To please the dull fools

I’m sitting in the library today, and next to me on the shelf is this oddly addictive First-Line Index of English Poetry, 1500-1800, in Manuscripts of the Bodleian Library, Oxford, edited by Margaret Crum and published by the Index Committee of the Modern Language Association of America in 1969. (Reference works always have such enjoyably expansive bibliographic information.) Skip to page 575, and there’s a meta-poem about music:

Music dear solace to my thoughts neglected
And to thy voice, her voice atone.

Music the master of thy art is dead
Let’s howl sad notes stolen from his own pure verse.

Music, thou queen of souls! get up and string
Strike a sad note, and fix them trees again.

Music thou soft uniter of our hearts,
By whose almighty charms the heaven and earth were made.

Music thou soul of Heaven care-charming spell
As thou enchantest our ears.

Music, tobacco, sack and sleep
The tides of sorrow backwards keep.

Musical sounds some calls harmonious charms
The spark of grief into a sable blaze.

Music’s a crochet the sober think vain,
To please the dull fools that give money for wit.

First stanza from an air by Francis Pilkington; second stanza by William Lawes; third stanza by Thomas Randolph; fourth stanza by John Chatwin; fifth stanza by Robert Herrick; sixth, seventh, eighth stanzas anonymous.

Leave a Reply