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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 bis hands to be put to death.
• I. 1.
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 march his long array. Stout Glo'ster stood aghast in speechless trance: “To arms!” cried Mortimer, and couch'd his
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 highlands 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, to 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 cach giant-oak, and desert-cave,
Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath! O'er theo, 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 :
Modred, whose magic song
On dreary Arvou’s shore they lic,
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 famish'd eagle screams, and passes by] Camden and others observe, that eagles used annually to build tveir 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 has 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 bands the tissue of tiny line.
Give ample room, and verge enough
She-wolf of France, with unrelenting fangs,
From thee be born, who o'er thy country hangs
Ver. 48. And weave with bloody hands the tissue of thy line See the Norwegian Ode (the Fatal Sisters) that follows.
Ver. 55. 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.
II. 2. “Mighty victor, mighty lord! Low on his funeral couch he lies!
No pitying heart, no eye, afford A tear to grace his obsequies. ·
Is the sable warrior fled ? Thy son is gone. He rests among the dead. The swarm, that in thy noontide beam were born? Gone to salute the rising morn. Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows,
While proudly riding o'er the azure realm In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes;
Youth on the prow, and pleasure at the belm; Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway, That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his ev'ning prey.
II. 3. “ Fill high the sparkling bowl, The rich repast prepare,
Ver. 64. Low on his funeral couch he lies) Death of that king, abandoned by his children, and even robbed in his last moments by his courtiers and his mistress.
Ver. 67. Is the sable warrior fled] Edward the Black Prince, dead some time before his father.
Ver. 71. Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows] Magnificence of Richard the Second's reign. See Froissart, and other contemporary writers.
Ver. 77. Fill high the sparkling bowl] Richard the Second, as we are told by Archbishop Scroop and the confederate Lords in their manifesto, by Thomas of Walsingham, and all the older writers, was starved to death. The story of his assassination, by Sir Piers of Exon, is of much later date.