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The Passions. An Ode to Music

When Music, heav'nly maid, was young,
  While yet in early Greece she sung,
  The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
  Throng'd around her magic cell,
  Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
  Possest beyond the Muse's painting;
  By turns they felt the glowing mind
  Disturb'd, delighted, rais'd, refin'd:
  Till once, 'tis said, when all were fir'd,
 Fill'd with fury, rapt, inspir'd,
 From the supporting myrtles round
 They snatch'd her instruments of sound;
 And as they oft had heard apart
 Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
 Each, for madness rul'd the hour,
 Would prove his own expressive pow'r.

 First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
  Amid the chords bewilder'd laid,
 And back recoil'd, he knew not why,
  Ev'n at the sound himself had made.

 Next Anger rush'd; his eyes, on fire,
  In lightnings own'd his secret stings;
 In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
  And swept with hurried hand the strings.

 With woful measures wan Despair
  Low sullen sounds his grief beguil'd;
 A solemn, strange, and mingled air;
  'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.

 But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,
  What was thy delightful measure;
 Still it whisper'd promis'd pleasure,
  And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail!

 Still would her touch the strain prolong,
  And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
 She call'd on Echo still thro' all the song;
  And where her sweetest theme she chose,
 A soft responsive voice was heard at ev'ry close,
 And Hope enchanted smil'd, and wav'd her golden hair.

 And longer had she sung,-but with a frown
  Revenge impatient rose;
 He threw his blood-stain'd sword in thunder down
  And with a with'ring look
  The war-denouncing trumpet took,
 And blew a blast so loud and dread,
 Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe.
  And ever and anon he beat
  The doubling drum with furious heat;
  And tho' sometimes, each dreary pause between,
  Dejected Pity, at his side,
  Her soul-subduing voice applied,
  Yet still he kept his wild unalter'd mien,
 While each strain'd ball of sight seem'd bursting from his head.

 Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fix'd,
  Sad proof of thy distressful state;
 Of diff'ring themes the veering song was mix'd,
  And now it courted Love, now raving call'd on Hate.

 With eyes uprais'd, as one inspir'd,
 Pale Melancholy sate retir'd,
 And from her wild sequester'd seat,
 In notes by distance made more sweet,
 Pour'd thro' the mellow horn her pensive soul:
  And, dashing soft from locks around,
  Bubbling runnels join'd the sound;
 Thro' glades and glooms the mingled measure stole;
  Or o'er some haunted stream with fond delay
  Round an holy calm diffusing,
  Love of peace and lonely musing,
  In hollow murmurs died away.

 But oh, how alter'd was its sprightlier tone,
 When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
  Her bow across her shoulder flung,
  Her buskins gemm'd with morning dew,
 Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
  The hunter's call to faun and dryad known!
  The oak-crown'd sisters, and their chaste-ey'd queen,
  Satyrs, and sylvan boys, were seen,
  Peeping from forth their alleys green;
 Brown Exercise rejoic'd to heal,
  And Sport leapt up, and seiz'd his beechen spear.

 Last came Joy's ecstatic trial.
 He, with viny crown advancing,
  First to the lively pipe his hand addrest;
 But soon he saw the brisk awak'ning viol,
  Whose sweet entrancing voice he lov'd the best.
  They would have thought, who heard the strain,
  They saw in Tempe's vale her native maids
  Amidst the vestal sounding shades,
 To some unwearied minstrel dancing,
 While, as his flying fingers kiss'd the strings,
  Love fram'd with Mirth a gay fantastic round;
  Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound,
  And he, amidst his frolic play,
  As if he would the charming air repay,
 Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.

 O Music, sphere-descended maid,
 Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid,
 Why, goddess, why, to us denied,
 Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside?
 As in that lov'd Athenian bow'r
  You learn'd an all-commanding pow'r,
 Thy mimic soul, O nymph endear'd,
 Can well recall what then it heard.
 Where is thy native simple heart,
 Devote to Virtue Fancy, Art?
 Arise as in that eider time,
 Warm, ener
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:46 min read

William Taylor Collins

William Collins was an English poet. Second in influence only to Thomas Gray, he was an important poet of the middle decades of the 18th century. more…

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