« PreviousContinue »
Still on thy solemn steps attend:
With Justice, to herself severe,
Oh, gently on thy suppliant's head,
Dread Goddess, lay thy chast’ning hand! Not in thy Gorgon terrors clad,
Not circled with the vengeful band (As by the impious thou art seen) With thund'ring voice, and threatning mien,
With screaming Horror's funeral cry, Despair, and fell Disease, and ghastly Poverty:
Thy form benign, oh Goddess! wear,
Thy milder influence impart,
To soften, not to wound my heart.
Exact my own defects to scan,
THE PROGRESS OF POESY.
A PINDARIC ODE.
Φωγαντα συνετοίσιν' ές
PINDAR, Olymp. II.
[This highly-finished Ode describes the power and influence as well as
the progress of Poetry.]
I. 1. · AWAKE, Æolian lyre, awake (h), And give to rapture all thy trembling strings. From Helicon’s harmonious springs
A thousand rills their mazy progress take:
(h) Awałe, Æolian lyre, awake.
The subject and simile, as usual with Pindar, are here united. The various sources of poetry, which give life and lustre to all it touches, are here described; as well in its quiet majestic progress enriching every subject (otherwise dry and barren) with all the pomp of diction, and luxuriant harmony of numbers; as in its inore rapid and irresistible course, when swoln and hurried away by the conflict of tumultuous passions.
The laughing flowers, that round them blow,
And frantic Passions hear thy soft controul.
(i) Oh! Sovereign of the willing soul. Power of harmony to calm the turbulent passions of the soul. The thoughts are borrowed from the first Pythian of Pindar.
ak) Perching on the sceptred hand. This is a weak imitation of some beautiful lines in the same ode.
Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feather'd king
Now in circling troops they meet:
Glance their many-twinkling feet (m).
(1) Thee the voice, the dance obey. Power of harmony to produce all the graces of motion in the body. (m) Glance their many-twinkling feet. Μαρμαρυδας θηείτο ποδιων θαύμαζε δε θυμώ.
Slow melting strains their Queen's approach de
clare : Where'er she turns the Graces homage pay . With arms sublime, that float upon the air,
In gliding state she wins her easy way: O'er her warm cheek, and rising bosom, move The bloom of young Desire and purple light of
 Slow melting strains their Queen's approach declare. This, and the five flowing lines which follow, are (as Mr. Mason observes) sweetly introduced by the short and unequal measures that precede them: the whole stanza is indeed a master-piece of rhythm, and charms the ear by its well-varied cadence, as much as the imagery which it contains ravishes the fancy. “There is" (says Mr. Gray, in one of his manuscript papers) “ a tout ensemble of sound, as well as of “ sense, in poetical composition always necessary to its perfection. “ What is gone before still dwells upon the ear, and insensibly harmo“ nizes with the present line, as in that succession of fleeting notes " which is called Melody.” Nothing can better exemplify the truth of this fine observation than his own poetry.
This line seems to have been imitated from Dryden's Fable of the Flower and the Leaf:
“ For wheresoe'er she turnd her face they bow'd.”
Δάμπει δ' επί πορφυρέησι
'Phrynicus apud Athenæum.