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What though no friends in sable weeds appear; 55
shall blow; While angels with their silver wings o'ershade The ground, now sacred by thy relics made.
So peaceful rests, without a stone, a name, What once had beauty, titles, wealth, and fame. How loved, how honor'd once, avails thee not, 71 To whom related, or by whom begot: A heap of dust alone remains of thee; 'Tis all thou art, and all the proud shall be !
Poets themselves must fall like those they sung, Deaf the praised ear, and mute the tuneful tongue:
59 What though no weeping Loves. Dennis had made the sufficiently vexatious, because perfectly true remark on those lines, that they were trifling. The strong reality of the images in the preceding lines,
By foreign hands thy dying eyes were closed, &c. obviously throws them into common-place. Warburton, in his office of vindicating at all risks, pronounces them to be peculiarly 'natural and pathetic;' adding, that the poet's last wish might well be, to commit his writings to the candor of a sensible and reflecting judge, rather than to the malice of every short-sighted and malevolent critic.' This is a curious instance of adopted panegyric: the sensible and reflecting judge' was Warburton himself.
generous tear he
Ev'n he, whose soul now melts in mournful lays, Shall shortly want the
pays : Then from his closing eyes thy form shall part, And the last pang shall tear thee from his heart; Life's idle business at one gasp be o’er; The Muse forgot, and thou beloved no more !
77 Ev’n he, whose soul now melts. In this poem, and in the Epistle of Eloisa, Pope has given the chief, if not the sole proofs, of his pathetic power. Nothing can be more natural than the images, deeper than the feeling, or richer, freer, or more forcible than the language. With the single exception of the frivolities of the 'weeping Loves, and the silverwinged angels,' as a poem, it is inimitable.
Spence gives a letter from Hume, describing its effect on a sensitive mind :- :- I repeated to him (Blacklock the poet, who was blind from six months old) Pope's ' Elegy on the Death of an unfortunate Lady,' which I happened to have by heart; and although I am a very bad reciter, I saw it affected him extremely : his eyes, indeed, the great index of the mind, could express no passion, but his whole body was thrown into agitation. That poem was equally qualified to touch the delicacy of his taste and the tenderness of his feelings.'-Spence, Anecdotes.
O D E S.
Pope, after his triumphs in the didactic, the descriptive, and the pathetic, attempted a new one, in the brilliancy, abruptness, and variety of the ode. If he failed, his failure is only by comparison ; for his odes contain singular poetic beauties. They are pale only by the side of Dryden's * Alexander's Feast.' This extraordinary work alone excepted, they are probably equal to any efforts of the same style in any language of modern Europe.
Warton narrates, that Bolingbroke, happening to pay a morning visit to Dryden, found the old man in an unusual agitation of spirits, even to trembling. “I have been up all night,' said he : “my musical friends made me promise to write them an ode for their feast of St. Cecilia ; and I have been so struck with the subject which occurred to me, that I could not leave it till I had 'completed it: here it is, finished at one sitting. With these words, he showed him this finest of all lyrics ; which, Warton farther says, was never afterwards reconsidered, retouched, or corrected ! ODE FOR MUSIC
ON ST. CECILIA’S DAY, 1708.
DESCEND, ye Nine! descend and sing;
In a sadly-pleasing strain
Let the loud trumpet sound,
The shrill echoes rebound :
Hark! the numbers soft and clear
And fill with spreading sounds the skies: Exulting in triumph now swell the bold notes ; 16 In broken air, trembling, the wild music floats ; Till, by degrees, remote and small,
The strains decay,
By Music, minds an equal temper know,
Nor swell too high, nor sink too low. If in the breast tumultuous joys arise, Music her soft, assuasive voice applies ;
Or, when the soul is press'd with cares,
Exalts her in enlivening airs.
Melancholy lifts her head,
Listening Envy drops her snakes;
35 Dr. Greene set this Ode to music in 1730, as an exercise for his doctor's degree at Cambridge; on which occasion Pope made considerable alterations in it, and added the following stanza in this place :
Amphion thus bade wild dissension cease,
From various discords, to create
The music of a well-tuned state;
Those useful touches to impart,
That strike the subject's answering heart,
From sacred union and consent of things. And he made another alteration at the same time, in stanza iv, v. 51, and wrote it thus:
Sad Orpheus sought his consort lost :
But dreadful gleams, &c.-Warton.