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A PINDARIC ODE.
Hark, how each giant-oak and desert cave,
(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,
(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.
"Weave the warp, and weave the woof,
“Mighty victor, mighty lord,
(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,
and Pleasure at the helm ;
upon their baffled guest.
spare the meek usurper's holy head.
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.
“Girt with many a baron bold,
(1) Half of thy heart—In 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.