An Ancient Epic Poem, In Eight Books: Together with several other Poems, composed by Ossian, the Son of Fingal. Translated from the Galic Language,
By James Macpherson.
Vultis et his mecum pariter considere regnis? Urbem quam statuo, vestra est. Virgil.
Printed for T. Becket and P. A. De Hondt, in the Strand.
MDCCLXII. [ [π1v] ] View Page Image [ [π2r] ] View Page Image
The following poems
are inscribed to
The Earl of Bute,
in obedience to whose commands,
they were translated,
from the original Galic of
Ossian, the son of Fingal,
by his Lordship's
and most obliged,
Nations, small in their beginnings and slow in their progress to maturity, cannot, with any degree of certainty, be traced to their source. The first historians, in every country, are therefore, obscure and unsatisfactory. Swayed by a national partiality, natural to mankind, they adopted uncertain legends and ill-fancied fictions, when they served to strengthen a favourite system, or to throw lustre on the antient state of their country. Without judgment or discernment to separate the probable and more antient traditions, from ill-digested tales of late invention, they jumbled the whole together, in one mass of anachronisms and inconsistencies. Their accounts, however, though deduced from æras too remote to be known, were received with that partial credulity which always distinguishes an unpolished age. Mankind had neither abilities nor inclination to dispute the truth of relations, which, by throwing lustre on their ancestors, flattered their own vanity.—Such were the historians of Europe, during the dark ages, which succeeded the subversion of the Roman empire. When learning began to revive, men looked into antiquity with less prejudiced eyes. They chose rather to trust their national fame to late and well-attested transactions, than draw it from ages, dark and involved in fable.[ ii ] View Page Image
The Romans give the first and, indeed, the only authentic accounts of the northern nations. Destitute of the use of letters, they themselves had no means of transmitting their history to posterity. Their traditions and songs were lost, or altogether corrupted, in their revolutions and migrations, which were so frequent and universal, that no kingdom in Europe is now possessed by its original inhabitants. Societies were formed, and kingdoms erected, from a mixture of nations, who, in process of time, lost all knowlege of their own origin.
If tradition could be depended upon, it is only among a people, from all time, free of intermixture with foreigners. We are to look for these among the mountains and inaccessible parts of a country: places, on account of their barrenness, uninviting to an enemy, or whose natural strength enabled the natives to repel invasions. Such are the inhabitants of the mountains of Scotland. We, accordingly, find, that they differ materially from those who possess the low aud more fertile part of the kingdom. Their language is pure and original, and their manners are those of an antient and unmixed race of men. Conscious of their own antiquity, they long despised others, as a new and mixed people. As they lived in a country only fit for pasture, they were free of that toil and business, which engross the attention of a commercial people. Their amusement consisted in hearing or repeating their songs and traditions, and these intirely turned on the antiquity of their nation, and the exploits of their forefathers. It is no wonder, therefore, that there are more remains of antiquity among them, than among any other people in Europe. Traditions, however, concerning remote periods, are only to be regarded, in so far as they co-incide with cotemporary writers of undoubted credit and veracity.[ iii ] View Page Image
No writers began their accounts from a more early period, than the historians of the Scotch nation. Without records, or even tradition itself, they give a long list of antient kings, and a detail of their transactions, with a scrupulous exactness. One might naturally suppose, that, when they had no authentic annals, they should, at least, have recourse to the traditions of their country, and have reduced them into a regular system of history. Of both they seem to have been equally destitute. Born in the low country, and strangers to the antient language of their nation, they contented themselves with copying from one another, and retailing the same fictions, in a new colour and dress.
John Fordun was the first who collected those fragments of the Scotch history, which had escaped the brutal policy of Edward I. and reduced them into order. His accounts, in so far as they concerned recent transactions, deserved credit: beyond a certain period, they were fabulous and unsatisfactory. Some time before Fordun wrote, the king of England, in a letter to the pope, had run up the antiquity of his nation to a very remote æra. Fordun, possessed of all the national prejudice of the age, was unwilling that his country should yield, in point of antiquity, to a people, then its rivals and enemies. Destitute of annals in Scotland, he had recourse to Ireland, which, according to the vulgar errors of the times, was reckoned the first habitation of the Scots. He found, there, that the Irish bards had carried their pretensions to antiquity as high, if not beyond any nation in Europe. It was from them he took those improbable fictions, which form the first part of his history.
The writers that succeeded Fordun implicitly followed his system, tho' they sometimes varied from him in their relations of particular transactions, and the order of succession of their kings. [ iv ] View Page Image As they had no new lights, and were, equally with him, unacquainted with the traditions of their country, their histories contain little information concerning the origin of the Scots. Even Buchanan himself, except the elegance and vigour of his stile, has very little to recommend him. Blinded with political prejudices, he seemed more anxious to turn the fictions of his predecessors to his own purposes, than to detect their misrepresentations, or investigate truth amidst the darkness which they had thrown round it. It therefore appears, that little can be collected from their own historians, concerning the first migration of the Scots into Britain.
That this island was peopled from Gaul admits of no doubt. Whether colonies came afterwards from the north of Europe is a matter of mere speculation. When South-Britain yielded to the power of the Romans, the unconquered nations to the north of the province were distinguished by the name of Caledonians. From their very name, it appears, that they were of those Celts, or Gauls, who possessed themselves originally of Britain. It is compounded of two Celtic words, Caël signifying Celts, or Gauls, and Dun or Don, a hill; so that Caël-don, or Caledonians, is as much as to say, the Celts of the hill country. The Highlanders, to this day, call themselves Caël, and their language Caëlic, or Galic. This, of itself, is sufficient to demonstrate, that they are the genuine descendents of the antient Caledonians, and not a pretended colony of Scots, who settled first in the north, in the third or fourth century.
From the double meaning of the word Caël, which signifies strangers, as well as Gauls, or Celts, some have imagined, that the ancestors of the Caledonians were of a different race from the rest [ v ] View Page Imageof the Britons, and that they received their name upon that account. This opinion, say they, is supported by Tacitus, who, from several circumstances, concludes, that the Caledonians were of German extraction. A discussion of a point so intricate, at this distance of time, could neither be satisfactory nor important.
Towards the latter end of the third, and beginning of the fourth century, we meet with the Scots in the north. Display notePorphyrius makes the first mention of them about that time. As the Scots were not heard of before that period, most writers supposed them to have been a colony, newly come to Britain, and that the Picts were the only genuine descendents of the antient Caledonians. This mistake is easily removed. The Caledonians, in process of time, became naturally divided into two distinct nations, as possessing parts of the country, intirely different in their nature and soil. The western coast of Scotland is hilly and barren; towards the east the country is plain, and fit for tillage. The inhabitants of the mountains, a roving and uncontrouled race of men, lived by feeding of cattle, and what they killed in hunting. Their employment did not fix them to one place. They removed from one heath to another, as suited best with their convenience or inclination. They were not, therefore, improperly called, by their neighbours, Scuite, or, the wandering nation; which is evidently the origin of the Roman name of Scoti.
On the other hand, the Caledonians, who possessed the east coast of Scotland, as their division of the country was plain and fertile, applied themselves to agriculture, and raising of corn. It was from this, that the Galic name of the Picts proceeded; for they are called, in that language, Cruithnich, i.e. the wheat or corn-eaters. [ vi ] View Page ImageAs the Picts lived in a country so different in its nature from that possessed by the Scots, so their national character suffered a material change. Unobstructed by mountains, or lakes, their communication with one another was free and frequent. Society, therefore, became sooner established among them, than among the Scots, and, consequently, they were much sooner governed by civil magistrates and laws. This, at last, produced so great a difference in the manners of the two nations, that they began to forget their common origin, and almost continual quarrels and animosities subsisted between them. These animosities, after some ages, ended in the subversion of the Pictish kingdom, but not in the total extirpation of the nation, according to most of the Scotch writers, who seemed to think it more for the honour of their countrymen to annihilate, than reduce a rival people under their obedience. It is certain, however, that the very name of the Picts was lost, and those that remained were so compleatly incorporated with their conquerors, that they soon lost all memory of their own origin.—
The end of the Pictish government is placed so near that period, to which authentic annals reach, that it is matter of wonder, that we have no monuments of their language or history remaining. This favours the system I have laid down. Had they originally been of a different race from the Scots, their language of course would be different. The contrary is the case. The names of places in the Pictish dominions, and the very names of their kings, which are handed down to us, are of Galic original, which is a convincing proof, that the two nations were, of old, one and the same, and only divided into two governments, by the effect which their situation had upon the genius of the people. [ vii ] View Page Image
The name of Picts was, perhaps, given by the Romans to the Caledonians, who possessed the east coast of Scotland, from their painting their bodies. This circumstance made some imagine, that the Picts were of British extract, and a different race of men from the Scots. That more of the Britons, who fled northward from the tyranny of the Romans, settled in the low country of Scotland, than among the Scots of the mountains, may be easily imagined, from the very nature of the country. It was they who introduced painting among the Picts. From this circumstance proceeded the name of the latter, to distinguish them from the Scots, who never had that art among them, and from the Britons, who discontinued it after the Roman conquest.
The Caledonians, most certainly, acquired a considerable knowledge in navigation, by their living on a coast intersected with many arms of the sea, and, in islands, divided, one from another, by wide and dangerous firths. It is, therefore, highly probable, that they, very early, found their way to the north of Ireland, which is within sight of their own country. That Ireland was first peopled from Britain is certain. The vicinity of the two islands; the exact correspondence of the antient inhabitants of both, in point of manners and language, are sufficient proofs, even if we had not the testimony of authors of undoubted veracityDisplay note to confirm it. The abettors of the most romantic systems of Irish antiquities allow it; but they place the colony from Britain in an improbable and remote æra. I shall easily admit, that the colony of the Firbolg, confessedly the Belgæ of Britain, settled in the south of Ireland, before the Caël, or Caledonians, discovered the north: but it is not at all likely, that the migration of the Firbolg to Ireland happened many centuries before the incarnation. [ viii ] View Page Image
Display noteOssian, in the poem of Temora, throws considerable light on this subject. His accounts agree so well with what the antients have delivered, concerning the first population and inhabitants of Ireland, that every unbiased person will confess them more probable, than the legends handed down, by tradition, in that country. From him, it appears, that, in the days of Trathal, grandfather to Fingal, Ireland was possessed by two nations; the Firbolg or Belgæ of Britain, who inhabited the south, and the Caël, who passed over from Caledonia and the Hebrides to Ulster. The two nations, as is usual among an unpolished and lately settled people, were divided into small dynasties, subject to petty kings, or chiefs, independent of one another. In this situation, it is probable, they continued long, without any material revolution in the state of the island, until Crothar, Lord of Atha, a country in Connaught, the most potent chief of the Firbolg, carried away Conlama, the daughter of Cathmin, a chief of the Caël, who possessed Ulster.
Conlama had been betrothed, some time before, to Turloch, a chief of her own nation. Turloch resented the affront offered him by Crothar, made an irruption into Connaught, and killed Cormul, the brother of Crothar, who came to oppose his progress. Crothar himself then took arms, and either killed or expelled Turloch. The war, upon this, became general, between the two nations: and the Caël were reduced to the last extremity.—In this situation, they applied, for aid, to Trathal king of Morven, who sent his brother Conar, already famous for his great exploits, to their relief. Conar, upon his arrival in Ulster, was chosen king, by the unanimous consent of the Caledonian tribes, who possessed that country. The war was renewed with vigour and success; but the Firbolg appear to have been rather repelled than subdued. In suceeding [ ix ] View Page Imagereigns, we learn from episodes in the same poem, that the chiefs of Atha made several efforts to become monarchs of Ireland, and to expel the race of Conar.
Display noteTo Conar succeeded his son Cormac, who appears to have reigned long. In his latter days he seems to have been driven to the last extremity, by an insurrection of the Firbolg, who supported the pretensions of the chiefs of Atha to the Irish throne. Fingal, who then was very young, came to the aid of Cormac, totally defeated Colc-ulla, chief of Atha, Display noteand re-established Cormac in the sole possession of all Ireland. It was then he fell in love with, and took to wife, Ros-crana, the daughter of Cormac, who was the mother of Ossian.
Cormac was succeeded in the Irish throne by his son, Cairbre; Cairbre by Artho, his Son, who was the father of that Cormac, in whose minority the invasion of Swaran happened, which is the subject of the poem of Fingal. The family of Atha, who had not relinquished their pretensions to the Irish throne, rebelled in the minority of Cormac, Display notedefeated his adherents, and murdered him in the palace of Temora. Cairbar, lord of Atha, upon this, mounted the throne. His usurpation soon ended with his life; for Fingal made an expedition into Ireland, and restored, after various vicissitudes of fortune, the family of Conar to the possession of the kingdom. This war is the subject of Temora; the events, tho' certainly heightened and embellished by poetry, seem, notwithstanding, to have their foundation in true history.
Ossian has not only preserved the history of the first migration of the Caledonians into Ireland, he has also delivered some important [ x ] View Page Imagefacts, concerning the first settlement of the Firbolg, or Belgæ of Britain, in that kingdom, under their leader Larthon, who was ancestor to Cairbar and Cathmor, who, successively, mounted the Irish throne, after the death of Cormac, the son of Artho. I forbear to transcribe the passage, on account of its length. It is the song of Display note Fonar, the bard; towards the latter end of the seventh book of Temora. As the generations from Larthon to Cathmor, to whom the episode is addressed, are not marked, as are those of the family of Conar, the first king of Ireland, we can form no judgment of the time of the settlement of the Firbolg. It is, however, probable, it was some time before the Caël, or Caledonians, settled in Ulster.—One important fact may be gathered from this history of Ossian, that the Irish had no king before the latter end of the first century. Fingal lived, it is certain, in the third century; so Conar, the first monarch of the Irish, who was his grand-uncle, cannot be placed farther back than the close of the first. The establishing of this fact, lays, at once, aside the pretended antiquities of the Scotch and Irish, and cuts off the long list of kings which the latter give us for a millennium before.
Of the affairs of Scotland, it is certain, nothing can be depended upon, prior to the reign of Fergus, the son of Erc, who lived in the fifth century. The true history of Ireland begins somewhat Display notelater than that period. Sir James Ware, who was indefatigable in his researches after the antiquities of his country, rejects, as mere fiction and idle romance, all that is related of the antient Irish, before the time of St. Patrick, and the reign of Leogaire. It is from this consideration, that he begins his history at the introduction of christianity, remarking, that all that is delivered down, concerning the times of paganism, were tales of late invention, [ xi ] View Page Image strangely mixed with anachronisms and inconsistencies. Such being the opinion of Ware, who had collected, with uncommon industry and zeal, all the real and pretendedly antient manuscripts, concerning the history of his country, we may, on his authority, reject the improbable and self-condemned tales of Keating and O’Flaherty. Credulous and puerile to the last degree, they have disgraced the antiquities they meant to establish. It is to be wished, that some able Irishman, who understands the language and records of his country, may redeem, ere it is too late, the genuine antiquities of Ireland, from the hands of these idle fabulists.
By comparing the history preserved by Ossian with the legends of the Scotch and Irish writers, and, by afterwards examining both by the test of the Roman authors, it is easy to discover which is the most probable. Probability is all that can be established on the authority of tradition, ever dubious and uncertain. But when it favours the hypothesis laid down by cotemporary writers of undoubted veracity, and, as it were, finishes the figure of which they only drew the out-lines, it ought, in the judgment of sober reason, to be preferred to accounts framed in dark and distant periods, with little judgment, and upon no authority.
Concerning the period of more than a century, which intervenes between Fingal and the reign of Fergus, the son of Erc or Arcath, tradition is dark and contradictory. Some trace up the family of Fergus to a son of Fingal of that name, who makes a considerable figure in Ossian’s poems. The three elder sons of Fingal, Ossian, Fillan, and Ryno, dying, without issue, the succession, of course, devolved upon Fergus, the fourth son and his posterity. This Fergus, say some traditions, was the father of Congal, whose [ xii ] View Page Imageson was Arcath, the father of Fergus, properly called the first king of Scots, as it was in his time the Caël, who possessed the western coast of Scotland, began to be distinguished, by foreigners, by the name of Scots. From thence forward, the Scots and Picts, as distinct nations, became objects of attention to the historians of other countries. The internal state of the two Caledonian kingdoms has always continued, and ever must remain, in obscurity and fable.
It is in this epoch we must fix the beginning of the decay of that species of heroism, which subsisted in the days of Ossian. There are three stages in human society. The first is the result of consanguinity, and the natural affection of the members of a family to one another. The second begins when property is established, and men enter into associations for mutual defence, against the invasions and injustice of neighbours. Mankind submit, in the third, to certain laws and subordinations of government, to which they trust the safety of their persons and property. As the first is formed on nature, so, of course, it is the most disinterested and noble. Men, in the last, have leisure to cultivate the mind, and to restore it, with reflection, to a primæval dignity of sentiment. The middle state is the region of compleat barbarism and ignorance. About the beginning of the fifth century, the Scots and Picts were advanced into the second stage, and, consequently, into those circumscribed sentiments, which always distinguish barbarity.—The events which soon after happened did not at all contribute to enlarge their ideas, or mend their national character.
About the year 426, the Romans, on account of domestic commotions, entirely forsook Britain, finding it impossible to defend so distant a frontier. The Picts and Scots, seizing this favourable [ xiii ] View Page Imageopportunity, made incursions into the deserted province. The Britons, enervated by the slavery of several centuries, and those vices, which are inseparable from an advanced state of civility, were not able to withstand the impetuous, tho’ irregular attacks of a barbarous enemy. In the utmost distress, they applied to their old masters, the Romans, and (after the unfortunate state of the Empire could not spare aid) to the Saxons, a nation equally barbarous and brave, with the enemies of whom they were so much afraid. Tho’ the bravery of the Saxons repelled the Caledonian nations for a time, yet the latter found means to extend themselves, considerably, towards the South. It is, in this period, we must place the origin of the arts of civil life among the Scots. The seat of government was removed from the mountains to the plain and more fertile provinces of the South, to be near the common enemy, in case of sudden incursions. Instead of roving thro’ unfrequented wilds, in search of subsistance, by means of hunting, men applied to agriculture, and raising of corn. This manner of life was the first means of changing the national character.—The next thing which contributed to it was their mixture with strangers.
In the countries which the Scots had conquered from the Britons, it is probable the most of the old inhabitants remained. These, incorporating with the conquerors, taught them agriculture, and other arts, which they themselves had received from the Romans. The Scots, however, in number as well as power, being the most predominant, retained still their language, and as many of the customs of their ancestors, as suited with the nature of the country they possessed. Even the union of the two Caledonian kingdoms did not much affect the national character. Being originally descended from the same stock, the manners of the Picts and [ xiv ] View Page ImageScots were as similar as the different natures of the countries they possessed permitted.
What brought about a total change in the genius of the Scots nation, was their wars, and other transactions with the Saxons. Several counties in the south of Scotland were alternately possessed by the two nations. They were ceded, in the ninth age, to the Scots, and, it is probable, that most of the Saxon inhabitants remained in possession of their lands. During the several conquests and revolutions in England, many fled, for refuge, into Scotland, to avoid the oppression of foreigners, or the tyranny of domestic usurpers; in so much, that the Saxon race formed perhaps near one half of the Scottish kingdom. The Saxon manners and language daily gained ground, on the tongue and customs of the antient Caledonians, till, at last, the latter were entirely relegated to inhabitants of the mountains, who were still unmixed with strangers.
It was after the accession of territory which the Scots received, upon the retreat of the Romans from Britain, that the inhabitants of the Highlands were divided into clans. The king, when he kept his court in the mountains, was considered, by the whole nation, as the chief of their blood. Their small number, as well as the presence of their prince, prevented those divisions, which, afterwards, sprung forth into so many separate tribes. When the seat of government was removed to the south, those who remained in the Highlands were, of course, neglected. They naturally formed themselves into small societies, independent of one another. Each society had its own regülüs, who either was, or, in the succession of a few generations, was regarded as chief of their blood.—The nature of the country favoured an institution of this sort. [ xv ] View Page ImageA few valleys, divided from one another by extensive heaths and impassible mountains, form the face of the Highlands. In these valleys the chiefs fixed their residence. Round them, and almost within sight of their dwellings, were the habitations of their relations and dependents.
The seats of the Highland chiefs were neither disagreeable nor inconvenient. Surrounded with mountains and hanging woods, they were covered from the inclemency of the weather. Near them generally ran a pretty large river, which, discharging itself, not far off, into an arm of the sea, or extensive lake, swarmed with variety of fish. The woods were stocked with wild-fowl; and the heaths and mountains behind them were the natural seat of the red-deer and roe. If we make allowance for the backward state of agriculture, the valleys were not unfertile; affording, if not all the conveniences, at least the necessaries of life. Here the chief lived, the supreme judge and law-giver of his own people; but his sway was neither severe nor unjust. As the populace regarded him as the chief of their blood, so he, in return, considered them as members of his family. His commands, therefore, tho’ absolute and decisive, partook more of the authority of a father, than of the rigor of a judge.—Tho’ the whole territory of the tribe was considered as the property of the chief, yet his vassals made him no other consideration for their lands than services, neither burdensome nor frequent. As he seldom went from home, he was at no expence. His table was supplied by his own herds, and what his numerous attendants killed in hunting.
