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Τω γαρ οντι το πρωτον αυτης και καλλιστον εργον η εις τους Θεους ευχαριστος

εστιν αμοιβη, επομενον δε τουτω και δευτερον το της ψυχης καθαρσιον και

εμμελες, και εναρμονιον συστημα.   PLUT. περι Μουσικης.


O decus Phoebi & dapibus supremi

Grata testudo Jovis: o laborum

Dulce lenimen!                      HOR.




[woodcut: Tully’s Head]



Printed for R. DODSLEY at Tully’s Head in Pall-mall.

[short line]








THE measure of the following Ode was first us’d by MILTON, since whom I do not know of any Poet who has adopted it.  It was chosen as admitting of a greater variety of modulation than any other of the same extent; as well as for the liberty it carries with it in being disengag’d from Rhyme.

                  Our Lyric Poetry has been almost universally subject to that inconvenience, tho’ of all kinds it demands the most free and unconfin’d versification.  I don’t remember that Mr. CONGREVE who wrote an Essay on the Pindaric manner, prefix’d to a specimen of it, has taken notice of this defect, which our COWLEY and others so evidently labour under.  It might be certainly excusable to conclude the contrary, since he has himself fall’n into it in the very Ode annex’d.  The great Author abovemention’d, who had so happily form’d himself on the antients, as to unite almost all their separate excellencies, was in the most eminent degree a master of the force [{vi}] of Numbers ---- Of this the Sampson Agonistes, admirable as it is in many other respects, is a most compleat instance.  That exact imitation of the Graecian model was one of his last productions; and, though the subject of it is not the most Dramatical, may give a very perfect idea of the Athenian Stage.  The songs of the Chorus are labour’d with so critical a niceness, that there is scarce a Mode of Metre in use amongst their Tragedians, of which it does not afford an example.  All the different kinds of Stanza that are to be found in our first Poets, were borrow’d like their Tales and Allegories, from the Italians and French ---- Perhaps it may be doubted whether any one of them before MILTON, however full of genius and invention, was capable of executing an attempt of this nature. ---- Johnson, tho’ he had in general an haughty contempt for the moderns, was himself a meer modern in this particular. ---- The design was reserv’d for one, who was every way qualified to undertake it; and we may venture to pronounce, that, had he applied himself to Lyric Poetry, he would have had as few rivals in that as in the Epic. [7]


[woodcut: Apollo]





WHILE you, great Author of the sacred song,

With sounds seraphic join the seraph host,

Who, wond’ring with delight,

Hear numbers like their own,


And hail the kindred lay; forgive the Muse,

That in unhallow’d, humble measure strives

With them to praise, with them

Too impotent to sing: [8]


Yet her’s the task to form the myrtle wreath,

And twine the vernal treasures of the grove,

Whose mingling honours crown

The fav’rites of the Nine.


For thee, most favour’d of the sacred train,

The choicest flow’rs shall breathe, for thee the bloom

Whose beauty longest boasts

The freshness of the spring:


Whether by thee the rural reed inspir’d,

And wak’d to blythe simplicity, beguiles

The labour’d shepherd’s toil

In soft Sicilian strain,


Sweet’ning the stillness of the grove, whose shades

Fond fancy paints enlivened by the lay;

Or whether taught the flow

Of some smooth-gliding stream, [9]


The melting flute in liquid warbles sooths,

And feigns to bubble, tuneful to the tale

Of ACIS, injur’d boy,

Chang’d to a murm’ring rill:


Or, kindling courage in the glowing breast,

The voice of Battle breathes the big alarm,

The Trumpet’s clangor fills,

And thunders in the Drum.


Or mid’ the magic of successive sounds,

That rule alternate passions as they rise,

Again TIMOTHEUS lives,

Again the victor yields


To sacred Melody: while those sweet gales

That breathe fresh odours o’er Elysian glades,

And amaranthine bow’rs

(Where now the golden harps [10]


Of blissfull bards are strung) the numbers waft

To DRYDEN’s laurel’d shade; he yet more blest,

Smiles, conscious of the charms

Of heav’n-born Harmony,


That prove the pow’r he sings, and grace the song:

Nigh whom, supreme amidst the tuneful train,

In lovely greatness shines

The Bard, who fearless sprung


Beyond the golden sphere that girts the world,

And sung embattled Angels:  He too hears

Enchanting accents, him

Delights the lovely lay,


Responsive to his own; in pensive thoughtVer. 53

Now lowly languid to the lulling lute,

That suits the Cypress Queen

And makes deep sadness sweet; [11]


Or to the plaintive warbles of the wood,Ver. 57

Whose wanton measure, in the gentle flow

Of soft’ned notes, returns

Wild echoes to the strain.


