The following ode is founded on a tradition current in Wales, that Edward I., 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,
They mock the air with idle state.
Helm nor hauberk's twisted mail,
Nor even 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 scatter'd wild dismay,
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 quivering lance.
On a rock, whose haughty brow
Frowns o'er old Conway's foaming flood,
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, O 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.
'Cold is Cadwallo's tongue
That hush'd the stormy main;
Brave Urien sleeps upon his craggy bed:
Mountains! ye moan in vain
Modrid, whose magic song
Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-topp'd head.
On dreary Arvon's shore they lie,
Smear'd with gore and ghastly pale;
Far, far aloof the affrighted ravens sail;
The famish'd eagle screams and passes by.
Dear lost companions of my tuneful art!
Dear as the light that visits these sad eyes,
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 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
When Severn shall re-echo with affright
The shrieks of death through Berkley's roofs that ring,
Shrieks of an agonising king!
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 Heaven. What terrors round him wait!
Amazement in his van, with Flight combined,
And Sorrow's faded form, and Solitude behind.
"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 helm,
Regardless of the sweeping whirlwind's sway,
That, hush'd in grim repose, expects his evening prey.
"Fill high the sparkling bowl,
The rich repast prepare;
Reft of a crown, he yet may share the feast.
Close by the regal chair
Fell Thirst and Famine scowl
A baleful smile upon the baffled guest.
Heard ye the din of battle bray,
Lance to lance and horse to horse?
Long years of havoc urge their destined course,
And through the kindred squadrons mow their way;
Ye Towers of Julius! London's lasting shame,
With many a foul and midnight murder fed,
Revere his consort's faith, his father's fame,
And spare the meek usurper's holy head.
Above, below, the Rose of snow,
Twined with her blushing foe, we spread;
The bristled Boar in infant gore
Wallows beneath the thorny shade;
Now, Brothers! bending o'er the accursed loom,
Stamp we our vengeance deep, and ratify his doom.
"Edward, lo! to sudden fate
(Weave we the woof; the thread is spun:)
Half of thy heart we consecrate;
(The web is wove; the work is done.")
'Stay, oh stay! nor thus forlorn
Leave me unbless'd, unpitied, here to mourn,
In yon bright track, that fires the western skies,
They melt, they vanish from my eyes.
But oh! what solemn scenes on Snowdon's height,
Descending slow, their glittering skirts unroll!
Visions of glory! spare my aching sight!
Ye unborn ages crowd not on my soul!
No more our long-lost Arthur we bewail:
All hail, ye genuine Kings! Britannia's issue, hail!
'Girt with many a baron bold,
Sublime their starry fronts they rear;
And gorgeous dames and statesmen old
In bearded majesty appear;
In the midst a form divine,
Her eye proclaims her of the Briton-line,
Her lion-port, her awe-commanding face,
Attemper'd sweet to virgin-grace.
What strings symphonious tremble in the air!
What strains of vocal transport round her play!
Hear from the grave, great Taliessin, hear!
They breathe a soul to animate thy clay.
Bright Rapture calls, and, soaring as she sings,
Waves in the eye of Heaven her many-colour'd wings.
'The verse adorn again,
Fierce War and faithful Love,
And Truth severe, by fairy Fiction dress'd.
In buskin'd measures move
Pale Grief, and pleasing Pain,
With Horror, tyrant of the throbbing breast.
A voice as of the cherub-choir
Gales from blooming Eden bear,
And distant warblings lessen on my ear,
That lost in long futurity expire.
Fond, impious man! think'st thou yon sanguine cloud,
Raised by thy breath, has quench'd the orb of day?
To-morrow he repairs the golden flood,
And warms the nations with redoubled ray.
Enough for me: with joy I see
The different doom our Fates assign;
Be thine despair and sceptred care;
To triumph and to die are mine.'
He spoke, and headlong from the mountain's height,
Deep in the roaring tide, he plunged to endless night.
[Footnote 1: 'Hauberk:' 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.]
[Footnote 2: 'Stout Glo'ster:' Gilbert de Clare, surnamed the Red, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, son-in-law to King Edward.]
[Footnote 3: 'Mortimer:' 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.]
[Footnote 4: 'Arvon's shore:' the shores of Caernarvonshire, opposite to the isle of Anglesey.]
[Footnote 5: 'King:' Edward II., cruelly butchered in Berkley Castle.]
[Footnote 6: 'She-wolf of France:' Isabel of France, Edward II.'s adulterous queen.]
[Footnote 7: 'From thee:' triumphs of Edward III. in France.]
[Footnote 8: 'Funeral couch:' death of that king, abandoned by his children, and even robbed in his last moments by his courtiers and his mistress.]
[Footnote 9: 'Sable warrior:' Edward the Black Prince, dead some time before his father.]
[Footnote 10: 'Fair laughs the morn:' magnificence of Richard II.'s reign; see Froissard, and other contemporary writers.]
[Footnote 11: 'Sparkling bowl:' Richard II. was starved to death; the story of his assassination by Sir Piers of Exon is of much later date.]
[Footnote 12: 'Battle bray:' ruinous civil wars of York and Lancaster.]
[Footnote 13: 'Towers of Julius:' Henry VI., George Duke of Clarence, Edward V., Richard Duke of York, etc., believed to be murdered secretly in the Tower of London; the oldest part of that structure is vulgarly attributed to Julius Cæsar.]
[Footnote 14: 'Consort:' Margaret of Anjou.]
[Footnote 15: 'Father:' Henry V.]
[Footnote 16: 'Usurper:' Henry VI., very near being canonised; the line of Lancaster had no right of inheritance to the crown.]
[Footnote 17: 'Rose of snow:' the White and Red Roses, devices of York and Lancaster.]
[Footnote 18: 'Boar:' the silver Boar was the badge of Richard III., whence he was usually known in his own time by the name of The Boar.]
[Footnote 19: 'Half of thy heart:' Eleanor of Castile, Edward's wife, died a few years after the conquest of Wales.]
[Footnote 20: 'Long-lost Arthur:' it was the common belief of the Welsh nation, that King Arthur was still alive in Fairyland, and should return again to reign over Britain.]
[Footnote 21: 'Genuine kings:' both Merlin and Taliessin had prophesied that the Welsh should regain their sovereignty over this island, which seemed to be accomplished in the House of Tudor.]
[Footnote 22; 'Awe-commanding face:' Queen Elizabeth.]
[Footnote 23: 'Taliessin:' chief of the Bards, flourished in the sixth century; his works are still preserved, and his memory held in high veneration, among his countrymen.]
[Footnote 24: 'A voice:' Milton.]
[Footnote 25: 'Warblings:' the succession of poets after