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Hebrew Melodies. '
THE subsequent poems were written at the request of my friend, the Hon. Douglas Kinnaird, for a Selection of Hebrew Melodies 2, and have been published, with the music, arranged by Mr. Braham and Mr. Nathan.
SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY. 3 SHE walks in beauty, like the night
Of cloudless climes and starry skies; And all that's best of dark and bright Meet in her aspect and her eyes: Thus mellow'd to that tender light
Which heaven to gaudy day denies. One shade the more, one ray the less, Had half impair'd the nameless grace, Which waves in every raven tress,
Or softly lightens o'er her face; Where thoughts serenely sweet express, How pure, how dear their dwelling-place. And on that cheek, and o'er that brow, So soft, so calm, yet eloquent, The smiles that win, the tints that glow, But tell of days in goodness spent,
A mind at peace with all below,
A heart whose love is innocent!
THE HARP THE MONARCH MINSTREL SWEPT. 4
THE harp the monarch minstrel swept, The King of men, the loved of Heaven,
1 [Lord Byron never alludes to his share in these Melodies with complacency. Mr. Moore having, on one occasion, ralled him a little on the manner in which some of them had been set to music,-" Sunburn Nathan," he exclaims, "why do you always twit me with his Ebrew nasalities? Have I not told you it was all Kinnaird's doing, and my own exquisite facility of temper?"]
2 ["Neither the ancient Jews," says Dr. Burney, "nor the modern, have ever had characters peculiar to music; so that the melodies used in their religious ceremonies have, at all times, been traditional, and at the mercy of the singers." Kalkbrenner tells us, that "les Juifs Espagnols lisent et chantent leurs pseaumes bien differemment que les Juifs Hollandais, les Juifs Romains autrement que les Juifs de la Prusse et de la Hesse; et tous croient chanter comme on chantait dans le Temple de Jérusalem!"-Hist. de la Musique, tom. i. p. 34.]
3 [These stanzas were written by Lord Byron, on returning from a ball-room, where he had seen Irs. (now Lady) Wilmot Horton, the wife of his relation, the present Governor of Ceylon. On this occasion Mrs. Wilmot Horton had appeared in mourning, with numerous spangles on her dress.]
4["In the reign of King David, music was held in the highest estimation by the Hebrews. The genius of that prince for music, and his attachment to the study and practice of it, as well as the great number of musicians appointed by him for the performance of religious rites and ceremonies, could not fail to extend its influence and augment its perfections; for it was during this period, that music was first honoured by being
Which Music hallow'd while she wept
It gave them virtues not their own;
That felt not, fired not to the tone,
Till David's lyre grew mightier than his throne !
It told the triumphs of our King,
It wafted glory to our God;
It made our gladden'd valleys ring,
The cedars bow, the mountains nod;
Its sound aspired to Heaven and there abode !5 Since then, though heard on earth no more, Devotion and her daughter Love, Still bid the bursting spirit soar
To sounds that seem as from above,
In dreams that day's broad light can not remove.
IF THAT HIGH WORLD.
IF that high world, which lies beyond Our own, surviving Love endears; If there the cherish'd heart be fond,
The eye the same, except in tearsHow welcome those untrodden spheres ! How sweet this very hour to die! To soar from earth and find all fears, Lost in thy light-Eternity!
It must be so: 't is not for self
That we so tremble on the brink; And striving to o'erleap the gulf,
Yet cling to Being's severing link. Oh! in that future let us think
To hold each heart the heart that shares; With them the immortal waters drink,
And soul in soul grow deathless theirs!
admitted in the ministry of sacrifice, and worship of the ark ; as well as by being cultivated by a king."— BURNEY.]
["When Lord Byron put the manuscript into my hand, it terminated with this line. As this, however, did not complete the verse, I wished him to help out the melody. He replied, Why, I have sent you to heaven-it would be difficult to go further!' My attention for a few min tes was called to some other person, and his Lordship, whom I had hardly missed, exclaimed, Here, Nathan, I have brought you down again; and immediately presented me the beautiful lines which conclude the melody."- NATHAN.]
6 [The hymns of David excel no less in sublimity and tenderness of expression, than in loftiness and purity of religious sentiment. In comparison with them, the sacred poetry of all other nations sinks into mediocrity. They have embodied so exquisitely the universal language of religious emotion, that (a few fierce and vindictive passages excepted, natural in the warrior-poet of a sterner age,) they have entered, with unquestionable propriety, into the Christian ritual. The songs which cheered the solitude of the desert caves of Engedi, or resounded from the voice of the Hebrew people as they wound along the glens or the hill-sides of Judea, have been repeated for ages in almost every part of the habitable world, in the remotest islands of the ocean, amongst the forests of America, or the sands of Africa. How many human hearts have they softened, purified, exalted-of how many wretched beings have they been the secret consolation!-on how many communities have they drawn down the blessings of Divine Providence, by bringing the affections in unisen with their deep devotional fervour! MILMAN.]
[Jephtha, a bastard son of Gilead, having been wrongfully expelled from his father's house, had taken refuge in a wild country, and become a noted captain of freebooters. His kindred, groaning under foreign oppression, began to look to their valiant, though lawless compatriot, whose profession, according to their usage, was no more dishonourable than that of a pirate in the elder days of Greece. They sent for hin, and made him head of their city. Before he went forth against the Ammonites, he made the memorable vow, that, if he returned victorious, he would sacrifice as a burrt offering
JEPHTHA'S DAUGHTER. 1
SINCE Our Country, our God— Oh, my sire ! Demand that thy Daughter expire ;
Since thy triumph was bought by thy vowStrike the bosom that's bared for thee now !
And the voice of my mourning is o'er, And the mountains behold me no more: If the hand that I love lay me low, There cannot be pain in the blow !
