Collegia – Ode 66: Epistle to Jock


Music is like a sunset sky, at night
Suffusing the whole world with amber light,
Casting around start trees a glory new,
Tinting the still lake’s bosom with a hue
Till warm and lovely glows that sombre breast;
And dying slowly in the radiant west
Where Venus floats, the graceful evening star,
And paling, paling o’er the last dark bar
Of drowsing shadowed earth, it dies.
There comes
A wistfulness that batons on the drums
Of inner self, and there is known a pang
Of loneliness amid the trees where sand
Not long since lusty warblers, silent now;
A pain subdued at first, lull’d by the glow
And transport that the dying sunset leaves,
But as the twilight darker shadows weaves
So grows the pain as chill reality strikes
Into the heart with cruel insistent spikes
The knowledge and the sorrow of our loss,
When all around the gold is turned to dross.

Thus, thus should Music leave the human soul,
If it, and as it ought, will reach its goal;
But thou, O Jock – an organist? for shame,
To take and smirch so hon’rable a name! –
Thou with thy classical endeavours, here
A discord, there a trill, and all so drear,
Filleth our souls with more than wistful pain –
We’re happy not till thou hast hushed thy strain!

12. 3. 29