Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Georgian Verse
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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Georgian Verse.  1909.
 
The Passions
By William Collins (1721–1759)
 
An Ode for Music

WHEN Music, heavenly 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,        5
Possest beyond the Muse’s painting:
By turns they felt the glowing mind
Disturb’d, delighted, raised, refined;
Till once, ’tis said, when all were fired,
Fill’d with fury, rapt, inspired,        10
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 ruled the hour)        15
Would prove his own expressive power.
 
First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
  Amid the chords bewilder’d laid,
And back recoil’d, he knew not why,
  E’en at the sound himself had made.        20
 
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        25
  Low, sullen sounds his grief beguiled;
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 delighted measure?        30
Still it whisper’d promised 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, through all the song;        35
  And, where her sweetest theme she chose,
  A soft responsive voice was heard at every close,
And Hope enchanted smiled, and waved her golden hair.
 
And longer had she sung;—but, with a frown,
    Revenge impatient rose;        40
He threw his blood-stain’d sword, in thunder down;
    And with a withering look,
  The war-denouncing trumpet took,
And blew a blast so loud and dread,
Were ne’er prophetic sounds so full of woe!        45
  And, ever and anon, he beat
  The doubling drum, with furious heat;
And though sometimes, each dreary pause between.
    Dejected Pity, at his side,
    Her soul-subduing voice applied,        50
  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 differing themes the veering song was mix’d;        55
  And now it courted Love, now raving call’d on Hate.
 
With eyes up-raised, as one inspired,
Pale Melancholy sate retired;
And from her wild sequester’d seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,        60
Pour’d through the mellow horn her pensive soul:
    And, dashing soft from rocks around
    Bubbling runnels join’d the sound;
Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole,
  Or, o’er some haunted stream, with fond delay,        65
    Round an holy calm diffusing,
    Love of peace, and lonely musing,
  In hollow murmurs died away.
 
But O! how alter’d was its sprightlier tone
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,        70
  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-eyed Queen,        75
  Satyrs, and Sylvan Boys, were seen
  Peeping from forth their alleys green:
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear;
  And Sport leapt up, and seized his beechen spear.
 
Last came Joy’s ecstatic trial:        80
He, with viny crown advancing,
  First to the lively pipe his hand addrest:
But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol
  Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best:
They would have thought who heard the strain        85
    They saw, in Tempe’s vale, her native maids
    Amidst the festal-sounding shades
To some unwearied minstrel dancing;
While, as his flying fingers kiss’d the strings,
  Love framed with Mirth a gay fantastic round:        90
  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,        95
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom’s aid!
Why, goddess! why, to us denied,
Lay’st thou thy ancient lyre aside?
As in that loved Athenian bower
You learn’d an all-commanding power,        100
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 elder time,        105
Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime!
Thy wonders, in that god-like age,
Fill thy recording Sister’s page;—
’Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,        110
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age:
E’en all at once together found,
Cecilia’s mingled world of sound:—
O bid our vain endeavours cease:        115
Revive the just designs of Greece:
Return in all thy simple state,
Confirm the tales her sons relate!
 
 
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