Elegy II. Book III.

Orpheus, ’tis said, thy ancient lyre1
Could sooth the parched lion’s ire ;2
’Tis said that thy persuasive lays3
The listening waves would calm or raise.4
Amid the rocks the music crept,5
And from their stubborn base they lept6
And stood obedient to the call7
Around thy Thebes, a rocky wall.8
E’en Polypheme, thy song to hear9
Would Galatea bend her ear,10
And bridle her impatient steeds,11
To listen to thy plaintive reeds.—12
When wine and Phœbus aid the strain.13
Then, Cynthia, can I sing in vain ;14
Or is it such a wondrous thing15
That maids are melted when I sing ?16
No gold around my cornice gleams17
No marble walls—no cedar beams18
No orchard mine like forest wide19
No grot with silver rill beside.20
But with the muses I rehearse21
The gentle magic of my verse,22
And bright Calliope inspires23
The music of my trembling wires.24
The ponderous arm of Age shall thrust25
Their proudest honours in the dust ;26
Their boasted splendour shall expire,27
And blacken in remorseless fire.28
The name the poets’ lips can give,29
Amid the wreck alone shall live ;30
And all whereon they breathe, that breath31
Enfranchise, and redeem from death.32