In this rural kind of magnificence, the Highland chiefs lived, for many ages. At a distance from the seat of government, and secured, [ xvi ] View Page Imageby the inaccessibleness of their country, they were free and independent. As they had little communication with strangers, the customs of their ancestors remained among them, and their language retained its original purity. Naturally fond of military fame, and remarkably attached to the memory of their ancestors, they delighted in traditions and songs, concerning the exploits of their nation, and especially of their own particular families. A succession of bards was retained in every clan, to hand down the memorable actions of their forefathers. As the æra of Fingal, on account of Ossian’s poems, was the most remarkable, and his chiefs the most renowned names in tradition, the bards took care to place one of them in the genealogy of every great family.—That part of the poems, which concerned the hero who was regarded as ancestor, was preserved, as an authentic record of the antiquity of the family, and was delivered down, from race to race, with wonderful exactness.
The bards themselves, in the mean time, were not idle. They erected their immediate patrons into heroes, and celebrated them in their songs. As the circle of their knowledge was narrow, their ideas were confined in proportion. A few happy expressions, and the manners they represent, may please those who understand the language; their obscurity and innacuracy would disgust in a translation.—It was chiefly, for this reason, that I kept wholly to the compositions of Ossian, in my former and present publication. As he acted in a more extensive sphere, his ideas are more noble and universal; neither has he so many of those peculiarities, which are only understood in a certain period or country. The other bards have their beauties, but not in that species of composition in which Ossian excels. Their rhimes, only calculated to kindle a martial [ xvii ] View Page Image spirit among the vulgar, afford very little pleasure to genuine taste. This observation only regards their poems of the heroic kind; in every other species of poetry they are more successful. They express the tender melancholy of desponding love, with irresistible simplicity and nature. So well adapted are the sounds of the words to the sentiments, that, even without any knowledge of the language, they pierce and dissolve the heart. Successful love is expressed with peculiar tenderness and elegance. In all their compositions, except the heroic, which was solely calculated to animate the vulgar, they give us the genuine language of the heart, without any of those affected ornaments of phraseology, which, tho’ intended to beautify sentiments, divert them of their natural force. The ideas, it is confessed, are too local, to be admired, in another language; to those, who are acquainted with the manners they represent, and the scenes they describe, they must afford the highest pleasure and satisfaction.
It was the locality of his description and sentiment, that, probably, kept Ossian so long in the obscurity of an almost lost language. His ideas, tho’ remarkably proper for the times in which he lived, are so contrary to the present advanced state of society, that more than a common mediocrity of taste is required, to relish his poems as they deserve.—Those who alone were capable to make a translation were, no doubt, conscious of this, and chose rather to admire their poet in secret, than see him received, with coldness, in an English dress.
These were long my own sentiments, and, accordingly, my first translations, from the Galic, wrere merely accidental. The publication, which soon after followed, was so well received, that I was [ xviii ] View Page Imageobliged to promise to my friends a larger collection. In a journey thro’ the Highlands and isles, and, by the assistance of correspondents, since I left that country, all the genuine remains of the works of Ossian have come to my hands. In the publication of last year compleat poems were only given. Unfinished and imperfect poems were purposely omitted; even some pieces were rejected, on account of their length, and others, that they might not break in upon that thread of connection, which subsists in the lesser compositions, subjoined to Fingal.—That the comparative merit of pieces was not regarded, in the selection, will readily appear to those who shall read, attentively, the present collection.—It is animated with the same spirit of poetry, and the same strength of sentiment is sustained throughout.
The opening of the poem of Temora made its appearance in the last collection. The second book, and several other episodes, have only fallen into my hands lately. The story of the poem, with which I had been long acquainted, enabled me to reduce the broken members of the piece into the order in which they now appear. For the ease of the reader, I have divided it myself into books, as I had done before with the poem of Fingal. As to the merit of the poem I shall not anticipate the judgment of the public. My impartiality might be suspected, in my accounts of a work, which, in some measure, is become my own. If the poem of Fingal met with the applause of persons of genuine taste, I should also hope, that Temora will not displease them.
But what renders Temora infinitely more valuable than Fingal, is the light it throws on the history of the times. The first population of Ireland, its first kings, and several circumstances, which [ xix ] View Page Image regard its connection of old with the south and north of Britain, are presented to us, in several episodes. The subject and catastrophe of the poem are founded upon facts, which regarded the first peopling of that country, and the contests between the two British nations, which originally inhabited it.—In a preceding part of this dissertation, I have shewn how superior the probability of Ossian’s traditions is to the undigested fictions of the Irish bards, and the more recent and regular legends of both Irish and Scotch historians. I mean not to give offence to the abettors of the high antiquities of the two nations, tho’ I have all along expressed my doubts, concerning the veracity and abilities of those who deliver down their antient history. For my own part, I prefer the national fame, arising from a few certain facts, to the legendary and uncertain annals of ages of remote and obscure antiquity. No kingdom, now established in Europe, can pretend to equal antiquity with those of Ireland and Scotland, even according to my system, so that it is altogether needless to fix their origin a fictitious millennium before. This subject I have only lightly touched upon, as it is to be discussed, with more perspicuity, and at a much greater length, by a gentleman, who has thoroughly examined the antiquities of Britain and Ireland.
Since the publication of the last collection of Ossian’s poems, many insinuations have been made, and doubts arisen, concerning their authenticity. I shall, probably, hear more of the same kind after the present poems shall make their appearance. Whether these suspicions are suggested by prejudice, or are only the effects of ignorance of facts, I shall not pretend to determine.—To me they give no concern, as I have it always in my power to remove them. An incredulity of this kind is natural to persons, who confine all [ xx ] View Page Image merit to their own age and country. These are generally the weakest, as well as the most ignorant, of the people. Indolently confined to a place, their ideas are narrow and circumscribed.—It is ridiculous enough to see such people as these are, branding their ancestors, with the despicable appellation of barbarians. Sober reason can easily discern, where the title ought to be fixed, with more propriety.
As prejudice is always the effect of ignorance, the knowing, the men of true taste, despise and dismiss it. If the poetry is good, and the characters natural and striking, to them it is a matter of indifference, whether the heroes were born in the little village of Angles in Juteland, or natives of the barren heaths of Caledonia. That honour which nations derive from ancestors, worthy, or renowned, is merely ideal. It may buoy up the minds of individuals, but it contributes very little to their importance in the eyes of others.—But of all those prejudices which are incident to narrow minds, that which measures the merit of performances by the vulgar opinion, concerning the country which produced them, is certainly the most ridiculous. Ridiculous, however, as it is, few have the courage to reject it; and, I am thoroughly convinced, that a few quaint lines of a Roman or Greek epigrammatist, if dug out of the ruins of Herculaneum, would meet with more cordial and universal applause, than all the most beautiful and natural rhapsodies of all the Celtic bards and Scandinavian Scalders that ever existed.
While some doubt the authenticity of the compositions of Ossian, others strenuously endeavour to appropriate them to the Irish nation. Tho’ the whole tenor of the poems sufficiently contradict so absurd an opinion, it may not be improper, for the satisfaction of some, to examine the narrow foundation, on which this extraordinary claim is built.[ xxi ] View Page Image
Of all the nations descended from the antient Celtæ, the Scots and Irish are the most similar in language, customs, and manners. This argues a more intimate connection between them, than a remote descent from the great Celtic stock. It is evident, in short, that, at some one period or other, they formed one society, were subject to the same government, and were, in all respects, one and the same people. How they became divided, which the colony, or which the mother nation, does not fall now to be discussed. The first circumstance that induced me to disregard the vulgarly-received opinion of the Hibernian extraction of the Scotch nation, was my observations on their antient language. That dialect of the Celtic tongue, spoken in the north of Scotland, is much more pure, more agreeable to its mother language, and more abounding with primitives, than that now spoken, or even that which has been writ for some centuries back, amongst the most unmixed part of the Irish nation. A Scotchman, tolerably conversant in his own language, understands an Irish composition, from that derivative analogy which it has to the Galic of North-Britain. An Irishman, on the other hand, without the aid of study, can never understand a composition in the Galic tongue.—This affords a proof, that the Scotch Galic is the most original, and, consequently, the language of a more antient and unmixed people. The Irish, however backward they may be to allow any thing to the prejudice of their antiquity, seem inadvertently to acknowledge it, by the very appellation they give to the dialect they speak.—They call their own language Caëlic Eirinach, i. e. Caledonian Irish, when, on the contrary, they call the dialect of North-Britain a Chaëlic, or the Caledonian tongue, emphatically. A circumstance of this nature tends more to decide which is the most antient nation, than the united [ xxii ] View Page Imagetestimonies of a whole legion of ignorant bards and senachies, who, perhaps, never dreamed of bringing the Scots from Spain to Ireland, till some one of them, more learned than the rest, discovered, that the Romans called the first Iberia, and the latter Hibernia. On such a slight foundation were probably built those romantic fictions, concerning the Milesians of Ireland.
From internal proofs it sufficiently appears, that the poems published under the name of Ossian, are not of Irish composition. The favourite chimæra, that Ireland is the mother-country of the Scots, is totally subverted and ruined. The fictions, concerning the antiquities of that country, which were forming for ages, and growing, as they came down, on the hands of successive senachies and fileas, are found, at last, to be the spurious brood of modern and ignorant ages. To those who know how tenacious the Irish are, of their pretended Iberian descent, this alone is proof sufficient, that poems, so subversive of their system, could never be produced by an Hibernian bard.—But when we look to the language, it is so different from the Irish dialect, that it would be as ridiculous to think, that Milton’s Paradise Lost could be wrote by a Scotch peasant, as to suppose, that the poems ascribed to Ossian were writ in Ireland.
The pretensions of Ireland to Ossian proceed from another quarter. There are handed down, in that country, traditional poems, concerning the Fiona, or the heroes of Fion Mac Comnal. This Fion, say the Irish annalists, was general of the militia of Ireland, in the reign of Cormac, in the third century. Where Keating and O’Flaherty learned, that Ireland had an embodied militia so early, is not easy for me to determine. Their information certainly did not [ xxiii ] View Page Imagecome from the Irish poems, concerning Fion. I have just now, in my hands, all that remain, of those compositions; but, unluckily for the antiquities of Ireland, they appear to be the work of a very modern period. Every stanza, nay almost every line, affords striking proofs, that they cannot be three centuries old. Their allusions to the manners and customs of the fifteenth century, are so many, that it is matter of wonder to me, how any one could dream of their antiquity. They are entirely writ in that romantic taste, which prevailed two ages ago.—Giants, enchanted castles, dwarfs, palfreys, witches and magicians form the whole circle of the poet’s invention. The celebrated Fion could scarcely move from one hillock to another, without encountering a giant, or being entangled in the circles of a magician. Witches, on broomsticks, were continually hovering round him, like crows; and he had freed enchanted virgins in every valley in Ireland. In short, Fion, great as he was, had but a bad sort of life of it.—Not only had he to engage all the mischiefs in his own country, foreign armies invaded him, assisted by magicians and witches, and headed by kings, as tall as the main-mast of a first rate.—It must be owned, however, that Fion was not inferior to them in height. A chos air Cromleach, druim-ard,Chos eile air Crom-meal dubh,Thoga Fion le lamh mhoirAn d’uisge o Lubhair na fruth. "Fion, says the Irish bard, sometimes placed one foot on the mountain Cromleach, his other foot on the hill of Crommal, and, in that position, washed his hands, in the river Lubar, which ran thro’ the intermediate valley.” The property of such a monster as this Fion, [ xxiv ] View Page ImageI should never have disputed with any nation. But the bard himself, in the poem, from which the above quotation is taken, cedes him to Scotland.Fion o Albin, siol nan laoich.Fion from Albion, race of heroes! Were it allowable to contradict the authority of a bard, at this distance of time, I should have given, as my opinion, that this enormous Fion was of the race of the Hibernian giants, of Ruanus, or some other celebrated name, rather than a native of Caledonia, whose inhabitants, now at least, are not remarkable for their stature.
If Fion was so remarkable for his stature, his heroes had also other extraordinary properties. In weight all the sons of strangers yielded to the celebrated Ton-iosal; and for hardness of skull, and, perhaps, for thickness too, the valiant Oscar stood unrivalled and alone. Ossian himself had many singular and less delicate qualifications, than playing on the harp; and the brave Cuchullin was of so diminutive a size, as to be taken for a child of two years of age, by the gigantic Swaran. To illustrate this subject, I shall here lay before the reader, the history of some of the Irish poems, concerning Fion Mac Comnal. A translation of these pieces, if well executed, might afford satisfaction to the public. But this ought to be the work of a native of Ireland. To draw forth, from obscurity, the poems of my own country, has afforded ample employment to me; besides, I am too diffident of my own abilities, to undertake such a work. A gentleman in Dublin accused me to the public, of committing blunders and absurdities, in translating the language of my [ xxv ] View Page Imageown country, and that before any translation of mine appearedDisplay note. How the gentleman came to see my blunders before I committed them, is not easy to determine; if he did not conclude, that, as a Scotsman, and, of course, descended of the Milesian race, I might have committed some of those oversights, which, perhaps very unjustly, are said to be peculiar to them.
From the whole tenor of the Irish poems, concerning the Fiona, it appears, that Fion Mac Comnal flourished in the reign of Cormac, which is placed, by the universal consent of the senachies, in the third century. They even fix the death of Fingal in the year 286, yet his son Ossian is made cotemporary with St. Patrick, who preached the gospel in Ireland about the middle of the fifth age. Ossian, tho’, at that time, he must have been two hundred and fifty years of age, had a daughter young enough to become wife to the saint. On account of this family connection, Patrick of the Psalms, for so the apostle of Ireland is emphatically called in the poems, took great delight in the company of Ossian, and in hearing [ xxvi ] View Page Imagethe great actions of his family. The saint sometimes threw off the austerity of his prosession, drunk freely, and had his soul properly warmed with wine, in order to hear, with becoming enthusiasm, the poems of his father-in-law. One of the poems begins with this piece of useful information. Lo don rabh Padric na mhúr,Gun Sailm air uidh, ach a gól,Ghluais é thigh Ossian mhic Fhion,O san leis bu bhinn a ghloir. The title of this poem is, Teantach mor na Fiona. It appears to have been founded on the same story with the battle of Lora, one of the poems of the genuine Ossian. The circumstances and catastrophe in both are much the same; but the Irish Οssian discovers the age in which he lived, by an unlucky anachronism. After describing the total route of Erragon, he very gravely concludes with this remarkable anecdote, that none of the foe escaped, but a few, who were allowed to go on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land. This circumstance fixes the date of the composition of the piece some centuries after the famous croisade; for, it is evident, that the poet thought the time of the croisade so antient, that he confounds it with the age of Fingal.—Erragon, in the course of this poem, is often called,Riogh Lochlin an do shloigh, King of Denmark of two nations, which alludes to the union of the kingdoms of Norway and Denmark, a circumstance which brings down the date of the piece to [ xxvii ] View Page Imagean æra, not far remote. Modern, however, as this pretended Ossian was, it is certain, he lived before the Irish had dreamed of appropriating Fion, or Fingal, to themselves. He concludes the poem, with this reflection:Na fagha se comhthróm nan n’ arm,Eragon Mac Annir nan lánn glas’San n’ Albin ni n' abairtair TriathAgus ghlaoite an n’ Fhiona as. “Had Erragon, son of Annir of gleaming swords, avoided the equal contest of arms (single combat) no chief should have afterwards been numbered in Albion, and the heroes of Fion should no more be named.”
The next poem that falls under our observation is Cath-cabhra, or, The death of Oscar. This piece is founded on the same story which we have in the first book of Temora. So little thought the author of Cath-cabhra of making Oscar his countryman, that, in the course of two hundred lines, of which the poem consists, he puts the following expression thrice in the mouth of the hero: Albin an sa d’ roina m’ arach.——Albion where I was born and bred. The poem contains almost all the incidents in the first book of Temora. In one circumstance the bard differs materially from Ossian. Oscar, after he was mortally wounded by Cairbar, was carried by his people to a neighbouring hill, which commanded a prospect of [ xxviii ] View Page Imagethe sea. A fleet appeared at a distance, and the hero exclaims with joy, Loingeas mo shean-athair at’ án’S iad a tiächd le cabhair chugain,O Albin na n’ ioma stuagh."It is the fleet of my grandfather, coming with aid to our field, from Albion of many waves!”——The testimony of this bard is sufficient to confute the idle fictions of Keating and O’Flaherty; for, tho’ he is far from being antient, it is probable, he flourished a full century before these historians.—He appears, however, to have been a much better christian than chronologer; for Fion, tho’ he is placed two centuries before St. Patrick, very devoutly recommends the soul of his grandson to his Redeemer.
Duan a Gharibh Mac-Starn is another Irish poem in high repute. The grandeur of its images, and its propriety of sentiment, might have induced me to give a translation of it, had not I some expectations of seeing it in the collection of the Irish Ossian’s poems, promised, more than a year since, to the public. The author descends sometimes from the region of the sublime to low and indecent description; the last of which, the Irish translator, no doubt, will choose to leave in the obscurity of the original.—In this piece Cuchullin is used with very little ceremony, for he is oft called, the dog of Tara, in the county of Meath. This severe title of the redoubtable Cuchullin, the most renowned of Irish champions, proceeded from the poet’s ignorance of etymology. Cu, voice, or commander, signifies also a dog. The poet chose the last, as the most noble appellation for his hero.[ xxix ] View Page Image
The subject of the poem is the same with that of the epic poem of Fingal. Garibh Mac-Starn is the same with Ossian’s Swaran, the son of Starno. His single combats with, and his victory over all the heroes of Ireland, excepting the celebrated dog of Tara' i. e. Cuchullin, afford matter for two hundred lines of tolerable poetry. Garibh's progress in search of Cuchullin, and his intrigue with the gigantic Emir-bragal, that hero’s wife, enables the poet to extend his piece to four hundred lines. This author, it is true, makes Cuchullin a native of Ireland; the gigantic Emir-bragal he calls, the guiding star of the women of Ireland. The property of this enormous lady I shall not dispute with him, or any other. But, as he speaks with great tenderness of the daughters of the convent, and throws out some hints against the English nation, it is probable he lived in too modern a period to be intimately acquainted with the genealogy of Cuchullin.
Another Irish Ossian (for there were many, as appears from their difference in language and sentiment) speaks very dogmatically of Fion Mac Comnal, as an Irishman. Little can be said for the judgment of this poet, and less for his delicacy of sentiment. The history of one of his episodes may, at once, stand as a specimen of his want of both. Ireland, in the days of Fion, happened to be threatned with an invasion, by three great potentates, the kings of Lochlin, Sweden, and France. It is needless to insist upon the impropriety of a French invasion of Ireland; it is sufficient for me to be faithful to the language of my author. Fion, upon receiving intelligence of the intended invasion, sent Ca-olt, Ossian, and Oscar, to watch the bay, in which, it was apprehended, the enemy was to land. Oscar was the worst choice of a scout that could be made, for, brave as he was, he had the bad property of falling very often asleep on his post, nor was it possible to awake [ xxx ] View Page Imagehim, without cutting off one of his fingers, or dashing a large stone against his head. When the enemy appeared, Oscar, very unfortunately, was asleep. Ossian and Ca-olt consulted about the method of wakening him, and they, at last, fixed on the stone, as the less dangerous expedient.Gun thog Caoilte a chlach, nach gán,Agus a n’ aighai’ chiean gun bhuail;Tri mil an tulloch gun chri’, &c.“Ca-olt took up a heavy stone, and struck it against the hero’s head. The hill shook for three miles, as the stone rebounded and rolled away.” Oscar rose in wrath, and his father gravely desired him to spend his rage on his enemies, which he did to so good purpose, that he singly routed a whole wing of their army. The confederate kings advanced, notwithstanding, till they came to a narrow pass, possessed by the celebrated Ton-iosal. This name is very significant of the singular property of the hero who bore it. Ton-iosal, tho’ brave, was so heavy and unwieldy, that, when he sat down, it took the whole force of an hundred men to set him upright on his feet again. Luckily for the preservation of Ireland, the hero happened to be standing when the enemy appeared, and he gave so good an account of them, that Fion, upon his arrival, found little to do, but to divide the spoil among his soldiers.
