Translation from Anacreon
TO HIS LYRE
( From the 1807 edition of Hours of Idleness )
I wish to tune my quivering lyre,
To deeds of fame, and notes of fire:
To echo from its rising swell,
How heroes fought, and nations fell;
When Atreus' sons advanc'd to war,
Or Tyrian Cadmus rov'd afar;
But still, to martial strains unknown,
My lyre recurs to love alone.
Fir'd with the hope of future fame,
I seek some nobler's hero's name;
The dying chords are strung anew,
To war, to war, my harp is due;
With glowing strings, the epic strain,
To Jove's great son I raise again,
Alcides, and his glorious deeds,
Beneath whose arm the Hydra bleeds;
All, all in vain, my wayward lyre,
Wakes silver notes of soft desire.
Adieu ye chiefs, renown'd in arms,
Adieu the clang of wars alarms.
To other deeds my soul is strung.
And sweeter notes shall now be sung;
My harp shall all its powers reveal,
To tell the tale my heart must feel,
Love, love alone, my lyre shall claim,
In songs of bliss, and sighs of flame.