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"[The Death of Hoel]"

"[The Death of Hoel]"


From Aneurin, Monarch of the Bards,
extracted from the Gododin

1 Had I but the torrent's might,
2 With headlong rage and wild affright
3 Upon Deira's squadrons hurled,
4 To rush and sweep them from the world!

5 Too, too secure in youthful pride,
6 By them my friend, my Hoel, died,
7 Great Cian's son: of Madoc old
8 He asked no heaps of hoarded gold;
9 Alone in nature's wealth arrayed,
10 He asked and had the lovely maid.

11 To Cattraeth's vale in glittering row
12 Twice two hundred warriors go;
13 Every warrior's manly neck
14 Chains of regal honour deck,
15 Wreathed in many a golden link:
16 From the golden cup they drink
17 Nectar, that the bees produce,
18 Or the grape's ecstatic juice.
19 Flushed with mirth and hope they burn:
20 But none from Cattraeth's vale return,
21 Save Aeron brave and Conan strong,
22 (Bursting through the bloody throng)
23 And I, the meanest of them all,
24 That live to weep and sing their fall.

Expanding the poem lines shows notes and queries taken from various critical editions of Gray's works, as well as those contributed by users of the Archive. There are 1 textual and 7 explanatory notes/queries.

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0 "[The Death of Hoel]" 1 Explanatory, 1 Textual

Title/Paratext] "This and the "Imitations from [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"This and the "Imitations from the Welsh" were probably written about the same time, 1764, as the "Triumphs of Owen," and inspired, like it, by Evans' "Specimens of the Welsh Poetry."
    Gray's heading to this in the Pembroke MSS. is "From Aneurin, Monarch of the Bards, extracted from the Gododin.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 260-261.

Title/Paratext] "The original Welsh is by [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"The original Welsh is by Aneurin, who flourished about the time of Taliessin, A.D. 570. Gray's version is from the Latin translation in Evans' "Specimens."
    "Aneurin with the flowing Muse, King of Bards, brother to Gildas Albanius the historian, lived under Mynyddawg of Edinburgh, a prince of the North, whose Eurdorchogion, or warriors wearing the golden torques, 363 in number, were all slain, except Aneurin and two others, in a battle with the Saxons at Cattraeth, on the eastern coast of Yorkshire. His 'Gododin,' a heroic poem written on that event, is perhaps the oldest and noblest production of that age."—Jones, Relics."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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From Aneurin, Monarch of the Bards,
extracted from the Gododin

1 Had I but the torrent's might,
2 With headlong rage and wild affright
3 Upon Deira's squadrons hurled, 1 Explanatory

3.2 Deira's] ""The kingdom of Deïra included [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

""The kingdom of Deïra included the counties of Yorkshire, Durham, Lancashire, Westmoreland, and Cumberland."—Jones, Relics."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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4 To rush and sweep them from the world!

5 Too, too secure in youthful pride,
6 By them my friend, my Hoel, died,
7 Great Cian's son: of Madoc old
8 He asked no heaps of hoarded gold;
9 Alone in nature's wealth arrayed,
10 He asked and had the lovely maid.

11 To Cattraeth's vale in glittering row 1 Explanatory

11.2 Cattraeth's] "Catterick, in the valley of [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Catterick, in the valley of the Swale, near Richmond, in Yorkshire."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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12 Twice two hundred warriors go; 1 Explanatory

12.1-3 Twice ... hundred] "Gray gives the number in [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Gray gives the number in round numbers to suit his verse; in the Latin it is "tricenti et sexaginta tres," 363."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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13 Every warrior's manly neck
14 Chains of regal honour deck, 1 Explanatory

14.1-4 Chains ... honour] "Collars of gold were badges [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"Collars of gold were badges of distinction amongst Keltic nations."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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15 Wreathed in many a golden link:
16 From the golden cup they drink 1 Explanatory

16.1 - 18.5 From ... juice.] "These three lines are a [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"These three lines are a rather unnecessary expansion, in so short a piece, of three words in the Latin,—"nimio potu madidi," which might have been translated by "flushed with wine," as line 19 also is not in the original."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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17 Nectar, that the bees produce, 1 Explanatory

16.1 - 18.5 From ... juice.] "These three lines are a [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"These three lines are a rather unnecessary expansion, in so short a piece, of three words in the Latin,—"nimio potu madidi," which might have been translated by "flushed with wine," as line 19 also is not in the original."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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18 Or the grape's ecstatic juice. 1 Explanatory

16.1 - 18.5 From ... juice.] "These three lines are a [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"These three lines are a rather unnecessary expansion, in so short a piece, of three words in the Latin,—"nimio potu madidi," which might have been translated by "flushed with wine," as line 19 also is not in the original."

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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19 Flushed with mirth and hope they burn:
20 But none from Cattraeth's vale return,
21 Save Aeron brave and Conan strong,
22 (Bursting through the bloody throng)
23 And I, the meanest of them all, 1 Explanatory

23.1-2 And I,] "It should be me, "save [...]" J. Bradshaw, 1891.

"It should be me, "save me"; but I sounds more emphatic here; the Latin is:—"Non evasere nisi tres, Acron et Conanus, et egomet ipse." Cf. a similar license in "Paradise Lost," vi. 900:—

"Of those too high aspiring, who rebelled
With Satan,—he, who envies now thy state.""

The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891, 261.

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24 That live to weep and sing their fall.

Works cited

  • The Poetical Works of Thomas Gray: English and Latin. Edited with an introduction, life, notes and a bibliography by John Bradshaw. The Aldine edition of the British poets series. London: George Bell and sons, 1891.

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Spelling has been modernized throughout, except in case of conscious archaisms. Contractions, italics and initial capitalization have been largely eliminated, except where of real import. Obvious errors have been silently corrected, punctuation has been supplied. The editor would like to express his gratitude to the library staff of the Göttingen State and University Library (SUB Göttingen) for their invaluable assistance.