Thomas Moore

May 28, 1780 - Feb 26, 1852


The Tell-Tale Lyre

by Thomas Moore

I've heard, there was in ancient days
A Lyre of most melodious spell;
'Twas heav'n to hear its fairy lays,
If half be true that legends tell.

'Twas play'd on by the gentlest sighs,
And to their breath it breath'd again
In such entrancing melodies
As ear had never drunk till then!

Not harmony's serenest touch
So stilly could the notes prolong;
They were not heavenly song so much
As they were dreams of heavenly song!

If sad the heart, whose murmuring air
Along the chords in languor stole,
The soothings it awaken'd there
Were eloquence from pity's soul!

Or if the sigh, serene and light,
Was but the breath of fancied woes,
The string, that felt its airy flight,
Soon whisper'd it to kind repose!

And oh! when lovers talk'd alone,
If, mid their bliss the Lyre was near,
It made their murmurs all its own,
And echoed notes that heav'n might hear!

There was a nymph, who long had lov'd,
But dar'd not tell the world how well;
The shades, where she at evening rov'd,
Alone could know, alone could tell.

'Twas there, at twilight time, she stole
So oft, to make the dear-one bless'd,
Whom love had giv'n her virgin soul,
And nature soon gave all the rest!

It chanc'd that in the fairy bower
Where they had found their sweetest shed,
This Lyre, of strange and magic power,
Hung gently whispering o'er their head.

And while, with eyes of mingling fire,
They listen'd to each other's vow,
The youth full oft would make the Lyre
A pillow for his angel's brow!

And while the melting words she breath'd
On all its echoes wanton'd round,
Her hair, amid the strings enwreath'd,
Through golden mazes charm'd the sound!

Alas! their hearts but little thought,
While thus entrane'd they listening lay,
That every sound the Lyre was taught
Should linger long, and long betray!

So mingled with its tuneful soul
Were all their tender murmurs grown,
That other sighs unanswered stole,
Nor chang'd the sweet, the treasur'd tone.

Unhappy nymph! thy name was sung
To every passing lip that sigh'd;
The secrets of thy gentle tongue
On every ear in murmurs died!

The fatal Lyre, by Envy's hand
Hung high, amid the breezy groves,
To every wanton gale that fann'd
Betray'd the mystery of your loves!

Yet, oh! -- not many a suffering hour,
Thy cup of shame on earth was giv'n:
Benignly came some pitying Power,
And took the Lyre and thee to Heaven!

There as thy lover dries the tear
Yet warm from life's malignant wrongs,
Within his arms, thou lov'st to hear
The luckless Lyre's remember'd songs!

Still do your happy souls attune
The notes it learn'd, on earth, to move;
Still breathing o'er the chords, commune
In sympathies of angel love!


The Poetical Works of Thomas Moore.
Copyright 1835
Philadelphia: J. Crissy, No. 4, Minor Street, and Desilver, Thomas, And Co., No. 247, Market Street