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Butts Set, Illustration 5
"Wherefore did Nature powre her bounties froth,
With such a full and unwithdrawing hand,
Covering the earth with odours, fruits, and flocks,
Thronging the Seas with spawn innumerable,
But all to please, and sate the curious taste?"
"Why should you be so cruel to your self,
And to those dainty limms which nature lent
For gentle usage, and soft delicacy?
But you invert the cov'nants of her trust,"
The withered man on the left may represent what Blake sees as the wisdom which Comus follows. Young and vigorous in appearance as the tempter, his philosophy is weak and weary when put to the test. Comus invites the Lady to be wise by tasting his wisdom.
"But this will cure all streight, one sip of this
Will bathe the drooping spirits in delight
Beyond the bliss of dreams. Be wise, and taste."
There is another more significant addition to illustration 5 of the Butts set: the serpent seen in the cloud along Comus' wand. Any pretense of beneficence is destroyed when the wand is seen in conjunction with the figure of the serpent. However the serpent seems to emanate from the vial held by the old man and not from the dominant image of Comus. The figures of Comus and the Lady seem less at odds in this illustration than in the one in the Thomas Set. Comus is even less threatening, more distressed; and the lady less self-protective. Perhaps Blake is indicating the threat is less from the sexuality represented by the figure of Comus and more from the materialist ideas of natural philosophy apparent in his arguments.
The lament of Los over his estranged Enitharmon may describe the feelings of Comus when he finds the Lady unobtainable.
Four Zoas, Night VII, Page 81,(E 357) "Then Los mournd on the dismal wind in his jealous lamentation Why can I not Enjoy thy beauty Lovely Enitharmon When I return from clouds of Grief in the wandring Elements Where thou in thrilling joy in beaming summer loveliness Delectable reposest ruddy in my absence flaming with beauty Cold pale in sorrow at my approach trembling at my terrific Forehead & eyes thy lips decay like roses in the spring How art thou Shrunk thy grapes that burst in summers vast Excess Shut up in little purple covering faintly bud & die Thy olive trees that pourd down oil upon a thousand hills Sickly look forth & scarcely stretch their branches to the plain Thy roses that expanded in the face of glowing morn PAGE 82 Hid in a little silken veil scarce breathe & faintly shine Thy lilies that gave light what time the morning looked forth Hid in the Vales faintly lament & no one hears their voice All things beside the woful Los enjoy the delights of beauty Once how I sang & calld the beasts & birds to their delights Nor knew that I alone exempted from the joys of love Must war with secret monsters of the animating worlds O that I had not seen the day then should I be at rest Nor felt the stingings of desire nor longings after life For life is Sweet to Los the wretched to his winged woes Is given a craving cry that they may sit at night on barren rocks And whet their beaks & snuff the air & watch the opening dawn"