« PreviousContinue »
With orient hues, unborrow'd of the sun:
Yet shall he mount, and keep his distant way Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate, Beneath the Good how far-but far above the
Var. V. 122. "Yet never can he fear a vulgar fate." MS.
[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. Gray. (See Barrington on the Statutes, p. 358; Jones's Relics, vol. i. p. 38; Sayer's Essays, p. 20.)
"RUIN seize thee, ruthless king! Confusion on thy banners wait;
V. 120. Spenser. Hymn: "With much more orient hew." Milt. Par. L. i. 545: "with orient colours." Luke.
V. 123. "Still show how much the good outshone the great." K. Philips, fol. p. 133.
"I have sometimes thought (says Prof. D. Stewart,) that in the last line of the following passage, Gray had in view the two different effects of words already described; the effect of some, in awakening the powers of conception and imagination; and that of others in exciting associated emotions:
"Hark, his hands the lyre explore!
Bright-eyed Fancy, hov'ring o'er,
Scatters from her pictur'd urn
Thoughts that breathe, and words that burn."
V. Elem. of the Phil. of the H. Mind, vol. i. p. 507.
V. 1. Shakes. Hen. VI. 2nd part, act i. sc. 3: "See, ruth
less Queen, a hapless father's tears." Luke.
Tho' fann'd by Conquest's crimson wing,
V. 2. "Confusion waits." K. John, IV. sc. ult. Rogers. V. 3. "Where the Norweyan banners flout the sky,
And fan our people cold." Macbeth, act i. sc. 2. V. 4. "Mocking the air with colours idly spread." King John, act v. sc. 1. Gray. V. 5. 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. Gray.
"With helm and hauberk."
Rob. of Gloucester, vol. i. p. 297. "Hauberks and helms are hew'd with many a wound," Dryden. Pal. and Arcite, lib. iii. v. 1879. Fairfax, in his Trans. of Tasso, has joined these words in many places; as canto vii. 38: "Now at his helm, now at his hawberk bright." See also p. 193, 199, 299, edition 1624, folio.
V. 7. "Within her secret mind," v. Dryden. Æn. iv.
V. 9. "The crested adder's pride." Dryden. Indian Queen. Gray. V. 11. Snowdon was a name given by the Saxons to that mountainous tract which the Welsh themselves call Craigianeryri: it included all the highlands of Caernarvonshire and Merionethshire, as far east as the river Conway. R. Hygden, speaking of the castle of Conway, built by King Edward the First, says, "Ad ortum amnis Conway ad clivum montis Erery; " and Matthew of Westminster, (ad ann. 1283) " Apud Aberconway ad pedes montis Snowdoniæ fecit erigi castrum forte." Gray.
The epithet "shaggy," applied to "Snowdon's side," is highly appropriate, as Leland says that great woods clothed
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,
the different parts of the mountain in his time: see Itin. v. 45. Dyer. Ruins of Rome, p. 137:
"as Britannia's oaks
On Merlin's mount, or Snowdon's rugged sides,
Lycidas, 54, "Nor on the shaggy top of Mona high,” v. Par. L. vi. 645. "By the shaggy tops," &c. Todd's note.
V. 12. "In long array," Dryden. E. xi. Rogers.
V. 13. Gilbert de Clare, surnamed the Red, earl of Gloucester and Hertford, son-in-law to King Edward. Gray.
V. 14. Edmond de Mortimer, Lord of Wigmore. Gray. They both were Lord Marchers, whose lands lay on the borders of Wales, and probably accompanied the king in this expedition. Gray.
"Hastam quassatque trementem."
V. 15. Hom. Il. Υ. ver. And Mosch. Id. ii. 48: 'Eπ' ver. 178. St. Luke, iv. 29. supercilio clivosi tramitis." whose surly brow," Daniel. V. 16. "Above the foamy flood," v. Dyer. R. of Rome. Luke.
V. 17. "Perpetuo mærore, et nigra veste senescant," Juvenal. Sat. x. 245. W. Also Propert. Eleg. IV. vii. 28: “Atram quis lacrymis incaluisse togam." Senec. H. Fur. 694, "aterque luctus sequitur.'
V. 19. The image was taken from a well-known picture of Raphael, representing the Supreme Being in the vision of Eze
Stream'd, like a meteor, to the troubled air)
"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
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.
V. 20. "Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind."
kiel. There are two of these paintings, both believed to be originals, one at Florence, the other in the Duke of Orleans' collection at Paris. Gray.
Par. L. i. ver. 535. W. See Todd's note.
"The meteors of a troubled heaven."
Shakesp. K. Henry IV. pt. i. act i. sc. 1. Luke.
Todd mentions a passage very similar to the one in the text: "The circumference of his snowy beard like the streaming rays of a meteor appeared," Persian Tales of Inatulla, vol. ii. p. 41. This image is often used metaphorically, as Stat. Theb. iii. 332. And see Manil. Astron. i. 836.
Ford, in his Perkin Warbeck, p. 25, ed. Weber:
66— since the beard
V. 23. "The woods and desert caves." Lycidas.
V. 26. "The stream that down the distant rocks hoarse murmuring fell." Thomson. Luke.
V. 27. See some observations on the poetical and proper use of "vocal," as used by Gray in this place, in Huntingford. Apolog. for the Monostr. p. 31.
V. 28. Hoel is called high-born, being the son of Owen Gwynedd, prince of North Wales, by Finnog, an Irish damsel. He was one of his father's generals in his wars against the English, Flemings, and Normans, in South Wales; and was a famous bard, as his poems that are extant testify. See Evan. Spec. p. 26, 4to.; and Jones. Relics, vol. ii. p. 36, where he is
"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 Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topt head.
called the "Princely Bard." Who says that he wrote eight pieces, five of which are translated by him in his interesting publication. The whole are given in Mr. Owen's translation in Mr. Southey's Madoc, vol. ii. p. 162.
V. 28. In a Poem to Llewellyn, by Einion the son of Guigan, a similar epithet is given to him (p. 22): "Llewellyn is a tender-hearted prince." And in another Poem to him, by Llywarch Brydydd y Moch (p. 32): "Llewellyn, though in battle he killed with fury, though he burnt like an outrageous fire, yet was a mild prince when the mead horns were distributed." Also in an Ode to him by Llygard Gwr (p. 39), he is called "Llewellyn the mild, and prosperous governor of Gwynedd." Llewellyn's 'soft Lay' is given by Jones in his Relics, vol. ii. p. 64.
V. 29. Cadwallo and Urien are mentioned by Dr. Evans in his "Dissertatio de Bardis," p. 78, among those bards of whom no works remain. See account of Urien's death in Jones. Relics, i. p. 19. He is celebrated in the Triads, "as one of the three bulls of war." Taliessin dedicated to him upwards of twelve poems, and wrote an elegy on his death: he was slain by treachery in the year 560. Modred is, I suppose, the famous "Myrddin ab Morvryn," called Merlyn the Wild; a disciple of Taliessin, and bard to the Lord Gwenddolaw ab Ceidiaw. He fought under King Arthur in 542 at the battle of Camlau, and accidentally slew his own nephew. He was reckoned a truer prophet than his predecessor, the great magician Merdhin Ambrose. See a poem of his called the "Orchard," in Jones. Relics, vol. i. p. 24. I suppose Gray altered the name "euphoniæ gratia; as I can nowhere find a bard mentioned of the name of "Modred."
V. 30. "Uttering such dulcet and harmonious breath, That the rude sea grew civil at her song." Mids. N. Dream, act ii. sc. 2. W. Add Milt. Comus, 86.