Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE MEETING OF THE BARDS, by FELICIA DOROTHEA HEMANS

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THE MEETING OF THE BARDS, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Where met our bards of old? - the glorious throng
Last Line: In the sun's face, beneath the eye of light!
Alternate Author Name(s): Browne, Felicia Dorothea
Subject(s): Bards; Wales; Welshmen; Welshwomen

WHERE met our bards of old? -- the glorious throng,
They of the mountain and the battle song?
They met -- oh! not in kingly hall or bower,
But where wild nature girt herself with power:
They met where streams flashed bright from rocky caves;
They met where woods made moan o'er warriors' graves,
And where the torrent's rainbow spray was cast,
And where dark lakes were heaving to the blast.
And midst the eternal cliffs, whose strength defied
The crested Roman, in his hour of pride;
And where the Carnedd, on its lonely hill,
Bore silent record of the mighty still;
And where the Druid's ancient Cromlech frowned
And the oaks breathed mysterious murmurs round.

There thronged the inspired of yore! -- on plain or height,
In the sun's face, beneath the eye of light!
And, baring unto heaven each noble head,
Stood in the circle, where none else might tread.
Well might their lays be lofty! -- soaring thought
From nature's presence tenfold grandeur caught.
Well might bold freedom's soul pervade the strains
Which startled eagles from their lone domains,
And, like a breeze in chainless triumph, went
Up through the blue resounding firmament.
Whence came the echoes to those numbers high?
'Twas from the battle-fields of days gone by,
And from the tombs of heroes, laid to rest
With their good swords, upon the mountain's breast;
And from the watch-towers on the heights of snow,
Severed by cloud and storm from all below;
And the turf-mounds, once girt by ruddy spears,
And the rock-altars of departed years.
-- Thence, deeply mingling with the torrent's roar,
The winds a thousand wild responses bore;
And the green land, whose every vale and glen
Doth shrine the memory of heroic men,
On all her hills a wakening to rejoice,
Sent forth proud answers to her children's voice.

For us, not ours the festival to hold,
Midst the stone circles, hallowed thus of old;
Not where great Nature's majesty and might
First broke all-glorious on our infant sight;
Not near the tombs, where sleep our free and brave,
Not by the mountain-llyn, the ocean-wave,
In these late days we meet -- dark Mona's shore,
Eryri's cliffs resound with harps no more!

But as the stream (though time or art may turn
The current, bursting from its caverned urn,
From Alpine glens, or ancient forest bowers,
To bathe soft vales of pasture and of flowers),
Alike in rushing strength or sunny sleep,
Holds on its course, to mingle with the deep;
Thus, though our paths be changed, still warm and free,
Land of the bard! our spirit flies to thee!
To thee our thoughts, our hopes, our hearts belong,
Our dreams are haunted by the voice of song!
Nor yield our souls one patriot-feeling less
To the green memory of thy loveliness,
Than theirs, whose harp-notes pealed from every height,
In the sun's face, beneath the eye of light!

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