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John Dryden (1631–1700).  The Poems of John Dryden.  1913.
 
Songs, Odes, and Lyrical Pieces
Alexander’s Feast;
Or, The Power of Musique.
An Ode in honour of St. Cecilia’s Day: 1697
 
I
’TWAS 1 at the Royal Feast, for Persia won,
        By Philip’s Warlike Son:
      Aloft in awful State
      The God-like Heroe sate
        On his Imperial Throne;        5
  His valiant Peers were plac’d around;
Their Brows with Roses and with Myrtles bound.
  (So should Desert in Arms be Crown’d:)
The lovely Thais by his side,
Sate like a blooming Eastern Bride        10
In Flow’r of Youth and Beauty’s Pride.
    Happy, happy, happy Pair!
        None but the Brave,
        None but the Brave,
  None but the Brave deserves the Fair.        15
 
CHORUS.
        Happy, happy, happy Pair!
          None but the Brave,
          None but the Brave,
      None but the Brave deserves the Fair.
 
II
      Timotheus plac’d on high
        20
        Amid the tuneful Quire,
    With flying Fingers touch’d the Lyre:
      The trembling Notes ascend the Sky,
        And Heav’nly Joys inspire.
    The Song began from Jove;        25
    Who left his blissful Seats above,
    (Such is the Pow’r of mighty Love.)
    A Dragon’s fiery Form bely’d the God:
    Sublime on Radiant Spires 2 He rode,
    When He to fair Olympia press’d:        30
    And while He sought her snowy Breast:
  Then, round her slender Waist he curl’d,
And stamp’d an Image of himself, a Sov’-raign of the World.
  The list’ning crowd admire the lofty Sound,
  A present Deity, they shout around:        35
  A present Deity, the vaulted Roofs rebound.
          With ravish’d Ears
          The Monarch hears,
          Assumes the God,
          Affects to nod,        40
      And seems to shake the Spheres.
 
CHORUS.
            With ravish’d Ears
            The Monarch hears,
            Assumes the God,
            Affects to nod,        45
        And seems to shake the Spheres.
 
III.
The Praise of Bacchus then the sweet Musician sung,
  Of Bacchus ever Fair, and ever Young:
    The jolly God in Triumph comes;
    Sound the Trumpets; beat the Drums;        50
      Flush’d with a purple Grace
      He shows his honest Face:
Now give the Hautboys breath; He comes, He comes.
    Bacchus ever Fair and Young
      Drinking Joys did first ordain;        55
    Bacchus Blessings are a Treasure;
    Drinking is the Soldiers Pleasure;
        Rich the Treasure;
        Sweet the Pleasure;
      Sweet is Pleasure after Pain.        60
 
CHORUS.
      Bacchus Blessings are a Treasure,
      Drinking is the Soldier’s Pleasure;
          Rich the Treasure,
          Sweet the Pleasure,
        Sweet is Pleasure after Pain.        65
 
IV.
  Sooth’d with the Sound the King grew vain;
      Fought all his Battails o’er again;
And thrice He routed all his Foes, and thrice he slew the slain.
  The Master saw the Madness rise,
  His glowing Cheeks, his ardent Eyes;        70
  And while He Heav’n and Earth defy’d,
  Chang’d his Hand, and check’d his Pride.
      He chose a Mournful Muse,
      Soft Pity to infuse;
    He sung Darius Great and Good,        75
      By too severe a Fate,
    Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
      Fallen from his high Estate,
    And weltring in his Blood:
    Deserted at his utmost Need        80
    By those his former Bounty fed;
    On the bare Earth expos’d He lies,
    With not a Friend to close his Eyes.
With down-cast Looks the joyless Victor sate,
      Revolving in his alter’d Soul        85
        The various Turns of Chance below;
      And, now and then, a Sigh he stole,
        And Tears began to flow.
 
CHORUS.
    Revolving in his alter’d Soul
      The various Turns of Chance below;        90
    And, now and then, a Sigh he stole,
      And Tears began to flow.
 
