Ode To Cambria

Cambria, I love thy genius bold;

Thy dreadful rites, and Druids old;

Thy bards who struck the sounding strings,

And wak'd the warlike souls of kings;

Those kings who, prodigal of breath,

Rush'd furious to the fields of death;

Thy maids for peerless beauty crown'd,

In songs of ancient fame renown'd,

Pure as the gem of Arvon's caves,

Bright as the foam of Menai's waves,

With sunny locks and jetty eyes,

Of valour's deeds the glorious prize,

Who tam'd to love's refin'd delight

Those chiefs invincible in fight.

Thy sparkling horns I next recall

In many a hospitable hall

Circling with haste, whose boundless mirth

To many an amorous lay gave birth,

And many a present to the fair,

And many a deed of bold despair.

I love thy harps with well-rank'd strings,

Heard in the stately halls of kings,

Whose sounds had magic to bestow

Or sunny joy, or dusky woe.

I love thy fair Silurian vales

Fann'd by Sabrina's temperate gales,

That fir'd the Roman to engage

The scythed cars of Arvirage.

Oft to the visionary skies

I see thy ancient genius rise,

Who mounts the chariot of the wind,

And leaves our mortal steeds behind;

And while to rouse the drooping land

He strikes the harp with glowing hand,

Light spirits with aerial wings

Dance upon the trembling strings.

Oh, lead me thou in strains sublime

Thy sacred hill of oaks to climb,

To haunt thy old poetic streams,

And sport in fiction's fairy dreams,

There let the rover fancy free,

And breathe the soul of poesy!

To think upon thy ravish'd crown,

Thy warlike deeds of old renown;

Thy valiant sons at Maelor slain, {75a}

The stubborn fight of Bangor's plain, {75b}

A thousand banners waving high

Where bold Tal Moelvre meets the sky! {75c}

Nor seldom, Cambria, I explore

Thy treasures of poetic store,

And mingle with thy tuneful throng,

And range thy realms of ancient song,

That like thy mountains, huge and high,

Lifts its broad forehead to the sky;

Whence Druids fanes of fabling time,

And ruin'd castles frown sublime,

Down whose dark sides torn rocks resound,

Eternal tempests whirling round;

With many a pleasant vale between,

Where Nature smiles attir'd in green,

Where Innocence in cottage warm

Is shelter'd from the passing storm,

Stretch'd on the banks of lulling streams

Where fancy lies indulging dreams,

Where shepherds tend their fleecy train,

Where echoes oft the pleading strain

Of rural lovers. O'er my soul

Such varied scenes in vision roll,

Whether, O prince of bards, I see

The fire of Greece reviv'd in thee,

That like a deluge bursts away;

Or Taliesin tune the lay;

Or thou, wild Merlin, with thy song

Pour thy ungovern'd soul along;

Or those perchance of later age

More artful swell their measur'd rage,

Sweet bards whose love-taught numbers suit

Soft measures and the Lesbian lute;

Whether, Iolo, mirtle-crown'd,

Thy harp such amorous verse resound

As love's and beauty's prize hath won;

Or led by Gwilym's plaintive song,

I hear him teach his melting tale

In whispers to the grove and gale.

But since thy once harmonious shore

Resounds th' inspiring strain no more,

That snatch'd in fields of ancient date,

The palm from number, strength, and fate;

Since to thy grove no more belong

The sacred eulogies of song;

Since thou hast rued the waste of age,

And war, and Scolan's fiercer rage;--{76}

The spirit of renown expires,

The brave example of thy sires

Is lost; thy high heroic crest

Oblivion and inglorious rest

Have torn with rude rapacious hand;

And apathy usurps the land.

Lo! silent as the lapse of time

Sink to the earth thy towers sublime;

Where whilom harp'd the minstrel throng,

The night-owl pours her feral song:

For ever sinks blest Cambria's fame,

By ignorance, and sword, and flame

Laid with the dust, amidst her woes

The taunt of her ungenerous foes;

For ever sleeps her warlike praise,

Her wealth, dominion, language, lays.