All these extraordinary heroes, Fion, Ossian, Oscar and Ca-olt, says the poet, wereSiol Erin na gorm lánn.The sons of Erin of blue steel. [ xxxi ] View Page ImageNeither shall I much dispute the matter with him: He has my consent also to appropriate to Ireland the celebrated Ton-iosal. I shall only say, that they are different persons from those of the same name, in the Scotch poems; and that, tho’ the stupenduous valour of the first is so remarkable, they have not been equally lucky with the latter, in their poet. It is somewhat extraordinary, that Fion, who lived some ages before St. Patrick, swears like a very good christian:Air an Dia do chum gach case.By God, who shaped every case.It is worthy of being remarked, that, in the line quoted, Ossian, who lived in St. Patrick’s days, seems to have understood something of the English, a language not then subsisting. A person, more sanguine for the honour of his country than I am, might argue, from this circumstance, that this pretendedly Irish Ossian was a native of Scotland; for my countrymen are universally allowed to have an exclusive right to the second-sight.
From the instances given, the reader may form a compleat idea of the Irish compositions concerning the Fiona. The greatest part of them make the heroes of Fion,Siol Albin a n’nioma caoile.The race of Albion of many firths.The rest make them natives of Ireland. But, the truth is, that their authority is of little consequence on either side. From the instances I have given, they appear to have been the work of a very [ xxxii ] View Page Imagemodern period. The pious ejaculations they contain, their allusions to the manners of the times, fix them to the fifteenth century. Had even the authors of these pieces avoided ail allusions to their own times, it is impossible that the poems could pass for ancient, in the eyes of any person tolerably conversant with the Irish tongue. The idiom is so corrupted and so many words borrowed from the English, that that language must have made considerable progress in Ireland before the poems were writ.
It remains now to shew, how the Irish bards begun to appropriate Ossian and his heroes to their own country. After the English conquest, many of the natives of Ireland, averse to foreign yoke, either actually were in a state of hostility with the conquerors, or at least, paid little regard to their government. The Scots, in those ages, were often in open war, and never in cordial friendship with the English. The similarity of manners and language, the tradions concerning their common origin, and above all, their having to do with the same enemy, created a free and friendly intercourse between the Scotch and Irish nations. As the custom of retaining bards and senachies was common to both; so each, no doubt, had formed a system of history, it matters not how much soever fabalous, concerning their respective origin. It was the natural policy of the times, to reconcile the traditions of both nations together, and, if possible, to deduce them from the same original stock.
The Saxon manners and language had, at that time, made great progress in the south of Scotland. The ancient language, and the traditional history of the nation, became confined entirely to the inhabitants of the Highlands, then fallen, from several concurring circumstances, into the last degree of ignorance and barbarism. The Irish, who, [ xxxiii ] View Page Imagefor some ages before the conquest, had possessed a competent share of that kind of learning, which then prevailed in Europe, found it no difficult matter to impose their own fictions on the ignorant Highland senachies. By flattering the vanity of the Highlanders, with their long list of Heremonian kings and heroes, they, without contradiction, assumed to themselves the character of being the mother-nation of the Scots of Britain. At this time, certainly, was established that Hibernian system of the original of the Scots, which afterwards, for want of any other, was universally received. The Scots, of the low-country, who, by losing the language of their ancestors, lost, together with it, their national traditions, received, implicitly, the history of their country, from Irish refugees, or from Highland senachies, persuaded over into the Hibernian system.
These circumstances, are far from being ideal. We have remaining many particular traditions, which bear testimony to a fact, of itself abundantly probable. What makes the matter incontestible is, that the antient traditional accounts of the genuine origin of the Scots, have been handed down without interruption. Tho’ a few ignorant senachies might be persuaded out of their own opinion, by the smoothness of an Irish tale, it was impossible to eradicate, from among the bulk of the people, their own national traditions. These traditions afterwards so much prevailed, that the Highlanders continue totally unacquainted with the pretended Hibernian extract of the Scots nation. Ignorant chronicle writers, strangers to the antient language of their country, preserved only from falling to the ground, so improbable a story.
It was, during the period I have mentioned, that the Irish became acquainted with, and carried into their country, the compositions of Ossian. The scene of many of the pieces being in Ireland, suggested first to them a hint, of making both heroes and poet natives [ xxxiv ] View Page Imageof that Island. In order to do this effectually, they found it necessary, to reject the genuine poems, as every line was pregnant with proofs of their Scotch original, and to dress up a fable, on the same subject, in their own language. So ill qualified, however, were their bards to effectuate this change, that amidst all their desires to make the Fiona Irishmen, they every now and then call Siol Albin. It was, probably, after a succession of some generations, that the bards had effrontery enough to establish an Irish genealogy for Fion, and deduce him from the Milesian race of kings. In some of the oldest Irish poems, on the subject, the great-grand-father of Fion is made a Scandinavian; and his heroes are often called Siol Lochlin na beum; i. e. the race of Lochlin of wounds. The only poem that runs up the family of Fion to Nuades Niveus, king of Ireland, is evidently not above a hundred and fifty years old; for, if I mistake not, it mentions the Earl of Tyrone, so famous in Elizabeth’s time.
This subject, perhaps, is pursued further than it deserves; but, a discussion of the pretensions of Ireland to Ossian, was become in some measure necessary. If the Irish poems, concerning the Fiona, should appear ridiculous, it is but justice to observe, that they are scarcely more so than the poems of other nations, at that period. On other subjects, the bards of Ireland have displayed a genius worthy of any age or nation. It was, alone, in matters of antiquity, that they were monstrous in their fables. Their love-sonnets, and their elegies on the death of persons worthy or renowned, abound with such beautiful simplicity of sentiment, and wild harmony of numbers, that they become more than an attonement for their errors, in every other species of poetry. But the beauty of these pieces, depend so much on a certain curiosa felicitas of expression in the original, that they must appear much to disadvantage in another language.
|Temora, an epic poem. Book First,1|
|Cathlin of Clutha, a poem157|
|Sumalla of Lumon, a poem169|
|Cath-loda, a poem, Duä First179|
|Oina-morul, a poem209|
|Colna-dona, a poem217|
|A specimen of the Original of Temora, Book Seventh,225|
The poem that stands first in this collection had its name from Temora, the royal palace of the first Irish kings of the Caledonian race, in the province of Ulster.
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book First.[ 2 ] View Page Image
Cairbar, the son of Borbar-duthul, lord of Atha in Connaught, the most potent chief of the race of the Firbolg, having murdered, at Temora the royal palace, Cormac the son of Artho, the young king of Ireland, usurped the throne. Cormac was lineally descended from Conar the son of Trenmor, the great grandfather of Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabited the western coast of Scotland. Fingal resented the behaviour of Cairbar, and resolved to pass over into Ireland, with an army, to re-establish the royal family on the Irish throne. Early intelligence of his designs coming to Cairbar, he assembled some of his tribes in Ulster, and at the same time ordered his brother Cathmor to follow him speedily with an army, from Temora. Such was the situation of affairs when the Caledonian fleet appeared on the coast of Ulster.
The poem opens in the morning. Cairbar is represented as retired from the rest of the army, when one of his scouts brought him news of the landing of Fingal. He assembles a council of his chiefs. Foldath the chief of Moma haughtily despises the enemy; and is reprimanded warmly by Malthos. Cairbar, after hearing their debate, orders a feast to be prepared, to which, by his bard Olla, he invites Oscar the son of Ossian; resolving to pick a quarrel with that hero, and so have some pretext for killing him. Oscar came to the feast; the quarrel happened; the followers of both fought, and Cairbar and Oscar fell by mutual wounds. The noise of the battle reached Fingal's army. The king came on, to the relief of Oscar, and the Irish fell back to the army of Cathmor, who was advanced to the banks of the river Lubar, on the heath of Moilena. Fingal, after mourning over his grandson, ordered Ullin the chief of his bards to carry his body to Morven, to be there interred. Night coming on, Althan, the son of Conachar, relates to the king the particulars of the murder of Cormac. Fillan, the son of Fingal, is sent to observe the motions of Cathmor by night, which concludes the action of the first day. The scene of this book is a plain, near the hill of Mora, which rose on the borders of the heath of Moilena, in Ulster.[ 3 ] View Page Image
Temora, An Epic PoemDisplay note.
The blue waves of Ullin roll in light. The green hills are covered with day. Trees shake their dusky heads in the breeze. Grey torrents pour their noisy streams.—Two green hills, with aged oaks, surround a narrow plain. The blue course [ 4 ] View Page Image of a stream is there; on its banks stood CairbarDisplay note of Atha. ——His spear supports the king: the red eyes of his fear are sad. Cormac rises in his soul, with all his ghastly wounds. The grey form of the youth appears in darkness; blood pours from his airy sides.—Cairbar thrice threw his spear on earth; and thrice he stroked [ 5 ] View Page Image his beard. His steps are short; he often stops: and tosses his sinewy arms. He is like a cloud in the desart; that varies its form to every blast: the valleys are sad around, and fear, by turns, the shower.
The king, at length, resumed his soul, and took his pointed spear. He turned his eyes to Moi-lena. The scouts of blue ocean came. They came with steps of fear, and often looked behind. Cairbar knew that the mighty were near, and called his gloomy chiefs.
The sounding steps of his warriors came. They drew, at once, their swords. There Morlath Display notestood with darkened face. Hidalla's long hair sighs in wind. Red-haired Cormar bends on his spear, and rolls his side-long-looking eyes. Wild is the look of Malthos from beneath too shaggy brows.—Foldath stands like an oozy rock, that covers its dark sides with foam. His spear is like Slimora's fir, that meets the wind of heaven. His shield is marked with the strokes of battle; and his red eye despises danger. These and a thousand other chiefs surrounded car-borne Cairbar, when the scout of ocean came, Mor-annalDisplay note, from streamy Moi-lena.—His eyes hang forward from his face, his lips are trembling, pale.[ 6 ] View Page Image
Do the chiefs of Erin stand, he said, silent as the grove of evening? Stand they, like a silent wood, and Fingal on the coast? Fingal, who is terrible in battle, the king of streamy Morven.—Hast thou seen the warrior, said Cairbar with a sigh? Are his heroes many on the coast? Lifts he the spear of battle? Or comes the king in peace?
In peace he comes not, Cairbar. I have seen his forward spearDisplay note.It is a meteor of death: the blood of thousands is on its steel.—— He came first to the shore, strong in the grey hair of age. Full rose his sinewy limbs, as he strode in his might. That sword is by his side which gives no secondDisplay notewound. His shield is terrible, like the bloody moon ascending thro' a storm.—Then came Ossian king of songs; and Morni's son, the first of men. Connal leaps forward on his spear: Dermid spreads his dark-brown locks.—— Fillan bends his bow, the young hunter of streamy Moruth.Display note—But who is that before them, like the terrible course of a stream! It is the son of Ossian, bright between his locks. His long hair falls on his back.—His dark brows are half-inclosed in steel. His [ 7 ] View Page Imagesword hangs loose on his side. His spear glitters as he moves. I fled from his terrible eyes, king of high Temora!
Then fly, thou feeble man, said Foldath's gloomy wrath: fly to the grey streams of thy land, son of the little soul! Have not I seen that Oscar? I beheld the chief in war. He is of the mighty in danger: but there are others who lift the spear. —Erin has many sons as brave, king of Temora of Groves! Let Foldath meet him in the strength of his course, and stop this mighty stream.—My spear is covered with the blood of the valiant; my shield is like the wall of Tura.
Shall FoldathDisplay notealone meet the foe? replied the dark-browed Malthos. Are they not numerous on our coast, like the waters of many streams? Are not these the chiefs who vanquished Swaran, when the sons of Erin fled? And shall Foldath meet their bravest hero? Foldath of the heart of pride! take the strength of the people; and let Malthos come. My sword is red with slaughter, but who has heard my words?Display note
Sons of green Erin, said HidallaDisplay note,let not Fingal hear your words. The foe might rejoice, and his arm be strong in the land.—Ye are brave, O warriors, and like the tempests of the desart; [ 8 ] View Page Imagethey meet the rocks without fear, and overturn the woods.—But let us move in our strength, slow as a gathered cloud.——Then shall the mighty tremble; the spear shall fall from the hand of the valiant.—We see the cloud of death, they will say, while shadows fly over their face. Fingal will mourn in his age, and see his flying fame.—The steps of his chiefs will cease in Morven: the moss of years shall grow in Selma.
Cairbar heard their words, in silence, like the cloud of a shower: it stands dark on Cromla, till the lightning bursts its side: the valley gleams with red light; the spirits of the storm rejoice.—So stood the silent king of Temora; at length his words are heard.
Spread the feast on Moi-lena: let my hundred bards attend. Thou, red-hair'd Olla, take the harp of the king. Go to Oscar chief of swords, and bid him to our feast. To-day we feast and hear the song; to-morrow break the spears. Tell him that I have raised the tomb of CatholDisplay note; that bards have sung to his ghost.—Tell him that Cairbar has heard his fame at the stream of resounding CarunDisplay note. Cathmor Display noteis not here, Borbar-duthul's generous race. [ 9 ] View Page ImageHe is not here with his thousands, and our arms are weak. Cathmor is a foe to strife at the feast: his soul is bright as that sun. But Cairbar shall fight with Oscar, chiefs of the woody Temora! His words for Cathol were many; the wrath of Cairbar burns. He shall fall on Moi-lena: my fame shall rise in blood.
Their faces brightened round with joy. They spread over Moi-lena. the feast of shells is prepared. The songs of bards arise. We heardDisplay notethe voice of joy on the coast: we thought that mighty [ 10 ] View Page ImageCathmor came. Cathmor the friend of strangers! the brother of red-haired Cairbair. Their souls were not the same. The light [ 11 ] View Page Imageof heaven was in the bosom of Cathmor. His towers rose on the banks of Atha: seven paths led to his halls. Seven chiefs stood on the paths, and called the stranger to the feast! But Cathmor dwelt in the wood to avoid the voice of praise.
Olla came with his songs. Oscar went to Cairbar's feast. Three hundred warriors strode along Moi-lena of the streams. The grey dogs bounded on the heath, their howling reached afar. Fingal saw the departing hero: the soul of the king was sad. He dreaded Cairbar's gloomy thoughts, amidst the feast of shells.
My son raised high the spear of Cormac: an hundred bards met him with songs. Cairbar concealed with smiles the death that was dark in his soul. The feast is spread, the shells resound: joy brightens the face of the host. But it was like the parting beam of the sun, when he is to hide his red head, in a storm.
Cairbar rose in his arms; darkness gathered on his brow. The hundred harps ceased at once. The clangDisplay note of shields was heard. Far distant on the heath Olla raised his song of woe. My son knew the sign of death; and rising seized his spear.
Oscar! said the dark-red Cairbar, I behold the spearDisplay note of Inisfail. [ 12 ] View Page Image The spear of TemoraDisplay note glitters in thy hand, son of woody Morven! It was the pride of an hundredDisplay note kings, the death of heroes of old. Yield it, son of Ossian, yield it to car-borne Cairbar.
Shall I yield, Oscar replied, the gift of Erin's injured king: the gift of fair-haired Cormac, when Oscar scattered his foes? I came to Cormac's halls of joy, when Swaran fled from Fingal. Gladness rose in the face of youth: he gave the spear of Temora. Nor did he give it to the feeble, Ο Cairbar, neither to the weak in soul. The darkness of thy face is no storm to me; nor are thine eyes the flames of death. Do I fear thy clanging shield? Tremble I at Olla's song? No: Cairbar, frighten the feeble, Oscar is a rock.
And wilt thou not yield the spear? replied the rising pride of Cairbar. Are thy words so mighty because Fingal is near? Fingal with aged locks from Morven's hundred groves! He has fought with little men. But he must vanish before Cairbar, like a thin pillar of mist before the winds of AthaDisplay note.
Were he who fought with little men near Atha's darkening chief: Atha's chief would yield green Erin to avoid his rage. Speak not of the mighty, Ο Cairbar! but turn thy sword on me. Our strength is equal: but Fingal is renowned! the first of mortal men ![ 13 ] View Page Image
Their people saw the darkening chiefs. Their crowding steps are heard around. Their eyes roll in fire. A thousand swords are half unsheathed. Red-haired Olla raised the song of battle: the trembling joy of Oscar's soul arose: the wonted joy of his soul when Fingal's horn was heard.
Dark as the swelling wave of ocean before the rising winds, when it bends its head near the coast, came on the host of Cairbar.——Daughter of Toscar!Display notewhy that tear? He is not fallen yet. Many were the deaths of his arm before my hero fell!—Behold they fall before my son like the groves in the desart, when an angry ghost rushes through night, and takes their green heads in his hand! Morlath falls: Maronnan dies: Conachar trembles in his blood. Cairbar shrinks before Oscar's sword; and creeps in darkness behind his stone. He lifted the spear in secret, and pierced my Oscar's side. He falls forward on his shield: his knee sustains the chief. But still his spear is in his hand.—See gloomy CairbarDisplay note falls![ 14 ] View Page Image
The steel pierced his forehead, and divided his red hair behind. He lay, like a shattered rock, which Cromla shakes from its shaggy side. But never more shall Oscar rise! he leans on his bossy shield. His spear is in his terrible hand: Erin's sons stood distant and dark. Their shouts arose, like crowded streams, and Moi-lena echoed wide.
Fingal heard the sound; and took his father's spear. His steps are before us on the heath. He spoke the words of woe. I hear the noise of war. Young Oscar is alone. Rise, sons of Morven; join the hero's sword.
Ossian rushed along the heath. Fillan bounded over Moi-lena. Fingal strode in his strength, and the light of his shield is terrible. [ 15 ] View Page ImageThe sons of Erin saw it far distant; they trembled in their souls. They knew that the wrath of the king arose: and they foresaw their death. We first arrived; we fought; and Erin's chiefs withstood our rage. But when the king came, in the sound of his course, what heart of steel could stand! Erin fled over Moi-lena. Death pursued their flight.
We saw Oscar on his shield. We saw his blood around. Silence darkened every face. Each turned his back and wept. The king strove to hide his tears. His grey beard whistled in the wind. He bends his head above his son. His words are mixed with sighs.
And art thou fallen, Oscar, in the midst of thy course? the heart of the aged beats over thee! He sees thy coming wars. The wars which ought to come he beholds, but they are cut off from thy fame. When shall joy dwell at Selma? When shall grief depart from Morven? My sons fall by degrees: Fingal shall be the last of his race. The fame which I have received shall pass away: my age will be without friends. I shall sit a grey cloud in my hall: nor shall I hear the return of a son, in the midst of his sounding arms. Weep, ye heroes of Morven! never mere shall Oscar rise!
And they did weep, O Fingal; dear was the hero to their souls. He went out to battle, and the foes vanished; he returned, in peace, amidst their joy. No father mourned his son slain in youth; no brother his brother of love. They fell, without tears, for the chief of the people was low! BranDisplay note is howling at his feet: gloomy Luäth [ 16 ] View Page Imageis sad, for he had often led them to the chace; the bounding roe of the desart.
When Oscar saw his friends around, his white breast rose with sighs.—The groans, he said, of aged chiefs; the howling of my dogs: the sudden bursts of the song of grief, have melted Oscar's soul. My soul, that never melted before; it was like the steel of my sword.—Ossian, carry me to my hills! Raise the stones of my renown. Place the horn of the deer, and my sword within my narrow dwelling.—The torrent hereafter may raise the earth: the hunter may find the steel and say, "This has been Oscar's sword."
And fallest thou, son of my fame! And shall I never see thee, Oscar! When others hear of their sons, I shall not hear of thee. The moss is on thy four grey stones; the mournful wind is there. The battle shall be fought without him: he shall not pursue the dark-brown hinds. When the warrior returns from battles, and tells of other lands; I have seen a tomb, he will say, by the roaring stream, the dark dwelling of a chief. He fell by car-borne Oscar, the first of mortal men.—I, perhaps, shall hear his voice; and a beam of joy will rise in my soul.
The night would have descended in sorrow, and morning returned in the shadow of grief: our chiefs would have stood like cold dropping rocks on Moi-lena, and have forgot the war, did not the king disperse his grief, and raise his mighty voice. The chiefs, as new-wakened from dreams, lift up their heads around.
How long on Moi-lena shall we weep; or pour our tears in Ullin? The mighty will not return. Oscar shall not rise in his strength. [ 17 ] View Page Image
The valiant must fall one day, and be no more known on his hills. —Where are our fathers, O warriors! the chiefs of the times of old? They have set like stars that have shone, we only hear the sound of their praise. But they were renowned in their day, the terror of other times. Thus shall we pass, O warriors, in the day of our fall. Then let us be renowned when we may; and leave our fame behind us, like the last beams of the sun, when he hides his red head in the west.
Ullin, my aged bard! take the ship of the king. Carry Oscar to Selma of harps. Let the daughters of Morven weep. We shall fight in Erin for the race of fallen Cormac. The days of my years begin to fail: I feel the weakness of my arm. My fathers bend from their clouds, to receive their grey-hair'd son. But, before I go hence, one beam of fame shall rise: so shall my days end, as my years begun, in fame: my life shall be one stream of light to bards of other times.
