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To be the theme of every hour
By one whose heart, though vain and wild,
All that may yet win smiles from thee: -
Of a lone, weary wanderer's heart;
Can give thee one faint gleam of joy,
Ev'n more than Love should dare to say, -
The business of my life shall be, For ever to remember thee.
And though that heart be dead to mine,
Of one whom Love had fail'd to warm,
I'll take it, wheresoe'er I stray,
GENIUS OF HARMONY
AN IRREGULAR ODE.
Ad harmoniam canere mundum.
THERE lies a shell beneath the waves,
In many a hollow winding wreath'd,
Echoed the breath that warbling sea-maids breath'd;
This magic shell,
From the white bosom of a syren fell,
1 In the "Histoire Naturelle des Antilles," there is an account of some curious shells, found at Curaçoa, on the back of which were lines, filled with musical characters so distinct and perfect, that the writer assures us a very charming trio was sung from one of them. "On le nomme musical, parcequ'il porte sur le dos des lignes noirâtres pleines de notes, qui ont une espèce de clé pour les mettre en chant, de sorte que l'on diroit qu'il ne manque que la lettre à cette tablature naturelle. Ce curieux gentilhomme (M. du Montel) rapporte qu'il en a vû qui avoient cinq lignes, une clé, et des notes, qui fermoient un accord parfait. Quelqu'un y avoit ajouté la lettre, que la nature avoit oubliée, et la faisoit chanter en forme de trio, dont l'air étoit fort agréable."— Chap. xix. art. 11. The author adds, a poet might imagine that these shells were used by the syrens at their concerts.
According to Cicero, and his commentator, Macrobius, the lunar tone is the gravest and faintest on the planetary heptachord. "Quam ob causam summus ille cœli stellifer cursus, cujus conversio est concitatior, acuto et excitato movetur sono; gravissimo autem hic lunaris atque infimus." -Soma. Scip. Because, says Macrobius, spiritu ut in extremitate languescente jam volvitur, et propter angustias quibus penultimus orbis arctatur impetu leniore convertitur." -In Somen. Scip. lib. ii. cap. 4. In their musical arrangement of the heavenly bodies, the ancient writers are not very intelligible. See Ptolem. lib. iii.
Leone Hebreo, in pursuing the idea of Aristotle, that the heavens are animal, attributes their harmony to perfect and reciprocal love. "Non pero manca fra loro il perfetto et reciproco amore: la causa principale, che ne mostra il loro
Upon its shining side the mystic notes Of those entrancing airs,
The genii of the deep were wont to swell, When heaven's eternal orbs their midnight music Oh! seek it, wheresoe'er it floats; [roll'd!
And, if the power
Of thrilling numbers to thy soul be dear,
That, through the circle of creation's zone,
Murmuring o'er beds of pearl;
From the rich sigh
Of the sun's arrow through an evening sky. 4
Thou'lt wondering own this universe divine
That I respire in all and all in me,
One mighty mingled soul of boundless harmony.
Welcome, welcome, mystic shell!
O'er the cold bosom of the ocean wept, 7
amore, è la lor amicitia armonica et la concordanza, che perpetuamente si trova in loro.". Dialog. ii. di Amore, p. 58. This "reciproco amore of Leone is the φιλότης of the ancient Empedocles, who seems, in his Love and Hate of the Elements, to have given a glimpse of the principles of attraction and repulsion. See the fragment to which I allude in Laertius, Aλλots μer QiλoTYTI, OUVERXQUEV', X. T. λ., lib. viii. cap. 2. n. 12.
3 Leucippus, the atomist, imagined a kind of vortices in the heavens, which he borrowed from Anaxagoras, and possibly suggested to Descartes.
4 Heraclides, upon the allegories of Homer, conjectures that the idea of the harmony of the spheres originated with this poet, who, in representing the solar beams as arrows, supposes them to emit a peculiar sound in the air.
5 In the account of Africa which D'Ablancourt has translated, there is mention of a tree in that country, whose branches when shaken by the hand produce very sweet sounds. "Le même auteur (Abenzégar) dit, qu'il y a un certain arbre, qui produit des gaules comme d'osier, et qu'en les prenant à la main et les branlant, elles font une espèce d'harmonie fort agréable," &c. &c. - L'Afrique de Marmol. 6 Alluding to the extinction, or at least the disappearance, of some of those fixed stars, which we are taught to consider as suns, attended each by its system. Descartes thought that our earth might formerly have been a sun, which became obscured by a thick incrustation over its surface. This probably suggested the idea of a central fire.
7 Porphyry says, that Pythagoras held the sea to be a tear, Την θαλατταν μεν εκαλει είναι δακρυον (De Vita); and some
Since thy aërial spell
Hath in the waters slept.
Now blest I'll fly
With the bright treasure to my choral sky,
The winged chariot of some blissful soul: 2
Oh son of earth, what dreams shall rise for thee!
Thou'lt see a streamlet ran,
Which I've imbued with breathing melody; 3 And there, when night-winds down the current die, Thou'lt hear how like a harp its waters sigh: A liquid chord is every wave that flows, An airy plectrum every breeze that blows.4
There, by that wondrous stream,
And I will send thee such a godlike dream,
Oh! think what visions, in that lonely hour, Stole o'er his musing breast;
What pious ecstasy 8
Wafted his prayer to that eternal Power, Whose seal upon this new-born world imprest9 The various forms of bright divinity!
