The Passions

English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics.  1909–14.
296. The Passions
An Ode for Music
William Collins (1720–1759)
    WHEN Music, heavenly maid, was young,
    While yet in early Greece she sung,
    The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
    Throng’d around her magic cell
    Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,        5
    Possest beyond the Muse’s painting,
    By turns they felt the glowing mind
    Disturb’d, delighted, raised, refined:
    ’Till once, ’tis said, when all were fired,
    Fill’d with fury, rapt, inspired,        10
    From the supporting myrtles round
    They snatch’d her instruments of sound,
    And, as they oft had heard apart
    Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
    Each, for Madness ruled the hour,        15
    Would prove his own expressive power.
First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
  Amid the chords bewilder’d laid,
And back recoil’d, he knew not why,
  E’en at the sound himself had made.        20
Next Anger rush’d, his eyes on fire,
  In lightnings own’d his secret stings;
In one rude clash he struck the lyre
  And swept with hurried hand the strings.
With woeful measures wan Despair,        25
  Low sullen sounds, his grief beguiled;
A solemn, strange, and mingled air,
  ’Twas sad by fits, by starts ’twas wild.
But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,
  What was thy delighted measure?        30
Still it whisper’d promised pleasure
  And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail!
Still would her touch the strain prolong:
  And from the rocks, the woods, the vale
She call’d on Echo still through all the song;        35
  And, where her sweetest theme she chose,
A soft responsive voice was heard at every close;
  And Hope enchanted smiled, and waved her golden hair;—
And longer had she sung:—but with a frown
    Revenge impatient rose:        40
He threw his blood-stain’d sword in thunder down;
    And with a withering look
  The war-denouncing trumpet took
And blew a blast so loud and dread,
Were ne’er prophetic sounds so full of woe!        45
    And ever and anon he beat
    The doubling drum with furious heat;
And, though sometimes, each dreary pause between,
    Dejected Pity at his side
    Her soul-subduing voice applied,        50
  Yet still he kept his wild unalter’d mien,
While each strain’d ball of sight seem’d bursting from his head.
Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fix’d:
  Sad proof of thy distressful state!
Of differing themes the veering song was mix’d;        55
  And now it courted Love, now raving call’d on Hate.
With eyes up-raised, as one inspired,
Pale Melancholy sat retired;
And from her wild sequester’d seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,        60
Pour’d through the mellow horn her pensive soul:
    And dashing soft from rocks around
    Bubbling runnels join’d the sound;
Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole,
  Or, o’er some haunted stream, with fond delay,        65
    Round an holy calm diffusing,
    Love of peace, and lonely musing,
  In hollow murmurs died away.
But O! how alter’d was its sprightlier tone
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,        70
  Her bow across her shoulder flung,
  Her buskins gemm’d with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
  The hunter’s call to Faun and Dryad known!
The oak-crown’d Sisters and their chaste-eyed Queen,        75
  Satyrs and Sylvan Boys, were seen
  Peeping from forth their alleys green:
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear;
  And Sport leapt up, and seized his beechen spear.
Last came Joy’s ecstatic trial:        80
He, with viny crown advancing,
  First to the lively pipe his hand addrest:
But soon he saw the brisk awakening viol
  Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best:
They would have thought who heard the strain        85
    They saw, in Tempe’s vale, her native maids
    Amidst the festal-sounding shades
To some unwearied minstrel dancing;
While, as his flying fingers kiss’d the strings,
  Love framed with Mirth a gay fantastic round:        90
  Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound;
  And he, amidst his frolic play,
  As if he would the charming air repay,
Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.
    O Music! sphere-descended maid,        95
    Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom’s aid!
    Why, goddess, why, to us denied,
    Lay’st thou thy ancient lyre aside?
    As in that loved Athenian bower
    You learn’d an all-commanding power,        100
    Thy mimic soul, O nymph endear’d!
    Can well recall what then it heard.
    Where is thy native simple heart
    Devote to Virtue, Fancy, Art?
    Arise, as in that elder time,        105
    Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime!
    Thy wonders, in that god-like age,
    Fill thy recording Sister’s page;—
    ’Tis said, and I believe the tale,
    Thy humblest reed could more prevail        110
    Had more of strength, diviner rage,
    Than all which charms this laggard age,
    E’en all at once together found
    Cecilia’s mingled world of sound:—
    O bid our vain endeavours cease:        115
    Revive the just designs of Greece:
    Return in all thy simple state!
    Confirm the tales her sons relate!

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