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ODE VII. This Ode, to which, on the title, I have given the epithet of IRREGULAR, is the only one of the kind which Mr. Gray ever wrote ; and its being written occasionallý, and for music, is a sufficient apology for the defect. Exclusive of this (for a defect it certainly is), it appears to me, in point of lyrical arrangement and expression, to be equal to most of his other odes. It is remarkable that, amongst the many irregular Odes which have been written in our own language, Dryden's and Pope's, on St. Cecilia's Day, are the only ones that may properly be said to have lived. The reason is (as I have hinted in a note, p. 189 of the Memoirs) that the mode of composition is so extremely easy, that it gives the writer an opening to every kind of poetical licentiousness: whereas the regularly-repeated stanza, and still more the regular succession of strophe, antistrophe, and epode, put so strong a curb on the wayward imagination, that when she has once paced in it, she seldom chooses to submit to it a second time. 'Tis therefore greatly to be wished, in order to stifle in their birth a quantity of compositions, which are at the same time wild and jejune, that regular odes, and these only, should be deemed legitimate amongst us.
The Cambridge edition (published at the expense of the University) is here followed; but I have added at the bottom of the page a number of explanatory notes, which this Ode seemed to want, still more than that which preceded it, especially when given not to the University only, but the public in general, who may be reasonably supposed to know little
of the particular founders of different colleges and their history here alluded to. For the sake of uniformity in the page, I have divided the Ode into stanzas, and discarded the musical divisions of recitative, air, and chorus; but shall here insert them in their order, according as the different stanzas were set by Dr. Randal, professor of music.
Stanza 1. The first eight'lines “ air,” the four last chorus.”
“ Air." This stanza being supposed to be sung by Milton, is very judiciously written in the metre which he fixed upon for the stanza of his Christmas Hymn.
'Twas in the winter wild, &c. Stanza 4. “ Recitative" throughout the last nine lines accompanied.
Stanza 5. “ Air Quartetto.” The musical reader will easily see and admire how well this stanza is suited to that species of music.
Stanza 6. First six lines “recitative :” the rest of the stanza, beginning at
ODE VIII. 1. The occasion of Mr. Gray's writing (for it may be rather called so than versifying this and the three following odes, however closely he has done them) has been given in the beginning of the fifth Section of the Memoirs, and his reason for first publishing them in the fifty-seventh Letter of the fourth. Their best comment, since it is the best illustration of their excellency, will be to insert here the Latin versions of the originals from whence they were taken; as it is probable that many readers, who have hitherto admired them as compositions, have not compared them with those literal versions for want of having the books (which are not common ones) at hand.
2. Ex Orcadibus Thormodi Torfæi. Hafniæ, 1697. Late diffunditur
Jam bastis applicatur Ante stragem futuram
Cineracea Sagittarum nubes :
Tela virorum, Depluit sanguis :
Quam amicæ texunt
Bellacium virorum, Randveri mortis.
Non sinamus eum Texitur hæc tela
Vita privari: Intestinis humanis,
Habent Valkyriæ Staminique stricte alligantur
Cædis potestatem. Capita humana,
Illi Populi'terras regent, Sunt sanguine roratæ
Qui deserta promontoria Hastæ pro insilibus,
Anteà incolebant. Textoria instrumenta ferrea,
Dico potenti Regi Ac sagittæ pro radiis :
Mortem imminere. Densabimus gladiis
Jam sagittis occubuit comes ; Hanc victoriæ telam.
Et Hibernis Prodeunt ad texendum Hilda, Dolor accidet, Et Hiorthromula,
Qui nunquam Sangrida, et Swipula;
Apud viros delebitur. Cum strictis gladiis ;
Jam tela texta est, Hastile frangetur,
Campus verò (sanguine) roratus ; Scutum diffindetur,
Terras percurret Ensisque
Conflictus militum. Clypeo illidetur.
Nunc horrendum est Texamus, texamus
Circumspicere, Telam Darradar!
Cum sanguinea nubes Hunc (gladium) Rex juvenis
Per aëra volitet: Prius possidebat.
Tingetur aer Prodeamus,
Sanguine virorum, Et cohortes intremus,
Antequam vaticinia nostra Ubi nostri amici
Omnia corruant. Armis dimicant !
Benè canimus Texamus, texamus
De Rege juvene, Telam Darradi ; *
Victoriæ carmina multa : Et Regi deinde
Benè sit nobis canentibus. Deinde adhæreamus!
Discat autem ille, Ibi videbant
Qui auscultat, Sanguine rorata Scuta
Bellica carmina multa, Gunna et Gondula,
Et viris referat. Quæ Regem tutabantur.
