Comus (A Mask Presented at Ludlow Castle, 1634) is a masque in honour of chastity, written by John Milton and first presented on Michaelmas, 1634, before John Egerton, Earl of Bridgewater at Ludlow Castle in celebration of the Earl's new post as President of Wales. Known colloquially as Comus, the mask's actual full title is A Mask presented at Ludlow Castle 1634: on Michelmas night, before the right honorable John, Earl of Bridgewater, Viscount Brackley, Lord President of Wales, and one of His Majesty's most honorable privy council. Comus was printed anonymously in 1637, and included by Milton himself in his Poems of 1645 and 1673.
The plot concerns two brothers and their sister (called the Lady) lost in the wood. The Lady becomes fatigued, and the brothers wander off in search of sustenance. The Lady is captured by the debauched Comus, a character inspired by the god of mockery, brought to his pleasure palace, and magically affixed to a chair with "gums of glutinous heat." Comus urges the Lady to "be not coy" and drink from his magical cup (representing sexual pleasure and intemperance), but she repeatedly refuses and is finally rescued from his seductions by the brothers, aided by The Attendant Spirit. With a song, the Spirit conjures the water nymph Sabrina (pronounced suh-BRIH-na), who frees the the Lady on account of her steadfast virtue.
The music, in a baroque style, was composed by Henry Lawes, who also played the part of The Attendant Spirit. Generically, masques were not dramas; they could be viewed as pre-figuring the recitative of opera.
|The Limited Editions Club 1st Thus Cloth edition, Illustrated by Edmund Dulac|
|Actually includes the poem, 'The Masque of Comus" by Milton and with a Preface by Mark van Doren; as well as "The Airs" by Henry Lawes with his version of the words. Features 6 lovely illustrations from the watercolours of Edmund Dulac. Unfortunately, Dulac died before he was able to sign this edition as intended. LIMITED to 1500 copies, quarter-bound in vellum with French marbled paper-covered boards; topedges gilt||
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