ODE ON ST. CECILIA's DAY.
1 FROM your lyre-enchanted towers,
2 Ye musically mystic Powers,
3 Ye, that inform the tuneful spheres,
4 Inaudible to mortal ears,
5 While each orb in ether swims
6 Accordant to th' inspiring hymns;
7 Hither Paradise remove,
8 Spirits of Harmony and Love!
9 Thou too, divine Urania, deign to appear,
10 And with thy sweetly-solemn lute
11 To the grand argument the numbers suit;
12 Such as sublime and clear,
13 Replete with heavenly love,
14 Charm th' inraptur'd souls above.
15 Disdainful of fantastic play,
16 Mix on your ambrosial tongue
17 Weight of sense with sound of song,
18 And be angelically gay.
19 And you, ye sons of Harmony below,
20 How little less than angels, when ye sing!
21 With Emulation's kindling warmth shall glow,
22 And from your mellow-modulating throats
23 The tribute of your grateful notes
24 In union of piety shall bring.
25 Shall Echo from her vocal cave
26 Repay each note the shepherd gave,
27 And shall not we our mistress praise,
28 And give her back the borrow'd lays?
29 But farther still our praises we pursue;
30 For ev'n Cecilia, mighty maid,
31 Confess'd she had superior aid —
32 She did — and other rites to greater Powers are due:
33 Higher swell the sound and higher:
34 Let the winged numbers climb:
35 To the heaven of heavens aspire,
36 Solemn, sacred, and sublime:
37 From heaven Music took its rise,
38 Return it to its native skies.
39 Music's a celestial art;
40 Cease to wonder at its power,
41 Tho' lifeless rocks to motion start,
42 Tho' trees dance lightly from the bower,
43 Tho' rolling floods in sweet suspence
44 Are held, and listen into sense,[Page 224]
45 In Penshurst's plains, when Waller, sick with love,
46 Has found some silent, solitary grove,
47 Where the vague moon-beams pour a silver flood
48 Of tremulous light athwart th' unshaven wood,
49 Within an hoary moss-grown cell,
50 He lays his careless limbs without reserve,
51 And strikes, impetuous strikes each querulous nerve
52 Of his resounding shell.
53 In all the woods, in all the plains,
54 Around a lively stillness reigns;
55 The deer approach the secret scene,
56 And weave their way thro' labyrinths green;
57 While Philomela learns the lay,
58 And answers from the neighbouring bay.
59 But Medway, melancholy mute,
60 Gently on his urn reclines,
61 And all-attentive to the lute,
62 In uncomplaining anguish pines:
63 The crystal waters weep away,
64 And bear the tidings to the sea:
65 Neptune in the boisterous seas
66 Spreads the placid bed of peace,
67 While each blast,
68 Or breathes its last,
69 Or just does sigh a symphony and cease.
70 Behold Arion — on the stern he stands,
71 Pall'd in theatrical attire,[Page 225]
72 To the mute strings he moves th' enlivening hands,
73 Great in distress, and wakes the golden lyre:
74 While in a tender Orthian strain
75 He thus accosts the mistress of the main:
76 By the bright beams of Cynthia's eyes,
77 Thro' which your waves attracted rise,
78 And actuate the hoary deep;
79 By the secret coral cell,
80 Where Love, and Joy, and Neptune dwell,
81 And peaceful floods in silence sleep;
82 By the sea-flowers, that immerge
83 Their heads around the grotto's verge,
84 Dependent from the stooping stem;
85 By each roof-suspended drop,
86 That lightly lingers on the top,
87 And hesitates into a gem;
88 By thy kindred watery gods,
89 The lakes, the rivulets, founts and floods,
90 And all the Powers that live unseen
91 Underneath the liquid green;
92 Great Amphitrite (for thou canst bind
93 The storm, and regulate the wind)
94 Hence waft me, fair Goddess, oh waft me away,
95 Secure from the men, and the monsters of prey!
96 He sung — The winds are charm'd to sleep,
97 Soft stillness steals along the deep,[Page 226]
98 The Tritons and the Nereids sigh
99 In soul-reflecting sympathy,
100 And all the audience of waters weep.
101 But Amphitrite her dolphin sends — the same,
