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ADVERTISEMENT TO THE ODES.
The connexion between the lyric and dramatic forms of poetical composition is sufficiently ancient and established to warrant me, I trust, in subjoining to an historical play three attempts, equally elaborate, in the less cultivated art of the historical ode. Written at least with the advantage of mature experience, I venture to express a hope that these odes may,
in some degree, redeem the faults of poems put forth, a few years since, in the rashness of early youth. If I require an additional apology for associating them with the drama of “Richelieu,” let me frankly acknowledge that I am not influenced by the belief, that, should their more obtrusive companion meet with any success, they are likely to obtain a larger circle of readers, and, therefore, a fairer judgment, than, in the present indisposition to poetry, an author whose reputation, such as it may be, lies in other departments of literature, could reasonably expect for a volume exclusively devoted to lyrical compositions: and, on the other hand, if impartial judges should pass an unfavourable verdict on the pretensions, I have, at least, put them forward in a more unassuming shape than that of a separate publication.
London, April, 1839.
O D E 1.
LAST DAYS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH.
“Her delight is to sit in the dark, and sometimes, with shedding tears, to bewail Essex.”—Contemporaneous Correspondence.
“She refused all consolation; few words she uttered, and they were all expressive of some hidden grief which she cared not to reveal. But sighs and groans were the chief vent which she gave to her despondency, and which, though they discovered her sorrows, were never able to ease or assuage them. Ten days and nights she lay upon the carpet leaning on cushions which her maids brought her,” &c.-HUME.
I. Rise from thy bloody grave,
Thou soft Medusa of the Fated Line,* Whose evil beauty look’d to death the brave;
Discrowned queen, around whose passionate shame Terror and grief the palest flowers entwine,
That ever veil'd the ruins of a name
Arise, sad ghost, arise,
Lo, where thy mighty murderess lies,
Alike by night and day,
* Mary Stuart—"The soft Medusa” is an expression strikingly applied to her in her own day.
The heart's blood from the inward wound
Ebbs silently away.
A sharp and eager gaze,
Ah, what the clew supplies
Ah, sad in childless age to weep alone,
But not upon the pinions of the dove;
Who have outlived all love!
Lingers a weary moon,
That bathed with splendour her majestic noon:
Lull'd into glittering rest the subject sea; Gone the great masters of Italian wile, False to the world beside, but true to thee!
Burleigh, the subtlest builder of thy fame,
They who exalted yet before thee bowed;
III. To their great sires, to whom thy youth was known,
Who from thy smile, as laurels from the sun, Drank the immortal greenness of renown, Succeeds the cold lip-homage scantly won From the new race whose hearts already bear The wise-man's offerings to th’ unworthy heir.
There, specious Bacon's* unimpassion'd brow,
* See the servile and heart-sickening correspondence maintained by Francis Bacon and Robert Cecil (the sons of Elizabeth's most faithful friends) with the Scottish court during the queen's last ill