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Song For Saint Cecilia's Day, 1687

John Dryden

From Harmony, from heavenly Harmony
        This universal frame began:
    When nature underneath a heap
        Of jarring atoms lay
    And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
        Arise, ye more than dead!
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry
In order to their stations leap,
        And Music's power obey.
From Harmony, from heavenly harmony
        This universal frame began:
        From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
        When Jubal struck the chorded shell
    His listening brethren stood around,
        And, wondering, on their faces fell
    To worship that celestial sound.
Less than a god they thought there could not dwell
        Within the hollow of that shell
        That spoke so sweetly and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?

    The trumpet's loud clangour
        Excites us to arms,
  With shrill notes of anger
        And mortal alarms.
    The double double double beat
        Of the thundering drum
        Cries 'Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat!'

    The soft complaining flute
        In dying notes discovers
    The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute.

    Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depths of pains, and height of passion
    For the fair disdainful dame.

But oh! what art can teach,
What human voice can reach
    The sacred organ's praise?
Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their heavenly ways
    To mend the choirs above.

Orpheus could lead the savage race,
And trees unrooted left their place
    Sequacious of the lyre:
But bright Cecilia raised the wonder higher:
When to her Organ vocal breath was given
An angel heard, and straight appear'd—
    Mistaking Earth for Heaven.

Grand Chorus:
        
As from the power of sacred lays
    The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator's praise
    To all the blest above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
    This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
     The dead shall live, the living die,
     And music shall untune the sky.

Added: 6 Oct 2002 | Last Read: 25 Nov 2017 4:27 AM | Viewed: 7542 times

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URL: http://plagiarist.com/poetry/7184/ | Viewed on 25 November 2017.
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