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TO THE COUNTESS of EXETER, Playing on the Lute.

1 What Charms You have, from what high Race You sprung,
2 Have been the pleasing Subjects of my Song:
3 Unskill'd and young, yet something still I writ,
4 Of Ca'ndish Beauty join'd to Cecil's Wit.
5 But when You please to show the lab'ring Muse,
6 What greater Theme Your Musick can produce;
7 My babling Praises I repeat no more;
8 But hear, rejoice, stand silent, and adore.
9 The Persians thus, first gazing on the Sun,
10 Admir'd, how high 'twas plac'd, how bright it shone:
11 But, as his Pow'r was known, their Thoughts were rais'd;
12 And soon They worship'd, what at first They prais'd.
13 Eliza's Glory lives in Spencer's Song;
14 And Cowley's Verse keeps Fair Orinda young.
15 That as in Birth, in Beauty You excell,
16 The Muse might dictate, and the Poet tell:
17 Your Art no other Art can speak; and You,
18 To show how well You play, must play anew:
19 Your Musick's Pow'r Your Musick must disclose;
20 For what Light is, 'tis only Light that shows.
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21 Strange Force of Harmony, that thus controuls
22 Our Thoughts, and turns and sanctifies our Souls:
23 While with it's utmost Art Your Sex could move
24 Our Wonder only, or at best our Love:
25 You far above Both these Your GOD did place;
26 That Your high Pow'r might worldly Thoughts destroy;
27 That with Your Numbers You our Zeal might raise,
28 And, like Himself, communicate Your Joy.
29 When to Your Native Heav'n You shall repair,
30 And with Your Presence crown the Blessings there;
31 Your Lute may wind it's Strings but little higher,
32 To tune their Notes to that immortal Quire.
33 Your Art is perfect here: Your Numbers do,
34 More than our Books, make the rude Atheist know,
35 That there's a Heav'n, by what He hears below.
36 As in some Piece, while Luke his Skill exprest,
37 A cunning Angel came, and drew the rest:
38 So, when You play, some Godhead does impart
39 Harmonious Aid; Divinity helps Art:
40 Some Cherub finishes what You begun,
41 And to a Miracle improves a Tune.
42 To burning Rome when frantick Nero play'd,
43 Viewing that Face, no more He had survey'd
44 The raging Flames; but struck with strange Surprize,
45 Confest them less than Those of Anna's Eyes:
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46 But had He heard Thy Lute, He soon had found
47 His Rage eluded, and his Crime atton'd:
48 Thine, like Amphion's Hand, had wak'd the Stone,
49 And from Destruction call'd the rising Town:
50 Malice to Musick had been forc'd to yield;
51 Nor could He Burn so fast, as Thou could'st Build.


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Title (in Source Edition): TO THE COUNTESS of EXETER, Playing on the Lute.
Author: Matthew Prior
Genres: address

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Source edition

Prior, Matthew, 1664-1721. Poems on Several Occasions [English poems only]. London: Printed for JACOB TONSON at Shakespear's-Head over against Katharine-Street in the Strand, and JOHN BARBER upon Lambeth-Hill. MDCCXVIII., 1718, pp. 6-8. [42],506,[6]p.: ill.; 2°. (ESTC T075639) (Page images digitized from a copy in the Bodleian Library [H 6.8 Art.].)

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Typography, spelling, capitalization, and punctuation have been cautiously modernized. The source of the text is given and all significant editorial interventions have been recorded in textual notes. This ECPA text has been edited to conform to the recommendations found in Level 5 of the Best Practices for TEI in Libraries version 4.0.0.

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