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Her spectres wan and birds of boding cry,
II, 2. In climes beyond the solar road, Where shaggy forms o'er ice-built mountains roam, The muse has broke the twilight gloom
To cheer the shivering native's dull abode. And oft, beneath the odorous shade Of Chili's boundless forests laid, She deigns to hear the savage youth repeat, In loose numbers wildly sweet, Their feather-cinctured chiefs, and dusky loves. Her track, where'er the goddess roves, Glory pursue, and generous Shame, The' unconquerable Mind, and Freedom's holy flame.
Ver. 54. In climes beyond the solar road] Extensive influence of poetic genius over the remotest and most uncivilized nations : its connection with liberty, and the virtues that naturally attend on it. (See the Erse, Norwegian, and Welsh fragments, the Lapland and American songs, &c.] “ Extra anni solisque vias"
VIRGIL. “ Tutta lontana dal camin del sole.”
Fields, that cool Ilissus laves,
Or where Mæander's amber waves
How do your tuneful echoes languish,
Inspiration breathed around;
Murmur'd deep a solemn sound:
Left their Parnassus for the Latian plains.
And coward Vice, that revels in her chains.
Ver. 66. Woods, that wave o'er Delphi's steep] Progress of Poetry from Greece to Italy, and from Italy to England, Chaucer was not unacquainted with the writings of Dante or of Petrarch. The Earl of Surrey and Sir Thomas Wyatt had travelled in Italy, and formed their taste there. Spenser imitated the Italian writers; Milton improved on them; but this school expired soon after the Restoration, and a new one arose on the French model, which has subsisted ever since.
GRAY has been long dead: the Poets of the present day rather imitate the Italian and early English Poets than the French.
Ver. 84. In thy green lap was Nature's Darling laid] “Nature's Darling," Sbakspeare.
What time, where lucid Avon stray'd,
To him the mighty mother did unveil
He pass’d the flaming bounds of place and time:
[pace. With necks in thunder clothed, and long-resounding
Ver. 95. Nor second He, that rode sublime] Milton.
Ver. 99. The living throne, the sapphire blaze] “ For the spirit of the living creature was in the wheels. And above the firmament, that was over their heads, was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone. This was the appearance of the glory of the Lord.” EZEK. 1. 20, 26, 28.
Ver. 106. With necks in thunder clothed] “Hast thou clothed his neck with thunder?” JOB.—This verse and the foregoing
Oh! lyre divine, what daring spirit
That the Theban eagle bare,
Through the azure deep of air:
Such forms as glitter in the Muse's ray,
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 Great. are meant to express the stately march and sounding energy of Dryden's rhymes.
Ver. 111. But ah! 'tis heard no more] We have had in our language no other odes of the sublime kind than that of Dryden on St. Cecilia's Day; for Cowley, who had merit, yet wanted judgment, style, and harmony, for such a task. That of Pope is not worthy of so great
man. Mr. Mason indeed, of late days, has touched the true chords, and with a masterly hand, in some of his choruses; above all in the last of Caractacus :
ye not yon footstep dread ?” &c. Ver. 115. That the Theban eagle bear] Aids ogòs o evige beror. OLYMP. 11. 159. Pindar compares himself to that bird, and his enemies to ravens that croak and clamour in vain below, while it pursues its flight, regardless of their noise.
This Ode is founded on a tradition current in Wales, that
Edward the First, when he completed the conquest of that
Confusion on thy banners wait;
They mock the air with idle state.
Helm nor hauberk's twisted mail,
Of the first Edward scatter'd wild dismay,
Ver. 5. 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.