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Odin. Yet awhile my call obey ;
Prophetess, awake, and say
What virgins ? these, in speechless woe,
That bend to earth their solemn brow,
That their flaxen tresses tear,
And snowy veils, that float in air.
Tell me whence their sorrows rose,
Then I leave thee to repose.

Prophetess. Ha ! no traveller art thou,
King of Men, I know thee now ;
Mightiest of a mighty line-

Odin. No boding maid of skill divine
Art thou, nor prophetess of good,
But mother of the giant-brood !

Prophetess. Hie thee hence, and boast at home,
That never shall inquirer come
To break iron-sleep again;
Till Lok 3 has burst his tenfold chain ;
Never, till substanial 4 Night
Has reassumed her ancient right;

1 The Norse attached much deferential reverence to the office of prophetess so-called.

The dress of one of these functionaries, as described in Eirik's Randa Sogn, is striking and peculiar. “She had on a large blue vest, spangled all over with stones, a necklace of glass beads, and a cap made of the skin of a black lamb, lined with white cat-skin. She leaned on a staff adorned with brass, with a round head set with stones; and was girt with a Hunlandish belt, at which hung her pouch of magical instruments. Her buskins were of rough calfskin, bound on with thongs, studded with knobs of brass, and her gloves of white cat-skin, the fur turned inwards."

2 Probably the Nornir (or Parcæ), the dispensers of good destinies, named Urda, Verdandi, and Skulda. As their names signify time past, present, and future, it is probable that they were always invisible to mortals. Odin, then, by asking this question, betrays his godship to the prophetess. Hence her reply.

3 The evil being, who continues in chains till the twilight of the gods approaches, when he shall break his bonds ; the human race, the stars, and sun shall disappear, the earth sink into the seas, and fire consume the skies ; even Odin himself and his kindred deities shall perish.

4 Consonant with the ancient theory that all things originated from Night, and would return to it again.

Till, wrapped in flame, in ruin hurled,
Sinks the fabric of the world.



(Mason remarks upon these odes :-“Whoever compares Mr Gray's poetical versions with the literal translations shall be convinced that nothing of this kind was ever executed with more fire, and, at the same time, more judgment. He keeps up through them all the wild romantic spirit of the originals; elevates them by some well-chosen epithet or image when they flag, yet in such a manner as is perfectly congruous with the general idea of the poems; and if he either varies or omits any of the thoughts, they are only of that kind which, according to our modern sentiments, would appear vulgar or ludicrous.” The “Gododin," from which this ode is extracted, is a Welsh epic poem of nearly one hundred stanzas. The subject is the battle of Cattraeth, and the warlike renown of ninety Cymric chiefs. The “Gododin” is by Aneurin, a Welsh bard, who flourished in the sixth century. Gray executed the translation about 1768.]

Had I but the torrent's might,
With headlong rage and wild affright
Upon Deïra's 1 squadrons hurled,
To rush, and sweep them from the world!

Too, too secure in youthful pride,
By them, my friend, my Hoel, died,
Great Cian's son : of Madoc old
He asked no heaps of hoarded gold ;
Alone in Nature's wealth arrayed,
He asked and had the lovely Maid.

To Cattraeth’s vale in glittering row
Thrice two hundred warriors go :

1 One of the two divisions of the ancient kingdom of Northumbria, the other being Bernicia.

2 One of the Cymric heroes of Cattraeth.

Every warrior's manly neck
Chains 2 of regal honour deck,
Wreathed in many a golden link :
From the golden cup they drink
Nectar, that the bees produce,
Or the grape's ecstatic juice.
Flushed with mirth and hope they bum;
But none from Cattraeth's vale return,
Save Aëron brave, and Conan strong,
(Bursting through the bloody throng)
And I, the meanest of them all,
That live to weep and sing their fall.



[Tuis ode was begun in 1754, and printed in 1757.

