« PreviousContinue »
Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
Possessed beyond the muse's painting;
By turns they felt the glowing wind
Disturbed, delighted, raised, refined;
Till once, 't is said, when all were fired,
Filled with fury, rapt, inspired,
From the supporting myrtles round,
They snatched her instruments of sound;
And as they oft had heard apart
Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
Each, for madness ruled the hour,
Would prove his own expressive power.
First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
Amid the chords bewildered laid ;
And back recoiled, he knew not why,
Even at the sound himself had made.
Next Anger rushed, his eyes on fire
In lightnings owned his secret stings;
In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
And swept with hurried hand the strings
With woful measures wan Despair,
Low sullen sounds his grief beguiled;
A solemn, strange, and mingled air;
'T was sad by fits, by starts 't was wild.
But thou, oh Hope! with eyes so fair,
What was thy delighted measure ?
Still it whispered 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 called on Echo still through all the song ;
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;
He threw his blood-stained 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;
And ever and anon he beat
The double drum with furious heat;
And though sometimes, each dreary pause between,
Dejected Pity at his side
Her soul-subduing voice applied,
Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien, While each strained ball of sight seemed bursting from his heado
Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fixed,
Sad proof of thy distressful state;
Of differing themes the veering song was mixed,
And now it courted Love, now raving called on Hate.
With eyes upraised, as one inspired,
Pale Melancholy sat retired,
And from her wild sequestered seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,
Poured through the mellow horn her pensive soul;
And clashing soft from rocks around,
Bubbling runnels joined the sound:
Through glades and glooms che mingled measure stole:
Or o'er some haunted streams with fond delay,
Round a holy calm diffusing,
Love of peace and lonely musing,
In hollow murmurs died away.
But oh! how altered was its sprightly tone,
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,
Her buskins gemmed with morning dew,
Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
The hunter's call, to Faun and Dryad known;
The oak-crowned sisters, and their chaste-eyed queen,
Satyr and sylvan boys, were seen
Peeping from forth their alleys green;
Brown Exercise rejoiced to hear,
And Sport leaped up, and seized his beechen spear.
Last came Joy's ecstatic trial:
He, with viny crown advancing,
First to the lively pipe his hand addressed ;
But soon he saw the brisk, awakening viol,
Whose sweet entrancing voice he loved the best.
They would have thought, who heard the strain,
They saw in Tempe’s vale her native maids,
Amidst the festal sounding shades,
To some unwearied minstrel dancing: While, as his flying fingers kissed the strings,
Love framed with Mirth, a gay fantastic round,
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.
Oh Music! sphere-descended maid,
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid,
Why, goddess ! why to us denied,
Layest thou thy ancient lyre aside ?
As in that loved Athenian bower,
You learn an all-commanding power ;
Thy mimic soul, oh, nymph endeared,
Can well recall what then it heard.
Where is thy native simple heart,
Devote to virtue, fancy, art?
Arise, as in that elder time,
Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime !
Thy wonders in that godlike age
Fill thy recording sister's page;
'Tis said, and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
Had more of strength, diviner rage,
Than all which charms this laggard age ;
Even all at once together found,
Cecilia's mingled world of sound.
Oh! bid your vain endeavours cease,
Revive the just designs of Greece;
Return in all thy simple state;
Confirm the tales her sons relate.
WILLIAM SHENSTONE (1714-1763), is perhaps more celebrated for his trees and his shrubbery, than for his poetry. Some of his poetry, however, is written in a style of great sweetness, and is full of true touches of nature. His Pastoral Ballad is still read, notwithstanding its affected Arcadianism, its Phyllises and Corydons, and all that sort of stuff, which so long continued to be the pest of English pastorals. None of our poets have in fact approached Shenstone in the simple tenderness and pathos of pastoral song. Besides his pastorals, he wrote a short and singularly beautiful poem in imitation of Spenser, entitled the Schoolmistress, which it would be treason not to quote in a compilation like the present.
Ah me! full sorely is my heart forlorn,
To think how modest worth neglected lies;
While partial fame doth with her blasts adorn
Such deeds alone as pride and pomp disguise;
Deeds of ill sort, and mischievous emprise;
Lend me thy clarion, goddess ! let me try
To sound the praise of merit ere it dies;
Such as I oft have chancéd to espy,
Lost in the dreary shades of dull obscurity.