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Till, by degrees, remote and small,
The strains decay,
And melt away,
In a dying, dying fall.
By music, minds an equal temper know,
Nor swell too high, nor sink too low.
If in the breast tumultuous joys arire,
Music her soft, assuasive voice api lies;
Or, when the soul is press'd with cares,
Exalts her in enlivening sirs.
Warriors she fires with animated sounds ;
Pours balm into the bleeding lover's wounds ;
Melancholy lifts her head,
Morpheus rouses from his bed,
Sloth unfolds her arms and wakes,
Listening envy drops her snakes ;
Intestine war no more our passions wage,
And giddy factions bear away their rage.
But when our country's cause provokes to arms,
How martial music every bosom warms!
So when the first bold vessel dared the seas,
High on the stern the Thracian raised his strain,
While Argo saw her kindred trees
Descend from Pelion to the main.
Transported demi-gods stood round,
And men grew heroes at the sound,
Inflamed with glory's charms :
Each chief his sevenfold shield display'd,
And half unsheathed the shining blade :
And seas, and rocks, and skies rebound
To arms, to arms, to arms!
But when through all the infernal bounds,
Which flaming Phlegethon surrounds,
Love, strong as death, the poet led
To the pale nations of the dead,
What sounds were heard,
What scenes appear'd,
O'er all the dreary coasts!
Fires that glow,
Shrieks of woe,
And cries of tortured ghosts :
But, hark! he strikes the golden lyre:
And see ! the tortured ghosts respire.
See, shady forms advance!
Thy stone, O Sisyphus, stands still,
Ixion rests upon his wheel,
And the pale spectres dance !
The Furies sink upon their iron beds,
And snakes uncurl'd hang listening round their headı
By the streams that ever flow,
By the fragrant winds that blow
O'er the Elysian flowers ;
By those happy souls, who dwell
In yellow meads of asphodel,
Or amaranthine bowers !
By the hero's armed shades,
Glittering through the gloomy glades;
By the youths that died for love,
Wandering in the myrtle grove,
Restore, restore Eurydice to life :
Oh take the husband, or return the wife !
He sung, and hell consented
To hear the poet's prayer,
Stern Proserpine relented,
And gave him back the fair.
Thus song could prevail
O'er death and o'er hell;
A conquest how hard and how glorious !
Though fate had fast bound her
With Styx nine times round her, Yet music and love were victorious.
But soon, too soon the lover turns his eyes :
Again she falls, again she dies, she dies!
How wilt thou now the fatal sisters move ?
No crime was thine, if 'tis no crime to love.
Now under hanging mountains,
Beside the falls of fountains,
Or where Hebrus wanders,
Rolling in meanders,
He makes his moan,
And calls her ghost,
For ever, ever, ever, lost!
Now with furies surrounded,
He trembles, he glows,
Amidst Rhodope's snows:
See, wild as the winds, o'er the desert he flies;
Hark! Hæmus resounds with the Bacchanals' cm
Ah see, he dies !
Yet e'en in death Eurydice he sung:
Eurydice still trembled on his tongue:
Eurydice the woods,
Eurydice the floods,
Eurydice the rocks and hollow mountains rung.
Music the fiercest grief can charm,
And Fate's severest rage disarm;
Music can soften pain to ease,
And make despair and madness please :
Our joys below it can improve,
And antedate the bliss above.
This the divine Cecilia found,
And to her Maker's praise confined the sound,
When the full organ joins the tuneful quire,
The immortal powers incline their ear :
Borne on the swelling notes our souls aspire,
While solemn airs improve the sacred fire;
And angels lean from heaven to hear
of Orpheus now no more let poets tell; To bright Cecilia greater power is given : His numbers raised a shade from hell,
Hers lift the soul to heaven.
TWO CHORUSSES TO THE TRAGEDY OF BRUTUS, Altered from Shakspeare by the Duke of Buckingham
at whose desire these two Chorusses were composed, to supply as many wanting in his Play. They were set many years afterwards by the famous Bononcini, and performed at Buckingham-house.
CHORUS OF ATHENIANS.
YE shades, where sacred truth is sought;
Groves, where immortal sages taught;
Where heavenly visions Plato fired,
And Epicurus lay inspired!
In vain your guiltless laurels stood
Unspotted long with human blood.
War, horrid war, your thoughtful walks invades,
And steel now glitters in the muses' shades.
Oh heaven-born sisters ! source of art!
Who charm the sense, or mend the heart;
Who lead fair virtue's train along,
Moral truth and mystic song!
To what new clime, what distant sky,
Forsaken, friendless, shall ye Aly?
Say, will ye bless the bleak Atlantic shore ?
Or bid the furious Gaul be rude no more?
When Athens sinks by fates unjust,
When wild barbarians spurn her dust!
Perhaps e'en Britain's utmost shore
Shall cease to blush with stranger’s gore
See arts her savage sons controul,
And Athens rising near the pole!
Till some new tyrant lifts his purple hand,
And civil madness tears them from the land.
Ye gods ! what justice rules the ball ?
Freedom and arts together fall;
Fools grant whate'er ambition craves,
And men once ignorant are slaves.
O cursed effects of civil hate,
In every age, in every state !
Still, when the lust of tyrant power succeeds,
Some Athens perishes, some Tully bleeds.
CHORUS OF YOUTHS AND VIRGINS
Oh tyrart Love! hast thou possess'd
The prudent, learn'd, and virtuous breast ?
Wisdom and wit in vain reclaim,
And arts but soften us to feel thy flame.
Love, soft intruder, enters here,
But entering learns to be sincere.
Marcus, with blushes owns he loves,
And Brutus tenderly reprovés.
Why, virtue, dost thou blame desire,
Which nature hath impress’d?
Why, nature, dost thou soonest fire
The mild and generous breast ?
Love's purer flames the gods approve;
The gods and Brutus bend to love :
Brutus for absent Porcia sighs,
And sterner Cassius melts at Junia's cyes
What is loose love? a transient gust,
Spent in a sudden storm of lust;