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He makes his moan;
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; 110 Hark! Hæmus resounds with the Bacchanals' criesAh 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:
Ver. 112.] The death is expressed with a brevity and abruptness suitable to the nature of the ode. Instead of he sung, Virgil says, vocabat, which is more natural and tender, and adds a moving epithet, that he called miseram Eurydicen. The repetition of Eurydice.in two very short lines hurts the ear, which Virgil escaped by interposing several other words; and the name itself happens not to be harmonious enough to suffer such repetition. Warton.
Our joys below it can improve,
And antedate the bliss above.
And to her Maker's praise confin'd the sound. 125
To bright Cecilia greater pow'r is giv'n;
Her's lift the soul to heav'n.
Ver. 131. It is observable that this ode, as well as that of Dryden, concludes with an epigram of four lines; a species of witty writing as flagrantly unsuitable to the dignity, and as foreign to the nature of the lyric, as it is of the epic muse.
Mr. St. John, afterwards Lord Bolingbroke, happening to pay a morning visit to Dryden, whom he always respected, found him in an unusual agitation of spirits, even to a trembling. On inquiring the cause, "I have been up all night (replied the old bard), my musical friends made me promise to write them an ode for their feast of St. Cecilia: I have been so struck with the subject which occurred to me, that I could not leave it till I had completed it here it is, finished at one sitting." And immediately he showed him this Ode; which places the British lyric poetry above that of any other nation. This anecdote, as true as it is curious, was imparted by Lord Bolingbroke to Pope, by Pope to Mr. Gilbert West, by him to my ingenious friend Mr. Berenger, who communicated it to me. The rapidity, and yet the perspicuity of the thoughts, the glow and the expressiveness of the images, those certain marks of the first sketch of a master, conspire to corroborate the fact. It is not to be understood, that this piece was not afterwards reconsidered, retouched, and corrected. Warton.
TO THE TRAGEDY OF BRUTUS.*
CHORUS OF ATHENIANS.
YE shades, where sacred truth is sought;
In vain your guiltless laurels stood
War, horrid war, your thoughtful Walks invades,
Oh heav'n-born sisters! source of art!
* Altered from Shakespear by the Duke of Buckingham, at whose desire these two Choruses were composed, to supply as many wanting in his play. They were set many years afterward, by the famous Bononcini, and performed at Buckingham-house.
Ver. 3. Where heav'nly visions Plato fir'd, And Epicurus lay inspir'd] The propriety of these lines arises from hence, that Brutus, one of the Heroes of this play, was of the old Academy; and Cassius, the other, was an Epicurean. Warburton.
I cannot be persuaded that Pope thought of Brutus and Cassius, as being followers of different sects of philosophy. Warton.
Who lead fair Virtue's train along,
To what new clime, what distant sky,
When Athens sinks by fates unjust,
Shall cease to blush with strangers' gore, 20
And Athens rising near the pole !
Till some new Tyrant lifts his purple hand,
Ye Gods! what justice rules the ball?
Ver. 12. Moral Truth and mystic Song!] The construction is dubious. Does the poet address Moral Truth and Mystic Song, as being the Heaven-born Sisters; or does he address himself to the Muses, mentioned in the preceding line, and so make Moral Truth and Mystic Song to be a part of Virtue's train? as Hesiod begins his poem.
Dr. Warburton's proposed correction is not consistent with either construction, when he says, the poet had expressed himself better had he said Moral Truth in Mystic Song. Moral Truth, a single person, can neither be the Heaven-born Sisters, nor yet, alone, the train of Virtue. If it could, the emendation might have been spared, because this is no uncommon figure in poetry.
Ver. 26. Freedom and Arts] A sentiment worthy of Alcaus! Throughout
Fools grant whate'er Ambition craves,
In ev'ry age, in ev'ry state!
Still, when the lust of tyrant pow'r succeeds,
Throughout all his works our author constantly shews himself a
true lover of true liberty.
Ver. 32. Some Athens]
-When brutal force
Usurps the throne of justice, turns the pomp
Of guardian power, the majesty of rule,
To poor, dishonest pageants!
Pleasures of Imagination, B. ii.
This ode is of the kind which M. D'Alembert, judging like a mathematician, prefers to odes that abound with imagery and figures, namely, what he calls the Didactic ode; and then proceeds to give reasons for preferring Horace to Pindar, as a lyric poet. Marmontel in his Poetics opposes him. Warton.