Page images
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

GRAY, who was “sat

urated with the finest essence of the Attic muse,” has given us some grand

stanzas, in his Ode founded upon the Welsh tradition, that when Edward the First conquered Wales, he ordered the bards to be put to death. These are the opening stanzas :

“Ruin seize thee, ruthless king!

Confusion on thy banners wait ; Though fann'd by Conquest's crimson wing, They mock the air with idle state

Helm, nor hauberk's twisted mail,
Nor e’en thy virtues, Tyrant, shall avail
To save thy secret soul from nightly fears,
From Cambria's curse, from Cambria's tears!”
Such were the sounds that o'er the crested pride

Of the first Edward scattered wild dismay,
As down the steep of Snowden'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

Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming food,
Robed in the sable garb of woe,

With haggard eyes the poet stood ;
(Loose his beard, and hoary hair
Stream'd like a meteor to the troubled air ;)
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 high-born Hoel's harp, or soft Llewellyn's lay!”

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

Both Campbell and Rogers were much charmed with Gray's writings: the latter used to carry a copy of them in his pocket, to read during his morning walks, till at length, he says, he could repeat them all. Byron considered Gray's Elegy the corner-stone of his glory. Tuckerman, with all a poet's appreciation, thus refers to this remarkable production :-“Almost every line is a select phrase, not to be improved by taste or ingenuity. The subject is one of the

« PreviousContinue »