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ALEXANDER'S FEAST, OR, THE POWER OF MUSIC
"T WAS at the royal feast for Persia won
By Philip's warlike son
His valiant peers were placed 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
None but the brave
None but the brave
None but the brave deserves the fair!
Timotheus placed on high
Amid the tuneful quire
With flying fingers touch'd the lyre:
-The listening crowd admire the lofty sound;
A present deity! the vaulted roofs rebound:
And stamp'd an image of himself, a sovereign of the world.
Affects to nod
And seems to shake the spheres.
The praise of Bacchus then the sweet musician sung,
Of Bacchus ever fair and ever young:
Sound the trumpets, beat the drums!
Now give the hautboys breath; he comes, he comes!
Sweet the pleasure,
Sweet is pleasure after pain.
The master saw the madness rise,
Soothed with the sound, the king grew vain:
Fought all his battles o'er again,
And thrice he routed all his foes, and thrice he slew
Soft pity to infuse :
He sung Darius great and good,
Fallen, fallen, fallen, fallen,
With downcast looks the joyless victor sate, Revolving in his alter'd soul
The various turns of Chance below;
The mighty master smiled to see
Who caused his care,
And sigh'd and look'd, sigh'd and look'd,
Now strike the golden lyre again:
And rouse him like a rattling peal of thunder.
Has raised up his head:
As awaked from the dead
And amazed he stares around.
Revenge, revenge, Timotheus cries,
See the Furies arise!
See the snakes that they rear
Take the good the gods provide thee!
Gazed on the fair
And the sparkles that flash from their eyes!
Behold a ghastly band,
Each a torch in his hand!
Those are Grecian ghosts, that in battle were slain
Behold how they toss their torches on high,
And glittering temples of their hostile gods.
- 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 Helen, fired another Troy !
Thus, long ago,
Ere heaving bellows learn'd to blow,
Timotheus, to his breathing flute
And sounding lyre
Could swell the soul to rage, or kindle soft desire.
Inventress of the vocal frame;
The sweet enthusiast from her sacred store
And added length to solemn sounds,
Or both divide the crown;
He raised a mortal to the skies ;
With Nature's mother-wit, and arts unknown before. -Let old Timotheus yield the prize
A COMPARISON of the dates which mark the birth and death of Collins with those which mark the birth and death of Burns, shows that Collins lived only about a year longer than Burns. He wrote in that time much less than Burns; indeed, he has left behind him only about fifteen hundred lines of verse. And what he has written is scarcely known to that wide populace who sing the songs of the Scottish bard with such familiar ease. Collins is a favorite with the academic few; Burns is a favorite alike with those few and with the untutored many.
Collins, who was the son of a prominent hatter of Chichester, began to write very early. Indeed, one of his poems, which has been lost, is said to have been printed when the poet was a lad of eight. He wrote during his school days at Winchester and during his university years at Oxford. While still an undergraduate, only seventeen years old, he published his Persian Eclogues and his Epistle to Sir Thomas Hanmer. He grew restive at Oxford, abandoned his university career before obtaining his degree, and hurried to London to carry out some of the chimerical schemes which crowded his brain.
His experience in London disclosed his weakness. He was magnificently great in his conceptions; he was pitifully small in his executions. When the fame which he coveted did not come to him, he abandoned himself to reckless extravagance and dissipation, and soon found himself within the unhappy toils of debt and hopeless poverty.
But he did not yield to unconditional surrender. In 1746 he published his Odes, Descriptive and Allegorical, and upon these his title to fame mainly rests. He was original enough to get away from the enmeshing restrictions of an artificial poetical régime which Pope and the Classical School had perfected. He looked out upon nature and felt the thrill of a residing beauty. Straightway he