Love and Music. Written at Oxford, When Young

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Shall Love alone for ever claim
An universal right to fame,
An undisputed sway?
Or has not Music equal charms,
To fill the breast with strange alarms,
And make the world obey?

The Thracian bard, as poets tell,
Could mitigate the powers of hell,
Even Pluto's nicer ear:
His arts, no more than Love's, we find
To deities or men confined,
Drew brutes in crowds to hear.

Whatever favourite passion reign'd,
The poet still his right maintain'd
O'er all that ranged the plain:
The fiercer tyrants could assuage,
Or fire the timorous into rage,
Whene'er he changed the strain.

In milder lays the bard began;
Soft notes through every finger ran,
And echoing charm'd the place:
See! fawning lions gaze around,
And, taught to quit their savage sound,
Assume a gentler grace.

When Cymon view'd the fair one's charms,
Her ruby lips, and snowy arms,
And told her beauties o'er:
When Love reform'd his awkward tone,
And made each clownish gesture known,
It show'd but equal power.

The bard now tries a sprightlier sound,
When all the feather'd race around
Perceived the varied strains;
The soaring lark the note pursues;
The timorous dove around him coos,
And Philomel complains.

An equal power of Love I've seen,
Incite the deer to scour the green,
And chase his barking foe.
Sometimes has Love, with greater might,
To challenge-nay-sometimes-to fight,
Provoked the enamour'd beau.

When Silvia treads the smiling plain,
How glows the heart of every swain,
By pleasing tumults tost!
When Handel's solemn accents roll,
Each breast is fired, each raptured soul
In sweet confusion lost.

If she her melting glances dart,
Or he his dying airs impart,
Our spirits sink away.
Enough, enough! dear nymph, give o'er;
And thou, great artist! urge no more
Thy unresisted sway.

Thus Love or Sound affects the mind:
But when their various powers are join'd,
Fly, daring mortal, fly!
For when Selinda's charms appear,
And I her tuneful accents hear-
I burn, I faint, I die!

© William Shenstone