Or, dost thou know what dreams I wove, 'Mid the deep horror of that silent bower, 10 Where the rapt Samian slept his holy slumber? When, free
From earthly chain,
From wreaths of pleasure and from bonds of pain,
His spirit flew through fields above, Drank at the source of nature's fontal number, "1 And saw, in mystic choir, around him move The stars of song, Heaven's burning minstrelsy! Such dreams, so heavenly bright, I swear
By the great diadem that twines my hair, And by the seven gems that sparkle there 12, Mingling their beams
In a soft iris of harmonious light,
Oh, mortal! such shall be thy radiant dreams.
one else, if I mistake not, has added the planet Saturn as the source of it. Empedocles, with similar affectation, called the sea" the sweat of the earth: " ¡dgwra тns yms. See Rittershusius upon Porphyry, Num. 41.
The system of the harmonized orbs was styled by the ancients the Great Lyre of Orpheus, for which Lucian thus accounts : — ἡ δὲ Λυρη έπταμιτος εούσα την των κινουμένων ασ τρων άρμονίαν συνεβάλλετο, κ. τ. λ. in Astrolog.
* Διπλό ψυχας ισαρίθμους τους αστροις, ένειμε 9' έκαστην Teos inασtov, xaι qubibaoas 'NE EI OXHMA-"Distributing the souls severally among the stars, and mounting each soul upon a star as on its chariot."- Plato, Timæus.
3 This musical river is mentioned in the romance of Achilles Tatius. Ετσι ποταμού ην δε ακούσαι θέλής του ὕδατος λαλουντος. The Latin version, in supplying the hiatus which is in the original, has placed the river in Hispania. "In Hispania quoque fluvius est, quem primo aspectu,"
6 They called his lyre αρχαιότροπον έπταχορδον Ορφέως. See a curious work by a professor of Greek at Venice, entitled "Hebdomades, sive septem de septenario libri."- Lib. iv. cap. 3. p. 177.
7 Eratosthenes, in mentioning the extreme veneration of Orpheus for Apollo, says that he was accustomed to go to the Pangæan mountain at day-break, and there wait the rising of the sun, that he might be the first to hail its beams. Eriyuξόμενος τε της νυκτος, κατα την έωθινην επί το όρος το καλούμενον Παγγαιών, προσεμενε τας ανατολας, ίνα ίδη τον "Ηλιον πρωτον. — Καταστερισμό. 24.
8 There are some verses of Orpheus preserved to us, which contain sublime ideas of the unity and magnificence of the Deity. For instance, those which Justin Martyr has produced :
Οὗτος μεν χαλκείον ἐς ουρανόν εστήρικται
Χρυσείων και θρόνου, κ. τ. λ. Ad Græc. Cohortat.
It is thought by some, that these are to be reckoned amongst the fabrications, which were frequent in the early times of Christianity. Still, it appears doubtful to whom they are to be attributed, being too pious for the Pagans, and too poetical for the Fathers.
9 In one of the Hymns of Orpheus, he attributes a figured seal to Apollo, with which he imagines that deity to have stamped a variety of forms upon the universe.
10 Alluding to the cave near Samos, where Pythagoras devoted the greater part of his days and nights to meditation and the mysteries of his philosophy. Iamblich. de Vit. This, as Holstenius remarks, was in imitation of the Magi.
11 The tetractys, or sacred number of the Pythagoreans, on which they solemnly swore, and which they called rayar arvaeu quotas, "the fountain of perennial nature." Lucian has ridiculed this religious arithmetic very cleverly in his Sale of Philosophers.
12 This diadem is intended to represent the analogy between the notes of music and the prismatic colours. We find in Plutarch a vague intimation of this kindred harmony in colours and sounds. —O4 To zaι axon, μITH COINS Ti si φωτος την αρμονιαν επιφαίνουσι. - De Musica,
Cassiodorus, whose idea I may be supposed to have borrowed, says, in a letter upon music to Boetius, “Ut diadema oculis, varia luce gemmarum, sic cythara diversitate soni, blanditur auditui." This is indeed the only tolerable thought in the letter. Lib. ii. Variar.
1 See the Story in Apuleius. With respect to this beautiful allegory of Love and Psyche, there is an ingenious idea suggested by the senator Buonarotti, in his "Osservazioni Bopra alcuni frammenti di vasi antichi." He thinks the fable is taken from some very occult mysteries, which had long been celebrated in honour of Love; and accounts, upon this supposition, for the silence of the more ancient authors upon the subject, as it was not till towards the decline of pagan superstition, that writers could venture to reveal or discuss such ceremonies. Accordingly, observes this author, we find Lucian and Plutarch treating, without reserve, of the Dea Syria, as well as of Isis and Osiris; and Apuleius, to whom we are indebted for the beautiful story of Cupid and Psyche, has also detailed some of the mysteries of Isis. See the Giornale di Litterati d'Italia, tom. xxvii. articol. 1. See also the observ
ations upon the ancient gems in the Museum Florentinum, vol. i. p. 156.
I cannot avoid remarking here an error into which the French Encyclopédistes have been led by M. Spon, in their article Psyche. They say " Pétrone fait un récit de la pompe nuptiale de ces deux amans (Amour et Psyche). Déjà, dit-il," &c. &c. The Psyche of Petronius, however, is a servant-maid, and the marriage which he describes is that of the young Pannychis. See Spon's Recherches curieuses, &c. Dissertat. 5.
2 Allusions to Mrs. Tighe's Poem.
4 By this image the Platonists expressed the middle state of the soul between sensible and intellectual existence.