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Oh! lyre divine, what daring spirit
Wakes thee yow? Though he inherit Nor the pride, nor ample pinion,
That the Theban eagle bear, Sailing with
supreme dominion Through the azure deep of air: Yet oft before bis infant eyes would run
Such forms as glitter in the Muse's ray, With orient hues, unborrow'd of the sun:
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate, Beneath the Good how far--but far above the Great.
are meant to express the stately march and sounding energy of Dryden's rhymes.
Ver. 111. But ah! 'tis heard no more] We have had in our language no other odes of the sublime kind than that of Dryden on St. Cecilia's Day; for Cowley, who had merit, yet wanted judgment, style, and harmony, for such a task. That of Pope is not worthy of so great a man. Mr. Mason indeed, of late days, has touched the true chords, and with a masterly hand, in some of his choruses; above all in the last of Caractacus :
“Hark! heard ye not yon footstep dread?” &c. Ver. 115. That the Theban eagle bear] Aids agàs ögrexa Señov. OLYMP. 11. 159. Pindar compares himself to that bird, and his enemies to ravens tbat croak and clamour in vain below, while it pursues its flight, regardless of their noise.
A PINDARIC ODE.
This Ode is founded on a tradition current in Wales, that
Edward the First, when he completed the conquest of that country, ordered all the Bards that fell into his hands to be put to death.
Confusion on thy banners wait;
They mock the air with idle state.
Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail,
Of the first Edward scatter'd wild dismay,
Ver. 5. Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail] The hauberk was a texture of steel ringlets, or rings interwoven, forming a coat of mail that sat close to the body, and adapted itself to every motion.
As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side
He wound with toilsome maroh his long array. Stout Glo'ster stood aghast in speechless trance: “To arms!” cried Mortimer, and couch'd his
On a rock, whose haughty brow
Robed in the sable garb of woe,
Ver. 11. —of Snowdon's shaggy side] Snowdon was a name given by the Saxons to that mountainous tract: it included all the bighlands of Caernarvonshire and Merionethshire, as far east as the river Conway.
Ver. 13. Stout Glo'ster] Gilbert de Clare, surnamed the Red, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford; married at Westminster, May 2, 1290, 10 Joan de Acres or Acon (so called from having been born at Acon in the Holy Land) second daughter of King Edward.—He died 1295.
Ver. 14. To arms!".cried Mortimer] Edmond de Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore.
They both were Lord Marchers, whose lands lay on the borders of Wales, and probably accompanied the king in this expedition.
Ver. 19. Loose his beard, and hoary hair] The image was taken from a well-known picture by Raphael, representing the Supreme Being in the vision of Ezekiel.
Hark, how each giant-oak, and desert-cave,
Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath! O'er thee, oh King! their hundred arms they wave,
Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe; Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day, To high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.
That hush'd the stormy main:
Mountains, ye mourn in vain
Modred, whose magic song
On dreary Arvon's shore they lie,
The famish'd eagle screams, and passes by. Dear lost companions of my tuneful art,
Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes,
Ver. 35. On dreary Arvon's shore they lie] The shores of Caernarvonshire opposite to the isle of Anglesey.
Ver. 38. The fanish'd eagle screams, anul passes by] Camden and others observe, that eagles used annually to build their aerie among the rocks of Snowdon, which from thence (as some think) were named by the Welsh Craigian-eryri, or the crags of the eagles. At this day the highest point of Snowdon is called the Eagle's Nest. That bird is certainly no stranger to this island, as the Scots, and the people of Cumberland, Westmoreland, &c. can testify: it even bas built its nest in the peak of Derbyshire. (See Willoughby's Ornithology, published by Ray.)
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.
“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 roof that ring, Shrieks of an agonizing king!
She-wolf of France, with unrelenting fangs, That tear'st the bowels of thy mangled mate,
From thee be born, who o'er thy country hangs The scourge of Heav'n. What terrors round him wait! Amazement in his van, with flight combin’d, And sorrow's faded form, and solitude bebind.
Ver. 48. And weave with bloody hands the tissue of thy line] See the Norwegian Ode (the Fatal Sisters) that follows.
Ver. 53. The shrieks of death, through Berkley's roof that ring] Edward the Second, cruelly butchered in Berkley Castle.
Ver. 57. She-wolf of France) Isabel of France, Edward the Second's adulterous queen.
Ver. 60. The scourge of Heav'n] Triumphs of Edward the Third in France.