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ODE FOR MUSIC.
IRREGULAR. [This ode was written in honour of the occasion of the Duke of Grafton's being installed as Chancellor of Cambridge University. It was set to music by Dr Randall, and performed in the Senate House of the University on the 1st of June 1769. Concerning this production Gray wrote to his friend Beattie, author of “ The Minstrel,"_"I thought myself bound, in gratitude to his Grace, unasked, to take upon me the task of writing these verses, which are usually set to music on this occasion, I do not think them worth sending you, because they are by nature doomed to live but a single day.” To say the least of it, this piece is fully entitled to take its place with the rest of Gray's Pindaric effusions; and although ostensibly composed to meet a temporary emergency, it bids fair with them to hold a long lease of the Future in the Republic of Letters.]
"Hence, avaunt, ('tis holy ground)
Comusa and his midnight-crew, And Ignorance with looks profound,
And dreaming Sloth of pallid hue, Mad Sedition's cry profane, Servitude that hugs her chain, Nor in these consecrated bowers Let painted Flattery hide her serpent-trainin flowers. Nor Envy base, nor creeping Gain, Dare the Muse's walk to stain, While bright-eyed Science watches round : Hence, away, 'tis holy ground ! "
From yonder realms of empyrean * day
I From the French, avant; en avant ! forward !
2 See Milton's "Comus,” 103, when Comus himself talks of “midnight shout and revelry."
3 Flattery is represented here as of human figure above, but the lower parts are those of a serpent.
4 Of dazzling and unfading brilliancy. The word is derived from the Greek ûp, identical in origin and meaning with our “fire."
There sit the sainted Sage, the Bard divine,
“ Ye brown o’er-arching groves,
That Contemplation loves,
Oft at the blush of dawn
I trod your level lawn, Oft wooed the gleam of Cynthia 2 silver-bright In cloisters dim, far from the haunts of Folly, With Freedom by my side, and soft-eyed Melancholy. 3
But hark! the portals sound, and pacing forth
With solemn steps and slow,
1 The Cam.
2 The moon, so called from Mount Cynthus, in Delos, the birthplace of Artemis or Diana, who is identified with the luminary of night, as her brother Apollo is with that of day.
3 Every figure and idea in the above stanza is taken from Milton, especially from his “Il Penseroso.”
4 Edward III., who added the fleur-de-lys of France to the arms of England. To this the poet refers in “the lilies on his brow." He founded Trinity College,
From haughty Gallia torn,
And sad Chatillon, 1 on her bridal morn,
And either Henry 5 there,
That broke the bonds of Rome.
All that on Granta's 6 fruitful plain
Rich streams of regal bounty poured,
And thus they speak in soft accord
.“What is grandeur, what is power ?
1 Mary de Valentia, Countess of Pembroke, daughter of Gray de Chatillon, Comte de St Paul in France. Tradition tells us that her husband, Audemar de Valentia (Aymer de Valence), Earl of Pembroke, was slain at a tournament on the day of his nuptials. She founded Pembroke College.
2 Elizabeth de Burg, Countess of Clare, was wife of John de Burg, son and heir of the Earl of Ulster, and daughter of Gilbert de Clare, Earl of Gloucester, by Joan of Acres, daughter of Edward I. Hence the ephithet princely. She founded Clare Hall in Cambridge.
3 Margaret of Anjou, wife of Henry VI. She founded Queen's College.
4 The representative of the White Rose of York, as Margaret of Anjou was of the Red Lancastrian, Elizabeth Woodville, wife of Edward IV., is referred to.
5 The murdered saint, Henry VI. ; the majes!ic lord, Henry VIII. Henry VI. founded King's College ; Henry VIII. greatly enriched Trinity College.
6 The tutelar goddess of the University.
The grateful memory of the good.
Foremost and leaning from her golden cloud
The venerable Margaret 1 see ! “Welcome, my noble son,” (she cries aloud),
To this, thy kindred train, and me: Pleased in thy lineaments we trace
A Tudor's fire, a Beaufort's grace. Thy liberal heart, thy judging eye, The flower unheeded shall descry, And bid it round heaven's altar shed The fragrance of its blushing head : Shall raise from earth the latent gem To glitter on the diadem.
Not obvious, not obtrusive, she
Nor dares with courtly tongue refined
She reveres herself and thee.
And to thy just, thy gentle hand,
1 Countess of Richmond and Derby, the mother of Henry VII. She founded St John's and Christ's Colleges.
2 For the other side of this picture of the Duke of Grafton, consult the letters of Junius.
3 Retiring and modest worth.
4 Cecil, Lord Treasurer; Burleigh was Chancellor of the University in Elizabeth's reign.
Submits the fasces 1 of her sway,
With watchful eye and dauntless mien.
Thy steady course of honour keep,
The star of Brunswick smiles serene,
1 A bundle of rods tied together, with an axe in the centre; the emblem of supreme power, borne by the attendant lictors before the chief magistrates of Rome. 2 Compare Horace, Ode ii., 10 :
“Rectius vives, Licini, neque altum
Semper urgendo ; neque dum procellas
“ Licinius, right your life will be,
Neither to rashly dare the sea,