Ode for Music

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Ode for Music
by Thomas Gray

For a detailed, annotated version of this poem, visit The Thomas Gray Archive

<poem> Air

"Hence, avaunt, ('tis holy ground) Comus and his midnight-crew, And Ignorance with looks profound, And dreaming Sloth of pallid hue, Mad Sedition's cry profane, Servitude that hugs her chain, Nor in these consecrated bowers Let painted Flattery hide her serpent-train in flowers.


"Nor Envy base nor creeping Gain Dare the Muse's walk to stain, While bright-eyed Science watches round: Hence, away, 'tis holy ground!"


From yonder realms of empyrean day Bursts on my ear the indignant lay: There sit the sainted sage, the bard divine, The few whom genius gave to shine Through every unborn age and undiscovered clime. Rapt in celestial transport they, (accomp.) Yet hither oft a glance from high They send of tender sympathy To bless the place, where on their opening soul First the genuine ardour stole. 'Twas Milton struck the deep-toned shell, And, as the choral warblings round him swell, Meek Newton's self bends from his state sublime, And nods his hoary head and listens to the rhyme.


"Ye brown o'er-arching groves, That Contemplation loves, Where willowy Camus lingers with delight! Oft at the blush of dawn I trod your level lawn, Oft wooed the gleam of Cynthia silver-bright In cloisters dim, far from the haunts of Folly, With Freedom by my side, and soft-eyed Melancholy."


But hark! the portals sound and, pacing forth With solemn steps and slow, High potentates and dames of royal birth And mitred fathers in long order go: Great Edward with the lilies on his brow From haughty Gallia torn, And sad Chatillon, on her bridal morn That wept her bleeding love, and princely Clare, And Anjou's heroine, and the paler rose, The rival of her crown and of her woes, And either Henry there, The murthered saint and the majestic lord, That broke the bonds of Rome, (Their tears, their little triumphs o'er, (accomp.) Their human passions now no more, Save charity, that glows beyond the tomb). All that on Granta's fruitful plain Rich streams of regal bounty poured, And bade these awful fanes and turrets rise, To hail their Fitzroy's festal morning come; And thus they speak in soft accord The liquid language of the skies.


"What is grandeur, what is power? Heavier toil, superior pain. What the bright reward we gain? The grateful memory of the good. Sweet is the breath of vernal shower, The bee's collected treasures sweet, Sweet music's melting fall, but sweeter yet The still small voice of gratitude."


Foremost and leaning from her golden cloud The venerable Margaret see! "Welcome, my noble son," (she cries aloud) "To this, thy kindred train, and me: Pleased in thy lineaments we trace A Tudor's fire, a Beaufort's grace.


"Thy liberal heart, thy judging eye, The flower unheeded shall descry, And bid it round heaven's altars shed The fragrance of its blushing head: Shall raise from earth the latent gem To glitter on the diadem.


"Lo, Granta waits to lead her blooming band, Not obvious, not obtrusive, she No vulgar praise, no venal incense flings; Nor dares with courtly tongue refined Profane thy inborn royalty of mind: She reveres herself and thee. With modest pride to grace thy youthful brow The laureate wreath, that Cecil wore, she brings, And to thy just, thy gentle hand Submits the fasces of her sway, While spirits blest above and men below Join with glad voice the loud symphonious lay.

Grand Chorus

"Through the wild waves as they roar With watchful eye and dauntless mien Thy steady course of honour keep, Nor fear the rocks nor seek the shore: The star of Brunswick smiles serene, And gilds the horrors of the deep."

FINIS <poem>

This work was published before January 1, 1928, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.