The Passions.


WHEN Music, heavenly maid, was young,
While yet in early Greece she sung,
The Passions oft, to hear her shell,1
Thronged around her magic cell,
Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
Possest beyond the muse's painting:
By turns they felt the glowing mind
Disturbed, delighted, raised, refined;
Till once, 'tis said, when all were fired,
Filled with fury, wrapt, inspired,
From the supporting myrtles 2 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,

1 Musical instrument. The first lyre (invented by Hermes) was made by stretching strings over a tortoise shell.

2 Compare with "hanging on the willows." (See Note 8, page 148.) The myrtle was sacred to Venus and adorned the brows of bloodless victors.

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 Despair1

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 delightful 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


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,

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And blew a blast so loud and dread,

Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe!
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,

Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien,

While each strained ball of sight seemed bursting from

his head.

Thy numbers, Jealousy, to naught 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 Melancholy1 sat retired;

And, from her wild sequestered seat,

In notes by distance made more sweet,

Poured through the mellow horn her pensive soul:
And, dashing soft from rocks around,

Bubbling runnels joined the sound;

Through glades and glooms the mingled measure stole, Or, o'er some haunted stream, with fond delay,

Round an holy calm diffusing,

Love of peace, and lonely musing

In hollow murmurs died away.

But O! how altered was its sprightlier tone,
When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
Her bow across her shoulder flung,

Her buskins 2 gemmed with morning dew,

1 "Moping Melancholy and moonstruck madness." - Milton, Paradise Lost.

2 Shoes with high soles. Often used with reference to the tragic stage.

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,1
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:

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 They saw, in Tempe's vale,2 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.

O Music! sphere-descended maid,
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 learned an all-commanding power,
Thy mimic soul, O nymph endeared,
Can well recall what then it heard;

1 Artemis and the Muses.

2 A valley in Greece between Mount Ossa and Mount Olympus. A favorite haunt of Apollo and the Muses.

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's1 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;
E'en all at once together found,
Cecilia's mingled world of sound-
O bid our vain endeavours cease;
Revive the just designs of Greece:
Return in all thy simple state!
Confirm the tales her sons relate!


WILLIAM COLLINS was born at Chichester on Christmas Day, 1721. In 1733 he entered Winchester College, then under Dr. Burton. While at school he wrote some short poems which were afterwards published in a collection. In 1740 he entered as commoner of Queen's College, Oxford; and next year he obtained a demyship at Magdalen. In 1744 he left Oxford for London, where he found a true friend in Johnson. His "Odes" appeared in 1747. After this he went to live at Richmond, where he was intimate with Johnson, Thomson, Armstrong, and other celebrities of the day, and where he composed the "Ode on the Death of Thomson," and several other poems which were well received. In 1750 he was attacked by the brain-disease from which, with certain intervals of partial recovery, he suffered for the rest of his life. He died in 1759.

1 Clio, the Muse of History.


2 The Christian patroness of sacred music and reputed inventor of the organ. See Dryden's " Alexander's Feast," and Pope's "Ode on St. Cecilia's Day."

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