Equitemus in equis, Texamus texamus
Quoniam efferimus gladios strictos Telam Darradi!
Ex hoc loco. Ubi arma concrepant
In the argument of this Ode, printed at the bottom of the page in this edition, it is said that the battle was fought on Christmas Day; on which Mr. Gray, in his manuscript, remarks, that “the people of the Orkney islands were Christians, yet did not become so till after A. D. 966, probably it happened in 995; but though they, and the other Gothic nations, longer worshipped their old divinities, yet they never doubted of their existence, or forgot their ancient mythology, as appears from the history of Olaus Tryggueson.”—See Bartholinus, lib. viii.c. i. p. 615.
3. Iron sleet of arrowy shower. L. 3.
How quick they wheeld; and flying, behind them shot
* So Thormodus interprets it, as though Darradar were the name of the person who saw this vision; but in reality it signifies a runge of spears, from Daur Hasta, et Radir Ordo. G.
ODE IX. 1. The Vegtams Kvitha, from Bartholinus, lib. iii. c. ii. p. 632. Surgebat Odinus,
F. Hic Baldero Medo Virorum summus
Paratus extat, Et Sleipnerum*
Purus potus, Ephippio stravit.
Scuto superinjecto: Equitabat deorsum
Divina verò soboles Niflhelam versus
Dolore afficietur. Obviàm habuit catellum
Invita hæc dixi, Ab Helæ habitaculis venientem;
Jamque silebo. Huic sanguine aspersa erant
0. Noli, Fatidica, tacere. Pectus anterius,
Te interrogare volo, Rictus, mordendi avidus,
Donec omnia novero. Et maxillarum infima :
Adhuc scire volo, Allatrabat ille,
Quisnam Baldero Et rictum diduxit
Necem inferet, Magiæ Patri,
Ac Odini filium Et diu latrabat.
Vitâ privabit ? Equitavit Odinus
F. Hodus excelsum fert (Terra subtus tremuit)
Honoratum Fratrem illùc. Donec ad altum veniret
Is Baldero Helæ habitaculum.
Necem inferet, Tum equitavit Odinus
Et Odini filium Ad orientale, ostii latus,
Vitâ privabit. Ubi Fatidicæ
Invita hæc dixi, Tumulum esse novit.
Jamque tacebo. Sapienti carmina
0. Noli tacere, Fatidica, Mortuos excitantia cecinit,
Adhuc te interrogare volo, Boream inspexit,
Donec omnia novero. Literas (tumulo) imposuit,
Adhuc scire volo, Sermones proferre cæpit,
Quisnam Hodo Responsa poposcit,
Odium rependet, Donec invita surgeret,
Aut Balderi interfectorem Et mortuorum sermonem proferret.
Occidendo rogo adaptet! FATIDICA. Quisnam hominum
F. Rinda filium pariet Mihi ignotorum
In habitaculis occidentalibus : Mibi facere præsumit
Hic Odini filius, Tristem animum?
Unam noctem natus, armis utetur ; Nive eram, et
Manum non lavabit, Nimbo aspersa,
Nec caput pectet Pluviâque rorata :
Antequam rogo imponet Mortua diu jacui.
Balderi inimicum. ODINUS. Viator nominor,
Invita hæc dixi, Bellatoris filius sum.
Jam que tacebo: Enarra mihi, quæ apud Helam geruntur:
0. Noli tacere, Fatidica, Ego tibi quæ in mundo.
Adhuc te interrogare volo. Cuinam sedes auro stratæ sunt, Quænam sint virgines, Lecti pulchri
Quæ præ cogitationibus lachrymantur, Auro ornati ?
Et in cælum jaciunt
Sleipner was the horse of Odin which had eight legs...Vide Edda.
Gigantum mater. Hoc solum mihi dicas,
F. Equita domum, Odine, Nam prius non dormies.
Ac in his gloriare : F. Non tu viator es,
Nemo tali modo veniet Ut antea credidi;
Ad suscitandum, Sed potius Odinus,
Usque dum Lokus Virorum summus.
Vinculis solvatur, 0. Tu non es Fatidica,
Et Decorum crepusculum Nec sapiens fæmina,
Dissolventes aderint. Sed potius trium
2. Hela's drear abode. L. 4. Hela, in the Edda, is described with a dreadful countenance, and her body half flesh-colour and half blue. G.
3. Him the Dog of Darkness spied. L. 5. The Edda gives this dog the name of Managarmar ; he fed upon the lives of those that were to die.
