Music’s Empire by Andrew Marvell
First was the world as one great cymbal made,
Where jarring winds to infant Nature played.
All music was a solitary sound,
To hollow rocks and murm’ring fountains bound.
Jubal first made the wilder notes agree;
And Jubal tuned music’s Jubilee;
He call’d the echoes from their sullen cell,
And built the organ’s city where they dwell.
Each sought a consort in that lovely place,
And virgin trebles wed the manly bass.
From whence the progeny of numbers new
Into harmonious colonies withdrew.
Some to the lute, some to the viol went,
And others chose the cornet eloquent,
These practicing the wind, and those the wire,
To sing men’s triumphs, or in Heaven’s choir.
Then music, the mosaic of the air,
Did of all these a solemn noise prepare;
With which she gain’d the empire of the ear,
Including all between the earth and sphere.
Victorious sounds! yet here your homage do
Unto a gentler conqueror than you;
Who though he flies the music of his praise,
Would with you Heaven’s Hallelujahs raise.
Music by Walter De Le Mare
- When music sounds, gone is the earth I know,
- And all her lovely things even lovelier grow;
- Her flowers in vision flame, her forest trees
- Lift burdened branches, stilled with ecstasies.
- When music sounds, out of the water rise
- Naiads whose beauty dims my waking eyes,
- Rapt in strange dreams burns each enchanted face,
- With solemn echoing stirs their dwelling-place.
- When music sounds, all that I was I am
- Ere to this haunt of brooding dust I came;
- And from Time’s woods break into distant song
- The swift-winged hours, as I hasten along.
Music by Stephen Vincent Benet
- My friend went to the piano; spun the stool
- A little higher; left his pipe to cool;
- Picked up a fat green volume from the chest;
- And propped it open.
- Whitely without rest,
- His fingers swept the keys that flashed like swords,
- . . . And to the brute drums of barbarian hordes,
- Roaring and thunderous and weapon-bare,
- An army stormed the bastions of the air!
- Dreadful with banners, fire to slay and parch,
- Marching together as the lightnings march,
- And swift as storm-clouds. Brazen helms and cars
- Clanged to a fierce resurgence of old wars
- Above the screaming horns. In state they passed,
- Trampling and splendid on and sought the vast —
- Rending the darkness like a leaping knife,
- The flame, the noble pageant of our life!
- The burning seal that stamps man’s high indenture
- To vain attempt and most forlorn adventure;
- Romance, and purple seas, and toppling towns,
- And the wind’s valiance crying o’er the downs;
- That nerves the silly hand, the feeble brain,
- From the loose net of words to deeds again
- And to all courage! Perilous and sharp
- The last chord shook me as wind shakes a harp!
- . . . And my friend swung round on his stool, and from gods we were men,
- “How pretty!” we said; and went on with our talk again.
Music: An Ode by Algernon Charles Swinburne
WAS it light that spake from the darkness,
or music that shone from the word,
When the night was enkindled with sound
of the sun or the first-born bird?
Souls enthralled and entrammelled in bondage
of seasons that fall and rise,
Bound fast round with the fetters of flesh,
and blinded with light that dies,
Lived not surely till music spake,
and the spirit of life was heard.
Music, sister of sunrise, and herald of life to be,
Smiled as dawn on the spirit of man,
and the thrall was free.
Slave of nature and serf of time,
the bondman of life and death,
Dumb with passionless patience that breathed
but forlorn and reluctant breath,
Heard, beheld, and his soul made answer,
and communed aloud with the sea.
Morning spake, and he heard:
and the passionate silent noon
Kept for him not silence:
and soft from the mounting moon
Fell the sound of her splendour,
heard as dawn’s in the breathless night,
Not of men but of birds whose note
bade man’s soul quicken and leap to light:
And the song of it spake, and the light and the darkness
of earth were as chords in tune.
Music in the Night by Harriet Prescott Spofford
WHEN stars pursue their solemn flight,
Oft in the middle of the night,
A strain of music visits me,
Hushed in a moment silverly,–
Such rich and rapturous strains as make
The very soul of silence ache
With longing for the melody;
Or lovers in the distant dusk
Of summer gardens, sweet as musk,
Pouring the blissful burden out,
The breaking joy, the dying doubt;
Or revellers, all flown with wine,
And in a madness half divine,
Beating the broken tune about;
Or else the rude and rolling notes
That leave some strolling sailors’ throats,
Hoarse with the salt sprays, it may be,
Of many a mile of rushing sea;
Or some high-minded dreamer strays
Late through the solitary ways,
Nor heeds the listening night, nor me.
Or how or whence those tones be heard,
Hearing, the slumbering soul is stirred,
As when a swiftly passing light
Startles the shadows into flight;
While one remembrance suddenly
Thrills through the melting melody,–
A strain of music in the night.
Out of the darkness burst the song,
Into the darkness moves along:
Only a chord of memory jars,
Only an old wound burns its scars,
As the wild sweetness of the strain
Smites the heart with passionate pain,
And vanishes among the stars.