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INTRODUCTION TO THE HEBREW MELODIES.

THE "Hebrew Melodies" were written in London in the autumn of 1814. The immense difficulty of sacred poetry is apparent from the many men of genius who have attempted it with only moderate success. The sublime and affecting ideas involved in the theme being already expressed in Scripture with unrivalled power, and familiar to us from childhood, it is neither easy to call up thoughts which have the semblance of originality, nor to clothe them in language which will bear to be tried by the lofty standard of inspired song. Lord Byron wisely resolved not to walk in the confined and trodden circle of devotional strains. He had the whole Jewish history open to his choice, and his text is in general those martial, patriotic, and domestic circumstances which allow the imagination its freest range. In spite of the judgment with which he selected his subjects, some of Lord Byron's acquaintances thought the "Hebrew Melodies" below his reputation, pretending, with jesting exaggeration, to prefer Sternhold and Hopkins; nor were they received very favourably by the public, in part, perhaps, from their expecting in songs the stirring power of his longer compositions. The poet himself did not look back upon them with much complacency. "Sunburn Nathan !" he broke out, when Moore ridiculed the manner in which the "Melodies" were set to Music-"why do you always twit me with his vile Ebrew nasalities? Have I not told you it was all Kinnaird's doing, and my own exquisite facility of temper?" Subsequently Jeffrey stated in the Edinburgh Review that though obviously inferior to Lord Byron's other works, they displayed a skill in versification, and a mastery in diction which would have raised an inferior artist to the summit of distinction,-a judgment most gratifying to the poet, who said it was very kind in his critic to like them. A second admirer of the "Hebrew Melodies". Mrs. Grant, the author of the "Letters from the Mountains"-on reading the exquisitely pathetic piece, "Oh weep for those that wept by Babel's stream,' was unable to resist the literal fulfilment of the poet's invocation. The most plaintive and poetic passages, indeed, are those which relate to the wanderings of the Jews, and the third stanza of "The Wild Gazelle" is another mournful note struck on the same string which might no less "ope the sacred source of sympathetic tears." Had all been equal to what is best, the "Hebrew Melodies" must soon have excited universal admiration, but the majority of them are somewhat tame in sentiment, and one or two, like "Jephtha's Daughter," are not far removed from the school of Sternhold.

HEBREW MELODIES.

SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY.

I.

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.

II.

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.

III.

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!

[These stanzas were written by Lord Byron, on returning from a ball where Lady Wilmot Horton had appeared in mourning, with numerous spangles on her dress.]

THE HARP THE MONARCH MINSTREL SWEPT.

I.

THE harp the monarch minstrel swept,
The King of men, the loved of Heaven,
Which Music hallow'd while she wept

O'er tones her heart of hearts had given,
Redoubled be her tears, its chords are riven!
It soften'd men of iron mould,

It

gave them virtues not their own;

No ear so dull, no soul so cold,

That felt not, fired not to the tone,

Till David's lyre grew mightier than his throne!

II.

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 !*
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.

I.

Ir 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 tears

["When Lord Byron put the manuscript into my hand, it terminated with this line. As this, however, did not complete the verse, I asked 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 minutes 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.]

How welcome those untrodden spheres!
How sweet this very hour to die!
To soar from earth and find all fears
Lost in thy light-Eternity!

11.

It must be so: 'tis 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!

VOL. II.

THE WILD GAZELLE.

I.

THE wild gazelle on Judah's hills
Exulting yet may bound,
And drink from all the living rills
That gush on holy ground;
Its airy step and glorious eye
May glance in tameless transport by

II.

A step as fleet, an eye more bright,
Hath Judah witness'd there;
And o'er her scenes of lost delight
Inhabitants more fair.

The cedars wave on Lebanon,

But Judah's statelier maids are gone!

III

More blest each palm that shades those plains

Than Israel's scatter'd race;

For, taking root, it there remains

In solitary grace:

It cannot quit its place of birth,
It will not live in other earth.

IV.

But we must wander witheringly,
In other lands to die;

And where our fathers' ashes be,
Our own may never lie:
Our temple hath not left a stone,
And Mockery sits on Salem's throne.

OH! WEEP FOR THOSE.

I.

OH! weep for those that wept by Babel's stream,
Whose shrines are desolate, whose land a dream;
Weep for the harp of Judah's broken shell;
Mourn where their God hath dwelt the godless dwell!

II.

And where shall Israel lave her bleeding feet?
And when shall Zion's songs again seem sweet?
And Judah's melody once more rejoice
The hearts that leap'd before its heavenly voice?

III.

Tribes of the wandering foot and weary breast,
How shall ye flee away and be at rest!
The wild-dove hath her nest, the fox his cave,
Mankind their country-Israel but the grave!

ON JORDAN'S BANKS.

I.

ON Jordan's banks the Arab's camels stray,
On Sion's hill the False One's votaries pray,
The Baal-adorer bows on Sinai's steep-

Yet there even there-Oh God! thy thunders sleep:

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