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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 his hands to be put to death.
"RUIN seize thee, ruthless King!
Confusion on thy banners wait;
Though fann'd by Conquest's crimson wing,
Nor e'en thy virtues, Tyrant, shall avail
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 quiv'ring lance.
On a rock, whose haughty brow
Stream'd, like a meteor, to the troubled air)
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 each giant-oak, and desert-cave,
"Cold is Cadwallo's tongue,
That hush'd the stormy main:
Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed:
Mountains, ye mourn in vain
Modred, whose magic song
Made huge Plințimmon bow his cloud-topt head.
Smear'd with gore, and ghastly pale:
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 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 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,
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,
The shrieks of death, through Berkley's roof that ring,
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 behind.
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.
"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.
Fair laughs the morn, and soft the zephyr blows,
In gallant trim the gilded vessel goes;
Youth on the prow, and pleasure at the helm; Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway, That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his ev'ning prey.
"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.