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22.5.07

Milton, At a Solemn Music

What makes a song, sacred or secular, so powerful is its combination of word and melody, everyday words heightened to poetry and further strengthened as music. Here is how John Milton put it, in a poem I recently came across for the first time:

Blest pair of Sirens, pledges of Heav'ns joy,
Sphear-born harmonious Sisters, Voice, and Vers,
Wed your divine sounds, and mixt power employ
Dead things with inbreath'd sense able to pierce,
And to our high-rais'd phantasie present,
That undisturbed Song of pure concent,
Ay sung before the saphire-colour'd throne
To him that sits theron
With Saintly shout, and solemn Jubily,
Where the bright Seraphim in burning row
Their loud up-lifted Angel trumpets blow,
And the Cherubick host in thousand quires
Touch their immortal Harps of golden wires,
With those just Spirits that wear victorious Palms,
Hymns devout and holy Psalms
Singing everlastingly.
You can read the rest of At a Solemn Music online, of course.

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