Verse > Anthologies > The World’s Best Poetry > Vol. VI. Fancy: Sentiment
Bliss Carman, et al., eds.  The World’s Best Poetry.
Volume VI. Fancy.  1904.
Poems of Sentiment: V. The Arts
A Song for Saint Cecilia’s Day, 1687
John Dryden (1631–1700)
FROM harmony, from heavenly harmony,
    This universal frame began;
  When Nature underneath a heap
      Of jarring atoms lay,
    And could not heave her head        5
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
      Arise, ye more than dead!
Then cold and hot, and moist and dry,
    In order to their stations leap,
      And Music’s power obey.        10
From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
      This universal frame began:
      From harmony to harmony,
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
    The diapason closing full in man.        15
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
      When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
    His listening brethren stood around,
      And, wondering, on their faces fell,
    To worship that celestial sound.        20
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
      Within the hollow of that shell,
      That spoke so sweetly and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
      The trumpet’s loud clangor        25
        Excites us to arms,
      With shrill notes of anger,
        And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
        Of the thundering drum        30
        Cries, Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, ’t is too late to retreat!
      The soft complaining flute
      In dying notes discovers
      The woes of hopeless lovers,        35
Whose dirge is whispered by the warbling lute.
      Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs, and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depth of pains, and height of passion        40
      For the fair, disdainful dame.
  But O, what art can teach,
    What human voice can reach,
  The sacred organ’s praise?
    Notes inspiring holy love,        45
  Notes that wing their heavenly ways
    To mend the choirs above.
Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees uprooted left their place,
      Sequacious of the lyre;        50
But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher;
When to her organ vocal breath was given,
An angel heard, and straight appeared
      Mistaking earth for heaven.
As from the power of sacred lays
    The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator’s praise
    To all the blessed above;
So, when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,        60
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And music shall untune the sky.

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