“Verses occasioned by the Description of the EOLIAN HARP”
Untaught o’er strings to draw the rosin’d bow,
Or melting strains on the soft flute to blow,
With others long I mourn’d the want of skill,
Resounding roofs with harmony to fill;
Till happy ! now the Eolian lyre is known, 5
And all the pow’rs of musick are my own.
Swell all thy notes, delightful harp , O swell!
Inflame thy poet to describe thee well,
When the full chorus rises with the breeze,
Or slowly sinking lessens by degrees, 10
To sounds more soft than am’rous gales disclose,
At evening panting on the blushing rose;
More sweet than all the notes that organs breathe,
Or tuneful echoes, when they die, bequeathe.
Oft where some sylvan temple decks the grove, 15
The slave of easy indolence I rove;
There the wing’d breeze the lifted sash pervades,
Each breath is musick, vocal all the shades;
Charm’d with the soothing sound at ease reclin’d,
To fancy’s pleasing pow’r I yield my mind: 20
And now enchanted scenes around me rise,
And some kind Ariel the soft air supplies:
Now lofty Pindus through the shades I view,
Where all the nine their tuneful art persue,
To me the sound the parting gale conveys, 25
And all my heart is extasy and praise:
Now to Arcadian plains at once convey’d,
Some shepherd’s pipe delights his fav’rite maid;
Mix’d with the murmurs of a neighb’ring stream,
I hear soft notes that suit an am’rous theme; 30
Ah! then a victim to the fond deceit,
My heart begins with fierce desires to beat;
To fancy’d sighs I real sighs return,
By turns I languish, and by turns I burn.
Ah Delia haste! and here attentive prove, 35
Like me that ‘music is the voice of love,’
So shall I mourn my rustic strains no more,
While pleas’d you listen who could frown before.
Hertfordshire, Nov. 15, 1754.
Author This poem is signed “R.S”; identified by Emily Lorraine de Montluzin as John Scott of Amwell (1731-1783), a Quaker poet who published a number of poems in the GM between 1753-1758 (“The Poetry of the Gentleman’s Magazine, 1731-1800”).
Title EOLIAN HARP “A stringed instrument producing musical sounds on exposure to a current of air” (OED). Named after Aeolus, the Greek god of wind. The “description” Scott is responding to appeared in the GM, vol. 24 (February 1754), p. 74.
15 sylvan Of the woods (OED).
23 Pindus Grecian mountain range that includes Mount Parnassus, home of the nine muses.
27 Arcadian Belonging to Arcadia; ideally rural or rustic (OED).
36 ‘music is the voice of love’ Quoted from James Thomson, Spring (1735), line 569.
SOURCE: The Gentleman’s Magazine, vol. 24 (November, 1754), p. 525. [Internet Archive]
Edited by Neil Donovan