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Theirs was no common party race,
Jostling by dark intrigue for place;
Like fabled Gods, their mighty war
Shook realms and nations in its jar;
Beneath each banner proud to stand,
Looked up the noblest of the land,
Till through the British world were known
The names of Pitt and Fox alone.
Spells of such force no wizard grave
E'er framed in dark Thessalian cave,
Though his could drain the ocean dry,
And force the planets from the sky.
These spells are spent, and, spent with these,
The wine of life is on the lees,
Genius and taste and talent gone,
Forever tombed beneath the stone,
Where - taming thought to human pride ! -
The mighty chiefs sleep side by side.
grave 'T will trickle to his rival's bier ; O'er Prrt's the mournful requiem sound, And Fox's shall the notes rebound. The solemn echo seems to cry, 'Here let their discord with them die. Speak not for those a separate doom Whom Fate made brothers in the tomb; But search the land, of living men, Where wilt thou find their like again?'
Rest, ardent spirits, till the cries
Of dying nature bid you rise !
Not even your Britain's groans can pierce
The leaden silence of your hearse ;
Then, oh, how impotent and vai
This grateful tributary strain !
Though not unmarked from northern clime,
Ye heard the Border Minstrel's rhyme :
His Gothic harp has o'er you rung;
The Bard you deigned to praise, your
deathless names has
Stay yet, illusion, stay a while,
My wildered fancy still beguile !
From this high theme how can I part,
Ere half unloaded is
For all the tears 'e'er sorrow drew,
And all the raptures fancy knew,
And all the keener rush of blood
That throbs through bard in bardlike mood,
Were here a tribute mean and low,
Though all their mingled streams could flow
Woe, wonder, and sensation high,
In one spring-tide of ecstasy!
It will not be — it may not last-
The vision of enchantment 's past :
Like frostwork in the morning ray,
The fancy fabric melts away ;
Each Gothic arch, memorial-stone,
And long, dim, lofty aisle, are gone ;
And, lingering last, deception dear,
The choir's high sounds die on my ear.
Now slow return the lonely down,
The silent pastures bleak and brown,
The farm begirt with copsewood wild,
The gambols of each frolic child,
Mixing their shrill cries with the tone
Of Tweed's dark waters rushing on.
Prompt on unequal tasks to run, Thus Nature disciplines her son :
Meeter, she says, for me to stray,
And waste the solitary day
In plucking from yon fen the reed,
And watch it floating down the Tweed,
Or idly list the shrilling lay
With which the milkmaid cheers her way.
Marking its cadence rise and fail,
As from the field, beneath her pail,
She trips it down the uneven dale;
Meeter for me, by yonder cairn,
The ancient shepherd's tale to learn,
Though oft he stop in rustic fear,
Lest his old legends tire the ear
Of one who, in his simple mind,
May boast of book-learned taste refined.
But thou, my friend, canst fitly tell
For few have read romance so well
How still the legendary lay
O'er poet's bosom holds its sway;
How on the ancient minstrel strain
Time lays his palsied hand in vain ;
And how our hearts at doughty deeds,
By warriors wrought in steely weeds,
Still throb for fear and pity's sake ;
As when the Champion of the Lake
Enters Morgana's fated house,
Or in the Chapel Perilous,
Despising spells and demons' force,
Holds converse with the unburied corse,
Or when, Dame Ganore's grace to move -
Alas, that lawless was their love ! -
He sought proud Tarquin in his den,
And freed full sixty knights; or when,
A sinful man and unconfessed,
He took the Sangreal's holy quest,
And slumbering saw the vision high
He might not view with waking eye.
The mightiest chiefs of British song Scorned not such legends to prolong. They gleam through Spenser's elfin dream, And mix in Milton's heavenly theme; And Dryden, in immortal strain, Had raised the Table Round again, But that a ribald king and court Bade him toil on, to make them sport ; Demanded for their niggard pay, Fit for their souls, a looser lay, Licentious satire, song, and play ; The world defrauded of the high design, Profaned the God-given strength, and marred the lofty line.
Warmed by such names, well may we then,
Though dwindled sons of little men,
Essay to break a feeble lance
In the fair fields of old romance ;
Or seek the moated castle's cell,
Where long through talisman and spell,
While tyrants ruled and damsels wept,
Thy Genius, Chivalry, hath slept.
There sound the harpings of the North,
Till he awake and sally forth,
On venturous quest to prick again,
In all his arms, with all his train,
Shield, lance, and brand, and plume, and scarf,
Fay, giant, dragon, squire, and dwarf,
And wizard with his wand of might,
And errant maid on palfrey white.
Around the Genius weave their spells,
Pure Love, who scarce his passion tells;
Mystery, half veiled and half revealed ;
And Honor, with his spotless shield;
Attention, with fixed eye; and Fear,
That loves the tale she shrinks to hear;
And gentle Courtesy; and Faith,
Unchanged by sufferings, time, or death;
And Valor, lion-mettled lord,
Leaning upon his own good sword.
Well has thy fair achievement shown
A worthy meed may thus be won :
Ytene's oaks beneath whose shade
Their theme the merry minstrels made,
Of Ascapart, and Bevis bold,
And that Red King, who, while of old
Through Boldrewood the chase he led,
By his loved huntsman's arrow bled -
Ytene's oaks have heard again
Renewed such legendary strain;
For thou hast sung, how he of Gaul,
That Amadis so famed in hall,
For Oriana, foiled in fight
The Necromancer's felon might;
And well in modern verse hast wove
Partenopex's mystic love :
Hear, then, attentive to my lay,
A knightly tale of Albion's elder day.