Ullin rais'd his white sails: the wind of the south came forth. He bounded on the waves towards Selma.—Display note I remained in my grief, but my words were not heard.——The feast is spread on Moi-lena: an hundred heroes reared the tomb of Cairbar: but no song is raised over the chief; for his soul had been dark and bloody. The bards remembered the fall of Cormac! what could they say in Cairbar's praise?
The night came rolling down. The light of an hundred oaks arose. Fingal sat beneath a tree. Old AlthanDisplay note stood in the midst. [ 18 ] View Page ImageHe told the tale of fallen Cormac. Althan the son of Conachar, the friend of car-borne Cuchullin: he dwelt with Cormac in windy Temora, when Semo's son fought with generous Torlath.—The tale of Althan was mournful, and the tear was in his eye.
Display noteThe setting sun was yellow on Dora.Display note Grey evening began to descend. Temora's woods shook with the blast of the unconstant wind. A cloud, at length, gathered in the west, and a red star looked from behind its edge.—I stood in the wood alone, and saw a ghost on the darkening air. His stride extended from hill to hill: his shield was dim on his side. It was the son of Semo: I knew the warrior's face. But he passed away in his blast; and all was dark around.—My soul was sad. I went to the hall of shells. A thousand lights arose: the hundred bards had strung the harp. Cormac stood in the midst, like the morning star, when it rejoices on the eastern hill, and its young beams are bathed in showers.— The sword of ArthoDisplay note was in the hand of the king; and he looked with joy on its polished studs: thrice he attempted to draw it, and thrice he failed; his yellow locks are spread on his shoulders: his cheeks of youth are red.—I mourned over the beam of youth, for he was soon to set.
Althan! he said, with a smile, hast thou beheld my father? Heavy is the sword of the king, surely his arm was strong. O that I were like him in battle, when the rage of his wrath arose! then [ 19 ] View Page Image would I have met, like Cuchullin, the car-borne son of Cantéla! But years may come on, O Althan! and my arm be strong.—Hast thou heard of Semo's son, the chief of high Temora? He might have returned with his fame; for he promised to return to-night. My bards wait him with songs; my feast is spread in Temora.
I heard the king in silence. My tears began to flow. I hid them with my aged locks; but he perceived my grief.
Son of Conachar! he said, is the king of TuraDisplay note low? Why bursts thy sigh in secret? And why descends the tear?—Comes the car-borne Torlath? Or the sound of the red-haired Cairbar?-——They come!—for I behold thy grief. Mossy Tura's king is low!—Shall I not rush to battle?—But I cannot lift the spear!—O had mine arm the strength of Cuchullin, soon would Cairbar fly; the fame of my fathers would be renewed; and the deeds of other times!
He took his bow. The tears flow down, from both his sparkling eyes.—Grief saddens sound: the bards bend forward, from their hundred harps. The lone blast touched their trembling strings. The soundDisplay note is sad and low.
A voice is heard at a distance, as of one in grief; it was Carril of other times, who came from dark SlimoraDisplay note.—He told of the [ 20 ] View Page Image death of Cuchuliin, and of his mighty deeds. The people were scattered round his tomb: their arms lay on the ground. They had forgot the war, for he, their sire, was seen no more.
But who, said the soft-voiced Carril, come like the bounding roes? their stature is like the young trees of the plain, growing in a shower:—Soft and ruddy are their cheeks; but fearless souls look forth from their eyes?——Who but the sons of UsnothDisplay note, the car-borne chiefs of Etha? The people rise on every side, like the strength of an half-extinguished fire, when the winds come, sudden, from the desart, on their rustling wings.—The sound of Caithbat'sDisplay note shield was heard. The heroes saw Cuchullin in Nathos.Display note So rolled his sparkling eyes: his steps were such on heath.——Battles are fought at Lego: the sword of Nathos prevails. Soon shalt thou behold him in thy halls, king of Temora of Groves!
And soon may I behold the chief! replied the blue-eyed king. But my soul is sad for Cuchullin; his voice was pleasant in mine [ 21 ] View Page Imageear.——Often have we moved, on Dora, to the chace of the dark-brown hinds: his bow was unerring on the mountains.—He spoke of mighty men. He told of the deeds of my fathers; and I felt my joy.—But sit thou at the feast, O bard, I have often heard thy voice. Sing in the praise of Cuchullin; and of that mighty strangerDisplay note.
Day rose on woody Temora, with all the beams of the east. Trathin came to the hall, the son of old GellámaDisplay note.—I behold, he said, a dark cloud in the desart, king of Innisfail! a cloud it seemed at first, but now a croud of men. One strides before them in his strength; his red hair flies in wind. His shield glitters to the beam of the east. His spear is in his hand.
Call him to the feast of Temora, replied the king of Erin. My hall is the house of strangers, son of the generous Gelláma!— Perhaps it is the chief of Etha, coming in the sound of his renown.—Hail, mightyDisplay note stranger, art thou of the friends of Cormac?—But Carril, he is dark, and unlovely; and he draws his sword. Is that the son of Usnoth, bard of the times of old?
It is not the son of Usnoth, said Carril, but the chief of Atha.— Why comest thou in thy arms to Temora, Cairbar of the gloomy brow? Let not thy sword rise against Cormac! Whither dost; thou turn thy speed?
He passed on in his darkness, and seized the hand of the king. Cormac foresaw his death, and the rage of his eyes arose.—Retire, [ 22 ] View Page Image thou gloomy chief of Atha: Nathos comes with battle.—Thou art bold in Cormac's hall, for his arm is weak.—The sword entered the side of the king: he fell in the halls of his fathers. His fair hair is in the dust. His blood is smoaking round.
And art thou fallen in thy hallsDisplay note, O son of noble Artho? The shield of Cuchullin was not near. Nor the spear of thy father. Mournful are the mountains of Erin, for the chief of the people is low!——Blest be thy soul, O Cormac! thou art darkened in thy youth.
My words came to the ears of Cairbar, and he closed usDisplay note in the midst of darkness. He feared to stretch his sword to the bardsDisplay note though his soul was dark. Long had we pined alone: at length, the noble CathmorDisplay note came.—He heard our voice from the cave; he turned the eye of his wrath on Cairbar.
Chief of Atha! he said, how long wilt thou pain my soul? Thy heart is like the rock of the desart; and thy thoughts are dark.— But thou art the brother of Cathmor, and he will fight thy battles. ——But Cathmor's soul is not like thine, thou feeble hand of war! The light of my bosom is stained with thy deeds: the bards will not sing of my renown. They may say, "Cathmor was brave, but he fought for gloomy Cairbar." They will pass over my tomb in [ 23 ] View Page Imagesilence: my fame shall not be heard.—Cairbar! loose the bards: they are the sons of other times. Their voice shall be heard in other years; after the kings of Temora have failed.——
We came forth at the words of the chief. We saw him in his strength. He was like thy youth, O Fingal, when thou first didst lift the spear.—His face was like the plain of the sun, when it is bright: no darkness travelled over his brow. But he came with his thousands to Ullin; to aid the red-haired Cairbar: and now he comes to revenge his death, O king of woody Morven.——
And let him come, replied the king; I love a foe like Cathmor. His soul is great; his arm is strong, his battles are full of fame.——But the little soul is a vapour that hovers round the marshy lake: it never rises on the green hill, lest the winds should meet it there: its dwelling is in the cave, it sends forth the dart of death.
Our young heroes, O warriors, are like the renown of our fathers.—They fight in youth; they fall: their names are in the song. Fingal is amidst his darkening years. He must not fall, as an aged oak, across a secret stream. Near it are the steps of the hunter, as it lies beneath the wind. "How has that tree fallen?" He, whistling, strides along.
Raise the song of joy, ye bards of Morven, that our souls may forget the past.—The red stars look on us from the clouds, and silently descend. Soon shall the grey beam of the morning rise, and shew us the foes of Cormac.——Fillan! take the spear of the king; go to Mora's dark-brown side. Let thine eyes travel over the heath, like flames of fire, Observe the foes of Fingal, and [ 24 ] View Page Imagethe course of generous Cathmor. I hear a distant sound, like the falling of rocks in the desart.——But strike thou thy shield, at times, that they may not come through night, and the fame of Morven cease.—I begin to be alone, my son, and I dread the fall of my renown.
The voice of the bards arose. The king leaned on the shield of Trenmor.—Sleep descended on his eyes, and his future battles rose in his dreams. The host are sleeping around. Dark-haired Fillan observed the foe. His steps are on a distant hill: we hear, at times, his clanging shield.
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Second.[ 26 ] View Page Image
This book opens, we may suppose, about midnight, with a soliloquy of Ossian, who had retired, from the rest of the army, to mourn for his son Oscar. Upon hearing the noise of Cathmor's army approaching, he went to find out his brother Fillan, who kept the watch, on the hill of Mora, in the front of Fingal's army. In the conversation of the brothers, the episode of Conar, the son of Trenmor, who was the first king of Ireland, is introduced, which lays open the origin of the contests between the Caël and Firbolg, the two nations who first possessed themselves of that island. Ossian kindles a fire on Mora; upon which Cathmor desisted from the design he had formed of surprising the army of the Caledonians. He calls a council of his chiefs; reprimands Foldath for advising a night-attack, as the Irish army were so much superior in number to the enemy. The bard Fonar introduces the story of Crothar, the ancestor of the king, which throws further light on the history of Ireland, and the original pretensions of the family of Atha, to the throne of that kingdom. The Irish chiefs lie down to rest, and Cathmor himself undertakes the watch. In his circuit, round the army, he is met by Ossian. The interview of the two heroes is described. Cathmor obtains a promise from Ossian, to order a funeral elegy to be sung over the grave of Cairbar; it being the opinion of the times, that the souls of the dead could not be happy, till their elegies were sung by a bard. Morning comes. Cathmor and Ossian part; and the latter, casually meeting with Carril the son of Kinsena, sends that bard, with a funeral song, to the tomb of Cairbar.[ 27 ] View Page Image
Temora, An Epic Poem.
Display noteFather of heroes, Trenmor! dweller of eddying winds! where the dark-red course of thunder marks the troubled clouds! Open thou thy stormy halls, and let the bards of old be near: let them draw near, with their songs and their half viewless harps. No dweller of misty valley comes; no hunter unknown [ 28 ] View Page Image known at his streams; but the car-borne Oscar from the folds of war. Sudden is thy change, my son, from what thou wert on dark Moilena! The blast folds thee in its skirt, and rustles through the sky.
Dost thou not behold thy father, at the stream of night? The chiefs of Morven sleep far-distant. They have lost no son. But ye have lost a hero, Chiefs of streamy Morven! Who could equal his strength, when battle rolled against his side, like the darkness of crowded waters?——Why this cloud on Ossian's soul? It ought to burn in danger. Erin is near with her host. The king of Morven is alone.—Alone thou shalt not be, my father, while I can lift the spear.
I rose, in my rattling arms; and listened to the wind of night. The shield of FillanDisplay note is not heard. I shook for the son of Fingal. [ 29 ] View Page ImageWhy should the foe come, by night; and the dark-haired warrior fail? Distant, sullen murmurs rile: like the noise of the lake of Lego, when its waters shrink, in the days of frost, and all its bursting ice resounds. The people of Lara look to heaven, and forsee the storm.—My steps are forward on the heath: the spear of Oscar in my hand. Red stars looked from high. I gleamed, along the night.—I saw Fillan silent before me, bending forward from Mora's rock. He heard the shout of the foe; and the joy of his soul arose. He heard my sounding tread, and turned his lifted spear.
Comest thou, son of night, in peace? Or dost thou meet my wrath? The foes of Fingal are mine. Speak, or fear my steel.— I stand not, in vain, the shield of Morven's race.
Never mayst thou stand in vain, son of blue eyed Clatho. Fingal begins to be alone; darkness gathers on the last of his days. Yet he has twoDisplay note sons who ought to shine in war. Who ought to be two beams of light, near the steps of his departure.[ 30 ] View Page Image
Son of Fingal, replied the youth, it is not long since I could lift the spear. Few are the marks of my sword in battle, but my soul is fire. The chiefs of BolgaDisplay note crowd around the shield of generous Cathmor. Their gathering is on that heath. Shall my steps approach their host? I yielded to Oscar alone, in the strife of the race, on Cona.
Fillan, thou shalt not approach their host; nor fall before thy fame is known. My name is heard in song: when needful I advance.—From the skirts of night I shall view their gleaming tribes.—Why, Fillan, didst thou speak of Oscar, to call forth my sigh? I must forgetDisplay note the warrior, till the storm is rolled away. Sadness ought not to dwell in danger, nor the tear in the eye of war. Our fathers forgot their fallen sons, till the noise of arms was past. Then sorrow returned to the tomb, and the song of bards arose.
ConarDisplay notewas the brother of Trathal, first of mortal men. His battles were on every coast. A thousand streams rolled down [ 31 ] View Page Imagethe blood of his foes. His fame filled green Erin, like a pleasant gale. The nations gathered in Ullin, and they blessed the king; the king of the race of their fathers, from the land of hinds.
The chiefsDisplay noteof the south were gathered, in the darkness of their pride. In the horrid cave of Muma, they mixed their secret words. Thither often, they said, the spirits of their fathers came; shewing their pale forms from the chinky rocks, and reminding them of the honor of Bolga.—Why should Conar reign, the son of streamy Morven?
They came forth, like the streams of the desart, with the roar of their hundred tribes. Conar was a rock before them: broken they rolled on every side. But often they returned, and the sons of Ullin fell. The king stood, among the tombs of his warriors, and darkly bent his mournful face. His soul was rolled into itself; and he had marked the place, where he was to fall; when Trathal [ 32 ] View Page Imagecame, in his strength, the chief of cloudy Morven.—Nor did he come alone; ColgarDisplay note was at his side; Colgar the son of the king and of white-bosomed Solin-corma.
As Trenmor, cloathed with meteors, descends from the halls of thunder, pouring the dark storm before him over the troubled sea: so Colgar descended to battle, and wasted the echoing field. His father rejoiced over the hero: but an arrow came. His tomb was raised, without a tear. The king was to revenge his son.—He lightened forward in battle, till Bolga yielded at her streams.
When peace returned to the land, and his blue waves bore the king to Morven: then he remembered his son, and poured the silent tear. Thrice did the bards, at the cave of Furmono, call the soul of Colgar. They called him to the hills of his land; and he heard them in his mist. Trathal placed his sword in the cave, that the spirit of his son might rejoice.
Display noteColgar, son of Trathal, said Fillan, thou wert renowned in youth! But the king hath not marked my sword, bright-streaming [ 33 ] View Page Imageon the field. I go forth with the crowd: I return, without my fame.——But the foe approaches, Ossian. I hear their murmur on the heath. The sound of their steps is like thunder, in the bosom of the ground, when the rocking hills shake their groves, and not a blast pours from the darkened sky.
Sudden I turned on my spear, and raised the flame of an oak on high. I spread it large, on Mora's wind. Cathmor stopt in his course.—Gleaming he stood, like a rock, on whose sides are the wandering of blasts; which seize its echoing streams and clothe them over with ice. So stood the friendDisplay note of strangers. The winds lift his heavy locks. Thou art the tallest of the race of Erin, king of streamy Atha!
First of bards, said Cathmor, FonarDisplay note, call the chiefs of Erin. Call red-hair'd Cormar, dark-browed Malthos, the side-long-looking gloom of Maronan. Let the pride of Foldath appear: and the red-rolling eye of Turlotho. Nor let Hidalla be forgot; his voice, in danger, is like the sound of a shower, when it falls in the blasted vale, near Atha's failing stream.
They came, in their clanging arms. They bent forward to his voice, as if a spirit of their fathers spoke from a cloud of night.— [ 34 ] View Page ImageDreadful shone they to the light; like the fall of the stream of Brumo,Display notewhen the meteor lights it, before the nightly stranger. Shuddering, he stops in his journey, and looks up for the beam of the morn.
Display noteWhy delights Foldath, said the king, to pour the blood of foes, by night? Fails his arm in battle, in the beams of day? Few are the foes before us, why should we clothe us in mist? The valiant delight to shine, in the battles of their land.——
Thy counsel was in vain, chief of Moma; the eyes of Morven do not sleep. They are watchful, as eagles, on their mossy rocks. —Let each collect, beneath his cloud, the strength of his roaring tribe. To-morrow I move, in light, to meet the foes of Bolga!— MightyDisplay note was he, that is low, the race of Borbar-Duthul!
Not unmarked, said Foldath, were my steps before thy race. In light, I meet the foes of Cairbar; the warrior praised my deeds. [ 35 ] View Page Image—But his stone was raised without a tear? No bard sungDisplay note over Erin's king; and shall his foes rejoice along their mossy hills?—No: they must not rejoice: he was the friend of Foldath. Our words were mixed, in secret, in Moma's silent cave; whilst thou, a boy in the field, pursuedst the thistle's beard.—With Moma's sons I shall rush abroad, and find the foe, on his dusky hills. Fingal shall lie, without his song, the grey-haired king of Selma.
Dost thou think, thou feeble man, replied the chief of Atha; dost thou think that he can fall, without his fame, in Erin? Could the bards be silent, at the tomb of the mighty Fingal? The song would burst in secret; and the spirit of the king rejoice.—It is when thou shalt fall, that the bard shall forget the song. Thou art dark, chief of Moma, tho' thine arm is a tempest in war.—Do I forget the king of Erin, in his narrow house? My soul is not lost to Cairbar, the brother of my love. I marked the bright beams of joy, which travelled over his cloudy mind, when I returned, with fame, to Atha of the streams.
Tall they removed, beneath the words of the king; each to his own dark tribe; where, humming, they rolled on the heath, faint-glittering to the stars: like waves, in the rocky bay, before the nightly wind.——Beneath an oak, lay the chief of Atha: his shield, a dusky round, hung high. Near him, against a rock, leaned the strangerDisplay noteof Inis-huna: that beam of light, with wandering [ 36 ] View Page Imagelocks, from Lumon of the roes.—At distance rose the voice of Fonar, with the deeds of the days of old. The song fails, at times, in Lubar's growing roar.
Display noteCrothar, begun the bard, first dwelt at Atha's mossy stream. A thousandDisplay note oaks, from the mountains, formed his echoing halt. The gathering of the people was there, around the feast of the blue-eyed king.—But who, among his chiefs, was like the stately Crothar? Warriors kindled in his presence. The young sigh of the virgins rose. In AlnecmaDisplay note was the warrior honoured; the first of the race of Bolga.[ 37 ] View Page Image
He pursued the chace in Ullin: on the moss-covered top of Drumardo. From the wood looked the daughter of Cathmin, the blue-rolling eye of Con-lama. Her sigh rose in secret. She bent her head, midst her wandering locks. The moon looked in, at night, and saw the white-tossing of her arms; for she thought of the mighty Crothar, in the season of her dreams.
Three days feasted Crothar with Cathmin. On the fourth they awaked the hinds. Con-lama moved to the chace, with all her lovely steps. She met Crothar in the narrow path. The bow fell, at once, from her hand. She turned her face away, and half-hid it with her locks.——The love of Crothar rose. He brought the white-bosomed maid to Atha.——Bards raised the song in her presence; and joy dwelt round the daugther of Ullin.
The pride of Turloch rose, a youth who loved the white-handed Con-láma. He came, with battle, to Alnecma; to Atha of the roes. Cormul went forth to the strife, the brother of car-borne Crothar. He went forth, but he fell, and the sigh of his people rose.——Silent and tall, across the stream, came the darkening strength of Crothar: he rolled the foe from Alnecma, and returned, midst the joy of Con-láma.
Battle on battle comes. Blood is poured on blood. The tombs of the valiant rise. Erin's clouds are hung round with ghosts. The chiefs of the south gathered round the echoing shield of Crothar. He came, with death, to the paths of the foe. [ 38 ] View Page ImageThe virgins wept, by the streams of Ullin. They looked to the mist of the hill, no hunter descended from its folds. Silence darkened in the land: blasts sighed lonely on grassy tombs.
Descending like the eagle of heaven, with all his rustling wings, when he forsakes the blast, with joy, the son of Trenmor came; Conar, arm of death, from Morven of the groves.—He poured his might along green Erin. Death dimly strode behind his sword. The sons of Bolga fled, from his course, as from a stream, that bursting from the stormy desart, rolls the fields together, with all their echoing woods.——CrotharDisplay note met him in battle: but Alnecma's warriors fled. The king of Atha slowly retired, in the grief of his soul. He, afterwards, shone in the south; but dim as the sun of Autumn; when he visits, in his robes of mist, Lara of dark streams. The withered grass is covered with dew: the field, tho' bright, is sad.
Why wakes the bard before me, said Cathmor, the memory of those who fled? Has some ghost, from his dusky cloud, bent forward to thine ear; to frighten Cathmor from the field with the tales of old? Dwellers of the folds of night, your voice is but a [ 39 ] View Page Imageblast to me; which takes the grey thistle's head, and strews its beard on streams. Within my bosom is a voice; others hear it not. His soul forbids the king of Erin to shrink back from war.
