Verse > John Dryden > Poems
John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
Songs, Odes, and Lyrical Pieces
A Song for St. Cecilia’s Day, November 22, 1687
FROM 1 Harmony, from heav’nly Harmony
    This universal Frame began;
  When Nature underneath a heap
    Of jarring Atomes lay,
  And cou’d 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 MUSICK’S pow’r 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 MUSICK raise and quell?
    When Jubal struck the corded Shell,
  His listening Brethren stood around,
    And, wond’ring, 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 MUSICK raise and quell?
    The TRUMPETS loud Clangor
      Excites us to Arms
    With shrill Notes of Anger
      And mortal Alarms.
    The double double double beat
      Of the thund’ring DRUM        30
      Cryes, heark the Foes come;
Charge, Charge, ’tis too late to retreat.
    The soft complaining FLUTE
    In dying Notes discovers
    The Woes of hopeless Lovers,        35
Whose Dirge is whisper’d by the warbling LUTE.
    Sharp VIOLINS proclaim
Their jealous Pangs and Desperation,
Fury, frantick Indignation,
Depth of Pains and Height of Passion,        40
    For the fair, disdainful Dame.
    But oh! what Art can teach
    What human Voice can reach
      The sacred ORGANS Praise?
    Notes inspiring holy Love,        45
Notes that wing their heavenly Ways
    To mend the Choires above.
Orpheus cou’d lead the savage race,
And Trees unrooted left their Place,
      Sequacious of the Lyre;        50
But bright CECILIA rais’d the Wonder high’r:
When to her Organ vocal Breath was given,
An Angel heard, and straight appear’d
      Mistaking Earth for Heav’n.
As from the Pow’r of Sacred Lays
  The Spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator’s Praise
  To all the bless’d 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 MUSICK shall untune the Sky.
Note 1. Text from the original of 1687. [back]

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