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Yet oft before his infant eyes would run
Such forms as glitter in the Muse's ray With orient hues, unborrow'd of the Sun:
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way
A PINDARIC ODE'.
'RUIN seize thee, ruthless King!
1 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.
The original argument of this Ode, as its author had set it down on one of the pages of his common-place book, was as follows: The army of Edward I. as they march through a deep valley, are suddenly stopped by the appearance of a venerable figure seated on the summit of an inaccessible rock, who, with a voice more than human, reproaches the king with all the misery and desolation which he had brought on his country; foretells the misfortunes of the Norman race, and with prophetic spirit declares, that all his cruelty shall never extinguish the noble ardour of poetic genius in this island; and that men shall never be wanting to celebrate true virtue and valour in immortal strains, to expose vice and infamous pleasure, and boldly censure tyranny and oppression. His song ended, he precipitates himself from the mountain, and is swallowed up by the river that rolls at its foot.'
2 Mocking the air with colours idly spread. Shakspeare's King John.
Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail},
From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears !' Such were the sounds that o'er the crested pride*
Of the first Edward scatter'd wild dismay, As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy sides
He wound with toilsome march his long array. Stout Gloster stood aghasto in speechless trance: To arms! cried Mortimer?, and couch'd his quivering lance.
Robed in the sable garb of woe,
3 The bauberk 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.
4 The crested adder's pride. Dryden's Indian Queen. 5 Snowdon was a name given by the Saxons to that mountainous tract which the Welsh themselves call Craigianeryri: it included all the bighlands of Caernarvonshire and Merionethsbíre, as far as the river Conway.
6 Gilbert de Clare, surnamed the Red, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, son-in-law to King Edward.
? Edmond de Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore. They both were Lords Marchers, whose lands lay on the borders of Wales, and probably accompanied the King in this expedition.
8 The image was taken from a well known picture of Raphael, representing the Supreme Being in the vision of Ezekiel. There are two of these paintings, both believed original, one at Florence, the other at Paris. 9 Shone, like a meteor, streaming to the wind.
Milton's Paradise Lost.
And with a Master's hand, and Prophet's fire, Struck the deep sorrows of his lyre. 'Hark, how each giant-oak, and desert-cave,
Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath! O'er thee, oh King! their hundred arms they wave,
Revenge on thee in hoarser murmurs breathe; Vocal no more, since Cambria's fatal day, To highborn Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay.
Cold is Cadwallo's tongue,
That hush'd the stormy main :
Modred, whose magic song
Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topp'd head.
Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes, Dear as the ruddy drops that warm my heart 12, Ye died amidst your dying country's cries
10 The shores of Caernarvonshire opposite to the Isle of Anglesey.
11 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 Craigianeryri, or the crags of the eagles. At this day (I am told) 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 Ornithol. published by Ray.)
12 As dear to me as are the ruddy drops
That visit my sad heart- Shakspeare's Jul, Cæsar.