William Collins - An Ode for Music
Type of Spiritual Experience
William Collins (25 December 1721 – 12 June 1759) was an English poet, described as 'second in influence only to Thomas Gray'. In 1747 he published his collection of Odes on Several Descriptive and Allegorical Subjects on which his subsequent reputation was to rest. The poems are characterized by strong emotional descriptions and the personal relationship to the subject allowed by the ode form. At the time, little notice was taken of these poems, which were 'at odds with the Augustan spirit of the age'. With the depression on his lack of success, aggravated by drunkenness, he sank into insanity and in 1754 was confined to McDonald's Madhouse in Chelsea. From there he moved to the care of a married elder sister in Chichester until his death in 1759, when he was buried in St Andrew's Church.
A description of the experience
An Ode for Music – W Collins
First Fear his hand, its skill to try
Amid the chords bewildered laid,
And back recoiled, he knew not why,
E'en at the sound himself had made.
Next Anger rushed his eyes on fire
In lightnings owned his secret stings;
In one rude clash he struck the lyre
And swept with hurried hands the strings.
With woeful measures wan Despair -
Low sullen sounds his grief beguiled,
A solemn, strange and mingled air
'Twas sad by fits, by starts 'twas wild.
Thy numbers, Jealousy to nought were fixed
Sad proof of thy distressful state
Of differing themes the veering song was mixed
And now it courted Love, now raving called on Hate
With eyes upraised as one inspired
Pale Melancholy sat retired
And from her wild sequestered seat
In notes by distance made more sweet
O Music, sphere descended maid,
Friend of Pleasure, Wisdom's aid,
Why goddess, why, to us denied
Layest thou thy ancient lyre aside.
Warm, energetic, chaste, sublime,
Thy wonders, in that god like age,
Fill thy recording Sister's page,
'Tis said and I believe the tale,
Thy humblest reed could more prevail
Had more of strength, diviner rage
Than all which charms this laggard age,
E'en all at once together found
Cecilia's mingled world of sound;
O bid our vain endeavours cease;
Revive the just designs of Greece;
Return in all thy simple state,
Confirm the tales her sons relate.