ODE

ON LYRIC POETRY.

BY DR. AKENSIDE.

Once more I join the Thespian quire,
And taste th' inspiring fount again:
O parent of the Gręcian lyre,
Admit me to thy secret strain.——
And lo! with ease my step invades
The pathless vale and opening shades,
Till now I spy her verdant seat;
And now at large I drink the sound,
While these her offspring, list'ning round,
By turns her melody repeat.
I see anacreon smile and sing:
His silver tresses breathe perfume;
His cheek displays a second spring
Of roses taught by wine to bloom.
Away, deceitful cares, away!
And let me listen to his lay!
 While flow'ry dreams my soul employ;
While turtle-wing'd the laughing hours
Lead hand in hand the festal pow'rs,
Lead Youth and Love, and harmless Joy.
Broke from the fetters of his native land,
Devoting shame and vengeance to her lords,
With louder impulse, and a threat'ning hand,
The Lesbian patriot smites the sounding chords:
Ye wretches, ye perfidious train,
Ye curst of Gods and free-born men,
Ye murd'rers of the laws,
Tho' now you glory in your lust,
Tho' now you tread the feeble neck in dust,
Yet time and righteous jove will judge your dreadful cause.
But lo, to sappho's mournful airs
Descends the radiant queen of love;
She smiles, and asks what fonder cares
Her suppliant's plaintive measures move:
Why is my faithful maid distrest?
Who, sappho, wounds thy tender breast?
 Say, flies he?——Soon he shall pursue:
Shuns he thy gifts?——He too shall give:
Slights he thy sorrows?——He shall grieve,
And bend him to thy haughtiest vow.
But, O melpomene, for whom
Awakes thy golden shell again?
What mortal breath shall e'er presume
To echo that unbounded strain?
Majestic, in the frown of years,
Behold, the Man of Thebes appears:
For some there are, whose mighty frame
The hand of jove at birth endow'd
With hopes that mock the gazing crowd;
As eagles drink the noontide flame.
While the dim raven beats his weary wings,
And clamours far below.——Propitious Muse,
While I so late unlock thy hallow'd springs,
And breathe whate'er thy ancient airs infuse,
To polish Albion's warlike ear
This long-lost melody to hear,
Thy sweetest arts imploy;
As when the winds from shore to shore,
Thro' Greece thy lyre's persuasive language bore,
Till towns, and isles, and seas return'd the vocal joy.
 But oft amid the Gręcian throng,
The loose-rob'd forms of wild desire
With lawless notes intun'd thy song,
To shameful steps dissolv'd thy quire.
O fair, O chaste, be still with me
From such profaner discord free:
While I frequent thy tuneful shade,
No frantic shouts of Thracian dames,
No satyrs fierce with savage flames
Thy pleasing accents shall invade.
Queen of the lyre, in thy retreat
The fairest flow'rs of Pindus glow;
The vine aspires to crown thy seat,
And myrtles round thy laurel grow.
Thy strings attune their varied strain,
To ev'ry pleasure, every pain,
Which mortal tribes were born to prove,
And strait our passions rise or fall,
As at the wind's imperious call
The ocean swells, the billows move.
When midnight listens o'er the slumb'ring earth,
Let me, O Muse, thy solemn whispers hear:
When morning sends her fragrant breezes forth,
With airy murmurs touch my op'ning ear.
And ever watchful at thy side,
Let wisdom's awful suffrage guide
 The tenour of thy lay:
To her of old by jove was giv'n
To judge the various deeds of earth and heav'n;
'Twas thine by gentle arts to win us to her sway.
Oft as from stricter hours resign'd
I quit the maze where science toils,
Do thou refresh my yielding mind
With all thy gay, delusive spoils.
But, O indulgent, come not nigh
The busy steps, the jealous eye
Of gainful care, and wealthy age,
Whose barren souls thy joys disdain,
And hold as foes to reason's reign
Whome'er thy lovely haunts engage.
With me, when mirth's consenting band
Around fair friendship's genial board
Invite the heart-awakening hand,
With me salute the Teian chord.
Or if invok'd at softer hours,
O seek with me the happy bow'rs
That hear dione's gentle tongue;
To beauty link'd with virtue's train,
To love devoid of jealous pain,
There let the Sapphic lute be strung.
 But when from envy and from death to claim
A hero bleeding for his native land;
Or when to nourish freedom's vestal flame,
I hear my genius utter his command,
Nor Theban voice, nor Lesbian lyre
From thee, O Muse, do I require,
While my prophetic mind,
Conscious of pow'rs she never knew,
Astonish'd grasps at things beyond her view,
Nor by another's fate hath felt her own confin'd.