Verse > Anthologies > William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. > The Book of Restoration Verse
William Stanley Braithwaite, ed.  The Book of Restoration Verse.  1910.
A Poetic Descant upon a Private Music-Meeting
By Edward Benlowes (1603?–1676)
MUSE! Rise, and plume thy feet, and let’s converse
  This morn together: let’s rehearse
Last evening’s sweets; and run one heat in full-speed verse.
Prank not thyself in metaphors; but pound
  Thy ranging tropes, that they may sound        5
Nothing but what our Paradise did then surround.
Throned first Parthenian heav’n-bred beauties were
  Near crystal casements’ Eastern sphere;
Who like to Venus sparkled, yet more chaste than fair.
’Mongst which, one radiant star so largely shone,        10
  She seem’d a constellation;
Her front ’bove lily-white, cheek ’bove rose-red, full blown.
Yet be not planet-struck, like some that gaze
  Too eagerly on Beauty’s blaze;
There’s none like thine, dear Muse! theirs are but meteor-rays.        15
Suitors to idols offer idle suits,
  Which hold their presence more recruits
Their broken hopes, than viols, pedals, organs, lutes.
But, whist! The masculine sweet planets met,
  Their instruments in tune have set,        20
And now begin to ransack Music’s cabinet.
Sol! Thou pure fountain of this streaming Noise!
  Patron of Sweetness! Soul of Joys!
How were we ravish’d with thy viol’s warbling voice!
Thy nectar-dropping joints so played their part,        25
  They forced the fibres of our heart
To dance: thy bow’s swift lightning made the tears to start.
Thou didst ev’n saw the grumbling catlines still,
  And tortured’st the base, until
His roaring diapasons did the whole room fill.        30
Luna the pedal richly did adorn;
  If ’twixt the cedar and the thorn
There’s ought harmonious, ’twas from this sweet fir-tree born.
As Philomel, Night’s minstrel, jugs her tides
  Of rolling melody; she rides        35
On surges down to th’ deep; and, when she lifts, up glides.
Jove cataracts of liquid gold did pour,
  More precious than his Danaë’s show’r;
From pedal-drops to organ-deluge swell’d the stour.
Mars twang’d a violin (his fierce drums for fight        40
  Turn’d to brisk Almans) with what sprite
His treble shrill’d forth marches, which he strain’d to the height!
His active bow, arm’d with a war-like tone,
  Rallied his troops of strings, as one,
Which volleys gave i’ th’ chase of swift division.        45
So the Pelean youth was vanquish’d still
  By his renown’d musician’s skill,
Which could disarm, and arm the conqueror at will.
Last Mercury with ravishing strains fell on,
  Whose violin seem’d the chymic-stone,        50
For every melting touch was pure projection.
Chair’d midst the spheres of Music’s Heav’n, I hear,
  I gaze: charm’d all to eye and ear;
Both which, with objects too intense, even martyr’d were.
Th’ excess of fairs, distill’d through sweets, did woo        55
  My wav’ring soul, maz’d what to do,
Or to quit eyes for ears, or ears for eyes forego.
Giddy i’ th’ change which sex to crown with praise;
  Time swore he never was with lays
More sweetly spent; nor Beauty ever beam’d such rays.        60
’Twixt these extremes mine eyes and ears did stray,
  And sure it was no time to pray;
The Deities themselves then being all at play.
The full-throng’d room its ruin quite defies:
  Nor fairs, nor airs are pond’rous; skies        65
Do scorn to shrink, though pil’d with stars and harmonies.
Form, Beauty, Sweetness, all did here conspire,
  Combin’d in one Celestial Quire,
To charm the enthusiastic soul with enthean fire:
These buoy up care-sunk thoughts; their power endues        70
  A castril brain with eagle-muse:
When Saints would highest soar they Music’s pinions use.
Music! thy med’cines can our grief allay,
  And re-inspire our lumpish clay:
Muse! Thou transcend’st; thou without instruments canst play.        75
Blandulis Longum Vale Cantilenis.

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