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The shepherd wonder'd at the just replies,
At first niistaken for the vocal breeze;
But when he found his little rival near
Imbibing music both at eye and ear,
With a sublimer touch he swept the lute,
A summons to the musical dispute.
The summons she receiv’d, resolv'd to try,
And daring, warbled out a bold reply.
Now sweetest thoughts the gentle swain inspire,
And with a dying softness tune the lyre;
Echo the vernal music of the woods,
Warble the murmurs of the falling floods.
Thus sweet he sings, but sweetly sings in vain,
For Philomela breathes a softer strain;
With easier art she modulates each note,
More nat’ral music melting in her throat,
Much he admir’d the magic of her tongue,
But more to find his lute and harp outdone.
And now to lostier airs he tunes the strings,
And now to loftier airs his ectro sings;
Though loud as thunder, though as swift as thought,
She reach'd the swelling, caught the flying note;
In trembling treble, now in solemn bass,
She show'd how nature could his art surpass.
Amaz’d, at length; with rage the shepherd burn'd,
His admiration into anger turn'd;
Inflam'd, with emulating pride he stood,
And thus defy'd the charmer of the wood:
And wilt thou still my music imitate?
Then see thy folly and thy task is great:
For, know, more pow'rful lays remain unsung,
Lays far superior to thy mimic tongue.
If not, this lute, this vanquish'd lute, I swear,
Shall never more delight the ravish'd ear;
But broke in scatter'd fragments strew the plain,
And mourn the glories which it could not gain.
He said, and as he said, his soul on fire,
With a disdainful air, he struck the lyre.
Quick to the touch, the tides of music flow,
Swell into strength, or melt away in woe:
Now raise the shrilling trumpet's clanging jar,
And imitated thunders rouse the war:
Now soft’ning sounds, and sadly-pleasing strains,
Breathe out the lover's joys, and lover's pains.
He sung; and ceas'd her rival notes to hear,
As his dy'd list’ning in the ambient air.
But now, too late, her noble folly found,
Sad Philomela stood subdu'd by sound:
Though vanquish’d, yet with gen'rous ardour filld,
Ignobly still she scorn'd to quit the field;
But slowly faint her-plaintive accents flow,
Weaken'd with grief, and overcharg'd with woe.
Again she tunes her voice, again she sings.
Strains every nerve, and quivers on her wings;
In vain her sinking spirits fade away,
And in a tuneful agovy decay;
Dying she fell, and as the strains expire, Breath'd out her soul in anguish on the lyre; Dissolv'd in transport, she resign'd her breath, And gain'd a living conquest by her death.
In the barn the tenant cock,
Close to Partlet perch'd on high,
Briskly crows, (the shepherd's clock !)
Jocund that the morning's nigh.
Swiftly from the mountain's brow,
Shadows, nurs’d by night, retire;
And the peeping sun-beam pow
Paints with gold the village spire.
Philomel forsakes the thorn,
Plaintive where she prates at night,
And the lark, to meet the morn,
Soars beyond the shepherd's sight.
Fervid on the glitt’ring flood
Now the noontide radiance glows;
Drooping o'er its infant bud,
Not a dew-drop's left the rose.
By the brook the shepherd dines,
From the fierce meridian heat Shelter'd by the branching pines Pendent o'er his grassy seat.
12. Now the flock forsakes the glade
Where uncheck'd the sun-beams fall; Sure to find a pleasing shade By the ivy'd abbey wall.
13. Echo in her airy round,
O'er the river, rock, and hill, Cannot catch a single sound,
Save the clack of yonder mill.
Cattle court the zephyrs bland,
Where the streamlet wanders cool; Or with languid silence stand
Midway in the marshy pool