V.
  The Mighty Master smil’d to see
  That Love was in the next Degree;
  ’Twas but a Kindred-Sound to move,        95
  For Pity melts the Mind to Love.
    Softly sweet, in Lydian Measures,
    Soon he sooth’d his Soul to Pleasures.
  War, he sung, is Toil and Trouble;
  Honour but an empty Bubble.        100
    Never ending, still beginning,
  Fighting still, and still destroying,
    If the World be worth thy Winning,
  Think, O think, it worth Enjoying.
    Lovely Thais sits beside thee,        105
    Take the Good the Gods provide thee.
The Many rend the Skies, with loud applause;
So Love was Crown’d, but Musique won the Cause.
  The Prince, unable to conceal his Pain,
        Gaz’d on the Fair        110
        Who caus’d his Care,
  And sigh’d and look’d, sigh’d and look’d,
  Sigh’d and look’d, and sigh’d again:
At length, with Love and Wine at once oppress’d,
The vanquish’d Victor sunk upon her Breast.        115
 
CHORUS.
  The Prince, unable to conceal his Pain,
        Gaz’d on the fair
        Who caus’d his Care,
    And sigh’d and look’d, sigh’d and look’d,
    Sigh’d and look’d, and sigh’d again;        120
At length, with Love and Wine at once oppress’d,
The vanquish’d Victor sunk upon her Breast.
 
VI.
  Now strike the Golden Lyre again;
  A lowder yet, and yet a lowder Strain.
  Break his Bands of Sleep asunder,        125
  And rouze him, like a rattling Peal of Thunder.
      Hark, hark, the horrid Sound
        Has rais’d up his Head;
        As awak’d from the Dead,
      And amaz’d, he stares around.        130
    Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries,
      See the Furies arise!
      See the Snakes that they rear,
      How they hiss in their Hair,
    And the Sparkles that flash from their Eyes!        135
      Behold a ghastly Band,
      Each a Torch in his Hand!
Those are Grecian Ghosts, that in Battail were slain,
          And unbury’d remain
          Inglorious on the Plain:        140
          Give the Vengeance due
          To the Valiant Crew.
Behold how they toss their Torches on high,
    How they point to the Persian Abodes,
And glitt’ring Temples of their Hostile Gods.        145
The Princes applaud with a furious Joy;
And the King seized a Flambeau with Zeal to destroy;
      Thais led the Way,
      To light him to his Prey,
And, like another Hellen, fir’d another Troy.        150
 
CHORUS.
And the King seiz’d a Flambeau with Zeal to destroy;
      Thais led the Way,
      To light him to his Prey,
And, like another Hellen, fir’d another Troy.
 
VII.
          Thus long ago,
        155
  ’Ere heaving Bellows learn’d to blow,
      While Organs yet were mute,
      Timotheus, to his breathing Flute
          And sounding Lyre,
Cou’d swell the Soul to rage, or kindle soft Desire.        160
  At last Divine Cecilia came,
  Inventress of the Vocal Frame;
The sweet Enthusiast, from her Sacred Store,
  Enlarg’d the former narrow Bounds,
  And added Length to solemn Sounds,        165
With Nature’s Mother-Wit, and Arts unknown before.
  Let old Timotheus yield the Prize,
    Or both divide the Crown:
  He rais’d a Mortal to the Skies;
    She drew an Angel down.        170
 
GRAND CHORUS.
  At last Divine Cecilia came,
  Inventress of the Vocal Frame;
The sweet Enthusiast, from her Sacred Store,
  Enlarg’d the former narrow Bounds,
  And added Length to solemn Sounds,        175
With Nature’s Mother-Wit, and Arts unknown before.
  Let old Timotheus yield the Prize,
    Or both divide the Crown:
  He rais’d a Mortal to the Skies;
    She drew an Angel down.        180
 
Note 1. Text from the edition of 1700. [back]
Note 2. Spires] Scott wrongly gives Spheres. [back]
 
 
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