But hark! the Dryad MIRTH with cheering hornVer. 61

Invites her mountain-sister to the chace,

The jocund rebecks join

The merriment of MAY


That to the tabor trips, and treads the round

Of rustic measures to the sprightly pipe,

Mingled with merry peals

That fill the festal joy.


But O!  great master of ten thousand sounds,

That rend the concave in exulting song,

And round anointed Kings

In shouting Paeans roll: [12]


Master of high Hosannahs, that proclaimVer. 73

In pomp of Martial Praise the GOD of HOSTS,

Who treads to dust the foe,

And conquers with the sling:


O!  taught the deep solemnity of grief,Ver. 77

That swells the sullen slowness of the trump,

And gives the gentler woe

Of soothing flutes to join


In sweet response the thunder of the field:

What breath divine first blending with thy soul,

Infus’d this sacred force

Of magic Melody,


Nor here confin’d?  for higher yet the strain,

That suits thy Lay, mellifluous AMBROSE, rais’dVer. 86

To mighty shouts return’d

By hymning Hierarchies,Ver. 88 [13]


Who sound thrice Holy! round the saphire throne

In solemn jubily; the strain that fills

With force of pleasing dread

The seraphs awful blast,


’Till fervent Faith and smiling Hope behold

The dawn of endless day:  or speaks the GOD

Whose Vengeance widely spreads

The Darkness palpable,


And kindles half the storm, with thunder hail,

Hail mixt with Fire; divides the deep Abyss,

And to the vast profound

The horse and rider hurls;Ver. 100


Tremendous theme of song! the theme of love

And melting mercy HE, when sung to strains,

Which from prophetic lips

Touch’d with ethereal fire, [14]


Breath’d balmy Peace, yet breathing in the charm

Of healing sounds; fit prelude to the pomp102-106

Of choral energy,

Whose lofty accents rise


To speak MESSIAH’s names; the God of Might,

The Wond’rous and the Wise — the Prince of Peace.

Him, feeder of the flock

And leader of the lambs,


The tuneful tenderness of trilling notes

Symphonious speaks:  Him pious pity paints

In mournful melody

The man of sorrows; grief


Sits heavy on his soul, and bitterness

Fills deep his deadly draught ----- He deigns to die ---

The God who conquers Death,

When, bursting from the Grave,106-120 [15]


Mighty he mounts, and wing’d with rapid winds,

Thro’ Heav’ns wide portals opening to their Lord,

To boundless realms return’d,

The King of Glory reigns.


Pow’rs, dominations, thrones resound HE REIGNS,

High Hallelujahs of empyreal hosts,

And pealing Praises join

The thunder of the spheres.


But whither Fancy wafts thy wanton wing,

That trembles in the flight?  oh!  whither stretch’d

Pursues the lofty lay,

Worthy the Master’s name,


Whose Music yet in airy murmurs plays

And vibrates on the ear? ---- Preserve, ye gales,

Wrapt in the sweet’ned breeze,

Each dying note:  Ye winds, [16]


Be hush’d, while yet the sacred numbers live.

But hence!  with ideot leer, thou dim-ey’d form

Of Folly, taught to list

In shew of senseless glee


To empty trills, enervate languishment

And mimic’ry of sounds:  hence!  blast of Hell,

That lov’st, with venom’d breath,

To taint the ripening bloom


That merit boasts; thee, Envy, black Despair,

Thee kindred fiends to native realms recall,

There dart the livid glance,

And howling bite the chain.






Ver. 53.  See Il Penseroso set to Music by Mr. Handel.

Ver. 57.  Alluding to the Song, Sweet Bird, &c.

Ver. 61.  See L’Allegro.

Ver. 73.  See the Epinicion in Saul.

Ver. 77.  Alluding to the Dead March in Saul.

Ver. 86.  St. Ambrose, stiled Doctor Mellifluus.

Ver. 88.  Alluding to the symphony of the words We believe that thou shalt come to be our Judge, in the new Te Deum.

Ver. 100.  See the Oratorio of Israel in Egypt.

Ver. 102-106.  See the sacred Oratorio of Messiah, Part I.

Ver. 106-120.  See Messiah.  Part II.