« PreviousContinue »
See, shady forms advance !
Thy stone, () Sysiphus, stands still,
Ixion rests upon his wheel,
And the pale spectres dance !
The furies sink upon their iron beds,
And snakes uncurl'd hang list’ning round their heads.
By the streams that ever flow;
By the fragrant winds that blow
O'er the Elysian flow’rs ;
By those happy souls who dwell
In yellow meads of Asphodel,
Or Amaranthine bow'rs;
By the hero's armed shades,
Glitt'ring thro' the gloomy glades;
By the youths that dy'd for love,
Wand'ring in the myrtle grove,
Restore, restore Eurydice to life:
Oh take the husband, or return the wife!
He sung, and Hell consented
To hear the Poet's prayer : • Stern Proserpine relented,
And gave him back the fair.
Thus song could prevail
O'er death, and o'er hell,
A conquest how hard and how glorious !
Tho' fate had fast bound her
With Styx nine times round her,
Yet Music and Love were victorious.
But soon, too soon, the lover turns his eyes :
Again she falls, again she dies, she dies!
How wilt thou now the fatal sisters move!
No crime was thine, if 'tis no crime to love.
Now under hanging mountains,
Beside the falls of fountains,
Or where Hebrus wanders,
Rolling in Mæanders,
He makes his moan;
And calls her ghost,
For ever, ever, ever lost !
Now with furies surrounded,
Hark! Hæmus resounds with the Bacchanals cries
Ah see, he dies !
Eurydice still trembled on his tongue,
Eurydice the woods,
Eurydice the floods,
Eurydice the rocks and hollow mountains rung.
Music the fiercest grief can charm,
And fate's sererest rage disarm;
Music can soften pain to ease,
And make despair and madness please :
Our joys below it can improve,
And antedate the bliss above.
This the divine Cecilia found,
And to her Maker's praise confin'd the sound.
When the full organ joins the tuneful choir,
Th' immortal pow'rs incline their ear :
Borne on the swelling notes our souls aspire,
While solemn airs improve the sacred fire;
And angels lean from heav'n to hear.
Of Orpheus now no more let poets tell,
To bright Cecilia greater pow'r is giv'n;
His numbers rais'd a shade from hell,
Hers lift the soul to heav'n.
ALEXANDER'S FEAST; or the Power of Music:
AN ODE ON ST. CECILIA'S DAY.
Twas at the royal feast, for Persia won,
By Philip's warlike son:
Aloft in awful state
The god-like hero sate
On his imperial throne:
His valiant peers were plac'd around;
Their brows with roses and with myrtle bound :
So should desert in arms be crown'd.
The lovely Thäis by his side
Sat, like a blooming eastern bride,
In fow'r of youth and beauty's pride.
Happy, happy, happy pair !
None but the brave,
None but the brave,
None but the brave deserve the fair.
Timotheus plac'd on high,
Amid ile tuneful quire,
With fying fingers touch'd the lyre :
The trembling notes ascend the sky,
And heav'nly joys inspire.
The soug began from Jove ;
Who left his blissful seats above,
Such is the pow'r of mighty love!
A dragou's fiery form bely'd the god:
Sublime on radiant şpires he rode,
When he to fair Olympia pressid,
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * And stanıp'd an image of himself, a sovereign of the world.
The list'ning crowd admire the lofty sound;
A present deity, they shout around:
A present deity, the vaulted roofs rebound :
With ravish'd ears
The monarch hears,
Assumes the god,
Affects to nod,
And seems to shake the spheres.
The praise of Bacchus, then, the sweet musician sung;
Of Bacchus ever fair, and ever young :
The jolly god in triumph comes ;
Sound the trumpets, beat the drums;
Flush'd with a purple grace,
He shows his honest face.
Now give the hautboys breath ; he comes, he comes !
Bacchus, ever fair and young,
Drinking joys did first ordain :
Drinking is the soldier's pleasure;
Rich the treasure,
Sweet the pleasure;
Sweet is pleasure after pain.
Sooth'd with the sound the king grew vain;
Fought all his battles o'er again;
And thrice he routed all his foes; and thrice he slew the slain.
The master saw the madness rise;
His glowing cheeks, liis ardent eyes :
And while he heav'n and earth defy'd,
Chang'd his hand and check'd his pride.
He chose a mournful muse
Soft pity to infuse :
He sung Darius great and good,
By too severe a fate,
Fall'n, fall'n, fall'n, fall'n,
Fall'n from his high estate,
And welt'ring in his blood :
Deserted at his utmost need,
By those his former bounty fed,
On the bare earth expos'd he lies,
With not a friend to close his eyes.
With down-cast look the joyless victor sat,
Revolving in his alter'd soul
The various turns of fate below;
And now and then a sigh he stole;
And tears began to flow.
The mighty master smild to see
That love was in the next degree:
'T'was but a kindred sound to move;
For pity melts the mind to love.
Softly sweet in Lydian measures,
Soon he sooth'd his soul to pleasures.
War, he sung, is toil and trouble ;
Honour but an empty bubble;
Never ending, still beginning,
Fighting still, and still destroying:
If the world be worth thy winning,
Think, O, think it worth enjoying ! .
Lovely Thaïs sits beside thee,
Take the good the gods provide thee.
The many rend the skies with loud applause;
So love was crown'd, but music won the cause.
The prince, unable to conceal his pain,
Gazd on the fair
Who caus'd his care,
And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd,
Sigh'd and look'd, and sigh'd again :
At length with love and wine at once oppressid,
The vanquish'd victor sunk upon her breast.
Now strike the golden lyre again ;
A louder yet, and yet a louder strain.
Break his bands of sleep asunder,
And rouse him, like a rattling peal of thunder.
Hark, hark! the horrid sound
Has rais'd up his head ;
As awak'd froin the dead,
And amaz'd, he stares around.
Rerenge, revenge! Timotheus cries,
See the furies arise,
See the snakes that they rear,
How they hiss in their hair,
And the sparkles that fash from their eyes !
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand! These are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain,
And unbury'd remain
Inglorious on the plain :
Give the vengeance due
To the valiant crew :
Behold how they toss their torches on high,
How they point to the Persian abodes,
And glitt'ring temples of their hostile gods.
The princes applaud, with a furious joy ; And the king seizd a flambeau, with zeal to destroy;
Thaïs led the way,
To light him to his prey,
And, like another Helen, fir'd another Troy...
Thus long ago,
Ere heaving bellows learn'd to blow,
While organs yet were mute,
Timotheus, to his breathing flute
And sounding lyre,
Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire..
At last divine Cecilia came,
Inventress of the vocal frame;
The sweet enthusiast, from her sacred store,
Enlarg'd the former narrow bounds,
And added length to solenn sounds,
With nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before.
Let old Timotheus yield the prize,
Or both divide the crown;
He rais'd a mortal to the skies,
She drew an angel down.