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THE BARD.

A PINDARIC ODE.

I. 1.
Ruin seize thee, ruthless King!
Confusion on thy banners wait !
Though fanned by Conquest's crimson wing,
They mock the air with idle state.
Helm nor hauberk's twisted mail,
Nor e’en thy virtues, tyrant, shall avail
To save thy secret soul from nightly fears,
From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears !"
Such were the sounds that o'er the crested pride
Of the first Edward scattered wild dismay,
As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side
He wound with toilsome march his long array.
Stout Glostera stood aghast in speechless trance:
“To arms !” cried Mortimer,) and couched his quivering lance.

I. 2.
On a rock, whose haughty brow
Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood,
Robed in the sable garb of woe,
With haggard eyes the poet stood;
(Loose his beard and hoary hair
Streamed, like a meteor, to the troubled air),
And with a master's hand, and prophet's fire,
Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre :-

Hark, how each giant-oak and desert cave,
Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath!
O'er thee, O king ! their hundred arms they wave,
Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe ;

(1) “ This ode is founded on a tradition current in Wales, that Edward I., when he completed the conquest of that country, ordered all the bards that fell into his hands to be put to death."-Gray.

(2) Gloster_“Gilbert de Clare, surnamed the Red, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, son-in-law to King Edward."-Gray.

(3) Mortimer—“Edmond de Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore.”—Gray.

(4) O'er thee, O king, &c.-In this couplet the “hundred arms" must be referred to the “giant-oaks," and the “hoarser murmurs" to the “ desert," or hollow caves above named.

Vocal no more, since Cambria’s fatal day,
To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.

I. 3.
“ Cold is Cadwallo's tongue,
That hushed the stormy main :
Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed:
Mountains, ye mourn in vain
Modred, whose magic song
Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topped head.
On dreary Arvon’ga shore they lie,
Smeared with gore, and ghastly pale;
Far, far aloof 3 the affrighted ravens sail ;
The famished eagle screams, and passes by.
Dear lost companions of my tuneful art,
Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes,
Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart,
Ye died amidst your dying country's cries.-
No more I weep. They do not sleep.
On yonder cliffs, a grisly band,
I see them sit; they linger yet,
Avengers of their native land :
With me in dreadful harmony they join,
And weave with bloody hands the tissue of thy line.

(1) Htgh-born Hoel, &c.—Hoel, one of the famous bards of Wales, was the son of Owen Gwynedd, prince of North Wales, and Llewellyn was a prince of whom we are told that, though'he “burnt like an outrageous fire” in battle, yet the songs that he composed and sang were mild and soft.

(2) Arvon's shore—“The shores of Carnarvonshire, opposite to the Isle of Anglesey."-Gray. (3) Far, far aloof, &c.—

These birds of prey do not venture to touch, or even approach anything so sacred as the corpses of the bards, though the eagle screams with hunger.

(4) Dear as the ruddy drops, dc.-Gray himself quotes the following line from Shakspere, as the original of this expression :

“As dear to me as are the ruddy drops

That visit my sad heart."- Julius Cæsar, Act'ii., scene 2. (5) Tissue of thy line-i. e. the web of fate, in which are pictured, as it were, the fortunes of thy descendants. This notion of weaving a web of destiny is directly borrowed from the Scandinavian mythology, though the thread which is spun by the Fates in the Greek mythology is closely connected with it. Dr. Johnson objects to the poet's “making weavers of slaughtered bards," inasmuch as in the original fable the operators are females.

II. 1.

"Weave the warp, and weave the woof,
The winding-sheet of Edward's race.
Give ample room, and verge enough
The characters of hell to trace.
Mark the year, and mark the night,
When Severn shall re-echo with affright
The shrieks of death, through Berkley's roofs that ring,
Shrieks of an agonizing king!
She-wolf of France, with unrelenting fangs,
That tearest the bowels of thy mangled mate,
From thee be born,“ who o'er thy.country hangs,
The scourge of Heaven. What terrors round him wait!
Amazements in his van with Flight combined,
And Sorrow's faded form, and Solitude behind.

II. 2.

“Mighty victor, mighty lord,
Low on his funeral couch he lies!
No pitying heart, no eye, afford
A tear to grace his obsequies.
Is the sable warrior7 fled ?
Thy son is gone: he rests among the dead.
The swarm that in thy noon-tide beam were born ?
Gone to salute the rising morn.*

(1) Weave the warmDr. Johnson also censures this expression as incorrect, "for," says he, “it is by crossing the woof with the warp that men weave the web or piece," but the learned doctor is himself wrong. The warp consists of the longitudinal, the woof of the latitudinal threads.