Abashed the bard sinks back in night: retired, he bends above a stream. His thoughts are on the days of Atha, when Cathmor heard his song with joy. His tears come rolling down: the winds are in his beard.
Erin sleeps around. No sleep comes down on Cathmor's eyes. Dark, in his soul, he saw the spirit of low-laid Cairbar. He saw him, without his song, rolled in a blast of night.——He rose. His steps were round the host. He struck, at times, his echoing shield. The sound reached Ossian's ear, on Mora of the hinds.
Fillan, I said, the foes advance. I hear the shield of war. Stand thou in the narrow path. Ossian shall mark their course. If over my fall the host shall pour; then be thy buckler heard. Awake the king on his heath, lest his fame should cease.
I strode, in all my rattling arms; wide-bounding over a stream that darkly-winded, in the field, before the king of Atha. Green Atha's king, with lifted spear, came forward on my course.—Now would we have mixed in horrid fray, like two contending ghosts, that bending forward, from two clouds, send forth the roaring winds; did not Ossian behold, on high, the helmet of Erin's kings. The Eagle's wing spread above it, rustling in the breeze. A red star looked thro' the plumes. I stopt the lifted spear.
The helmet of kings is before me! Who art thou son of night? Shall Ossian's spear be renowned, when thou art lowly-laid?—— [ 40 ] View Page ImageAt once he dropt the gleaming lance. Growing before me seemed the form. He stretched his hand in night; and spoke the words of kings.
Friend of the spirits of heroes, do I meet thee thus in shades? I have wished for thy stately steps in Atha, in the days of feasts.— Why should my spear now arise? The sun must behold us, Ossian; when we bend, gleaming, in the strife. Future warriors shall mark the place: and, shuddering, think of other years. They shall mark it, like the haunt of ghosts, pleasant and dreadful to the soul.
And shall it be forgot, I said, where we meet in peace? Is the remembrance of battles always pleasant to the soul? Do not we behold, with joy, the place where our fathers feasted? But our eyes are full of tears, on the field of their wars.—This stone shall rise, with all its moss, and speak to other years. "Here Cathmor and Ossian met! the warriors met in peace!"—When thou, O stone, shalt fail: and Lubar's stream roll quite away! then shall the traveller come, and bend here, perhaps, in rest. When the darkened moon is rolled over his head, our shadowy forms may come, and, mixing with his dreams, remind him of this place. But why turnest thou so dark away, son of Borbar-duthulDisplay note?
Not forgot, son of Fingal, shall we ascend these winds. Our deeds are streams of light, before the eyes of bards. But darkness is rolled on Atha: the king is low, without his song: still there [ 41 ] View Page Imagewas a beam towards Cathmore from his stormy soul; like the moon, in a cloud, amidst the dark-red course of thunder.
Son of Erin, I replied, my wrath dwells not, in his houseDisplay note. My hatred flies, on eagle-wing, from the foe that is low.—He shall hear the song of bards; Cairbar shall rejoice on his wind.
Cathmor's swelling soul arose: he took the dagger from his side; and placed it gleaming in my hand. He placed it, in my hand, with sighs, and, silent, strode away.——Mine eyes followed his departure. He dimly gleamed, like the form of a ghost, which meets a traveller, by night, on the dark-skirted heath. His words are dark like songs of old: with morning strides the unfinished shade away.
Display noteWho comes from Lubar's vale? From the folds of the morning mist? The drops of heaven are on his head. His steps [ 42 ] View Page Imageare in the paths of the sad. It is Carril of other times. He comes from Tura's silent cave. I behold it dark in the rock, thro' the thin folds of mist. There, perhaps, Cuchullin sits, on the blast which bends its trees. Pleasant is the song of the morning from the bard of Erin!
The waves crowd away for fear: they hear the sound of thy coming forth, O sun !——Terrible is thy beauty, son of heaven, when death is folded in thy locks; when thou rollest thy vapors before thee, over the blasted host. But pleasant is thy beam to the hunter, sitting by the rock in a storm, when thou lookest from thy parted cloud, and brightenest his dewy locks; he looks down on the streamy vale, and beholds the descent of roes.—— How long shalt thou rise on war, and roll, a bloody shield, thro' heaven? I see the deaths of heroes dark-wandering over thy face !——Why wander the words of Carril! does the sun of heaven mourn! he is unstained in his course, ever rejoicing in his fire.——Roll on, thou careless light; thou too, perhaps, must fall. Thy dun robeDisplay note may seize thee, struggling, in thy sky.
Pleasant is the voice of the song, O Carril, to Ossian's soul! It is like the shower of the morning, when it comes through the rustling vale, on which the sun looks thro' mist, just rising from his rocks.——But this is no time, O bard, to sit down, at the strife of song. Fingal is in arms on the vale. [ 43 ] View Page Image Thou seest the flaming shield of the king. His face darkens between his locks. He beholds the wide rolling of Erin. ——
Does not Carril behold that tomb, beside the roaring stream? Three stones lift their grey heads, beneath a bending oak. A king is lowly laid: give thou his soul to the wind. He is the brother of Cathmor! open his airy hall.—Let thy song be a stream of joy to Cairbar's darkened ghost.[ 44 ] View Page Image
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Third.[ 46 ] View Page Image
Morning coming on, Fingal, after a speech to his people, devolves the command on Gaul, the son of Morni; it being the custom of the times, that the king should not engage, till the necessity of affairs required his superior valour and conduct.—The king and Ossian retire to the rock of Cormul, which overlooked the field of battle. The bards sing the war-song. The general conflict is described. Gaul, the son of Morni, distinguishes himself; kills Tur-lathon, chief of Moruth, and other chiefs of lesser name.——On the other hand, Foldath, who commanded the Irish army (for Cathmor, after the example of Fingal, kept himself from battle) fights gallantly; kills Connal, chief of Dun-lora, and advances to engage Gaul himself. Gaul, in the mean time, being wounded in the hand, by a random arrow, is covered by Fillan, the son of Fingal, who performs prodigies of valour. Night comes on. The horn of Fingal recalls his army. The bards meet them, with a congratulatory song, in which the praises of Gaul and Fillan are particularly celebrated. The chiefs sit down at a feast; Fingal misses Connal. The episode of Connal and Duth-caron is introduced; which throws further light on the ancient history of Ireland. Carril is dispatched to raise the tomb of Connal.——The action of this book takes up the second day, from the opening of the poem.[ 47 ] View Page Image
Temora, An Epic Poem.
Display noteWho is that, at blue-streaming Lubar; by the bending hill of the roes? Tall, he leans on an oak torn from high, by nightly winds.—Who but Comhal's son, brightening in the last of his fields? His grey hair is on the breeze: he half unsheaths the sword of Luno. His eyes are turned to Moi-lena, to [ 48 ] View Page Image the dark rolling of foes.—Dost thou hear the voice of the king? It is like the bursting of a stream, in the desart, when it comes, between its echoing rocks, to the blasted field of the sun.
Wide-skirted comes down the foe! Sons of woody Morven, arise. Be ye like the rocks of my land, on whose brown sides are the rolling of waters. A beam of joy comes on my soul; I see them mighty before me. It is when the foe is feeble, that the sighs of Fingal are heard; lest death should come, without renown, and darkness dwell on his tomb.—Who shall lead the war, against the host of Alnecma? It is, only when danger grows, that my sword shall shine.—Such was the custom, heretofore, of Trenmor the ruler of winds: and thus descended to battle the blue-shielded Trathal.
The chiefs bend towards the king: each darkly seems to claim the war. They tell, by halves, their mighty deeds: and turn their eyes on Erin. But far before the rest the son of Morni stood: silent he stood, for who had not heard of the battles of Gaul? They rose within his soul. His hand, in secret, seized the sword. The sword which he brought from Strumon, when the strength of Morni failedDisplay note.[ 49 ] View Page Image
On his spear stood the son of ClathoDisplay note, in the wandering of his locks. Thrice he raised his eyes to Fingal: his voice thrice failed him, as he spoke.—Fillan could not boast of battles: at once he strode away. Bent over a distant stream he stood: the tear hung in his eye. He struck, at times, the thistle's head, with his inverted spear.[ 50 ] View Page Image
Nor is he unseen of Fingal. Sidelong he beheld his son. He beheld him, with bursting joy; and turned, amidst his crowded soul. In silence turned the king towards Mora of woods. He hid the big tear with his locks.—At length his voice is heard.
Display noteFirst of the sons of Morni; thou rock that defiest the storm! Lead thou my battle, for the race of low-laid Cormac. No boy's staff is thy spear: no harmless beam of light thy sword. Son of Morni of steeds, behold the foe; destroy.——Fillan, observe the chief: he is not calm in strife: nor burns he, heedless, in battle; my son, observe the king. He is strong as Lubar's stream, but never foams and roars.—High on cloudy Mora, Fingal shall behold the war. Stand, OssianDisplay note, near thy father, by the falling stream.—Raise the voice, O bards; Morven, move beneath the sound. It is my latter field; clothe it over with light.
As the sudden rising of winds; or distant rolling of troubled seas, when some dark ghost, in wrath, heaves the billows over an isle, the seat of mist, on the deep, for many dark-brown years: so terrible is the sound of the host, wide-moving over the field. [ 51 ] View Page ImageGaul is tall before them: the streams glitter within his strides. The bards raised the song by his side; he struck his shield between. On the skirts of the blast, the tuneful voices rose.
On Crona, said the bards, there bursts a stream by night. It swells, in its own dark course, till morning's early beam. Then comes it white from the hill, with the rocks and their hundred groves. Far be my steps from Crona: Death is tumbling there. Be ye a stream from Mora, sons of cloudy Morven.
Who rises, from his car, on Clutha? The hills are troubled before the king! The dark woods echo round, and lighten at his steel. See him, amidst the foe, like Colgach's Display note sportful ghost; when he scatters the clouds, and rides the eddying winds! It is Morni Display note of the bounding steeds! Be like thy father, Gaul![ 52 ] View Page Image
Display noteSelma is opened wide. Bards take the trembling harps. Ten youths carry the oak of the feast. A distant sun-beam marks the hill. The dusky waves of the blast fly over the fields of grass.—Why art thou so silent, Morven?—The king returns with all his fame. Did not the battle roar; yet peaceful is his brow? It roared, and Fingal overcame.—Be like thy father, Fillan.
They moved beneath the song.—High waved their arms, as rushy fields, beneath autumnal winds. On Mora stood the king in arms. Mist flies round his buckler broad; as, aloft, it hung on a bough, on Cormul's mossy rock.—In silence I stood by Fingal, and turned my eyes on Cromla'sDisplay note wood: lest I should behold the host, and rush amidst my swelling soul. My foot is forward on the heath. I glittered, tall, in steel: like the falling stream of Tromo, which nightly winds bind over with ice.—The boy sees it, on high, gleaming to the early beam: towards it he turns his ear, and wonders why it is so silent.
Nor bent over a stream is Cathmor, like a youth in a peaceful field: wide he drew forward the war, a dark and troubled wave.—But when he beheld Fingal on Mora; his generous pride arose. "Shall the chief of Atha fight, and no king in the field? Foldath lead my people forth. Thou art a beam of fire."
Forth-issued the chief of Moma, like a cloud, the robe of ghosts. He drew his sword, a flame, from his side; and bade the [ 53 ] View Page Imagebattle move.—The tribes, like ridgy waves, dark pour their strength around. Haughty is his stride before them: his red eye rolls in wrath.—He called the chief of DunrathoDisplay note; and his words were heard.
Cormul, thou beholdest that path. It winds green behind the foe. Place thy people there; lest Morven should escape from my sword.—Bards of green-valleyed Erin, let no voice of yours arise. The sons of Morven must fall without song. They are the foes of Cairbar. Hereafter shall the traveller meet their dark, thick mist on Lena, where it wanders, with their ghosts, beside the reedy lake. Never shall they rise, without song, to the dwelling of winds.
Cormul darkened, as he went: behind him rushed his tribe. They sunk beyond the rock: Gaul spoke to Fillan of Moruth; as his eye pursued the course of the dark-eyed king of Dunratho.
Thou beholdest the steps of Cormul; let thine arm be strong. When he is low, son of Fingal, remember Gaul in war. Here I fall forward into battle, amidst the ridge of shields.
The sign of death arose: the dreadful sound of Morni's shield. Gaul poured his voice between. Fingal rose, high on Mora. He [ 54 ] View Page Imagesaw them, from wing to wing, bending in the strife. Gleaming, on his own dark hill, the strengthDisplay note of Atha stood.—TheyDisplay note were like two spirits of heaven, standing each on his gloomy cloud; when they pour abroad the winds, and lift the roaring seas. The blue-tumbling of waves is before them, marked with the paths of whales. Themselves are calm and bright; and the gale lifts their locks of mist.
What beam of light hangs high in air? It is Morni's dreadful sword.—Death is strewed on thy paths, O Gaul; thou soldest them together in thy rage.—Like a young oak falls Tur-lathonDisplay note with his branches round him. His high-bosomed spouse stretches her white arms, in dreams, to the returning king, as she sleeps by gurgling Moruth, in her disordered locks. It is his ghost, Oicho-ma; the chief is lowly laid. Hearken not to the winds for Tur-lathon's echoing shield.—It is pierced, by his streams, and its sound is past away.
Not peaceful is the hand of Foldath: he winds his course in blood. Connal met him in fight; they mixed their clanging steel.—Why should mine eyes behold them! Connal, thy locks are grey. —Thou wert the friend of strangers, at the moss-covered rock of Dun-lora. When the skies were rolled together; then thy feast was spread. The stranger heard the winds without; and rejoiced at thy burning oak.—Why, son of Duth-caron, art thou laid in blood! The blasted tree bends above thee: thy shield lies broken [ 55 ] View Page Imagenear, Thy blood mixes with the stream; thou breaker of the shields!
Display noteI took the spear, in my wrath; but Gaul rushed forward on the foe. The feeble pass by his side; his rage is turned on Moma's chief. Now they had raised their deathful spears: unseen an arrow came. It pierced the hand of Gaul; his steel fell sounding to earth.——Young Fillan cameDisplay note, with Cormul's shield, and stretched it large before the king. Foldath sent his shout abroad, and kindled all the field: as a blast that lifts the broad-winged flame, over Lumon'sDisplay note echoing groves.
Son of blue-eyed Clatho, said Gaul, thou art a beam from heaven; that, coming on the troubled deep, binds up the tempest's wing.—Cormul is fallen before thee. Early art thou in the fame of thy fathers.—Rush not too far, my hero, I cannot lift the spear to aid. I stand harmless in battle: but my voice shall be poured abroad.—The sons of Morven shall hear, and remember my former deeds.
His terrible voice rose on the wind, the host bend forward in the fight. Often had they heard him, at Strumon, when he called them to the chace of the hinds.—Himself stood tall, amidst the war, as an oak in the skirts of a storm, which now is clothed, [ 56 ] View Page Imageon high, in mist: then shews its broad, waving head; the musing hunter lifts his eye from his own rushy field.
My soul pursues thee, O Fillan, thro' the path of thy fame. Thou rolledst the foe before thee.—Now Foldath, perhaps, would fly; but night came down with its clouds; and Cathmor's horn was heard from high. The sons of Morven heard the voice of Fingal, from Mora's gathered mist. The bards poured their song, like dew, on the returning war.
Who comes from Strumon, they said, amidst her wandering locks? She is mournful in her steps, and lifts her blue eyes towards Erin. Why art thou sad, Evir-chomaDisplay note? Who is like thy chief in renown? He descended dreadful to battle; he returns, like a light from a cloud. He lifted the sword in wrath: they shrunk before blue-shielded Gaul!
Joy, like the rustling gale, comes on the soul of the king. He remembers the battles of old; the days, wherein his fathers fought. The days of old return on Fingal's mind, as he beholds the renown of his son. As the sun rejoices, from his cloud, over the tree his beams have raised, as it shakes its lonely head on the heath; sο joyful is the king over Fillan.
As the rolling of thunder on hills, when Lara's fields are still and dark, such are the steps of Morven pleasant and dreadful to the ear. They return with their sound, like eagles to their dark-browed rock, after the prey is torn on the field, the dun sons of [ 57 ] View Page Imagethe bounding hind. Your fathers rejoice from their clouds, sons of streamy Cona.
Such was the nightly voice of bards, on Mora of the hinds. A flame rose, from an hundred oaks, which winds had torn from Cormul's sleep. The feast is spread in the midst: around sat the gleaming chiefs. Fingal is there in his strength; the eagle-wingDisplay noteof his helmet sounds: the rustling blasts of the west, unequal rushed thro' night. Long looked the king in silence round: at length, his words were heard.
My soul feels a want in our joy. I behold a breach among my friends.—The head of one tree is low: the squally wind pours in on Selma.—Where is the chief of Dun-lora? Ought he to be forgot at the feast? When did he forget the stranger, in the midst of his echoing hall?—Ye are silent in my presence!—Connal is then no more.—Joy meet thee, O warrior, like a stream of light. Swift be thy course to thy fathers, in the folds of the mountain-winds.—Ossian, thy soul is fire: kindle the memory of the king· Awake the battles of Connal, when first he shone in war. The locks of Connal were grey; his days of youthDisplay note were [ 58 ] View Page Image mixed with mine. In one day Duthcaron first strung our bows, against the roes of Dun-lora.
Many, I said, are our paths to battle, in green-hilled Inisfail. Often did our sails arise, over the blue-tumbling waves; when we came, in other days, to aid the race of Conar.
The strife roared once in Alnecma, at the foam-covered streams of Duth-úlaDisplay note. With Cormac descended to battle Duth-caron from cloudy Morven. Nor descended Duth-caron alone, his son was by his side, the long-haired youth of Connal lifting the first of his spears. Thou didst command them, O Fingal, to aid the king of Erin.
Like the bursting strength of a stream, the sons of Bolga rushed to war: Colc-ulla Display note was before them, the chief of blue-streaming Atha. The battle was mixed on the plain, like the meeting of two stormy seas. CormacDisplay note shone in his own strife, bright as the [ 59 ] View Page Imageforms of his fathers. But, far before the rest, Duth-caron hewed down the foe. Nor slept the arm of Connal, by his father's side. Atha prevailed on the plain: like scattered mist, fled the people of Ullin Display note.
Then rose the sword of Duth-caron, and the steel of broad-shielded Connal. They shaded their flying friends, like two rocks with their heads of pine.—Night came down on Duth-ula: silent strode the chiefs over the field. A mountain-stream roared across the path, nor could Duth-caron bound over its course.—Why stands my father? said Connal.—I hear the rushing foe.
Fly, Connal, he said; thy father's strength begins to fail.—I come wounded from battle; here let me rest in night.— "But thou shalt not remain alone, said Connal's bursting sigh. My shield is an eagle's wing to cover the king of Dun-lora." He bends dark above the chief; the mighty Duth-caron dies.
Day rose, and night returned. No lonely bard appeared, deep-musing on the heath: and could Connal leave the tomb of his father, [ 60 ] View Page Image till he should receive his fame?—He bent the bow against the roes of Duth-ula; he spread the lonely feast.— Seven nights he laid his head on the tomb, and saw his father in his dreams. He saw him rolled, dark, in a blast, like the vapor of reedy Lego.— At length the steps of ColganDisplay note came, the bard of high Temora. [ 61 ] View Page ImageDuth-caron received his fame, and brightened, as he rose on the wind.
Pleasant to the ear, said Fingal, is the praise of the kings of men; when their bows are strong in battle; when they soften at the sight of the sad.—Thus let my name be renowned, when bards shall lighten my rising soul. Carril, son of Kinfena; take the bards and raise a tomb. To night let Connal dwell, within his narrow house: let not the soul of the valiant wander on the winds. —Faint glimmers the moon on Moi-lena, thro' the broad-headed groves of the hill: raise stones, beneath its beams, to all the fallen in war.—Tho' no chiefs were they, yet their hands were strong in fight. They were my rock in danger: the mountain from which I spread my eagle-wings.—Thence am I renowned: Carril forget not the low.
Loud, at once, fromt he hundred bards, rose the song of the tomb. Carril strode before them, they are the murmur of streams [ 62 ] View Page Imagebehind him. Silence dwells in the vales of Moi-lena, where each, with its own dark stream, is winding between the hills. I heard the voice of the bards, lessening, as they moved along. I leaned forward from my shield; and felt the kindling of my soul. Half-formed the words of my song, burst forth upon the wind. So hears a tree, on the vale, the voice of spring around: it pours its green leaves to the sun, and shakes its lonely head. The hum of the mountain bee is near it; the hunter sees it, with joy, from the blasted heath.
Young Fillan, at a distance stood. His helmet lay glittering on the ground. His dark hair is loose to the blast: a beam of light is Clatho's son. He heard the words of the king, with joy; and leaned forward on his spear.
