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THE GRAVE OF KING ARTHUR.

King Henry the Second, having undertaken an expedition into

Ireland, to suppress a rebellion raised by Roderick, King of Connaught, commonly called O'Connor Dun, or the brown Monarch of Ireland,' was entertained, in his passage through Wales, with the songs of the Welsh bards. The subject of their poetry was King Arthur, whose history had been so disguised by fabulous inventions that the place of his burial was in general scarcely known or remembered. But in one of these Welsh poems, sung before Henry, it was recited, that King Arthur, after the battle of Camlan, in Cornwall, was interred at Glastonbury Abbey, before the high altar, yet without any external inark or memorial. Afterwards Henry visited the abbey, and commanded the spot described by the bard to be opened: when, digging near twenty feet deep, they found the body, deposited under a large stone, inscribed with Arthur's name. This is the groundwork of the following Ode: but, for the better accommodation of the story to our present porpose, it is told with some slight variations from the Chronicle of Glastonbury. The castle of Cilgarran, where this discovery is supposed to bave been made, now a romantic ruin, stands on a rock descending to the river Teivi, in Pembrokeshire; and was built by Roger Montgomery, who led the van of the Normans at Hastings.

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STATELY the feast, and high the cheer;
Girt with many an armed peer,
And canopied with golden pall,
Amid Cilgarran's castle hall,
Sublime, in formidable state
And warlike splendour, Henry sat;
Prepared to stain the briny flood
Of Shannon's lakes with rebel blood.

Illumining the vaulted roof,
A thousand torches flamed aloof:
From massy cups, with golden gleam,
Sparkled the red metheglin's stream:

VOL. III.

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To grace the gorgeous festival,
Along the lofty window'd hall,
The storied tapestry was hung :
With minstrelsy the rafter rung
Of harps that with reflected light
From the proud gallery glitter'd bright :
While gifted bards, a rival throng
(From distant Mona, nurse of song,
From Teivi, fringed with umbrage brown,
From Elvy's vale, and Cader's crown,
From many a shaggy precipice
That shades Ierne's hoarse abyss,
And many a sunless solitude
Of Radnor's inmost mountains rude),
To crown the banquet's solemn close,
Themes of British glory chose;
And to the strings of various chime
Attemper'd thus the fabling rhyme-

• O'er Cornwall's cliffs the tempest roar'd,
High the screaming seamew soar'd;
On Tintaggel's* topmost tower
Darksome fell the sleety shower ;
Round the rough castle shrilly sung
The whirling blast, and wildly flung
On each tall rampart's thundering side
The surges of the tumbling tide ;
When Arthur ranged his red-cross ranks
On conscious Camlan's crimson'd banks ;
By Mordred's faithless guile decreed
Beneath a Saxon spear to bleed!

*

* Tintaggel or Tintadgel Castle, where King Arthur is said to have been born, and to have chiefly resided. Some of its huge fragments still remain, on a rocky peninsular cape, of a prodigious declivity towards the sea, and almost inaccessible from the land side, on the northern coasts of Cornwall.

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Yet in vain a paynim foe
Arm’d with fate the mighty blow;
For, when he fell, an elfin queen,
All in secret and unseen,
O’er the fainting hero threw
Her mantle of ambrosial blue;
And bade her spirits bear him far,
In Merlin's agate-axled car,
To her green isle's enameld steep,
Far in the navel of the deep.
O'er his wounds she sprinkled dew
From flowers that in Arabia grew;
On a rich enchanted bed
She pillow'd his majestic head;
O'er his brow, with whispers bland,
Thrice she waved an opiate wand;
And, to soft music's airy sound,
Her magic curtains closed around.
There, renew'd the vital spring,
Again he reigns a mighty king;
And many a fair and fragrant clime,
Blooming in immortal prime,
By gales of Eden ever fann'd,
Owns the monarch's high command:
Thence to Britain shall return
(If right prophetic rolls I learn),
Borne on Victory's spreading plume,
His ancient sceptre to resume;
Once more, in old heroic pride,
His barbed courser to bestride ;
His knightly table to restore,
And brave the tournaments of yore.'

They ceased; when on the tuneful stage Advanced a bard of aspect sage;

His silver tresses, thin besprent,
To age a graceful reverence lent;
His beard, all white as spangles frore
That clothe Plinlimmon's forests hoar,
Down to his harp descending flow'd;
With Time's faint rose his features glow'd;
His eyes diffused a soften'd fire,
And thus he waked the warbling wire-

'Listen, Henry, to my rede !
Not from fairy realms I lead
Bright-robed Tradition, to relate
In forged colours Arthur's fate;
Though much of old romantic lore
On the high theme I keep in store :
But boastful Fiction should be dumb,
Where Truth the strain might best become.
If thine ear may still be won
With songs of Uther's glorious son,
Henry, I a tale unfold,
Never yet in rhyme enroll’d,
Nor sung nor harp'd in hall or bower;
Which, in my youth's full early flower,
A minstrel, sprung of Cornish line,
Who spoke of kings from old Locrine,
Taught me to chant, one vernal dawn,
Deep in a cliff-encircled lawn,
What time the glistening vapours fled
From cloud-enveloped Clyder’s * head;
And on its sides the torrents gray
Shone to the morning's orient ray.

• When Arthur bow'd his haughty crest, No princess, veil'd in azure vest,

* Or Glyder, a mountain in Caernarvonshire. W.

Snatch'd him, by Merlin's potent spell,
In groves of golden bliss to dwell;
Where, crown'd with wreaths of mistletoe,
Slaughter'd kings in glory go:
But when he fell, with winged speed
His champions, on a milkwhite steed,
From the battle's hurricane
Bore him to Joseph's towered fane,
In the fair vale of Avalon * :
There, with chanted orison
And the long blaze of tapers clear,
The stoled fathers met the bier :
Through the dim aisles, in order dread
Of martial woe, the chief they led,
And deep entomb'd in holy ground,
Before the altar's solemn bound.
Around no dusky banners wave,
No mouldering trophies mark the grave :
Away the ruthless Dane has torn
Each trace that Time's slow touch had worn;
And long, o'er the neglected stone,
Oblivion's veil its shade has thrown:
The faded tomb, with honour due,
'Tis thine, O Henry, to renew!
Thither, when Conquest has restored
Yon recreant isle, and sheath'd the sword,
When Peace with palm has crown'd thy brows,
Haste thee to pay thy pilgrim vows;
There, observant of my lore,
The pavement’s hallow'd depth explore ;
And thrice a fathom underneath
Dive into the vaults of death.

* Glastonbury Abbey, said to be founded by Joseph of Ari. mathea, in a spot anciently called the island, or valley, of Avalonia. W.

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