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BY WILLIAM COLLINS.
WHEN Music, heavenly maid, was young,
First Fear, his hand, its skill to try,
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,
Next Anger rushed; his eyes on fire,
In lightnings owned his secret stings:
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,
And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
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,
He threw his blood-stained sword, in thunder, down;
1 "Then black Despair
The shadow of a starless night, was thrown
- Shelley, The Revolt of Islam.
And blew a blast so loud and dread,
Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe!
The doubling drum, with furious heat;
Her soul-subduing voice applied,
Yet still he kept his wild unaltered mien,
While each strained ball of sight seemed bursting from
Thy numbers, Jealousy, to naught were fixed;
Of differing themes the veering song was mixed;
And now it courted love, now raving called on hate.
With eyes upraised, as one inspired,
And, from her wild sequestered seat,
In notes by distance made more sweet,
Poured through the mellow horn her pensive soul:
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 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,
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;
Love framed with Mirth a gay fantastic round:
As if he would the charming air repay,
O Music! sphere-descended maid,
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,
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."