On its appearance, critics and readers declaimed loudly against its involvement and obscurity; and, not without reason, suggested that the author should furnish them with notes of elucidation. Gray, to speak plainly, seems to have taken the pet over the matter. He is recorded to have exclaimed: “I would not have put another note for all the owls in London. It is extremely well as it is; nobody understands me, and I am perfectly satisfied.” Second thoughts are proverbially wise, and Gray eventually furnished notes, of which the present editor has, to some extent, availed himself. The ode has had its merits and demerits keenly canvassed by the multitude of critics who have measured it by their eminently diversified standards of literary excellence.]

φωνάντα συνετοίσιν ες δε το πάν ερμηνέων
xarišel.Pindar, Olym. ii. 153.

I. 1.

AWAKE, Æolian lyre, awake, 2
And give to rapture all thy trembling strings.

1 The torque or collar of gold was a badge of distinction among the Celtic tribes.

“ When Malachi wore the collar of gold,

Which he won from the proud invader.”—Moore. 2 Pindar calls his own poetry Alolides xópdal. It is to this Gray refers, not to the Æolian harp.

From Helicon's 1 harmonious springs

A thousand rills their mazy progress take :
The laughing flowers, that round them blow,
Drink life and fragrance as they flow.
Now the rich stream of music winds along,
Deep, majestic, smooth, and strong ;
Through verdant vales and Ceres' golden reign :
Now rolling down the steep amain,
Headlong, impetuous, see it pour :
The rocks and nodding groves rebellow to the roar.

I. II.

Oh! sovereign of the willing soul,
Parent of sweet and solemn-breathing airs,
Enchanting shell ! 2 the sullen Cares

And frantic Passions hear 3 thy soft control.
On Thracia's hills the lord of war 4
Has curbed the fury of his car,
And dropt his thirsty lance at thy command.
Perching on the sceptred hand
Of Jove, thy magic lulls the feathered king,
With ruffled plumes and flagging wing:
Quenched in dark clouds of slumber lie
The terror of his beak, and lightnings of his eye.

1 Famous in Greek and Latin song as the abode of the Muses. It is a mountain in Bæotia, in Greece. The harmonious springs of the poet are the two fountains, Hippocrene and Aganippe, the former on the eastern slope of Helicon, the latter on the western. They are called fountains of harmony, from the fact of their bestowing upon those who quaffed their waters poetic inspiration.

2 The first lyre was made from the shell of a tortoise. Compare Horace, Odes, iii, 2.

" Tuque testudo resonare septem

Callida nervis,

Dic modos." 3 And consequently obey.

4 The "Apns of the Greeks, and generally identified with the Mars of the Roman mythology.


Thee the voice, the dance obey,?
Tempered to thy warbled lay ;
O'er Idalia's 2 velvet green
The rosy-crowned Loves are seen
On Cytherea's 3 day
With antic 4 Sport, and blue-eyed Pleasures,
Frisking light in frolic measures ;
Now pursuing, now retreating,

Now in circling troops they meet ;
To brisk notes in cadence beating

Glance their many-twinkling 5 feet. Slow melting strains their queen's approach declare :

Where'er she turns, the Graces 6 homage pay ; With arms sublime, 7 that float upon the air,

In gliding state she wins her easy way : O’er her warm cheek and rising bosom move The bloom of young Desire and purple light of Love.

II. I.

Man's feeble race what ills await ! Labour, and Penury, the racks of Pain, Disease, and Sorrow's weeping train,

And Death, sad refuge from the storms of Fate !

1 Power of harmony to produce all the graces of motion in the body.

2 Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. The name Idalia owes its origin to Idalium in Cyprus,

“Est Paphos Idaliumque tibi, sunt alta Cythera."-Virgil. 3 Also refers to Venus. She is so called from Cythera. (See note 7.)

4 Derived from the Latin antiquus, and applied primarily to anything old, and therefore likely enough to be strange. From meaning strange, It passed to extravagant and ridiculous.

5 An imitation of Homer's pappapurn.

6 The Graces or Charities were three in number-Aglaïa, Euphrosype, Thalia.

7 Held above their heads.

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