John Dryden

(1631 - 1700 / England)

A Song For St. Cecilia's Day - Poem by John Dryden

FROM harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
When nature underneath a heap
Of jarring atoms lay,
And could not heave her head,
The tuneful voice was heard from high,
'Arise, ye more than dead!'
Then cold, and hot, and moist, and dry,
In order to their stations leap,
And Music's power obey.
From harmony, from heavenly harmony,
This universal frame began:
From harmony to harmony
Through all the compass of the notes it ran,
The diapason closing full in Man.

What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
When Jubal struck the chorded shell,
His listening brethren stood around,
And, wondering, on their faces fell
To worship that celestial sound:
Less than a God they thought there could not dwell
Within the hollow of that shell,
That spoke so sweetly, and so well.
What passion cannot Music raise and quell?

The trumpet's loud clangour
Excites us to arms,
With shrill notes of anger,
And mortal alarms.
The double double double beat
Of the thundering drum
Cries Hark! the foes come;
Charge, charge, 'tis too late to retreat!

The soft complaining flute,
In dying notes, discovers
The woes of hopeless lovers,
Whose dirge is whisper'd by the warbling lute.

Sharp violins proclaim
Their jealous pangs and desperation,
Fury, frantic indignation,
Depth of pains, and height of passion,
For the fair, disdainful dame.

But O, what art can teach,
What human voice can reach,
The sacred organ's praise?
Notes inspiring holy love,
Notes that wing their heavenly ways
To mend the choirs above.

Orpheus could lead the savage race;
And trees unrooted left their place,
Sequacious of the lyre;
But bright Cecilia rais'd the wonder higher:
When to her organ vocal breath was given,
An angel heard, and straight appear'd
Mistaking Earth for Heaven.

GRAND CHORUS.

As from the power of sacred lays
The spheres began to move,
And sung the great Creator's praise
To all the Blest above;
So when the last and dreadful hour
This crumbling pageant shall devour,
The trumpet shall be heard on high,
The dead shall live, the living die,
And Music shall untune the sky!


Comments about A Song For St. Cecilia's Day by John Dryden

  • Geeta Radhakrishna Menon (3/24/2017 10:37:00 PM)


    The trumpet shall be heard on high,
    The dead shall live, the living die,
    And Music shall untune the sky!

    A musical poem with trumpets and Violins that shall echo in the mind for a long while.
    A heavenly harmony!
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  • (3/24/2017 9:22:00 PM)


    Ahead of its time I'd say, considering the Plague. Lots of great words: sequacious, warbling, diapason. (Report) Reply

  • John S (3/24/2017 7:51:00 PM)


    amazing poem; great mixture of mythology, religious texts, music, and poetic devices. The creation of the universe began with the aide of beautiful, musical harmony. In ancient Jewish mythology, Jubal invented a lyre (harp) with string stretch across a tortoise shell. ((What passion cannot Music raise and quell?
    When Jubal struck the chorded shell)) I love the way great poets place their words so magnificently. Instead of saying ((Music can always raise and quell passion, he phrases it ((What passion cannot music raise and quell)) ...
    the personification: Trumpets ((shrill notes of anger)) , the Flutes ((dying notes)) speaks of ((hopeless lovers woe)) , ((Sharp violins proclaim Their jealous pangs and desperation, Fury, frantic indignation,))
    In the end, the Biblical Apocalypse will be ushered in with the bellicose trumpet which shall ((untune the sky))

    Please read and review my latest poem, Nighttime Reveries and Reflections, there is original artwork accompanying it.
    (Report) Reply

  • Dr.subhendu Kar (3/24/2017 4:07:00 PM)


    thanks for allowing us to read such a wonderful poem (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (3/24/2017 4:38:00 AM)


    a very harmonious poem of the beginnings of life on earth and then it goes on to tell us what will happen at life's close? (Report) Reply

  • Bernard F. Asuncion (3/24/2017 2:52:00 AM)


    Heavenly ways.... thanks for posting.... (Report) Reply

  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/24/2017 1:57:00 AM)


    Harmony! ! Thanks for sharing this poem with us. (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (3/24/2017 1:01:00 AM)


    A poem of musicality that resonates in nature. (Report) Reply

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Read poems about / on: music, passion, power, anger, angel, nature, heaven, sky, song, god, running, tree



Poem Submitted: Thursday, January 1, 2004



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