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62. solitude, Cp. the reproach against the Romans, Solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant, "They make a desolation and call it peace."

63. "Death of that king [Edward III.], abandoned by his children, and even robbed in his last moments by his courtiers and his mistress" (G.).

"Edward the Black Prince, dead some

67. sable warrior. time before his father " (G.).

69. Observe the interrogation: the sense is, "Where are the swarm

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70. Cp. Pompey's warning to Sulla, when the older man refused the younger a triumph, "More worship the rising than the setting sun" (Plutarch's Life of Pompey).

71. "Magnificence of Richard the Second's reign. See Froissard and other contemporary writers" (G.).

71-76. Gray had originally written (Wharton's MS.):
"Mirrors of Saxon truth and loyalty,

Your helpless old expiring master view.
They hear not. Scarce religion dares supply
Her muttered requiems, and her holy dew.
Yet thou, proud boy, from Pomfret's walls shalt send
A sigh, and envy oft thy happy grandsire's end."

In these superseded lines the courtiers of Edward III. are ironically addressed as 'mirrors of courtesy.' The 'proud boy' is Richard II., and his horrible death in 'Pomfret' or Pontefract Castle, Yorkshire, makes the death of his grandsire, Edward III., happy in comparison. In his later version Gray sacrifices the apostrophe to the courtiers that he may make the transition to Richard II. less abrupt.

Coleridge in a youthful essay, to which he refers with approval in his Biographia Literaria, ch. 1, traced Gray's amended lines ("Fair laughs the morn," etc.) to Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice, II. vi. 14:

"How like a younker, or a prodigal,

The scarfèd bark puts from her native bay,
Hugg'd and embraced by the strumpet wind!
How like a prodigal doth she return,

With over-weather'd ribs and ragged sails,

Lean, rent and beggar'd by the strumpet wind !"

Coleridge proceeds: "I preferred the original on the ground that, in the imitation, it depended wholly on the compositor's putting, or not putting, a small capital both in this and in many other passages of the same poet, whether the words should be personifications or mere abstracts." The censure is deserved by


Gray elsewhere (e.g. No. 1. 25), but seems unjust in this particular passage. The fact that "Youth at the prow and Pleasure at the helm" have inspired a widely-known allegorical painting may be taken to indicate that they are real personifications, and probably no intelligent student reads these lines without forming a picture in his mind.

75. Coleridge criticises sway in this line and realm in 72 as 'rhymes dearly purchased.' Sway was almost certainly a reminiscence of Dryden, translation of the Georgics, 1. 483, " And rolling onwards with a sweepy sway," said of the River Po.

77. "Richard the Second (as we are told by Archbishop Scroop and the confederate lords in their manifesto, Thomas of Walsingham, and all the older writers) was starved to death. The story of his assassination by Sir Piers of Exon is of much later date (G.). In Shakespeare's tragedy Richard II. is murdered by Exton: Shakespeare's authority for the story was Holinshed's Chronicle, published in 1577.


80. With this picture of Richard starved in presence of the banquet, cp. Virgil, Aeneid, VI. 603 :

"Lucent genialibus altis

Aurea fulcra toris, epulaeque ante ora paratae
Regifico luxu: Furiarum maxima iuxta

Accubat, et manibus prohibet contingere mensas.'

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"The high banqueting couches gleam golden-pillared, and the feast is spread in royal luxury before their faces: couched hard by, the eldest of the Furies wards the tables from their touch" (Mackail).

83. "Ruinous civil wars of York and Lancaster" (G.).

bray. Cp. Milton, Paradise Lost, VI. 209, "Arms on armour clashing brayed Horrible discord." "The din brays as 'the noise of battle hurtles' in Shakespeare, Julius Caesar, II. ii.; both bray and hurtle being distinctive words: bray being cognated with 'break' (vid. Skeat) and implying suddenness as well as loudness" (Tovey).

86. kindred squadrons. So Lucan calls the Roman armies in the civil war cognatas acies.

87. "Henry the Sixth, George Duke of Clarence, Edward the Fifth, 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 Caesar " (G.).

89. consort. "Margaret of Anjou, a woman of heroic spirit, who struggled hard to save her husband and her crown" (G.). father. 'Henry the Fifth " (G.).


90. meek usurper. "Henry the Sixth very near being canonized. The line of Lancaster had no right of inheritance to the crown (G.). Cp. Eton Ode (No. 48. 4), "Her Henry's holy shade."


91. "The white and red roses, devices of York and Lancaster" (G.).

Above, below, i.e. on the loom.

92. Twined. "If there is here a reference to marriage (as I incline to think) rather than the grapple of foes, it is probably to the marriage of Edward IV. with the Lancastrian Elizabeth Woodville, Lady Grey, of which union the murdered princes were the issue " (Tovey).

93. "The silver boar was the badge of Richard the Third; whence he was usually known in his own time by the name of the Boar" (G.).

infant gore, the murder of the two young princes in the

Tower, 1483.

99. Half of thy heart. Cp. Horace's animae dimidium meae, Odes, I. iii. 8. "Eleanor of Castile died a few years after the conquest of Wales. The heroic proof she gave of her affection for her lord is well known. The monuments of his regret and sorrow for the loss of her are still to be seen at Northampton, Geddington, Waltham, and other places" (G.). Tennyson commemorates Eleanor's devotion in his Dream of Fair Women :

"Or her who knew that Love can vanquish Death,
Who kneeling, with one arm about her king,
Drew forth the poison with her balmy breath,
Sweet as new buds in spring."