My son, said car-borne Fingal; I saw thy deeds, and my soul was glad. The fame of our fathers, I said, bursts from its gathered cloud.—Thou art brave, son of Clatho; but headlong in the strife. So did not Fingal advance, tho' he never feared a foe.—Let thy people be a ridge behind; they are thy strength in the field.—Then shalt thou be long renowned, and behold the tombs of thy fathers. The memory of the past returns, my deeds in other years: when first I descended from ocean on the green-valleyed isle.—We bend towards the voice of the king. The moon looks abroad from her cloud. The grey-skirted mist is near, the dwelling of the ghosts.
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Fourth.[ 64 ] View Page Image
The second night continues. Fingal relates, at the feast, his own first expedition into Ireland, and his marriage with Ros-crána, the daughter of Cormac, king of that island.——The Irish chiefs convene in the presence of Cath-mor. The situation of the king described. The story of Sul-malla, the daughter of Conmor, king of Inis-huna, who, in the disguise of a young warrior, had followed Cathmor to the war. The sullen behaviour of Foldath, who had commanded in the battle of the preceding day, renews the difference between him and Malthos; but Cathmor, interposing, ends it. The chiefs feast, and hear the song of Fonar the bard. Cathmor returns to rest, at a distance from the army. The ghost of his brother Cairbar appears to him in a dream; and obscurely foretels the issue of the war.—The soliloquy of the king. He discovers Sul-malla. Morning comes. Her soliloquy closes the book.[ 65 ] View Page Image
Temora, An Epic Poem.
Display noteBeneath an oak, said the king, I sat on Selma's streamy rock, when Connal rose, from the sea, with the broken spear of Duth-caron. Far-distant stood the youth, and turned away his eyes; for he remembered the steps of his father, on his own green hills. I darkened in my place: dusky thoughts rolled over my soul. The kings of Erin rose before me. I half-unsheathed my sword.—Slowly approached the chiefs; they lifted up their silent eyes. Like a ridge of clouds, they wait for the bursting forth of my voice: it was, to them, a wind from heaven to roll the mist away.[ 66 ] View Page Image
I bade my white sails to rise, before the roar of Cona's wind. Three hundred youths looked, from their waves, on Fingal's bossy shield. High on the mast it hung, and marked the dark-blue sea.— But when the night came down, I struck, at times, the warning boss: I struck, and looked on high, for fiery-haired Ul-erinDisplay note.
Nor wanting was the star of heaven: it travelled red between the clouds: I pursued the lovely beam, on the faint-gleaming deep.— With morning, Erin rose in mist. We came into the bay of Moi-lena, where its blue waters tumbled, in the bosom of echoing woods.—Here Cormac, in his secret hall, avoided the strength of Colc-ulla. Nor he alone avoids the foe: the blue eye of Ros-crana is there: Ros-cranaDisplay note, white-handed maid, the daughter of the king.
Grey, on his pointless spear, came forth the aged steps of Cormac. He smiled, from his waving locks, but grief was in his soul. He saw us few before him, and his sigh arose.— I see the arms of Trenmor, he said; and these are the steps of the king! Fingal! thou art a beam of light to Cormac's darkened soul.— Early [ 67 ] View Page Image is thy fame my son: but strong are the foes of Erin. They are like the roar of streams in the land, son of car-borne Comhal.
Yet they may be rolledDisplay noteaway, I said in my rising soul. We are not of the race of the feeble, king of blue-shielded hosts. Why should fear come amongst us, like a ghost of the night? The soul of the valiant grows, as foes increase in the field. Roll no darkness, king of Erin, on the young in war.
The bursting tears of the king came down. He seized my hand in silence.——"Race of the daring Trenmor, I roll no cloud before thee. Thou burnest in the fire of thy fathers. I behold thy fame. It marks thy course in battles, like a stream of light.——But wait the coming of CairbarDisplay note: my son must join thy sword. He calls the sons of Ullin, from all their distant streams."
We came to the hall of the king, where it rose in the midst of rocks: rocks, on whose dark sides, were the marks of streams of old. Broad oaks bend around with their moss: the thick birch waves its green head. Half-hid, in her shady grove, Ros-crana raised the song. Her white hands rose on the harp. I beheld her blue-rolling [ 68 ] View Page Imageeyes. She was like a spiritDisplay note of heaven half-folded in the skirt of a cloud.
Three days we feasted at Moi-lena: she rose bright amidst my troubled soul.—Cormac beheld me dark. He gave the white-bosomed maid.—She came with bending eye, amidst the wandering of her heavy locks.—She came.——Straight the battle roared.—Colc-ulla came: I took my spear. My sword rose, with my people, against the ridgy foe. Alnecma fled. Colc-ulla fell. Fingal returned with fame.[ 69 ] View Page Image
He is renowned, O Fillan, who fights, in the strength of his people. The bard pursues his steps, thro' the land of the foe.—But he who fights alone; few are his deeds to other times. He shines, to-day, a mighty light. To-morrow, he is low. One song contains his fame, his name is on one dark field. He is forgot, but where his tomb sends forth the tufts of grass.
Such were the words of Fingal, on Mora of the roes. Three bards, from the rock of Cormul, poured down the pleasant song. Sleep descended, in the sound, on the broad-skirted host. Carril returned, with the bards, from the tomb of Dun-lora's king. The voice of morning shall not come, to the dusky bed of the hero. No more shalt thou hear the tread of roes, around thy narrow house.
Display noteAs roll the troubled clouds, round a meteor of night, when they brighten their sides, with its light, along the heaving sea: so gathered Erin, around the gleaming form of Atha's king. He, tall in the midst, careless lifts, at times, his spear: as swells or falls the sound of Fonar's distant harp.
Display noteNear him leaned, against a rock, Sul-mallaDisplay noteof blue eyes, the white-bosomed daughter of Conmor king of Inis-huna. To his [ 70 ] View Page Imageaid came blue-shielded Cathmor, and rolled his foes away. Sul-malla beheld him stately in the hall of feasts; nor careless rolled the eyes of Cathmor on the long-haired maid.
The third day arose, and FithilDisplay notecame from Erin of the streams. He told of the lifting up of the shieldDisplay note on Morven, [ 71 ] View Page Imageand the danger of red-haired Cairbar. Cathmor raised the sail at Cluba: but the winds were in other lands. Three days he remained on the coast, and turned his eyes on Conmor's halls.—He remembered the daughter of strangers, and his sigh arose.—Now when the winds awaked the wave: from the hill came a youth in arms; to lift the sword with Cathmor in his echoing fields.——It was the white-armed Sul-malla: secret she dwelt beneath her helmet. Her steps were in the path of the king; on him her blue eyes rolled with joy, when he lay by his roaring streams.—But Cathmor thought, that, on Lumon, she still pursued the roes; or, fair on a rock, stretched her white hand to the wind; to feel its course from Inis-fail, the green dwelling of her love. He had promised to return, with his white-bosomed sails.——The maid is near thee, king of Atha, leaning on her rock.
The tall forms of the chiefs stood around; all but dark-browed FoldathDisplay note. He stood beneath a distant tree, rolled into his haughty [ 72 ] View Page Imagesoul. His bushy hair whistles in wind. At times, bursts the hum of a song.—He struck the tree, at length, in wrath; and rushed before the king.
Calm and stately, to the beam of the oak, arose the form of young Hidalla. His hair falls round his blushing cheek, in wreaths of waving light. Soft was his voice in Clon-raDisplay note, in the valley of his fathers; when he touched the harp, in the hall, near his roaring streams.
King of Erin, said the youth, now is the time of feasts. Bid the voice of bards arise, and roll the night away. The soul returns, from song, more terrible to war—Darkness settles on lnis-fail: from hill to hill bend the skirted clouds. Far and grey, on the heath, the dreadful strides of ghosts are seen: the ghosts of those who fell bend forward to their song.——Bid thou the harps to rise, and brighten the dead, on their wandering blasts.
Be all the dead forgot, said Foldath's bursting wrath. Did not I fail in the field, and shall I hear the song? Yet was not my course harmless in battle: blood was a stream around my steps. But the feeble were behind me, and the foe has escaped my sword.—In Clon-ra's vale touch thou the harp; let Dura answer to thy voice; while some maid looks, from the wood, on thy long, yellow locks.——Fly from Lubar's echoing plain: it is the field of heroes.
King of TemoraDisplay note, Malthos said, it is thine to lead in war. Thou art a fire to our eyes, on the dark-brown field. Like a blast [ 73 ] View Page Image thou hast past over hosts, and laid them low in blood; but who has heard thy words returning from the field?——The wrathful delight in death: their remembrance rests on the wounds of their spear. Strife is folded in their thoughts: their words are ever heard.——Thy course, chief of Moma, was like a troubled stream. The dead were rolled on thy path: but others also lift the spear. We were not feeble behind thee; but the foe was strong.
The king beheld the rising rage, and bending forward of either chief: for, half-unsheathed, they held their swords, and rolled their silent eyes.—Now would they have mixed in horrid fray, had not the wrath of Cathmor burned. He drew his sword: it gleamed thro' night, to the high-flaming oak.
Sons of pride, said the king, allay your swelling souls. Retire in night.—Why should my rage arise? Should I contend with both in arms——It is no time for strife. Retire, ye clouds, at my feast. Awake my soul no more.—They sunk from the king on either side; likeDisplay note two columns of morning mist, when the sun rises, between them, on his glittering rocks. Dark is their rolling on either side; each towards its reedy pool. [ 74 ] View Page Image
Silent sat the chiefs at the feast. They looked, at times, on Atha's king, where he strode, on his rock, amidst his settling soul.— The host lay, at length, on the field; sleep descended on Moi-lena.—The voice of Fonar rose alone, beneath his distant tree. It rose in the praise of Cathmor son of LarthonDisplay note of Lumon. But Cathmor did not hear his praise. He lay at the roar of a stream. The rustling breeze of night flew over his whistling locks.
Cairbar came to his dreams, half-seen from his low-hung cloud. Joy rose darkly in his face: he had heard the song of CarrilDisplay note.——A blast sustained his dark-skirted cloud; which he seized [ 75 ] View Page Imagein the bosom of night, as he rose, with his fame, towards his airy hall. Half-mixed with the noise of the stream, he poured his feeble words.
Joy meet the soul of Cathmor: his voice was heard on Moi-lena. The bard gave his song to Cairbar: he travels on the wind. My form is in my father's hall, like the gliding of a terrible light, which winds thro' the desart, in a stormy night.—No bard shall be wanting at thy tomb, when thou art lowly laid. The sons of song love the valiant.—Cathmor, thy name is a pleasant gale.—The mournful sounds arise! On Lubar's field there is a voice!—Louder still ye shadowy ghosts! the dead were full of fame.—Shrilly swells the feeble sound.—The rougher blast alone is heard!—Ah, soon is Cathmor low!
Rolled into himself he flew, wide on the bosom of his blast. The old oak felt his departure, and shook its whistling head. The king started from rest, and took his deathful spear. He lifts his eyes around. He sees but dark-skirted night.
Display noteIt was the voice of the king; but now his form is gone. Unmarked is your path in the air, ye children of the night. Often, [ 76 ] View Page Imagelike a reflected beam, are ye seen in the desart wild; but ye retire in your blasts before our steps approach.—Go then, ye feeble race! knowledge with you there is none. Your joys are weak, and like the dreams of our rest, or the light-winged thought that flies across the soul.——Shall Cathmor soon be low? Darkly laid in his narrow house? where no morning comes with her half-opened eyes.—Away, thou shade! to fight is mine, all further thought away! I rush forth, on eagle wings, to seize my beam of fame.——In the lonely vale of streams, abides the littleDisplay note soul.—Years roll on, seasons return, but he is still unknown.—In a blast comes cloudy death, and lays his grey head low. His ghost is rolled on the vapour of the fenny field. Its course is never on hills, or mossy vales of wind.——So shall not Cathmor depart, no boy in the field was he, who only marks the bed of roes, upon the echoing hills. [ 77 ] View Page ImageMy issuing forth was with kings, and my joy in dreadful plains; where broken hosts are rolled away, like seas before the wind.
So spoke the king of Alnecma, brightening in his rising soul: valour, like a pleasant flame, is gleaming within his breast. Stately is his stride on the heath: the beam of east is poured around. He saw his grey host on the field, wide-spreading their ridges in light. He rejoiced, like a spirit of heaven, whose steps come forth on his seas, when he beholds them peaceful round, and all the winds are laid. But soon he awakes the waves, and rolls them large to some echoing coast.
On the rushy bank of a stream, slept the daughter of Inis-huna. The helmetDisplay note had fallen from her head. Her dreams were in the lands of her fathers. There morning was on the field: grey streams leapt down from the rocks, and the breezes, in shadowy waves, fly over the rushy fields. There is the sound that prepares for the chace; and the moving of warriors from the hall.——But tall above the rest is the hero of streamy Atha: he bends his eye of love on Sul-malla, from his stately steps. She turns, with pride, her face away, and careless bends the bow.
Such were the dreams of the maid when Atha's warrior came. He saw her fair face before him, in the midst of her wandering locks. He knew the maid of Lumon. What should Cathmor do?——His sigh arose: his tears came down. But straight he [ 78 ] View Page Imageturned away.—This is no time, king of Atha, to wake thy secret soul. The battle is rolled before thee, like a troubled stream.
He struck that warning bossDisplay note, wherein dwelt the voice of war. Erin rose around him like the sound of eagle-wings.—Sul-malla started from deep, in her disordered locks. She seized the helmet from earth, and trembled in her place. Why should they know in Erin of the daughter of Inis-huna? for she remembered the race of kings, and the pride of her soul arose.
Her steps are behind a rock, by the blue-winding streamDisplay note of a vale: where dwelt the dark-brown hind ere yet the war arose. Thither came the voice of Cathmor, at times, to Sul-malla's ear. Her soul is darkly sad; she pours her words on wind.
Display noteThe dreams of Inis-huna departed: they are rolled away from my soul. I hear not the chace in my land. I am concealed in the skirt of war. I look forth from my cloud, but no beam appears to light my path. I behold my warrior low; for the broad-shielded [ 79 ] View Page Imageking is near; he that overcomes in danger; Fingal of the spears.—Spirit of departed Conmor, are thy steps on the bosom of winds? Comest thou, at times, to other lands, father of sad Sul-malla? Thou dost come, for I have heard thy voice at night; while yet I rose on the wave to streamy Inis-fail. The ghost of fathers, they sayDisplay note, can seize the souls of their race, while they behold them lonely in the midst of woe. Call me, my father, when the king is low on earth; for then I shall be lonely in the midst of woe.[ 80 ] View Page Image
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Fifth.[ 82 ] View Page Image
Ossian, after a short address to the harp of Cona, describes the arrangement of both armies on either side of the river Lubar. Fingal gives the command to Fillan; but, at the same time, orders Gaul, the son of Morni, who had been wounded in the hand in the preceding battle, to assist him with his counsel. The army of the Fir-bolg is commanded by Foldath. The general onset is described. The great actions of Fillan. He kills Rothmar and Culmin. But when Fillan conquers, in one wing, Foldath presses hard on the other. He wounds Dermid, the son of Duthno, and puts the whole wing to flight. Dermid deliberates with himself, and, at last, resolves to put a stop to the progress of Foldath, by engaging him in single combat.—When the two chiefs were approaching towards one another, Fillan came suddenly to the relief of Dermid; engaged Foldath, and killed him. The behaviour of Malthos towards the fallen Foldath. Fillan puts the whole army of the Fir-bolg to flight. The book closes with an address to Clatho, the mother of that hero.[ 83 ] View Page Image
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Display noteThou dweller between the shields that hang, on high, in Ossian's hall, descend from thy place, O harp, and let me hear thy voice.—Son of Alpin, strike the string; thou must [ 84 ] View Page Imageawake the soul of the bard. The murmur of Lora's Display notestream has rolled the tale away.—I stand in the cloud of years: few are its openings towards the past, and when the vision comes it is but dim and dark.—I hear thee, harp of Cona, my soul returns, like a breeze, which the sun brings back to the vale, where dwelt the lazy mist.
Display noteLubar is bright before me, in the windings of its vale. On either side, on their hills, rise the tall forms of the kings; their people are poured around them, bending forward to their words; as if their fathers spoke, descending from their winds.—But the [ 85 ] View Page Imagekings were like two rocks in the midst, each with its dark head of pines, when they are seen in the desart, above low-sailing mist. High on their face are streams, which spread their foam on blasts.
Beneath the voice of Cathmor poured Erin, like the sound of flame. Wide they came down to Lubar; before them is the stride of Foldath. But Cathmor retired to his hill, beneath his bending oaks. The tumbling of a stream is near the king: he lifts, at times, his gleaming spear. It was a flame to his people, in the midst of war. Near him stood the daughter of Con-mor, leaning on her rock. She did not rejoice over the strife: her soul delighted not in blood. A valleyDisplay note spreads green behind the hill, with its three blue streams. The sun is there in silence; and the dun mountain-roes come down. On these are turned the eyes of Inis-huna's white-bosomed maid.
Fingal beheld, on high, the son of Borbar-duthul: he saw the deep-rolling of Erin, on the darkened plain. He struck that warning boss, which bids the people obey; when he sends his chiefs before them, to the field of renown. Wide rose their spears to the sun; their echoing shields reply around.—Fear, like a vapor, did not wind among the host: for he, the king, was near, the strength of streamy Morven.—Gladness brightened the hero, we heard his words of joy.
Like the coming forth of winds, is the sound of Morven's sons! They are mountain waters, determined in their course. Hence is Fingal renowned, and his name in other lands. He was not a [ 86 ] View Page Imagelonely beam in danger; for your steps were always near.—But never was I a dreadful form, in your presence, darkened into wrath. My voice was no thunder to your ears: mine eyes sent forth no death.—When the haughty appeared, I beheld them not. They were forgot at my feasts: like mist they melted away.——A young beam is before you: few are his paths to war. They are few, but he is valiant; defend my dark-haired son. Bring him back with joy: hereafter he may stand alone. His form is like his fathers: his soul is a flame of their fire.——Son of car-borne Morni, move behind the son of Clatho: let thy voice reach his ear, from the skirts of war. Not unobserved rolls battle, before thee, breaker of the shields.
The king strode, at once, away to Cormul'sDisplay notelofty rock. As, slow, I lifted my steps behind; came forward the strength of Gaul. His shield hung loose on its thong; he spoke, in haste, to Ossian.—BindDisplay note, son of Fingal, this shield, bind it high to the side of Gaul. The foe may behold it, and think I lift the spear. If I shall fall, let my tomb be hid in the field; for fall I must without my fame: mine arm cannot lift the steel. Let not Evir-choma hear it, to blush between her locks.——Fillan, the mighty behold us; let us not forget the strife. Why should they come, from their hills, to aid our flying field?[ 87 ] View Page Image
He strode onward, with the sound of his shield. My voice pursued him, as he went. Can the son of Morni fall without his fame in Erin? But the deeds of the mighty forsake their souls of fire. They rush careless over the fields of renown: their words are never heard—I rejoiced over the steps of the chief: I strode to the rock of the king, where he sat in his wandering locks, amidst the mountain-wind.
In two dark ridges bend the hosts, towards each other, at Lubar. Here Foldath rose a pillar of darkness: there brightened the youth of Fillan. Each, with his spear in the stream, sent forth the voice of war.—Gaul struck the shield of Morven; at once they plunge in battle.—Steel poured its gleam on steel: like the fall of streams shone the field, when they mix their foam together, from two dark-browed rocks.—Behold he comes the son of fame: he lays the people low! Deaths sit on blasts around him!—Warriors strew thy paths, O Fillan!
Display noteRothmar, the shield of warriors, stood between two chinky rocks. Two oaks, which winds had bent from high, spread their branches on either side. He rolls his darkening eyes on Fillan, and, silent, shades his friends. Fingal saw the approaching fight; and all his soul arose.—But as the stone of LodaDisplay note falls, [ 88 ] View Page Imageshook, at once, from rocking Druman-ard, when spirits heave the earth in their wrath; so fell blue-shielded Rothmar.
Near are the steps of Culmin; the youth came, bursting into tears. Wrathful he cut the wind, ere yet he mixed his strokes with Fillan. He had first bent the bow with Rothmar, at the rock of his own blue streams. There they had marked the place of the roe, as the sun-beam flew over the fern.—Why, son of Cul-allin, dost thou rush on that beamDisplay note of light: it is a fire that consumes.—Youth of Strutha retire. Your fathers were not equal, in the glittering strife of the field.
The mother of Culmin remains in the hall; she looks forth on blue-rolling Strutha. A whirlwind rises, on the stream, dark-eddying round the ghost of her son. His dogs are howlingDisplay note in their [ 89 ] View Page Imageplace: his shield is bloody in the hall.—"Art thou fallen, my fair-haired son, in Erin's dismal war?"
