THE PASSIONS, AN ODE FOR MUSIC.
1 WHEN Music, heavenly maid, was young,
2 While yet in early Greece she sung,
3 The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
4 Throng'd around her magic cell,
5 Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
6 Possest beyond the Muse's painting;
7 By turns they felt the glowing mind
8 Disturb'd, delighted, rais'd, refin'd.
9 Till once, 'tis said, when all were fir'd,
10 Fill'd with fury, rapt, inspir'd,[Page 25]
11 From the supporting myrtles round
12 They snatch'd her instruments of sound,
13 And as they oft had heard apart
14 Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
15 Each, for madness rul'd the hour,
16 Would prove his own expressive power.
17 First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
18 Amid the chords bewilder'd laid,
19 And back recoil'd he knew not why,
20 Even at the sound himself had made.
21 Next Anger rush'd, his eyes on fire,
22 In lightnings own'd his secret stings,
23 In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
24 And swept with hurried hand the strings.
25 With woeful measures wan Despair —
26 Low sullen sounds his grief beguil'd,
27 A solemn, strange, and mingled air,
28 'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.
29 But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,
30 What was thy delighted measure?
31 Still it whisper'd promis'd pleasure,
32 And bad the lovely scenes at distance hail!
33 Still would her touch the strain prolong,
34 And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
35 She call'd on Echo still thro' all the song;
36 And where her sweetest theme she chose,
37 A soft responsive voice was heard at every close,
38 And Hope enchanted smil'd, and wav'd her golden hair. [Page 26]
39 And longer had she sung, — but, with a frown,
40 Revenge impatient rose,
41 He threw his blood-stain'd sword in thunder down,
42 And, with a withering look,
43 The war-denouncing trumpet took,
44 And blew a blast so loud and dread,
45 Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe.
46 And ever and anon he beat
47 The doubling drum with furious heat;
48 And tho' sometimes, each dreary pause between,
49 Dejected Pity at his side,
50 Her soul-subduing voice applied,
51 Yet still he kept his wild unalter'd mien,
52 While each strain'd ball of sight seem'd bursting from his head.
53 Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fix'd,
54 Sad proof of thy distressful state,
55 Of differing themes the veering song was mix'd,
56 And now it courted Love, now raving call'd on Hate.
57 With eyes up-rais'd, as one inspir'd,
58 Pale Melancholy sat retir'd,
59 And from her wild sequester'd seat,
60 In notes by distance made more sweet,
61 Pour'd thro' the mellow horn her pensive soul:
62 And dashing soft from rocks around,
63 Bubbling runnels join'd the sound;
64 Thro' glades and glooms the mingled measure stole,[Page 27]
65 Or o'er some haunted streams with fond delay,
66 Round an holy calm diffusing,
67 Love of peace, and lonely musing,
68 In hollow murmurs died away.
69 But O, how alter'd was its sprightlier tone!
70 When Chearfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
71 Her bow across her shoulder flung,
72 Her buskins gemm'd with morning dew,
73 Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
74 The hunter's call to Faun and Dryad known;
75 The oak-crown'd Sisters, and their chaste-eyed queen,
76 Satyrs and sylvan boys were seen,
77 Peeping from forth their alleys green;
78 Brown Exercise rejoic'd to hear,
79 And Sport leapt up, and seiz'd his beechen spear.
80 Last came Joy's ecstatic trial,
81 He with viny crown advancing,
82 First to the lively pipe his hand addrest,
83 But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol,
84 Whose sweet entrancing voice he lov'd the best.
85 They would have thought, who heard the strain,
86 They saw in Tempe's vale her native maids,
87 Amidst the festal sounding shades,
88 To some unwearied minstrel dancing,
89 While, as his flying fingers kiss'd the strings,
90 Love fram'd with Mirth, a gay fantastic round,
91 Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound,
92 And he, amidst his frolic play,
93 As if he would the charming air repay,
94 Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings. [Page 28]
95 O Music, sphere-descended maid,
96 Friend of pleasure, wisdom's aid,
97 Why, Goddess, why to us denied?
98 Lay'st thou thy antient lyre aside?
99 As in that lov'd Athenian bower,
100 You learn'd an all-commanding power,
101 Thy mimic soul, O nymph endear'd,
102 Can well recall what then it heard.
103 Where is thy native simple heart,
104 Devote to virtue, fancy, art?
105 Arise, as in that elder time,
106 Warm, energic, chaste, sublime!
107 Thy wonders, in that god-like age,
108 Fill thy recording Sister's page —
109 'Tis said, and I believe the tale,
110 Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
111 Had more of strength, diviner rage,
112 Than all which charms this laggard age,
113 Even all at once together found
114 Caecilia's mingled world of sound —
115 O bid our vain endeavours cease,
116 Revive the just designs of Greece,
117 Return in all thy simple state!
118 Confirm the tales her sons relate!