« PreviousContinue »
Beyond the limits of a vulgar fate,
Beneath the Good how far-but far above the Great.
of a poet, "there must be," says he, "a spritely imagination or fancy, "fertile in a thousand productions, ranging over infinite ground, "piercing into every corner, and, by the light of that true poetical fire, "discovering a thousand little bodies or images in the world, and "similitudes among them, unseen to common eyes, and which could "not be discovered without the rays of that sun.”
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;
"Tho' fann'd by Conquest's crimson wing, They mock the air with idle state (e).
" The Bard" (says Johnson) appears, at the first view, to be, as Algarotti and others have remarked, an imitation of the prophecy of "Nereus. Algarotti thinks it superior to its original, and, if preference
depends only on the imagery and animation of the two poems, his 66 judgment is right. There is in The Bard' more force, more thought, " and more variety."
 Of this noble exordium, an anonymous Critic thus eloquently expresses his admiration: "This abrupt execration plunges the reader "into that sudden fearful perplexity which is designed to predominate "through the whole. The irresistible violence of the prophet's passions "bears him away, who, as he is unprepared by a formal ushering-in of "the speaker, is unfortified against the impressions of his poetical “phrenzy and overpowered by them, as sudden thunders strike the "deepest."
(e) They mock the air with idle state!
Mocking the air with colours idly spread.
"Helm, nor Hauberk's twisted mail (ƒ), "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 (g) Of the first Edward scatter'd wild dismay, As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side (h) He wound with toilsome march his long array.
(f) 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.
(h) As down the steep of Snowdon's shaggy side.
Snowdon was a name given by the Saxons to that mountainous tract which the Welsh themselves call Craigian-eryri: it included all the highlands of Caernarvonshire and Merionethshire, as far as the river Conway. R. Hygden, speaking of the castle of Conway, built there 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 erigo castrum "forte."
Stout Glo'ster stood aghast (i) in speechless trance: To arms! cried Mortimer (k), and couch'd his quiv'ring lance.
On a rock, whose haughty brow
With haggard eyes the Poet stood;
Stream'd, like a meteor (m), to the troubled air) 
(i) Stout Glo'ster stood aghast
Gilbert de Clare, surnamed the Red, Earl of Gloucester and Hertford, son-in-law to King Edward.
(k) To arms' cried 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.
(1) Loose his beard, and hoary hair.
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.
(m) Stream'd, like a meteor, to the troubled air.
 Moses breaking the tables of the law, by Parmegiano, was a figure which Mr. Gray used to say came still nearer to his meaning than the picture of Raphael.
And with a Master's hand, and Prophet's fire,
"Sighs to the torrent's awful voice beneath! "O'er thee, oh King! their hundred arms they 66 wave,
66 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 mourn in vain
"Modred, whose magic song
"Made huge Plinlimmon bow his cloud-top'd head. "On dreary Arvon's shore (n) they lie,
(n) On dreary Arvon's shore
The shores of Caernarvonshire opposite to the isle of Anglesey.