As a roe, pierced in secret, lies panting, by her wonted streams, the hunter looks over her feet of wind, and remembers her stately bounding before; so lay the son of Cul-allin, beneath the eye of Fillan. His hair is rolled in a little stream: his blood wandered on his shield. Still his hand held the sword, that failed him in the midst of danger.—Thou art fallen, said Fillan, ere yet thy fame was heard.—Thy father sent thee to war: he expects to hear thy deeds. He is grey, perhaps, at his streams, and his eyes are towards Moi-lena. But thou shalt not return, with the spoil of the fallen foe.
Fillan poured the flight of Erin before him, over the echoing heath.—But, man on man, fell Morven before the dark-red rage of Foldath; for, far on the field, he poured the roar of half his tribes. DermidDisplay note stood before him in wrath: the sons of Cona gather round. But his shield is cleft by Foldath, and his people poured over the heath.
Then said the foe, in his pride, They have fled, and my fame begins. Go, Malthos, and bid the kingDisplay noteto guard the dark-rolling of [ 90 ] View Page Image ocean; that Fingal may not escape from my sword. He must lie on earth. Beside some fen shall his tomb be seen. It shall rise without a song. His ghost shall hover in mist over the reedy pool.
Malthos heard, with darkening doubt; he rolled his silent eyes.—He knew the pride of Foldath, and looked up to the king on his hill; then, darkly turning, he plunged his sword in war.
In Clono'sDisplay notenarrow vale, where bent two trees above the stream, dark in his grief stood Duthno's silent son. The blood [ 91 ] View Page Imagepoured from his thigh: his shield lay broken near. His spear leaned against a stone; why, Dermid, why so sad?
I hear the roar of battle. My people are alone. My steps are slow on the heath; and no shield is mine.—Shall he then prevail?—It is then after Dermid is low! I will call thee forth, O Foldath, and meet thee yet in fight.
He took his spear, with dreadful joy. The son of Morni came.—"Stay, son of Duthno, stay thy speed; thy steps are marked with blood. No bossy shield is thine. Why shouldst thou fall unarmed?"—King of Strumon, give thou thy shield. It has often rolled back the war. I shall stop the chief, in his course.—Son of Morni, dost thou behold that stone? It lifts its grey head thro' rass. There dwells a chief of the race of Dermid.—Place me there in night.Display note .[ 92 ] View Page Image
He slowly rose against the hill, and saw the troubled field. The gleaming ridges of the fight, disjoined and broken round.—As distant fires, on heath by night, now seem as lost in smoak, then rearing their red streams on the hill, as blow or cease the winds: so met the intermitting war the eye of broad-shielded Dermid. —Thro' the host are the strides of Foldath, like some dark ship on wintry waves, when it issues from between two isles, to sport on echoing seas.
Dermid, with rage, beheld his course. He strove to rush along. But he failed in the midst of his steps; and the big tear came down.—He sounded his father's horn; and thrice struck his bossy shield. He called thrice the name of Foldath, from his roaring tribes.—Foldath, with joy, beheld the chief: he lifted high his bloody spear.—As a rock is marked with streams, that fell troubled down its side in a storm; so, streaked with wandering blood, is the dark form of Moma.
The host, on either side, withdrew from the contending of kings.—They raised, at once, their gleaming points.—Rushing came Fillan of MoruthDisplay note. Three paces back Foldath withdrew; [ 93 ] View Page Imagedazzled with that beam of light, which came, as issuing from a cloud, to save the wounded hero.—Growing in his pride he stood, and called forth all his steel.
As meet two broad-winged eagles, in their sounding strife, on the winds: so rushed the two chiefs, on Moi-lena, into gloomy fight.——By turns are the steps of the kingsDisplay note forward on their rocks; for now the dusky war seemed to descend on their swords.—Cathmor feels the joy of warriors, on his mossy hill: their joy in secret when dangers rise equal to their souls. His eye is not turned on Lubar, but on Morven's dreadful king; for he beheld him, on Mora, rising in his arms.
FoldathDisplay notefell on his shield; the spear of Fillan pierced the king. Nor looked the youth on the fallen, but onward rolled the [ 94 ] View Page Imagewar. The hundred voices of death arose.—"Stay, son of Fingal, stay thy speed. Beholdest thou not that gleaming form, a dreadful sign of death? Awaken not the king of Alnecma. Return, son of blue-eyed Clatho."
MalthosDisplay notesaw Foldath low. He darkly stood above the king. Hatred was rolled from his soul. He seemed a rock in the desart, on whose dark side are the trickling of waters, when the slow-sailing mist has left it, and its trees are blasted with winds. He spoke to the dying hero, about the narrow house. Whether shall thy grey stone rise in Ullin? or in Moma'sDisplay note woody land, where the sun looks, in secret, on the blue streams of DalruthoDisplay note? There are the steps of thy daughter, blue-eyed Dardu-lena.[ 95 ] View Page Image
Rememberest thou her, said Foldath, because no son is mine; no youth to roll the battle before him, in revenge of me? Malthos, I am revenged. I was not peaceful in the field. Raise the tombs of those I have slain, around my narrow house. Often shall I forsake the blast, to rejoice above their graves; when I behold them spread around, with their long-whistling grass.
His soul rushed to the vales of Moma, and came to Dardu-lena's dreams, where she slept, by Dalrutho's stream, returning from the chace of the hinds. Her bow is near the maid, unstrung; the breezes fold her long hair on her breasts. Cloathed in the beauty of youth, the love of heroes lay. Dark-bending, from the skirts of the wood, her wounded father came. He appeared, at times, then seemed as hid in mist.——Bursting into tears she rose: she knew that the chief was low. To her came a beam from his soul when folded in its storms. Thou wert the last of his race, blue-eyed Dardu-lena!
Wide-spreading over echoing Lubar, the flight of Bolga is rolled along. Fillan hung forward on their steps; and strewed, with dead, the heath. Fingal rejoiced over his son.—Blue-shielded Cathmor rose.—— Display note Son of Alpin, bring the harp: give Fillan's praise [ 96 ] View Page Imageto the wind: raise high his praise, in my hall, while yet he shines in war.
Leave, blue-eyed Clatho, leave thy hall. Behold that early beam of thine. The host is withered in its course. No further look—it is dark.——Light-trembling from the harp, strike, virgins, strike the sound.—No hunter he descends, from the dewy haunt of the bounding roe. He bends not his bow on the wind; or sends his grey arrow abroad.
Deep-folded in red war, the battle rolls against his side. Or, striding midst the ridgy strife, he pours the deaths of thousands forth. Fillan is like a spirit of heaven, that descends from the skirt of his blast. The troubled ocean feels his steps, as he strides from wave to wave. His path kindles behind him; islands shake their heads on the heaving seas.
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Sixth.[ 98 ] View Page Image
This book opens with a speech of Fingal, who sees Cathmor descending to the assistance of his flying army. The king dispatches Ossian to the relief of Fillan. He himself retires behind the rock of Cormul, to avoid the sight of the engagement between his son and Cathmor. Ossian advances. The descent of Cathmor described. He rallies the army, renews the battle, and, before Ossian could arrive, engages Fillan himself. Upon the approach of Ossian, the combat between the two heroes ceases. Ossian and Cathmor prepare to fight, but night coming on prevents them. Ossian returns to the place where Cathmor and Fillan fought. He finds Fillan mortally wounded, and leaning against a rock. Their discourse. Fillan dies: his body is laid, by Ossian, in a neighbouring cave.—The Caledonian army return to Fingal. He questions them about his son, and, understanding that he was killed, retires, in silence, to the rock of Cormul.—Upon the retreat of the army of Fingal, the Fir-bolg advance. Cathmor finds Bran, one of the dogs of Fingal, lying on the shield of Fillan, before the entrance of the cave, where the body of that hero lay. His reflexions thereupon. He returns, in a melancholy mood, to his army. Malthos endeavours to comfort him, by the example of his father Borbar-duthul. Cathmor retires to rest. The song of Sul-malla concludes the book, which ends about the middle of the third night, from the opening of the poem.[ 99 ] View Page Image
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Display noteCathmor rises on echoing hill! Shall Fingal take the sword of Luno? But what should become of thy fame, son of white-bosomed Clatho? Turn not thine eyes from Fingal, daughter of Inistore. I shall not quench thy early beam; it shines [ 100 ] View Page Imagealong my soul.—Rise, wood-skirted Mora, rise between the war and me! Why should Fingal behold the strife, lest his darkhaired warrior should fall!—Amidst the song, O Carril, pour the sound of the trembling harp: here are the voices of rocks, and bright tumbling of waters. Father of Oscar lift the spear; defend the young in arms. Conceal thy steps from Fillan's eyes.—He must not know that I doubt his steel.—No cloud of mine shall rise, my son, upon thy soul of fire!
He sunk behind his rock, amidst the sound of Carril's song.—Brightening, in my growing soul, I took the spear of TemoraDisplay note. I saw, along Moi-lena, the wild tumbling of battle, the strife of death, in gleaming rows, disjoined and broken round. Fillan is a beam of fire; from wing to wing is his wasteful course. The ridges of war melt before him. They are rolled, in smoak, from the fields.[ 101 ] View Page Image
Display noteNow is the coming forth of Cathmor, in the armour of kings! Dark-rolled the eagle's wing, above his helmet of fire. Unconcerned are his steps, as if they were to the chace of Atha. He raised, at times, his terrible voice; Erin, abashed, gathered round.—Their souls returned back, like a stream: they wondered at the steps of their fear: for he rose, like the beam of the morning on a haunted heath: the traveller looks back, with bending eye, on the field of dreadful forms.
Sudden, from the rock of Moi-lena, are Sul-malla's trembling steps. An oak took the spear from her hand; half-bent she loosed the lance: but then are her eyes on the king, from amidst her wandering locks.—No friendly strife is before thee; no light contending of bows, as when the youth of ClubaDisplay note came forth beneath the eye of Conmor.[ 102 ] View Page Image
As the rock of Runo, which takes the passing clouds for its robe, seems growing, in gathered darkness, over the streamy heath; so seemed the chief of Atha taller, as gathered his people round.—As different blasts fly over the sea, each behind its dark-blue wave, so Cathmor's words, on every side, poured his warriors forth.—Nor silent on his hill is Fillan; he mixed his words with his echoing shield. An eagle he seemed, with sounding wings, calling the wind to his rock, when he sees the coming forth of the roes, on Lutha'sDisplay note rushy field.
Now they bent forward in battle: death's hundred voices rose; for the kings, on either side, were like fires on the souls of the people.—I bounded along; high rocks and trees rushed tall between the war and me.—But I heard the noise of steel, between my clanging arms. Rising, gleaming, on the hill, I beheld the backward steps of hosts: their backward steps, on either side, and wildly-looking eyes. The chiefs were met in dreadful fight; the two blue-shielded kings. Tall and dark, thro' gleams of steel, are seen the striving heroes.—I rushed.—My fears for Fillan flew, burning across my soul.
I came; nor Cathmor fled; nor yet advanced: he sidelong stalked along. An icy rock, cold, tall he seemed. I called forth all my steel.—Silent awhile we strode, on either side of a rushing stream: then, sudden turning, all at once, we raised our pointed spears.—We raised our spears, but night came down. It is dark [ 103 ] View Page Imageand silent round; but where the distant steps of hosts are sounding over the heath.
I came to the place where FillanDisplay notefought. Nor voice, nor sound is there. A broken helmet lay on earth: a buckler cleft in twain. Where, Fillan, where art thou, young chief of echoing Morven? He heard me leaning against a rock, which bent its grey head over the stream. He heard; but sullen, dark he stood. At length I saw the hero.
Why standest thou, robed in darkness, son of woody Selma? Bright is thy path, my brother, in this dark-brown field. Long has been thy strife in battle. Now the horn of Fingal is heard. Ascend to the cloud of thy father, to his hill of feasts. In the evening mist he sits, and hears the voice of Carril's harp. Carry joy to the aged, young breaker of the shields.
Can the vanquished carry joy? Ossian, no shield is mine. It lies broken on the field. The eagle-wing of my helmet is torn. It is when foes fly before them that fathers delight in their sons. But their sighs burst forth, in secret, when their young warriors yield.—No: Fillan will not behold the king. Why should the hero mourn?
Son of blue-eyed Clatho, why dost thou awake my soul? Wert thou not a burning fire before him; and shall he not rejoice?—— [ 104 ] View Page ImageSuch fame belonged not to Ossian; yet was the king still a sun to me. He looked on my steps, with joy: shadows never rose on his face.—Ascend, O Fillan, to Mora: his feast is spread in the folds of mist.
Ossian, give me that broken shield: these feathers that are rolled in the wind. Place them near to Fillan, that less of his fame may fall. Ossian, I begin to fail.—Lay me in that hollow rock. Raise no stone above: lest one should ask about my fame. I am fallen in the first of my fields; fallen without renown. Let thy voice alone send joy to my flying soul. Why should the bard know where dwells the early-fallen FillanDisplay note?[ 105 ] View Page Image
Is thy spirit on the eddying winds, blue-eyed king of shields? Joy pursue my hero, thro' his folded clouds. The forms of thy fathers, O Fillan, bend to receive their son. I behold the spreading of their fire on Mora; the blue-rolling of their misty wreaths.—Joy meet thee my brother.——But we are dark and sad. I behold the foe round the aged, and the wasting away of his fame. Thou art left alone in the field, grey-haired king of Selma.
I laid him in the hollow rock, at the roar of the nightly stream. One red star looked in on the hero: winds lift, at times, his locks. I listened: no sound is heard: for the warrior slept.——As lightning on a cloud, a thought came rushing over my soul.—My eyes rolled in fire: my stride was in the clang of steel.
I will find thee, chief of Atha, in the gathering of thy thousands. Why should that cloud escape, that quenched our early beam? Kindle your meteors on your hills, my fathers, to light [ 106 ] View Page Imagemy daring steps. I will consume in wrathDisplay note——Should I not return! the king is without a son, grey-haired amidst his foes. His arm is not as in the days of old: his fame grows dim in Erin. Let me not behold him from high, laid low in his latter field.—But can I return to the king? Will he not ask about his son? "Thou oughtest to defend young Fillan."—I will meet the foe.—Green Inisfail, thy sounding tread is pleasant to my ear: I rush on thy ridgy host, to shun the eyes of Fingal.——I hear the voice of the king, on Mora's misty top!—He calls his two sons; I come, my father,—in my grief.—I come like an eagle, which the flame of night met in the desart, and spoiled of half his wings.
Display noteDistant, round the king, on Mora, the broken ridges of Morven are rolled. They turned their eyes: each darkly bends, [ 107 ] View Page Imageon his own ashen spear.—Silent stood the king in the midst. Thought on thought rolled over his soul. As waves on a secret mountain-lake, each with its back of foam.—He looked; no son appeared, with his long-beaming spear. The sighs rose, crowding, from his soul; but he concealed his grief.——At length I stood beneath an oak. No voice of mine was heard. What could I say to Fingal in his hour of woe?——His words rose, at length, in the midst: the people shrunk backward as he spokeDisplay note.[ 108 ] View Page Image
Where is the son of Selma, he who led in war? I behold not his steps, among my people, returning from the field. Fell the young bounding roe, who was so stately on my hills?—He fell;— for ye are silent. The shield of war is broke.——Let his armour be near to Fingal; and the sword of dark-brown Luno. I am waked on my hills; with morning I descend to war.
Display noteHigh on Cormul's rock, an oak flamed to the wind. The grey skirts of mist are rolled around; thither strode the king in his [ 109 ] View Page Imagewrath. Distant from the host he always lay, when battle burnt within his soul. On two spears hung his shield on high; the gleaming sign of death; that shield, which he was wont to strike, by night, before he rushed to war.—It was then his warriors knew, when the king was to lead in strife; for never was this buckler heard, till Fingal's wrath arose.—Unequal were his steps on high, as he shone in the beam of the oak; he was dreadful as the form of the spirit of night, when he cloaths, on hills, his wild gestures with mist, and, issuing forth, on the troubled ocean, mounts the car of winds.
Nor settled, from the storm, is Erin's sea of war; they glittered, beneath the moon, and, low-humming, still rolled on the field.—Alone are the steps of Cathmor, before them on the heath; he hung forward, with all his arms, on Morven's flying host. Now had he come to the mossy cave, where Fillan lay in night. One tree was bent above the stream, which glittered over the rock.—— There shone to the moon the broken shield of Clatho's son; and near it, on grass, lay hairy-footed BranDisplay note. He had missed the chief [ 110 ] View Page Imageon Mora, and searched him along the wind. He thought that the blue-eyed hunter slept; he lay upon his shield. No blast came over the heath, unknown to bounding Bran.
Cathmor saw the white-breasted dog; he saw the broken shield. Darkness is blown back on his soul; he remembers the falling away of the people. They come, a stream; are rolled away; another race succeeds.—"But some mark the fields, as they pass, with their own mighty names. The heath, thro' dark-brown years, is theirs; some blue stream winds to their fame.— Of these be the chief of Atha, when he lays him down on earth. Often may the voice of future times meet Cathmor in the air: when he strides from wind to wind, or folds himself in the wing of a storm."
Green Erin gathered round the king, to hear the voice of his power. Their joyful faces bend, unequal, forward, in the light of the oak. They who were terrible were removed: LubarDisplay notewinds [ 111 ] View Page Imageagain in their host. Cathmor was that beam from heaven which shone when his people were dark. He was honoured in the midst. Their souls rose trembling around. The king alone no gladness shewed; no stranger he to war!
Why is the king so sad, said Malthos eagle-eyed?— Remains there a foe at Lubar? Lives there among them, who can lift the spear? Not so peaceful was thy father, Borbar-duthulDisplay note, king of spears. His rage was a fire that always burned: his joy over fallen foes was great.—Three days feasted the grey-haired hero, when he heared that Calmar fell: Calmar, who aided the race of Ullin, from Lara of the streams.—Often did he feel, with his hands, the steel which, they said, had pierced his foe. He felt it [ 112 ] View Page Imagewith his hands, for Borbar-duthul's eyes had failed.— Yet was the king a sun to his friends; a gale to lift their branches round. Joy was around him in his halls: he loved the sons of Bolga. His name remains in Atha, like the awful memory of ghosts, whose presence was terrible, but they blew the storm away.—Now let the voicesDisplay noteof Erin raise the soul of the king; he that shone when war was dark, and laid the mighty low.—Fonar, from that grey-browed rock, pour the tale of other times: pour it on wide-skirted Erin, as it settles round.
To me, said Cathmor, no song shall rise; nor Fonar sit on the rock of Lubar. The mighty there are laid low. Disturb not their rushing ghosts. Far, Malthos, far remove the sound of Erin's song. I rejoice not over the foe, when he ceases to lift the spear. With morning we pour our strength abroad. Fingal is wakened on his echoing hill.
Like waves, blown back by sudden winds, Erin retired, at the voice of the king. Deep-rolled into the field of night, they spread their humming tribes. Beneath his own tree, at intervals, eachDisplay note bard sat down with his harp. They raised the song, and touched [ 113 ] View Page Imagethe string: each to the chief he loved.—Before a burning oak Sul-malla touched, at times, the harp. She touched the harp, and heard, between, the breezes in her hair.—In darkness near, lay the king of Atha, beneath an aged tree. The beam of the oak was turned from him; he saw the maid, but was not seen. His soul poured forth, in secret, when he beheld her fearful eye.—But battle is before thee, son of Borbar-duthul.
Amidst the harp, at intervals, she listened whether the warrior slept. Her soul was up; she longed, in secret, to pour her own sad song. The field is silent. On their wings, the blasts of night retire. The bards had ceased; and meteors came, red-winding with their ghosts.—The sky grew dark: the forms of the dead were blended with the clouds. But heedless bends the daughter of Conmor, over the decaying flame. Thou wert alone in her soul, car-borne chief of Atha. She raised the voice of the song, and touched the harp between.[ 114 ] View Page Image
Display noteClun-galo came; she missed the maid.—Where art thou, beam of light? Hunters, from the mossy rock, saw you the blue-eyed fair?—Are her steps on grassy Lumon; near the bed of roes?—Ah me! I behold her bow in the hall. Where art thou, beam of light?
Display noteCease, love of Conmor, cease; I hear thee not on the ridgy heath. My eye is turned to the king, whose path is terrible in war. He for whom my soul is up, in the season of my rest.— Deep-bosomed in war he stands, he beholds me not from his cloud.—Why, sun of Sul-malla, dost thou not look forth?—I dwell in darkness here; wide over me flies the shadowy mill. Filled with dew are my locks: look thou from thy cloud, O sun of Sul-malla's soul.
