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derived the unity of rhythm, character, and expression, between the music and the poem that was sung.
Thus the poetry became naturally subservient to number and cadence, and thus each lyric poet invented not only the proper kind of verse, but also the Strophe analogous to the melody which he himself had created, and to which he composed it.
“ In this respect, the lyric poem, or ode, with the Latins and with modern nations, has been nothing more than a frivolous imitation of the lyric poem of the Greeks: they say, I sing, but never do sing; they speak of the chords of the lyre, but have never seen a lyre. No poet, since Horace inclusively, appears to have modelled his odes upon a melody. Horace adopting, by turns, the different formulæ of the Greek poets, seems so much to have forgotten that an ode ought to be sung, that he has often suspended the sense at the end of the strophe, where the air ought to repose, to the beginning of the next stanza."*
The Lyre of the Greeks was a stringed instrument, the invention of which they ascribed to the Gods. The first lyre is fabled to have been the shell of a tortoise, found by Mercury on the border of the Nile, and in which the sinews of the
animal had been dried by the sun and stretched into sounding strings. It was a species of harp; changing in its form and in the number of its strings, as the art of music advanced towards perfection. It is in allusion to this imaginary origin that the poets still sing of the sounding Shell; and the Swedish skal, a shell (which also denotes a sound) gave the name of Skalds to the poets of Scandinavia.
Music and Poetry were doubtless, in their origin, the same art among the nations of the North, as the Encyclopædist has asserted of the Greeks. The narrative part of the vocal effusions of the Bards formed a chant, or recitative, interrupted by frequent bursts of high enthusiasm, or of tender feelings, which called forth the united melody of the voice and the harp. These several excitements of enthusiasm and of tenderness are, now, the separated provinces of the Lyric Muse; and, indeed, they comprehend all that is worthy of cultivation in the Empire of Poetry.
The highest of the modern lyric compositions is the ODE. It is a Greek name which we usually translate by the word Song, but it was not a song as we use the term in our language. The Ode was the result of strong excitement,-a poetical attempt to fill the hearts of the auditors with feelings of the sublime. Those Odes that were sung in honour of the Gods, were termed HYMNS, from hymneio, I celebrate. They were the earliest of the Greek Odes; and the name has been retained to designate those pious poems that are sung in our churches. The Hebrew Hymns, said to have been written by King David, are termed Psalms from the Greek psallo, I sing.
The characteristic principle of the Greek Ode was enthusiasm. It was a poeto-musical composition, brought forward by the united powers of art and of genius. When complete it was composed of parts: the Strophe, the ANTISTROPHE and the EPODE. “The priests going round the altar singing the praises of the Gods, called their first entrance Strophe (strepho, I turn), turning to the left, that is, from east to west; the second, turning to the right, they called Antistrophe, q. d. returning :-these were dances. Lastly, standing still before the altar, they sung the remainder, which they called the Epode," or end of the song. The same nominal divisions are sometimes substituted in the Odes that have been manufactured in modern times, though these have no concern, either with altars, or with priests. The PÆANS were songs of triumph, sung in procession in honour of Apollo, on occasion of a victory, or of a deliverance from public calamity. Some suppose that paian was a denomination of Apollo, from paio, I heal, he being the God of medicine; but Pæans were also sung to other Deities: they were thanksgivings for the cessation (or cure) of an evil.
Were we not in possession of two or three successful efforts, we should pronounce the Pindaric Ode to be foreign to the genius of English poetry. The irregular Stanza is at variance with the very nature of rhyme, which shocks the ear when it returns unexpectedly at unmeasured distances. Regularity in the series of consonances is as requisite as accuracy in the rhymes themselves; and the termination of a line, which the reader cannot without effort refer to its correspondent sound, is an effectual check to the flow of thought. All sympathy with the poet is at an end :-the stanza becomes a riddle; and the mind is bewildered, in the comparison of sounds and the counting of syllables. That wild enthusiam which, perpetually aiming at the sublime, not only leaves reason behind, but even soars beyond the sphere of imagination, is incompatible with the restraints of English verse, and, if not contented with the unmeaning tones of the lyre, should hum its accompaniment in prose. Those who would imitate the flights of Pindar forget the nature of the Lyrics of antiquity.
They were inseparable, in the mind, from the rude notes of the orchestra, and the movements of the dance. The Ode of these latter times is subject to separate criticism as a poem; but its poetical beauties are strained and torn to pieces, when combined with the subdivided gamut of modern music. Poetry, Music, and the Dance formed, among the ancients, a triple union, in which the Poet was the Coryphæus of the choir. Now-a-days, the Poet is nothing; the Musician is every thing, and the Dancer is his Harlequin.
The patient spirit of the early Christians, combined with the acknowledged humility of their conceptions with respect to the nature of the Deity, rendered their Religion unfavourable to that fervour of imagination which is essential to the composition of the Ode. The Jewish Religion was different. During the whole period of their sacred history, they considered themselves as the peculiar favourites of heaven; and, being continually in a state of warfare with the neighbouring nations, or else in captivity, their poetry was often animated with the divine furor of their appeals to the God of Hosts,- either in prayers for his assistance, or in thanksgivings for deliverance from slavery. Political and religious enthusiasm are grand sources of the sublime. It is not from the common versions of the He