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And calls her ghost,
105 Now with Furies surrounded, Despairing, confounded, He trembles, he glows,
Amidst Rhodope's snows: See, wild as the winds, o'er the desert he flies ; 110 Hark! Hæmus resounds with the Bacchanals'cries
Ah see, he dies! Yet ev'n in death Eurydice he sung, Eurydice still trembled on his tongue, Eurydice the woods,
115 Eurydice the floods, Eurydice the rocks, and hollow mountains rung.
Music the fiercest grief can charm,
Ver. 112.) The death is expressed with a brevity and abruptness suitable to the nature of the ode. Instead of he sung, Virgil says, vocabut, which is more natural and tender, and adds a moving epithet, that he called miseram Eurydicen. The repetition of Eurydice in two very short lines hurts the ear, which Virgil escaped by interposing several other words; and the name itself happens not to be harmonious enough to suffer such repetition.
Our joys below it can improve,
And antedate the bliss above. This the divine Cecilia found, And to her Maker's praise confind the sound. 125 When the full organ joins the tuneful quire,
Th’immortal pow'rs incline their ear; Borne on the swelling notes our souls aspire, While solemn airs improve the sacred fire ;
And Angels lean from heav'n to hear. 130 Of Orpheus now no more let Poets tell,
To bright Cecilia greater pow'r is giv'n; His numbers rais'd a shade from hell,
Her's lift the soul to heav'n.
Ver. 131. It is observable that this ode, as well as that of Dryden, concludes with an epigram of four lines ; a species of witty writing as flagrantly unsuitable to the dignity, and as foreign to the nature of the lyric, as it is of the epic muse.
Mr. St. John, afterwards Lord Bolingbroke, happening to pay a morning visit to Dryden, whom he always respected, found him in an unusual agitation of spirits, even to a trembling. On inquiring the cause, “I have been up all night (replied the old bard), my musical friends made me promise to write them an ode for their feast of St. Cecilia : I have been so struck with the subject which occurred to me, that I could not leave it till I had completed it: here it is, finished at one sitting.” And immediately he showed him this Ode; which places the British lyric poetry above that of any other nation. This anecdote, as true as it is curious, was imparted by Lord Boling broke to Pope, by Pope to Mr. Gilbert West, by him to my ingenious friend Mr. Berenger, who communicated it to me. The rapidity, and yet the perspicuity of the thoughts, the glow and the expressiveness of the images, those certain marks of the first sketch of a master, conspire to corroborate the fact. It is not to be understood, that this piece was not afterwards reconsidered, retouched, and corrected. Warton.
Ye shades, where sacred truth is sought;
Oh heav'n-born sisters! source of art!
* Altered from Shakespear by the Duke of Buckingham, at whose desire these two Choruses were composed, to supply as many wanting in his play. They were set many years afterward, by the famous Bononcini, and performed at Buckingham-house. P.
Ver. 3. Where heav'nly visions Plato fird, And Epicurus lay inspir'd!] The propriety of these lines arises from hence, that Brutus, one of the Heroes of this play, was of the old Academy; and Cassius, the other, was an Epicurean.
Warburton. I cannot be persuaded that Pope thought of Brutus and Cassius, as being followers of different sects of philosophy. Warton.
Merzi Trisse Sug!
Poruke, irezis, brefs!
And Athens rising near the pole!
Ver. 12. Moral Truth and mystic Song !) The construction is dubious. Does the poet address Moral Truth and Mystic Song, as being the Heaven-born Sisters ; or does he address himself to the Musca, mentioned in the preceding line, and so make Moral Truth and Mystic Song to be a part of Virtue's train ? as Hesiod beying his poem.
Dr. Warburton's proposed correction is not consistent with cither construction, when he says, the poet had expressed himself better had he said Moral Truth in Mystic Song. Moral Truth, a single person, can neither be the Heaven-born Sisters, nor yet, alone, the train of Virtue. If it could, the emendation might have been spared, because this is no uncommon figure in poetry.
Warton. Ver. 26. Freedom and Arts] A sentiment worthy of Alcæus !
Fools grant whate'er Ambition craves,
In ev'ry age, in ev'ry state !
Throughout all his works our author constantly shews himself a true lover of true liberty.
Warton. Ver. 32. Some Athens)
-When brutal force
Pleasures of Imagination, B. ii. This ode is of the kind which M. D'Alembert, judging like a mathematician, prefers to odes that abound with imagery and figures, namely, what he calls the Didactic ode; and then proceeds to give reasons for preferring Horace to Pindar, as a lyric poet. Marmontel in his Poetics opposes him,