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ODE ON ST. CECILIA'S DAY,
And other Pieces for Music.
ESCEND, ye Nine! descend, and sing;
The breathing instruments inspire;
Wake into voice cach silent string,
And sweep the sounding lyre!
In a sadly-pleasing strain
Let the warbling lute complain:
Let the loud trumpet sound,
Till the roofs all around
The shrill echoes rebound:
While, in more lengthen'd notes and slow,
The deep, majestic, solemn organs blow.
Hark! the numbers soft and clear
Gently steal upon the ear;
Now louder, and yet louder rise,
And fill with spreading sounds the skies; Exulting in triumph now swell the buld notes, In broken air trembling, the wild music floats;
Till, by degrees, remote and small,
The strains decay,
And melt away,
In a dying, dying fall.
By music, minds an equal temper know,
Nor swell too high, por sink too low.
If in the breast tumultuous joys arise,
Music her soft, assuasive voice applies;
Or, when the soul is press'd with cares,
Exalts her in enlivening airs.
Warriors she fires with animated sounds;
Pours balm into the bleeding lover's wounds;
Melancholy lifts her head,
Morpheus rouses from his bed,
Sloth unfolds her arms and wakes,
Listening envy drops her snakes;
Intestine war no more our passions wage,
And giddy factions hear away their rage.
But when our country's cause provokes to arms,
How martial music every bosom warms!
So when the first bold vessel dar'd the seas,
High on the stern the Thracian rais'd his strain,
While Argo saw her kindred trees
Descend from Pelion to the main.
Transported demi-gods stood round,
And men grew heroes at the sound,
Inflam'd with glory's charms:
Each chief his sevenfold shield display'd,
And half unsheath'd the shining blade:
And seas, and rocks, and skies rebound
To arms, to arms, to arms!
But when through all th' infernal bounds,
Which flaming Phlegethon surrounds,
Love, strong as death, the poet led
To the pale nations of the dead,
What sounds were heard,
What scenes appear'd,
O'er all the dreary coasts !
Fires that glow,
Shrieks of woe,
And cries of tortur'd ghosts!
But, hark! he strikes the golden lyre;
And see! the tortur'd ghosts respire.
See, shady forms advance!
Thy stone, o Sisyphus, stands still,
Ixion rests upon his wheel,
And the palę spectres dance!
The Furies sink upon their iron beds,
And spakes uncursd hang listening round their heads.
By the streams that ever flow,
By the fragrant winds that blow
D'er elysian flowers;
By those happy souls who dwell
In yellow meads of asphodel,
Or aramanthine bowers;
By the hero's armed shades,
Glittering through the gloomy glades;
By the youths that died for love,
Wandering 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!
Though 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 meanders,
He makes his moan;
And calls her ghost,
For ever, ever, ever lost !
Now with furies surrounded,
He trembles, he glows,
Amidst Rhodope's snows:
See, wild as the winds, o'er the desert he flies;
Hark! Hæmus resounds with the Bacchanals' cries--
Ah see, he dies!
Yet ev'n in death Eurydice he sung;
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 severest 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 quire,
Th’immortal powers incline their ear:
Borne on the swelling notes our souls aspire,
While solemn airs improve the sacred fire;
And angels lean from heaven to hear.' Of Orpheus now no more let poets tell, To bright Cecilia greater power is given: His numbers rais'd a shade from hell,
Her's lift the soul to heaven..
TO THE TRAGEDY OF BRUTUS.
Altered from Shakespeare by the Duke of Bucks
ingham, at whose desire these two Choruses were composed, to supply as many, wanting in his Play. They were set many years afterwards by the famous Bononcini, and performed at Bucke ingham-house.
CHORUS OF ATHENIANS.
YE shades, where sacred truth is sought;
Groves, where immortal sages taught;
Where heavenly visions Plato fir'd,
And Epicurus lay inspir'd !
In vain your guiltless laurels stood
Unspotted long with human blood.
War, horrid war, your thoughtful walks invades,
And steel now glitters in the muses' shades.
Oh heaven-born sisters! source of art!
Who charm the sense, or mend the heart;
Who lead fair virtue's train along,
Moral truth and mystic song!
To what new clime, what distant sky,
Forsaken, friendless, shall ye fly?
Say, will ye bless the bleak Atlantic shore?
Or bid the furious Gaul be rude no more?
When Athens sinks by fates unjust,
When wild barbarians spurn her dust;