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a few of those blemishes intimated above. Wint
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tive poetry is a composition as absurd as a feast
descriptive poem extant, I mean that of Lucretius.
We are next to speak of the Lyric pieces of Pope. He used to declare, that if Dryden had finished a translation of the Iliad, he would not have attempted one after so great a master: he might have said with more propriety, I will not write a mu$ic-ode* after Alexander's Feast, which the variety and harmony of its numbers, and the beauty and force of its images, have conspired to place at the bead of modern lyric, compositions. This of Mr. Pope is, however, the second of the kind.f In the first stanza, every different instru
* He wrote this Ode at the request of Steele.
t The inferiority of Addison's Ode to Pope's on this subject, is manifest and remarkable. What prosaic tameness and -insipidity do we meet with in the following lines!
J , l\j Cecilia's name does all our numbers grace, .. •. From every voice the tuneful accents fly;
In soaring trebles now it rises high;
And now it sinks, and dwells upon, the base.
This almost descends to burlesque. What follows is hardly rhyme/ and surely not poetry:' ', ".. .
Consecrate jnent is described and illustrated, in numbers that admirably represent and correspond to its diffe
E 2 rent
• . /
Consecrate the place and day,
Music, the greatest good that mortals know.—•
There follows in this stanza, which is the third, a description' of a subject very trite, Orpheus drawing the beasts about him. Pope shewed his superior judgment in taking no notice of this old story, and selecting a more new, as well as more striking, incident, in the life of Orpheus. It was the custom of this time for almost every rhymer to try his hand in an ode on St. Cecilia \ we find many despicable rhapsodies, so called, in the trafth, of Tonson's MistFllanies. We have there also preserved another, and an earlier.ode, of Dryden on this subject; one stanza of which I cannot forbear inserting in this i*ote. It was feet to music, 16&1, by I. Baptista Draghi.
What passion cannot music'raise and quell! r
Wheti Jubal struck theJcffrded shell, ! 1 < . , His liqt'ning brethren stbod around, I
And wondering on their faces fell,
To worship that celestial sound:
That spoke so sweetly, and so well. • .,:'
This is so complete and engaging a history-piece, that I knew a person of taste who was resolved to have it executed on one side of his saloon: "In which case, (said he,) the painter has
nothing rent qualities and genius. The beginning of the second stanza, on the power which music exerts over the passions, is a little flat, and by no means equal to the conclusion of that stanza. The animating song that Orpheus* sung to the Argonauts, copied from Valerius Flaccus, (for that of Apollonius is of a different nature,) is the happily chosen subject of the third; on hearing which,
,. .,,." .. . ' , ..•:]. .) .':' i i • •'" 'Each chief his sevenfold shield display'd, ,..
And half unshealh'd the shining bladej , •
yliich effects of the song, however lively, do not equal the force and spirit of what Dryden ascribes to the song of his Grecian artist: for when Timotheus cries out Revenge, raises the furies, and calls up to Alexander's view a troop of Grecian ghosts, that were slain, and left unburied, inglorious and forgotten, each of them waving a torch
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nothing to do, but to substitute colours for wOtfds, the design being finished to his hands."'1 The reader doubtless observes the fine effect of the repetition -of the last line; as well as the stroke of nature, in making these rude hearers imagine some god lay concealed in this first musician's instrument.
* He might have enriched his piece by copying the fourth- ' Pythian ode of Pindar.
in his hand, and pointing to the hostile temples of the Persians, and demanding vengeance of their prince, he instantly started from his throne,
—Seiz'd a flambeau with zeal to destroy ;*
while Thais, and the attendant princes, rushed out with him to set fire to the city. The whole train of imagery in this stanza of Dryden is alive, sublime, and animated to an unparalleled degree: the poet had so strongly possessed himself of the action described, that he places it fully before the eyes of the reader,
The descent of Orpheus into hell is gracefully introduced in the fourth stanza, as it naturally flowed from the subject of the preceding: the description of the infernal regions is well imagined;; and the effects of the musician's lyre on the inhabitants of hell, are elegantly translated from the fourth Georgic of Virgil,-f and happily
E 3 adapted
* These anapests, for such they are, have a fine effects