ODE X. On LYRIC Poetry.
1 ONCE more I join the Thespian quire,
2 And taste th' inspiring fount again:
3 O parent of the Graecian lyre,
4 Admit me to thy secret strain —
5 And lo! with ease my step invades
6 The pathless vale and opening shades,
7 Till now I spy her verdant seat,
8 And now at large I drink the sound,
9 While these her offspring, list'ning round,
10 By turns her melody repeat.
11 I see ANACREON smile and sing:
12 His silver tresses breathe persume;
13 His cheek displays a second spring
14 Of roses taught by wine to bloom. [Page 49]
15 Away, deceitful cares away!
16 And let me listen to his lay,
17 While flow'fy dreams my soul employ;
18 While turtle-wing'd the laughing hours
19 Lead hand in hand the festal pow'rs,
20 Lead youth and love, and harmless joy.
21 Broke from the fetters of his native land,
22 Devoting shame and vengeance to her lords
23 With louder impulse and a threat'ning hand,
† ALCAEUS of Mitylene, the capital of Lesbos, who fled from his native city to escape the oppression of those who had inslav'd it, and wrote against them in his exile those noble invectives which are so much applauded by the ancient Critics. Lesbian patriot smites the sounding chords:
25 Ye wretches, ye perfidions train,
26 Ye curst of Gods and freeborn men,
27 Ye murd'rers of the laws,
28 Tho' now you glory in your lust,
29 Tho' now you tread the feeble neck in dust,
30 Yet Time and righteous JOVE will judge your dreadful cause.
31 But lo, to SAPPHO'S mournful airs
32 Descends the radiant Queen of love;
33 She smiles, and asks what fonder cares
34 Her suppliant's plaintive measures move.
35 Why is my faithful maid distrest?
36 Who, SAPPHO, wounds thy tender breast?
37 Say, flies he? — Soon he shall pursue:
38 Shuns he thy gifts? — HE too shall give:
39 Slights he thy sorrows? — HE shall grieve,
40 And bend him to thy haughtiest vow.
41 But, O MELPOMENE, for whom
42 Awakes thy golden shell again?
43 What mortal breath shall e'er presume
44 To eccho that unbounded strain?
45 Majestic in the frown of years,
46 Behold, the†
† PINDAR. Man of Thebes appears:
47 For some there are, whose mighty frame
48 The hand of JOVE at birth indow'd
49 With hopes that mock the gazing crowd;
50 As eagles drink the noontide flame,
51 While the dim raven beats his weary wings,
52 And clamours far below. — Propitious Muse,
53 While I so late unlock thy hallow'd springs,
54 And breathe whate'er thy ancient airs infuse,
55 To polish Albion's warlike ear
56 This long-lost melody to hear,
57 Thy sweetest arts imploy;
58 As when the winds from shore to shore,
59 Thro' Greece thy lyre's persuasive language bore,
60 Till towns and isles, and seas return'd the vocal joy.
61 But oft amid the Graecian throng,
62 The loose-rob'd forms of wild desire
63 With lawless notes intun'd thy song,
64 To shameful steps dissolv'd thy quire.
65 O fair, O chaste be still with me
66 From such profaner discord free:
67 While I frequent thy tuneful shade,
68 No frantic shouts of Thracian dames,
69 No Satyrs fierce with savage flames
70 Thy pleasing accents shall invade.
71 Queen of the lyre, in thy retreat
72 The fairest flow'rs of Pindus glow;
73 The vine aspires to crown thy seat,
74 And myrtles round thy laurel grow.
75 Thy strings attune their varied strain,
76 To every pleasure, every pain,
77 Which mortal tribes were born to prove,
78 And strait our passions rise or fall,
79 As at the wind's imperious call
80 The ocean swells the billows move.
81 When midnight listens o'er the slumb'ring earth,
82 Let me, O Muse, thy solemn whispers hear:
83 When morning sends her fragrant breezes forth,
84 With airy murmurs touch my opening ear.
85 And ever watchful at thy side,
86 Let Wisdom's awful suffrage guide
87 The tenour of thy lay:
88 To her of old by JOVE was giv'n
89 To judge the various deeds of earth and heay'n;
90 'Twas thine by gentle arts to win us to her sway.
91 Oft as from stricter hours resign'd
92 I quit the maze where science toils,
93 Do thou refresh my yielding mind
94 With all thy gay, delusive spoils.
95 But, O indulgent, come not nigh
96 The busy steps, the jealous eye
97 Of gainful care and wealthy age,
98 Whose barren souls thy joys disdain,
99 And hold as foes to reason's reign
100 Whome'er thy lovely haunts ingage.
101 With me, when mirth's consenting band
102 Around fair friendship's genial board
103 Invite thy heart-awakening hand,
104 With me salute the Teian chord,
105 Or if invok'd at softer hours,
106 O seek with me the happy bow'rs.
107 That hear DIONE 'S gentle tongue;
108 To beauty link'd with virtue's train,
109 To love devoid of jealous pain,
110 There let the Sapphic lute be strung.
111 But when from envy and from death to claim
112 A hero bleeding for his native land;
113 Or when to nourish freedom's vestal flame,
114 I hear my Genius utter his command.
115 Nor Theban voice, nor Lesbian lyre
116 From thee, O Muse, do I require,
117 While my prophetic mind,
118 Conscious of pow'rs she never knew,
119 Astonish'd grasps at things beyond her view,
120 Nor by another's fate hath felt her own confin'd.