102 Which erst to Neptune brought the nobly perjur'd dame. —
103 Pleas'd to obey, the beauteous monster flies,
104 And on his scales as the gilt sun-beams play,
105 Ten thousand variegated dies
106 In copious streams of lustre rise,
107 Rise o'er the level main, and signify his way. —
108 And now the joyous Bard, in triumph bore,
109 Rides the voluminous wave, and makes the wish'd-for shore.
110 Come, ye festive, social throng,
111 Who sweep the lyre, or pour the song,
112 Your noblest melody employ,
113 Such as becomes the mouth of Joy;
114 Bring the sky-aspiring thought,
115 With bright expression richly wrought;
116 And hail the Muse ascending on her throne,
117 The main at length subdu'd, and all the world her own.
118 But o'er th' affections too she claims the sway,
119 Pierces the human heart, and steals the soul away;
120 And as attractive sounds move high or low,
121 Th' obedient ductile passions ebb and flow.
122 Has any nymph her faithful lover lost,
123 And in the visions of the night,
124 And all the day-dreams of the light,
125 In Sorrow's tempest turbulently tost —[Page 227]
126 From her cheeks the roses die,
127 The radiations vanish from her sun-bright eye,
128 And her breast, the throne of love,
129 Can hardly, hardly, hardly move,
130 To send th' ambrosial sigh.
131 But let the skilful Bard appear,
132 And pour the sounds medicinal in her ear:
133 Sing some sad, some plaintive ditty,
134 Steept in tears that endless flow,
135 Melancholy notes of pity,
136 Notes that mean a worldof woe;
137 She too shall sympathize, she too shall moan,
138 And pitying others sorrows sigh away her own.
139 Wake, wake the kettle-drum, prolong
140 The swelling trumpet's silver song,
141 And let the kindred accents pass
142 Thro' the horn's meandering brass.
143 Arise — The patriot Muse invites to war,
144 And mounts Bellona's brazen car;
145 While Harmony, terrific maid!
146 Appears in martial pomp array'd:
147 The sword, the target, and the lance
148 She wields, and as she moves, exalts the Pyrrhic dance.
149 Trembles the earth, resound the skies —
150 Swift o'er the fleet, the camp she flies
151 With thunder in her voice, and lightning in her eyes. [Page 228]
152 The gallant warriors engage
153 With inextinguishable rage,
154 And hearts unchill'd with fear;
155 Fame numbers all the chosen bands,
156 Full in the front fair Victory stands,
157 And Triumph crowns the rear.
158 But hark the temple's hollow'd roof resounds,
159 And Purcell lives along the solemn sounds. —
160 Mellifluous, yet manly too,
161 He pours his strains along,
162 As from the lion Sampson slew,
163 Comes sweetness from the strong.
164 Not like the soft Italian swains,
165 He trills the weak enervate strains,
166 Where Sense and Music are at strife;
167 His vigorous notes with meaning teem,
168 With fire, with force explain the theme,
169 And sing the subject into life.
170 Attend — he sings Cecilia — matchless dame!
171 'Tis she — 'tis she, — fond to extend her fame,
172 On the loud chords the notes conspire to stay,
173 And sweetly swell into a long delay,
174 And dwell delighted on her name.
175 Blow on, ye sacred organs, blow,
176 In tones magnificently slow;
177 Such is the music, such the lays
178 Which suit your fair inventress' praise:[Page 229]
179 While round religious silence reigns,
180 And loitering winds expect the strains.
181 Hail majestic mournful measure,
182 Source of many a pensive pleasure!
183 Blest pledge of love to mortals given,
184 As pattern of the rest of heaven!
185 And thou, chief honor of the veil,
186 Hail, harmonious virgin, hail!
187 When Death shall blot out every name,
188 And Time shall break the trump of Fame,
189 Angels may listen to thy lute:
190 Thy power shall last, thy bays shall bloom,
191 When tongues shall cease, and worlds consume,
192 And all the tuneful spheres be mute.