1.1] Comus was acted September 29, 1634, at Ludlow Castle, by members of the family of the Earl of Bridgewater, under the direction of the composer, Henry Lawes, who himself took the part of the Attendant Spirit. First published anonymously in 1637 with a dedication by Lawes to Lord Brackley, one of the performers; and republished in Milton's collected poems in 1645 and 1673.
1.3] Meander. A river in Asia Minor, noted for its windings.
1.8] Narcissus. The youth for whose love Echo pined away until only her voice was left.
1.12] Sphere. Her airy shell (I. 2), i.e. the atmosphere, surrounded by the sphere of the moon. Cf. Milton's Nativity Ode, 102-103.
2.858] For the story of Sabrina, see Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain (c. 1135), or Spenser, Faerie Queene, II. x. She was drowned in the river afterwards called by her name (Severn). Here represented by Milton as the goddess of the river.
2.867 ff.] Oceanus was the god of the water believed to surround the earth; Tethys was his wife; Nereus was a god of the Aegean, described as a wise old man of the sea; the Carpathian wizard was Proteus, famous for assuming many shapes, who lived in the island of Carpathus and had a "hook" because he was a shepherd of seals; Triton was the son of Poseidon, the Greek counterpart of Neptune, usually represented with a trumpet or conch and as partly a fish, hence "scaly"; Glaucus was a favorite oracle of fishermen and sailors; Leucothea and Thetis were marine goddesses, the latter a daughter of Nereus; Parthenope and Ligea were two of the Sirens, the "tomb" of the former being at Naples.
2.877] tinsel. Cloth woven of gold or silver.
3.893] turkis. Turquoise.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: John Milton, Comus (London:H. Robinson, 1637). STC 17937. Facs. edn. (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1903). PR 3557 A1 1903 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1637
RPO poem editor: N. J. Endicott
RP edition: 2RP.1.362; RPO 1996-2000.
Recent editing: 2:2002/5/17
Rhyme: varying ababbaccddeeff, abcbaddc, couplets, aabccbddeefg
Other poems by John Milton