The Passions

An Ode to Music

Original Text: 
William Collins, Odes on several descriptive and allegoric subjects (London: A. Millar, 1747) [i.e., 1746]. pam (Fisher Library).
1When Music, heav'nly maid, was young,
2While yet in early Greece she sung,
3The Passions oft, to hear her shell,
4Throng'd around her magic cell,
5Exulting, trembling, raging, fainting,
6Possest beyond the Muse's painting;
7By turns they felt the glowing mind
8Disturb'd, delighted, rais'd, refin'd:
9Till once, 'tis said, when all were fir'd,
10Fill'd with fury, rapt, inspir'd,
11From the supporting myrtles round
12They snatch'd her instruments of sound;
13And as they oft had heard apart
14Sweet lessons of her forceful art,
15Each, for madness rul'd the hour,
16Would prove his own expressive pow'r.
17First Fear his hand, its skill to try,
18     Amid the chords bewilder'd laid,
19And back recoil'd, he knew not why,
20     Ev'n at the sound himself had made.
21Next Anger rush'd; his eyes, on fire,
22     In lightnings own'd his secret stings;
23In one rude clash he struck the lyre,
24     And swept with hurried hand the strings.
25With woful measures wan Despair
26     Low sullen sounds his grief beguil'd;
27A solemn, strange, and mingled air;
28     'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.
29But thou, O Hope, with eyes so fair,
30     What was thy delightful measure;
31Still it whisper'd promis'd pleasure,
32     And bade the lovely scenes at distance hail!
33Still would her touch the strain prolong,
34     And from the rocks, the woods, the vale,
35She call'd on Echo still thro' all the song;
36     And where her sweetest theme she chose,
37A soft responsive voice was heard at ev'ry close,
38And Hope enchanted smil'd, and wav'd her golden hair.
39And longer had she sung,-but with a frown
40         Revenge impatient rose;
41He threw his blood-stain'd sword in thunder down
42         And with a with'ring look
43     The war-denouncing trumpet took,
44And blew a blast so loud and dread,
45Were ne'er prophetic sounds so full of woe.
46         And ever and anon he beat
47         The doubling drum with furious heat;
48     And tho' sometimes, each dreary pause between,
49         Dejected Pity, at his side,
50         Her soul-subduing voice applied,
51     Yet still he kept his wild unalter'd mien,
52While each strain'd ball of sight seem'd bursting from his head.
53Thy numbers, Jealousy, to nought were fix'd,
54     Sad proof of thy distressful state;
55Of diff'ring themes the veering song was mix'd,
56     And now it courted Love, now raving call'd on Hate.
57With eyes uprais'd, as one inspir'd,
58Pale Melancholy sate retir'd,
59And from her wild sequester'd seat,
60In notes by distance made more sweet,
61Pour'd thro' the mellow horn her pensive soul:
62     And, dashing soft from locks around,
63     Bubbling runnels join'd the sound;
64Thro' glades and glooms the mingled measure stole;
65     Or o'er some haunted stream with fond delay
66         Round an holy calm diffusing,
67         Love of peace and lonely musing,
68     In hollow murmurs died away.
69But oh, how alter'd was its sprightlier tone,
70When Cheerfulness, a nymph of healthiest hue,
71     Her bow across her shoulder flung,
72     Her buskins gemm'd with morning dew,
73Blew an inspiring air, that dale and thicket rung,
74     The hunter's call to faun and dryad known!
76     Satyrs, and sylvan boys, were seen,
77     Peeping from forth their alleys green;
78Brown Exercise rejoic'd to heal,
79     And Sport leapt up, and seiz'd his beechen spear.
80Last came Joy's ecstatic trial.
81He, with viny crown advancing,
82     First to the lively pipe his hand addrest;
83But soon he saw the brisk awak'ning viol,
84     Whose sweet entrancing voice he lov'd the best.
85         They would have thought, who heard the strain,
87         Amidst the vestal sounding shades,
88To some unwearied minstrel dancing,
89While, as his flying fingers kiss'd the strings,
90         Love fram'd with Mirth a gay fantastic round;
91         Loose were her tresses seen, her zone unbound,
92         And he, amidst his frolic play,
93         As if he would the charming air repay,
94Shook thousand odours from his dewy wings.
96Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid,
97Why, goddess, why, to us denied,
98Lay'st thou thy ancient lyre aside?
99As in that lov'd Athenian bow'r
100You learn'd an all-commanding pow'r,
101Thy mimic soul, O nymph endear'd,
102Can well recall what then it heard.
103Where is thy native simple heart,
104Devote to Virtue Fancy, Art?
105Arise as in that eider time,
106Warm, energic, chaste, sublime!
107Thy wonders, in that godlike age,
108Fill thy recording sister's page.-
109'Tis said, and I believe the tale,
110Thy humblest reed could more prevail,
111Had more of strength, diviner rage,
112Than all which charms this laggard age,
113Ev'n all at once together found,
114Cæcilia's mingled world of sound.
115O bid our vain endeavours cease,
116Revive the just designs of Greece,
117Return in all thy simple state,
118Confirm the tales her sons relate!


75] Diana accompanied by her wood-nymphs. Back to Line
86] Tempe's vale, in Thessaly, renowned for its beauty. Back to Line
95] sphere-descended. A reference to the ancient notion that the spheres made music as they revolved round the earth. In earlier astronomy the notions of the heavenly bodies were accounted for by the supposition that they were fastened to spheres, each moving within the other around the central earth. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
W. J. Alexander; William Hall Clawson
RPO Edition: 
RP (1916), ed. W. J. Alexander and W. H. Clawson, pp. 158-60