Father’s residence.