I've heard, there was in ancient days
A Lyre of most melodious spell;
'Twas heaven to hear its fairy lays,
If half be true that legends tell.
'Twas played on by the gentlest sighs,
And to their breath it breathed again
In such entrancing melodies
As ear had never drunk till then!
Not harmony's serenest touch
So stilly could the notes prolong;
They were not heavenly song so much
As they were dreams of heavenly song!
If sad the heart, whose murmuring air
Along the chords in languor stole,
The numbers it awakened there
Were eloquence from pity's soul.
Or if the sigh, serene and light,
Was but the breath of fancied woes,
The string, that felt its airy flight,
Soon whispered it to kind repose.
And when young lovers talked alone,
If, mid their bliss, that Lyre was near,
It made their accents all its own,
And sent forth notes that heaven might hear.
There was a nymph, who long had loved,
But dared not tell the world how well:
The shades, where she at evening roved,
Alone could know, alone could tell.
'Twas there, at twilight time, she stole,
When the first star announced the night,--
With him who claimed her inmost soul,
To wander by that soothing light.
It chanced that, in the fairy bower
Where blest they wooed each other's smile,
This Lyre, of strange and magic power,
Hung whispering o'er their head the while.
And as, with eyes commingling fire,
They listened to each other's vow,
The youth full oft would make the Lyre
A pillow for the maiden's brow!
And, while the melting words she breathed
Were by its echoes wafted round,
Her locks had with the chords so wreathed,
One knew not which gave forth the sound.
Alas, their hearts but little thought,
While thus they talked the hours away,
That every sound the Lyre was taught
Would linger long, and long betray.
So mingled with its tuneful soul
Were all the tender murmurs grown,
That other sighs unanswered stole,
Nor words it breathed but theirs alone.
Unhappy nymph! thy name was sung
To every breeze that wandered by;
The secrets of thy gentle tongue
Were breathed in song to earth and sky.
The fatal Lyre, by Envy's hand
Hung high amid the whispering groves,
To every gale by which 'twas fanned,
Proclaimed the mystery of your loves.
Nor long thus rudely was thy name
To earth's derisive echoes given;
Some pitying spirit downward came.
And took the Lyre and thee to heaven.
There, freed from earth's unholy wrongs,
Both happy in Love's home shall be;
Thou, uttering naught but seraph songs,
And that sweet Lyre still echoing thee!