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immediately after, to fix the class of poets to which he belongs, he says
Quod fi me Lyricis vatibus inseres.
To answer this purpose of musical adaptation, Lyric poetry has always been in pofsession of a variety of measures, differing indeed greatly among themselves, but all very distinguishable from the stately regular march of Heroics, and the languid inequality of elegy. Thus the Anacreontic is smart and lively, the Sapphic tender and melodious, the irregular Pindaric suited to the sudden changes and unbounded fights of the wild various music of the passions. Horace affords a fine profusion of regularly returning measures suited to all the varieties of musical expression, many of which one can scarcely read without falling into a natural music.
So far Lyric poetry is characterized by
its manner of composition; will it also admit of a character from the nature of its subjects ? It has been already observed that the pieces of Sappho and Anacreon are formed entirely upon gay and amorous topics. A beautiful variety of this cast is to be met with in Horace, and he frequently mentions the peculiar suitableness of them to the Lyric muse. Thus Nos convivia, nos prælia virginum Strictis in juvenes unguibus acrium Cantamus Nolis longa feræ bella Numantiæ, Nec dirum Hannibalem, nec Siculum mare Pæno purpureum fanguine, mollibus
Aptari citharæ modis.
Non hoc jocosæ conveniet lyræ.
Referre fermones Deorum, et
But what must we think of these declarations when he nobly breaks out “ Quem virum aut heroa,” &c. when he undertakes with such success to sing the great actions of Augustus, the praises of Drusus, and the poetical character of Pindar, with Pindar's own fire and sublimity ? In that beautiful ode, the gth of the 4th book, where he sketches out the Grecian bards, his predecessors in Lyric poetry, we find the
Ceæque, Alceique minaces
as well as the wanton gaiety of Anacreon and the amorous softness of the Lesbian maid. One of the oldest pieces of Grecian Lyric poetry extant, is a heroic ode sung by the Athenians at their public feasts in commemoration of Harmodius and Aristogiton. The odes of Pindar ce
lebrate the victors at the Olympic games, and the hymns of Callimachus rise to the praises of the Gods.
From these instances it appears that Lyric poetry does not admit of any distinguishing characteristic from its subject, but merely from the circumstance of its accompanyment with music: thus Horace briefly defines it“ verba socianda chordis.” But this circumstance will in some measure influence the choice of a subject, as it is evident that long continued narration, the didactic
any art or science, and fatire, are not suitable topics for a species of poetry which above all others is calculated to please, elevate and surprize.
If we now compare the idea here given of Lyric poetry, with what was before observed concerning song-writing, it will plainly appear that the lattter is one branch
of the former ; that, to wit, which in its subject is confined to gaiety and tenderness, or, to express it classically, the Sapphic and Anacreontic. and sublimer strains of the Lyric Muse are exemplified in the modern ode, a fpecies of composition which admits of the boldest fights of poetical enthusiasm, and the wildest creations of the imagination, and requires the assistance of every figure that can adorn language, and raise it above its ordinary pitch.
Critics have very commonly lamented that the moderns fall short of the antients more particularly in this species of
poetry than in any other ; yet, did it belong to my present subject, I should not despair of convincing an impartial reader, that the English names of Dryden, Gray, Akenside, Mafon, Collins, Warton, are not inferior in real poetical elevation to the most re