101. The ghosts vanish, and the Bard speaks alone. forlorn agrees with me.

106. skirts. A skirt is properly 'the edge of a garment.' It is a favourite word with Milton: "Dark with excessive bright thy skirts appear" (Paradise Lost, III. 380). "Gladly behold though but his utmost skirts Of glory" (ib. xi. 332).

109. "It was the common belief of the Welsh nation that King Arthur was still alive in Fairy-Land, and should return again to reign over Britain "


110. "Accession of the line of Tudor. 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" (G.). Henry VII.'s paternal grandfather was Sir Owen Tudor, a descendant of the ancient princes of Wales.

genuine, native.

111. The Tudor kings before Elizabeth.

112. Sublime, in the literal sense, 'lifted up,'' aloft.' Cp. No. 26. 95, "that rode sublime."

113. Elizabeth's Court.

116. Her eye. "Micheli, the Venetian, described Elizabeth in 1557 (the year before her accession) as having fine eyes; a testimony more trustworthy than the praise of her courtiers. This eye Gray makes characteristic of the Tudors: cp. Installation Ode, 1. 70, 'Pleased in thy lineaments we trace A Tudor's fire.' And his Bard refers it to their Celtic origin" (Tovey).


117. Her lion-port. 'Speed, relating an audience given by Queen Elizabeth to Paul Dzialinski, Ambassador of Poland, says, And then she, lion-like rising, daunted the malapert Orator, no less with her stately port and majestical deporture, than with the tartnesse of her princelie checkes'" (G.).

118. Attemper'd to. Cp. No. 26. 26, "Temper'd to thy warbled lay."

119. symphonious, sounding in concert. Cp. Paradise Lost, VII. 559, "the sound Symphonious of ten thousand harps that tuned Angelic harmonies."

119-20. The burst of lyric poetry in the reign of Elizabeth is meant. "It is, fittingly, the sound of lyric poetry, the music of the harp, that the Bard's ear first catches, to tell him that his art, spite of the tyrant's barbarity, will not be lost. This is faintly indicated in 'strings symphonious,' and it is certainly not till after 'The verse adorn again' that allusion is made to the greater poems of Spenser and Shakespeare" (Tovey).

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121. "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 (G.). But the prophecies attributed to Taliessin have since been shown not to be earlier than the twelfth century.

123. Cp. Shelley's Ode to the Skylark (G. T., CCLXXXVII. 10): "And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest." 124. many-colour'd, to express the variety of Elizabethan song.

125-127. war, love, and truth are the subjects of adorn.

125-144. On the unfavourable criticisms passed by Walpole, Johnson, and others upon the last stanza of The Bard, see Mr. Tovey's edition of Gray.

126. "Fierce wars and faithful loves shall moralise my song. Spenser, Proeme to the Fairy Queen" (G.).

127. An admirable description of Spenser's design in the Faerie Queen. Mr. Tovey quotes Milton, Areopagitica, § 23, "Our sage and serious poet Spenser, whom I dare be known to think a better teacher than Scotus or Aquinas"; and notes that Una, whose fortunes are told in Book I. of the Faerie Queen, is in Spenser another name for Truth.

128. buskin'd measures, the verse of tragedy. Cp. Milton, Il Penseroso (G. T., CXLV. 101, 102), "Or what (though rare) of later age Ennobled hath the buskin'd stage.' The buskin is the cothurnus (kó@opvos) or high boot worn by Greek and Roman actors in tragedy to increase their stature and dignity. therefore became emblematic of tragedy, as the soccus, or low shoe, of comedy.

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128-130, Shakespear." 131-132, Milton." 133-134, "The succession of poets after Milton's time" (G.).

129. pleasing pain. Spenser applies this expression to Love, Faerie Queen, IX. x. 3. But Gray more probably had in his mind Aristotle's attribution to tragedy of the pleasure that arises from pity and fear, τὴν ἀπὸ ἐλέου καὶ φόβου ἡδονήν, Poetics,


133. warblings. Milton.

The verb, to warble, is a favourite with

135. sanguine (Lat. sanguineus), red, as if with bloodshed. Addressing the King, the Bard points to a dark red cloud that has passed in front of the sun, and takes it to symbolise the cloud with which the massacre of the bards has covered the country. 137. A reminiscence of Milton, Lycidas (G.T., LXXXIX. 168171):

"So sinks the day-star in the ocean-bed,

And yet anon repairs his drooping head

And tricks his beams, and with new-spangled ore
Flames in the forehead of the morning sky."

repairs, 'recovers' or 'renews,' the primary meaning of the Latin reparare.

9. How sleep the brave, who sink to rest

THIS exquisite Ode was written, as its author tells us, " in the beginning of the year 1746." Collins had already commemorated, in his "Ode on the Death of Col. Charles Ross," the loss of one gallant Englishman in the disastrous battle of Fontenoy in Flanders. Here, on the 31st of May, 1745, the Duke of Cumberland "found the French covered by a line of fortified villages and redoubts with but a single narrow gap. Into this gap, however, the English troops, formed in a dense column, doggedly thrust

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