4. The thrilling verse that wakes the dead. L, 24. The original word is vallgaldr ; from valı mortuus, et galdr incantatio. G. Thrilling is surely in this place a peculiarly-fine epithet. 5. Tell me what is done below. L. 40. Odin, we find both from this Ode and the Edda, was solicitous about the fate of his son Balder, who had dreamed he was soon to die. The Edda mentions the manner of his death when killed by Odin's other son Hoder; and also that Hoder was himself slain afterward by Vali, the son of Odin and Rinda, consonant with this prophecy. 6. Once again my call obey.
Prophetess, &c. L. 51. Women were looked upon by the Gothic nations as having a peculiar insight into futurity; and some there were that made profession of magic arts and divi. nation. These travelled round the country, and were received in every house with great respect and honour. Such a woman bore the name of Volva Seidkona or Špakona. The dress of Thorbiorga, one of these prophetesses, is described at large in Eirick's Rauda Sogu, (apud Bartholin. lib. i. cap. iv. p. 688.) She had on a blue vest spangled all over with stones, a necklace of glass beads, and a cap made of the skin of a black lamb lined with white cat-skin. She leaned on a staff adorned with brass, with a round head set with stones; and was girt with a Hunlandish belt, at which hung her pouch full of magical instruments. Her buskins were of rough calf-skin, bound on with thongs studded with knobs of brass, and her gloves of white cat-skin, the fur turned inwards, &c. G.
They were also called Fiolkyngi, or Fiol-kunnug ; i. e. Multi-scia: and Visindakuna ; i.e. Oraculorum Mulier, Nornir; i. e. Parcæ. G.
7. What virgins these. L, 75.
These were probably the Nornir or Parcæ, just now mentioned: their names were Urda, Verdandi, and Skulda; they were the dispensers of good destinies. As their names signify time past, present, and future, it is probable they were always invisible to mortals; therefore when Odin asks this question on seeing them, he betrays himself to be a god; which elucidates the next speech of the prophetess.
8. Mother of the giant-brood. L. 86. In the Latin “ Mater trium Gigantum.” He means, therefore, probably Angerbode, who, from her name, seems to be “no prophetess of good,” and who bore to Loke, as the Edda says, three children ; the wolf Fenris, the great serpent of Midgard, and Hela, all of them called giants in that wild but curious system of mythology; with which, if the reader wishes to be acquainted, he had better con
sult the translation of M. Mallet's Introduction to the History of Denmark, than the original itself, as some mistakes of consequence are corrected by the translator. The book is entitled Northern Antiquities.-Printed for Carnan, 1770, 2 vols. 8vo.
Mr. Gray entitles this Ode, in his own edition, a FRAGMENT; but from the prose version of Mr. Evans, which I shall here insert, it will appear that nothing is omitted, except a single hyperbole at the end, which I print in italics. Panegyric upon Owain Gwynedd, Prince of North Wales, by Gwalchmai,
the son of Melir, in the year 1157.* 1. I will extol the generous hero, descended from the race of Roderic, the bulwark of his country; a prince eminent for his good qualities, the glory of Britain, Owen the brave and expert in arms, a prince that neither boardeth nor coveteth riches.
2. Three fleets arrived, vessels of the main ; three powerful fleets of the first rate, furiously to attack him on the sudden: one from Jwerddon,t the other full of well-armed Lochlynians, making a grand appearance on the floods, the third from the transmarine Normans, which was attended with an immense though successless toil.
3. The dragon of Mona's sons was so brave in action, that there was a great tumult on their furious attack; and before the prince himself there was vast confusion, havoc, conflict, bonourable death, bloody battle, horrible consternation, and upon Tal Malvre a thousand banners; there was an outrageous carnage, and the rage of spears and hasty signs of violent indignation. Blood raised the tide of 'the Menäi, and the crimson of human gore stained the brine. There were glittering cuirasses, and the agony of gashing wounds, and the mangled warriors prostrate before the chief, distinguished by his crimson lance. Lloegria was put into confusion; the contest and confusion was great ; und the glory of our Prince's widewasting sword shall be celebrated in an hundred languages to give him his merited praise.
From the extract of the Gododin, which Mr. Evans has given us in his Dissertatio de Bardis in the forementioned book, I shall here transcribe those particular passages which Mr. Gray selected for imitation in this Ode.
1. Si mihi liceret vindictam in Déirorum populum ferre,
Æquè ac diluvium omnes unâ strage prostrarem.
Qui in resistendo firmus erat.
Filius Ciani ex strenuo Gwyngwn ortus.
Vinum et mulsum et aureis poculis erat eorum potus.
Aliter ad hoc Carmen compingendum non superstes fuissem. Whoever compares Mr. Gray's poetical versions of these four lyrical pieces with the literal translations which I have here inserted, will, I am persuaded, be con
* See Evans's Specimen of Welsh poetry, p. 25. and for the original Welch, p.127. + Ireland.
# Danes and Normans.