(2) Mark the year, &c.—The prophecy of the bard now begins by a reference to the cruel death of Edward II., in Berkley Castle,

(3) She-wolf of France—“ Isabel of France, Edward II.'s adulterous queen.' Gray.

(4) From thee be born, &c.—In allusion to her son, Edward III., who proved a scourge to her native country.

(5) Amazement, &c.—In allusion to the victories which signalized the early part of his reign; the miseries of its close are indicated in the next line.

(6) Loro on his funeral couch, «dc.“ Death of that king, abandoned by his children, and even robbed in his last moments by his courtiers and his mistress."Gray.

(7) Sable warrior_“Edward the Black Prince died some time before his father."-Gray.

(8) Rising morn-i.e. the early part of Richard II.'s reign.

Fair laughs? the morn, and soft the zephyr blows,
While, proudly riding o'er the azure realm,
In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes ;
Youth on the

prow,

and Pleasure at the helm ;
Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway,
That, hushed in grim repose, expects his evening prey.

II. 3.
“Fill highề the sparkling bowl,
The rich repast prepare;
Reft of a crown he yet may share the feast;
Close by the regal chair
Fell Thirst and Famine scowl
A baleful smile

upon their baffled guest.
Heard yes the din of battle bray,
Lance to lance, and horse to horse ?
Long years of havoc urge their destined course,
And through the kindreda squadrons mow their way.
Ye towers of Julius, London's lasting shame,
With many a foul and midnight murder fed,
Revere 6 his consort's faith, his father's fame,
And

spare the meek usurper's holy head.
Above, below, the rose of snow,
Twined with her blushing foe, we spread;
The bristled boar7 in infant gore
Wallows beneath the thorny shade.
Now, brothers, bending o’er the accursed loom,

Stampå we our vengeance deep, and ratify his doom. (1) Fair laughs, &c.—This and the following lines embody one of the most perfect metaphors that was ever developed by poetic art. The diction and the measure—the tone and spirit of the whole-are most happily picturesque and beautiful.

(2) Fill high, &c.-In allusion to the profuse magnificence of Richard II.'s style of living, succeeded by his death from starvation in Pontefract Castle, Yorkshire. (3) Heard ye the din, &c.—“Ruinous wars of York and Lancaster.”—Gray. 4) Kindred-because it was a civil war. (5) Ye towers of Julius, &c.—“ Henry VI., George Duke of Clarence, Edward V., Richard Duke of York, &c., believed to be murdered secretly in the Tower of London. The oldest part of that structure is vulgarly attributed to Julius Cæsar."-Gray.

(6) Revere, &c.—In allusion to Henry VI., his wife, Margaret of Anjou, and his father, Henry V.

(7) The bristled boar, &c.—“ The silver boar was the badge of Richard III. ; whence he was usually kuown in his own time by the name of The Boar.' Gray.

(8) Stamp-i. e. stamp or impress on the web.

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III. 1.
“Edward, lo! to sudden fate
(Weave we the woof; the thread is spun)
Half of thy heart' we consecrate.
(The web is wove; the work is done.) -
Stay, oh stay! nor thus forlorn,
Leave me unblest, unpitied, here to mourn :
In yon bright track, that fires the western skies,
They melt, they vanish from my eyes.
But oh! what solemn scenes on Snowdon's height
Descending slow their glittering skirts unroll !
Visions of glory, spare my aching sight!
Ye unborn ages, crowd not on my soul !
No more2 our long-lost Arthur we bewail :
All hail,) ye genuine kings, Britannia’s issue, hail !

III. 2.

“Girt with many a baron bold,
Sublime their starry fronts they rear ;
And gorgeous dames, and statesmen old
In bearded majesty appear.
In the midst a form divine !
Her eye proclaims her of the Briton-line;
Her lion-port, her awe-commanding face,
Attempered sweet to virgin grace.
What strings symphonious tremble in the air !
What strains of vocal transport round her play!
Hear from the grave, great Taliessin, * hear;
They breathe a soul to animate thy clay.
Bright rapture calls, and, soaring as she sings,
Waves in the eye of heaven her many-coloured wings.

(1) Half of thy heartIn allusion to his affectionate and high-minded wife, “ Eleanor of Castile, who died a few years after the conquest of Wales.”—Gray.

(2) No more, &c." It was the common belief of the Welsh nation that King Arthur was still alive in fairy-land, and would return again to rule over Britain." -Gray.

(3) All hail, &c.—“Both Merlin and Taliessin had prophesied that the Welsh should regain their sovereignty over this island; which seemed to be accomplished in the House of Tudor.”Gray.

(4) Taliessin—"Taliessin, chief of the bards, flourished in the sixth century. His works are still preserved, and his memory held in high veneration among his countrymen."-Gray.

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