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Stedman and Hutchinson, comps. A Library of American Literature:
An Anthology in Eleven Volumes. 1891.
Vols. IX–XI: Literature of the Republic, Part IV., 1861–1889

On a Lady, Singing

By Anonymous

[The Boston “Weekly Rehearsal.” 1731.]

WHILST Celia sings, let no intruding breath

Deform the air; ye winds, grow calm as death.

On silken wings, ye whispering zephyrs fly,

And in soft murmurs steal along the sky,

Soft as the murmurs of a virgin’s sigh.

Close in the deep recesses of my breast,

Those deep recesses, where she reigns confest,

Let every traitor passion lie confined;

Let Love himself seem banished from my mind.

Let every sigh be hushed; for should my sighs

Burst forth, and in rebellious murmurs rise,

My sighs with noise the solemn scene would fill

And breathe a storm, though all the winds were still.

In vain, ye gales, your silken plumes display,

In silence rise, in silence melt away,

Soft as the voice, and gentle as the lay.

Strange power of harmony! whose silver sound

Can charm so sweetly, and so sweetly wound.

Transported with the notes, that pierce our ear,

Our raptured souls exulting spring to hear.

My raptured soul would soar with every strain,

But that thy eyes command it back again.

To raise our powers with heavenly notes is thine,

To bid our grosser parts to soul refine;

’Tis thine, fair Maid, with gentle warbling airs,

To soothe our passions, and beguile all cares.

All—but the cares of love; these still arise,

Heave in our breasts, and wanton in our eyes.

Assisted by thy breath, the flames aspire,

Glow with new rage, and blaze with double fire.

Thus darts in venom steeped with barbarous skill,

Wing certain fate, with two-fold anguish kill.

None but the Father of the gods, and you,

Could dart a flame so bright and killing too.

Swift as Jove’s lightning flies each fatal sound,

And, like Jove’s lightning, kills without a wound.

The muse invoked in elegiac strains,

Soft warbling, strings the lyre to ease our pains.

Flow soft, ye strains! and soothe her savage mind;

O learn to charm the nymph, who charms mankind.

In vain, alas! the muse and treacherous lyre

Torment our flames and face the raging fire;

Whilst you, like Echo, with so sweet a sound,

Repeat our strains.——Our strains increase the wound.

Think, then, thou Fairest of the fairer train!

What fatal beauties arm thy face and mien;

Whose very voice can lasting flame inspire,

We think ’tis air, but ah! we feel ’tis fire.