And of this, oh, my Father! be sure-
I have won the great battle for thee,
When this blood of thy giving hath gush'd, When the voice that thou lovest is hush'd, Let my memory still be thy pride,
And forget not 1 smiled as I died!
OH! SNATCH'D AWAY IN BEAUTY'S BLOOM.
OH! snatch'd away in beauty's bloom,
Their leaves, the earliest of the year;
And the wild cypress wave in tender gloom :
And oft by yon blue gushing stream
Shall Sorrow lean her drooping head,
And feed deep thought with many a dream,
And lingering pause and lightly tread;
Fond wretch as if her step disturb'd the dead!
Away! we know that tears are vain,
That death nor heeds nor hears distress: Will this unteach us to complain?
Or make one mourner weep the less? And thou-who tell'st me to forget, Thy looks are wan, thine eyes are wet.
MY SOUL IS DARK.
My soul is dark-Oh! quickly string
Its melting murmurs o'er mine ear.
That sound shall charm it forth again : If in these eyes there lurk a tear,
'T will flow, and cease to burn my brain.
But bid the strain be wild and deep,
Nor let thy notes of joy be first: I tell thee, minstrel, I must weep,
Or else this heavy heart will burst;
whatever first met him on his entrance into his native city. He gained a splendid victory. At the news of it, his only daughter came dancing forth, in the gladness of heart, and with jocund instruments of music, to salute the deliverer of his people. Tiserable father rent his clothes in agony; but the noble-ed maiden would not hear of the disregard of the vow: shely demanded a short period to bewail upon the mountains, the Antigone of Sophocles, her dying without hope of ecoming a bride or mother, and then submitted to her fa MILMAN.]
For it hath been hy sorrow nursed,
And ached in sleepless silence long; And now 'tis doom'd to know the worst, And break at once-or yield to song. 1
I SAW THEE WEEP.
I SAW thee weep-the big bright tear Came o'er that eye of blue;
And then methought it did appear
A violet dropping dew:
I saw thee smile- the sapphire's blaze
It could not match the living rays
As clouds from yonder sun receive
Which scarce the shade of coming eve
Can banish from the sky,
Those smiles unto the moodiest mind
Their own pure joy impart ; Their sunshine leaves a glow behind That lightens o'er the heart.
THY DAYS ARE DONE. THY days are done, thy fame begun; Thy country's strains record
The triumphs of her chosen Son,
The slaughters of his sword! The deeds he did, the fields he won, The freedom he restored!
Though thou art fall'n, while we are free
Within our veins its currents be,
Thy spirit on our breath!
Thy name, our charging hosts along, Shall be the battle-word!
Thy fall, the theme of choral song
From virgin voices pour'd!
To weep would do thy glory wrong;
Thou shalt not be deplored.
[ It was generally conceived that Lord Byron's reported singularities approached on some occasions to derangement; and at one period, indeed, it was very currently asserted that his intellects were actually impaired. The report only served to amuse his Lordship. He referred to the circumstance, and declared that he would try how a madman could write: seizing the pen with eagerness, he for a moment fixed his eyes in majestic wildness on vacancy; when, like a flash of inspiration, without erasing a single word, the above verses were the result."- - NATHAN.]
2 [Haunted with that insatiable desire of searching into the secrets of futurity, inseparable from uncivilised man, Saul knew not to what quarter to turn. The priests, outraged by his cruelty, had forsaken him: the prophets stood aloof; no dreams visited his couch; he had persecuted even the unlawful diviners. He hears at last of a female necromancer, a woman with the spirit of Ob; strangely similar in sound to the Obeah women in the West Indies. To the cave-dwelling of this woman, in Endor, the monarch proceeds in disguise. He commands her to raise the spirit of Samuel. At this daring demand, the woman first recognises, or pretends to recognise, her royal visitor. "Whom seest thou?" says the king."Mighty ones ascending from the earth."—" Of what form?"-"An old man covered with a mantle." Saul, in
SONG OF SAUL BEFORE HIS LAST BATTLE.
Thou who art bearing my buckler and bow,
Farewell to others, but never we part,
THOU whose spell can raise the dead, Bid the prophet's form appear. "Samuel, raise thy buried head! King, behold the phantom seer!" Earth yawn'd; he stood the centre of a cloud: Light changed its hue, retiring from his shroud. Death stood all glassy in his fixed eye; His hand was wither'd, and his veins were dry; His foot, in bony whiteness, glitter'd there, Shrunken and sinewless, and ghastly bare; From lips that moved not and unbreathing frame, Like cavern'd winds, the hollow accents came. Saul saw, and fell to earth, as falls the oak, At once, and blasted by the thunder-stroke.
"Why is my sleep disquieted?
terror, bows down his head to the earth; and, it should seem, not daring to look up, receives from the voice of the spectre the awful intímnation of his defeat and death. On the reality of this apparition we pretend not to decide: the figure, if fi gure there were, was not seen by Saul; and, excepting the event of the approaching battle, the spirit said nothing which the living prophet had not said before, repeatedly and publicly. But the fact is curious, as showing the popular belief of the Jews in departed spirits to have been the same with that of most other nations.- MILMAN.]
3 ["Since we have spoken of witches," said Lord Byron, at Cephalonia, in 1823, what think you of the witch of Endor? I have always thought this the finest and most finished witchscene that ever was written or conceived; and you will be of my opinion, if you consider all the circumstances and the actors in the case, together with the gravity, simplicity, and dignity of the language. It beats all the ghost scenes I ever read. The finest conception on a similar subject is that of Goethe's Devil, Mephistopheles; and though, of course, you will give the priority to the former, as being inspired, yet the latter, if you know it, will appear to you—at least it does to me-one of the finest and most sublime specimens of human conception."]