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Seventh.[ 116 ] View Page Image
This book begins, about the middle of the third night from the opening of the poem. The poet describes a kind of mist, which rose, by night, from the lake of Lego, and was the usual residence of the souls of the dead, during the interval between their decease and the funeral song. The appearance of the ghost of Fillan above the cave where his body lay. His voice comes to Fingal, on the rock of Cormul. The king strikes the shield of Trenmor, which was an infallible sign of his appearing in arms himself. The extraordinary effect of the sound of the shield. Sul-malla, starting from sleep, awakes Cathmor. Their affecting discourse. She insists with him, to sue for peace; he resolves to continue the war. He directs her to retire to the neighbouring valley of Lona, which was the residence of an old Druid, until the battle of the next day should be over. He awakes his army with the sound of his shield. The shield described. Fonar, the bard, at the desire of Cathmor, relates the first settlement of the Firbolg in Ireland, under their leader Larthon. Morning comes. Sul-malla retires to the valley of Lona. A Lyric song concludes the book.[ 117 ] View Page Image
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Display noteFrom the wood-skirted waters of Lego, ascend, at times, grey-bosomed mists; when the gates of the west are closed, on the sun's eagle-eye. Wide, over Lara's stream, is poured the vapour dark and deep: the moon, like a dim shield, is swimming thro' its folds. With this, clothe the spirits of old their sudden gestures [ 118 ] View Page Imageon the wind, when they stride, from blast to blast, along the dusky night. Often, blended with the gale, to some warrior's [ 119 ] View Page Imagegrave, they roll the mist, a grey dwelling to his ghost, until the songs arise.
A sound came from the desart; it was Conar, king of Inis-fail. He poured his mist on the grave of Fillan, at blue-winding Lubar.——Dark and mournful sat the ghost, in his grey ridge of smoak. The blast, at times, rolled him together: but the form returned again. It returned with bending eyes: and dark winding of locks of mist.
It isDisplay notedark. The sleeping host were still, in the skirts of the night. The flame decayed, on the hill of Fingal; the king lay lonely on [ 120 ] View Page Imagehis shield. His eyes were half-closed in sleep; the voice of Fillan came. "Sleeps the husband of Clatho? Dwells the father of the fallen in rest? Am I forgot in the folds of darkness; lonely in the season of night?"
Why dost thou mix, said the king, with the dreams of thy father? Can I forget thee, my son, or thy path of fire in the field? Not such come the deeds of the valiant on the soul of Fingal. They are not there a beam of lightning, which is seen, and is then no more.—I remember thee, O Fillan, and my wrath begins to rise.
The king took his deathful spear, and struck the deeply-sounding shield: his shieldDisplay note that hung high in night, the dismal sign [ 121 ] View Page Imageof war!—Ghosts fled on every side, and rolled their gathered forms on the wind.—Thrice from the winding vale arose the voice of deaths. The harps Display note of the bards, untouched, sound mournful over the hill.
He struck again the shield; battles rose in the dreams of his people. The wide-tumbling strife is gleaming over their souls. Blue-shielded kings descend to war. Backward-looking armies fly; and mighty deeds are half-hid, in the bright gleams of steel.
But when the third sound arose: deer started from the clefts of their rocks. The screams of fowl are heard, in the desart, as each flew, frighted, on his blast.—The sons of Morven half-rose, and half-assumed their spears.—But silence rolled back on the host: they knew the shield of the king. Sleep returned to their eyes; the field was dark and still.
Display noteNo sleep was thine in darkness, blue-eyed daughter of Con-mor! Sul-malla heard the dreadful shield, and rose, amidst the [ 122 ] View Page Imagenight.—Her steps are towards the king of Atha.—Can danger shake his daring soul!—In doubt, she stands, with bending eyes. Heaven burns with all its stars.[ 123 ] View Page Image
Again the shield resounds!—She rushed.—She stopt.—Her voice half-rose. It failed.—She saw him, amidst his arms, that gleamed to heaven's fire. She saw him dim in his locks, that rose to nightly wind.—Away, for fear, she turned her steps.——"Why should the king of Erin awake? Thou art not the dream of his rest, daughter of Inis-huna."
More dreadful rung the shield. Sul-malla starts. Her helmet falls. Loud-echoed Lubar's rock, as over it rolled the steel.—Bursting from the dreams of night, Cathmor half-rose, beneath his tree. He saw the form of the maid, above him, on the rock. A red star, with twinkling beam, looked thro' her floating hair.
Display noteWho comes thro' night to Cathmor, in the season of his dreams? Bring'st thou ought of war? Who art thou, son of night? —Stand'st thou before me, a form of the times of old? A voice from the fold of a cloud, to warn me of Erin's danger?
Nor lonely scout am I, nor voice from folded cloud: but I warn thee of the danger of Erin. Dost thou hear that sound? It is not the feeble, king of Atha, that rolls his signs on night.[ 124 ] View Page Image
Let the warrior roll his signs; to Cathmor they are the sounds of harps. My joy is great, voice of night, and burns over all my thoughts. This is the music of kings, on lonely hills, by night; when they light their daring souls, the sons of mighty deeds! The feeble dwell alone, in the valley of the breeze; where mists lift, their morning skirts, from the blue-winding streams.
Not feeble, king of men, were they, the fathers of my race. They dwelt in the folds of battle; in their distant lands. Yet delights not my soul, in the signs of death!—HeDisplay note, who never yields, comes forth: O send the bard of peace!
Like a dropping rock, in the desart, stood Cathmor in his tears. Her voice came, a breeze, on his soul, and waked the memory of her land; where she dwelt by her peaceful streams, before he came to the war of Conmor.
Daughter of strangers, he said; (she trembling turned away) long have I marked thee in thy steel, young pine of Inis-huna.—But my soul, I said, is folded in a storm. Why should that beam arise, till my steps return in peace?—Have I been pale in thy presence, when thou bidst me to fear the king?——The time of danger, O maid, is the season of my soul; for then it swells, a mighty stream, and rolls me on the foe.[ 125 ] View Page Image
Beneath the moss-covered rock of Lona, near his own blue stream; grey in his locks of age, dwells ClonmalDisplay note king of harps. Above him is his echoing tree, and the dun bounding of roes. The noiseDisplay note of our strife reaches his ear, as he bends in the thoughts of years. There let thy rest be, Sul-malla, until our battle cease. Until I return, in my arms, from the skirts of the evening mist, that rises, on Lona, round the dwelling of my love.
A light fell on the soul of the maid; it rose kindled before the king. She turned her face to Cathmor, from amidst her waving locks. SoonerDisplay noteshall the eagle of heaven be torn, from [ 126 ] View Page Imagethe stream of his roaring wind, when he sees the dun prey, before him, the young sons of the bounding roe, than thou, O Cathmor, be turned from the strife of renown.——Soon may I see thee, warrior, from the skirts of the evening mist, when it is rolled around me, on Lona of the streams. While yet thou art distant far, strike, Cathmor, strike the shield, that joy may return to my darkened soul, as I lean on the mossy rock. But if thou should fall——I am in the land of strangers;—O send thy voice, from thy cloud, to the maid of Inis-huna.[ 127 ] View Page Image
Young branch of green-headed Lumon, why dost thou shake in the storm? Often has Cathmor returned, from darkly-rolling wars. The darts of death are but hail to me; they have often bounded from my shield. I have risen brightened from battle, like a meteor from a stormy cloud. Return not, fair beam, from thy vale, when the roar of battle grows. Then might the foe escape, as from my fathers of old.
They told to Son-morDisplay note, of ClunarDisplay note, who was slain by Cormac in fight. Three days darkened Son-mor, over his brother's fall.— His spouse beheld the silent king, and foresaw his steps to war. She prepared the bow, in secret, to attend her blue-shielded hero. To her dwelt darkness, at Atha, when he was not there.— From their hundred streams, by night, poured down the sons of Alnecma. They had heard the shield of the king, and their rage arose. In clanging arms, they moved along, towards Ullin of the groves. Son-mor struck his shield, at times, the leader of the war.
Far behind followed Sul-allinDisplay note, over the streamy hills. She was a light on the mountain, when they crossed the vale below. Her steps were stately on the vale, when they rose on the mossy hill.— She feared to approach the king, who left her in echoing [ 128 ] View Page ImageAtha. But when the roar of battle rose; when host was rolled on host; when Son-mor burnt, like the fire of heaven in clouds, with her spreading hair came Sul-allin; for she trembled for her king.—He stopt the rushing strife to save the love of heroes.—The foe fled by night; Clunar slept without his blood; the blood which ought to be poured upon the warrior's tomb.
Nor rose the rage of Son-mor, but his days were silent and dark. Sul-allin wandered, by her grey streams, with her tearful eyes. Often did she look, on the hero, when he was folded in his thoughts. But she shrunk from his eyes, and turned her lone steps away.—Battles rose, like a tempest, and drove the mist from his soul. He beheld, with joy, her steps in the hall, and the white rising of her hands on the harp.
Display noteIn his arms strode the chief of Atha, to where his shiield hung, high, in night: high on a mossy bough, over Lubar's streamy roar. Seven bosses rose on the shield; the seven voices of the king, [ 129 ] View Page Imagewhich his warrior received, from the wind, and marked over all their tribes.
On each boss is placed a star of night; Can-mathon with beams unshorn; Col-derna rising from a cloud: Uloicho robed in mist; and the soft beam of Cathlin glittering on a rock. Laughing, on its own blue wave, Reldurath half-sinks its western light. The red eye of Berthin looks, thro' a grove, on the hunter, as he returns, by night, with the spoils of the bounding roe.—Wide, in the midst, arose the cloudless beams of Ton-thena, that star which looked, by night, on the course of the sea-tossed Larthon: Larthon, the first of Bolga's race, who travelled on the windsDisplay note.—— White-bosomed spread the sails of the king, towards streamy Inisfail; dun night was rolled before him, with its skirts of mist. Unconstant blew the winds, and rolled him from wave to wave.—Then rose the fiery-haired Ton-théna, and laughed from her parted cloud. LarthonDisplay note blessed the well-known beam, as it faint-gleamed on the deep.[ 130 ] View Page Image
Beneath the spear of Cathmor, rose that voice which awakes the bards. They came, dark-winding, from every side; each, with the sound of his harp. Before them rejoiced the king, as the traveller, in the day of the sun; when he hears, far-rolling around, the murmur of mossy streams; streams that burst, in the desart, from the rock of roes.
Why, said Fonar, hear we the voice of the king, in the season of his rest? Were the dim forms of thy fathers bending in thy dreams? Perhaps they stand on that cloud, and wait for Fonar's song; often they come to the fields where their sons are to lift the spear.—Or shall our voice arise for him who lifts the spear no more; he that consumed the field, from Moma of the groves?
Not forgot is that cloud in war, bard of other times. High shall his tomb rise, on Moi-lena, the dwelling of renown. But, now, roll back my soul to the times of my fathers: to the years when first they rose, on Inis-huna's waves. Nor alone pleasant to Cathmor is the remembrance of wood-covered Lumon.— Lumon of the streams, the dwelling of white-bosomed maids.
Display noteLumon of the streams, thou risest on Fonar's soul! Thy sun is on thy side, on the rocks of thy bending trees. The dun roe is [ 131 ] View Page Imageseen from thy furze; the deer lifts his branchy head; for he sees, at times, the hound, on the half-covered heath. Slow, on the vale, are the steps of maids; the white-armed daughters of the bow: they lift their blue eyes to the hill, from amidst their wandering locks.—Not there is the stride of Larthon, chief of Inis-huna. He mounts the wave on his own dark oak, in Cluba's ridgy bay. That oak which he cut from Lumon, to bound along the sea. The maids turn their eyes away, lest the king should be lowly-laid; for never had they feen a ship, dark rider of the wave!
Now he dares to call the winds, and to mix with the mist of ocean. Blue Inis—fail rose, in smoak; but dark-skirted night came down. The sons of Bolga feared. The fiery haired Ton-théna rose. Culbin's bay received the ship, in the bosom of its echoing woods. There, issued a stream, from Duthuma's horrid cave; where spirits gleamed, at times, with their half-finished forms.
Dreams descended on Larthon: he saw seven spirits of his fathers. He heard their half-formed words, and dimly beheld the times to come. He beheld the kings of Atha, the sons of future days. They led their hosts, along the field, like ridges of mist, which winds pour, in autumn, over Atha of the groves.
Larthon raised the hall of SamlaDisplay note, to the music of the harp. He went forth to the roes of Erin, to their wonted streams. Nor [ 132 ] View Page Image did he forget green-headed Lumon; he often bounded over his seas, to where white-handed FlathalDisplay note looked from the hill of roes. Lumon of the foamy streams, thou risest on Fonar's soul.
Morning pours from the east. The misty heads of the mountains rise. Valleys shew, on every side, the grey-winding of their streams. His host heard the shield of Cathmor: at once they rose around, like a crowded sea, when first it feels the wings of the wind. The waves know not whither to roll; they lift their troubled heads.
Sad and slow retired Sul-malla to Lona of the streams. She went—and often turned; her blue eyes rolled in tears. But when she came to the rock, that darkly-covered Lona's vale: she looked, from her bursting soul, on the king; and sunk, at once, behind.
Display noteSon of Alpin, strike the string. Is there aught of joy in the harp? Pour it then, on the soul of Ossian: it is folded in mist.—I hear thee, O bard, in my night. But cease the lightly-trembling sound. The joy of grief belongs to Ossian, amidst his dark-brown years.
Green thorn of the hill of ghosts, that shakest thy head to nightly winds! I hear no sound in thee; is there no spirit's windy [ 133 ] View Page Imageskirt now rustling in thy leaves? Often are the steps of the dead, in the dark-eddying blasts; when the moon, a dun shield, from the east, is rolled along the sky.
Ullin, Carril and Ryno, voices of the days of old! Let me hear you, while yet it is dark, to please and awake my soul.——I hear you not, ye sons of song; in what hall of the clouds is your rest? Do you touch the shadowy harp, robed with morning mist, where the rustling sun comes forth from his green-headed waves?[ 134 ] View Page Image
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Book Eighth.[ 136 ] View Page Image
The fourth morning, from the opening of the poem, comes on. Fingal, still continuing in the place, to which he had retired on the preceding night, is seen, at intervals, thro' the mist, which covered the rock of Cormul. The descent of the king is described. He orders Gaul, Dermid, and Carril the bard, to go to the valey of Cluna, and conduct, from thence, to the Caledonian army, Ferad artho, the son of Cairbre, the only person remaining of the family of Conar, the first king of Ireland—The king takes the command of the army, and prepares for battle. Marching towards the enemy, he comes to the cave of Lubar, where the body of Fillan lay. Upon seeing his dog Bran, who lay at the entrance of the cave, his grief returns.—Cathmor arranges the Irish army in order of battle. The appearance of that hero. The general conflict is described. The actions of Fingal and Cathmor. A storm. The total rout of the Fir-bolg. The two kings engage, in a column of mist, on the banks of Lubar. Their attitude and conference after the combat. The death of Cathmor.—Fingal resigns the spear of Trenmor to Ossian. The ceremonies observed on that occasion.——The spirit of Cathmor, in the mean time, appears to Sul-malla, in the valley of Lona. Her sorrow.—Evening comes on. A feast is prepared.—The coming of Ferad-artho is announced by the songs of a hundred bards.—The poem closes, with a speech of Fingal.[ 137 ] View Page Image
Temora: An Epic Poem.
Display noteAs when the wintry winds have seized the waves of the mountain-lake, have seized them, in stormy night, and cloathed them over with ice; white, to the hunter’s early eye, the billows still seem to roll. He turns his ear to the sound of each unequal ridge. But each is silent, gleaming, strewn with [ 138 ] View Page Image boughs and tufts of grass, which shake and whistle to the wind, over their grey seats of frost.—So silent shone to the morning the ridges of Morven’s host, as each warrior looked up from his helmet towards [ 139 ] View Page Image the hill of the king; the cloud-covered hill of Fingal, where he strode, in the folds of mist. At times is the hero seen, greatly dim in all his arms. From thought to thought rolled the war, along his mighty soul.
Now is the coming forth of the king.—First appeared the sword of Luno; the spear half issuing from a cloud, the shield still dim in mist. But when the stride of the king came abroad, with all his grey, dewy locks in the wind; then rose the shouts of his host over every moving tribe. They gathered, gleaming, round, with all their echoing shields. So rise the green seas round a spirit, that comes down from the squally wind. The traveller hears the sound afar, and lifts his head over the rock. He looks on the troubled bay, and thinks he dimly sees the form. The waves sport, unwieldy, round, with all their backs of foam.
Far-distant stood the son of Morni, Duthno’s race, and Cona’s bard. We stood far-distant; each beneath his tree. We shuned the eyes of the king; we had not conquered in the field.—A little stream rolled at my feet: I touched its light wave, with my spear. I touched it with my spear; nor there was the soul of Ossian. It darkly rose, from thought to thought, and sent abroad the sigh.
Son of Morni, said the king, Dermid, hunter of roes! why are ye dark, like two rocks, each with its trickling waters? No [ 140 ] View Page Imagewrath gathers on Fingal’s soul, against the chiefs of men. Ye are my strength in battle; the kindling of my joy in peace. My early voice has been a pleasant gale to your ears, when Fillan prepared the bow. The son of Fingal is not here, nor yet the chace of the bounding roes. But why should the breakers of shields stand, darkened, faraway?
Tall they strode towards the king; they saw him turned to Mora’s wind. His tears came down, for his blue-eyed son, who slept in the cave of streams. But he brightened before them, and spoke to the broad-shielded kings.
Crommal, with woody rocks, and misty top, the field of winds, pours forth, to the fight, blue Lubar’s streamy roar. Behind it rolls clear-winding Lavath, in the still vale of deer. A cave is dark in a rock; above it strong-winged eagles dwell; broad-headed oaks, before it, sound in Cluna’s wind.—Within, in his locks of youth, is Ferad-arthoDisplay note, blue-eyed king, the son of [ 141 ] View Page Image broad-shielded Cairbar, from Ullin of the roes. He listens to the voice of Condan, as, grey, he bends in feeble light. He listens, for his foes dwell in the echoing halls of Temora. He comes, at times, abroad, in the skirts of mist, to pierce the bounding roes. When the sun looks on the field, nor by the rock, nor stream, is he! He shuns the race of Bolga, who dwell in his father’s hall. Tell him, that Fingal lifts the spear, and that his foes, perhaps, may fail.
Lift up, O Gaul, the shield before him. Stretch, Dermid, Temora’s spear. Be thy voice in his ear, O Carril, with the deeds of his fathers. Lead him to green Moilena, to the dusky field of [ 142 ] View Page Imageghosts; for there, I fall forward, in battle, in the folds of war. Before dun night descends, come to high Dunmora’s top. Look, from the grey folds of mist, on Lena of the streams. If there my standard shall float on wind, over Lubar’s gleaming stream, then has not Fingal failed in the last of his fields.
Such were his words; nor aught replied the silent, striding kings. They looked side-long, on Erin’s host, and darkened, as they went. —Never before had they left the king, in the midst of the stormy field.—Behind them, touching at times his harp, the grey-haired Carril moved. He foresaw the fall of the people, and mournful was the found!—It was like a breeze that comes, by fits, over Lego’s reedy lake; when sleep half-descends on the hunter, within his mossy cave.
Why bends the bard of Cona, said Fingal, over his secret stream?—Is this a time for sorrow, father of low-laid Oscar? Be the warriorsDisplay note remembered in peace; when echoing shields are heard no [ 143 ] View Page Image more. Bend, then, in grief, over the flood, where blows the mountain breeze. Let them pass on thy soul, the blue-eyed dwellers of the tomb.—But Erin rolls to war; wide-tumbling, rough, and dark. Lift, Ossian, lift the shield.—I am alone, my son!
As comes the sudden voice of winds to the becalmed ship of Inis-huna, and drives it large, along the deep, dark rider of the wave; so the voice of Fingal sent Ossian, tall, along the heath. He lifted high his shining shield, in the dusky wing of war: like the broad, blank moon, in the skirt of a cloud, before the storms arise.
Loud, from moss-covered Mora, poured down, at once, the broad-winged war. Fingal led his people forth, king of Morven of streams.—On high spreads the eagle’s wing. His grey hair is poured on his shoulders broad. In thunder are his mighty strides. He often flood, and saw behind, the wide-gleaming rolling of armour.—A rock he seemed, grey over with ice, whose woods are high in wind. Bright streams leap from its head, and spread their foam on blasts.[ 144 ] View Page Image
Now he came to Lubar’s cave, where Fillan darkly slept: Bran still lay on the broken shield: the eagle-wing is strewed on winds. Bright, from withered furze, looked forth the hero’s spear.—Then grief stirred the soul of the king, like whirlwinds blackening on a lake. He turned his sudden step, and leaned on his bending spear.
White-breasted Bran came bounding with joy to the known path of Fingal. He came, and looked towards the cave, where the blue-eyed hunter lay, for he was wont to stride, with morning, to the dewy bed of the roe.—It was then the tears of the king came down, and all his soul was dark.—But as the rising wind rolls away the storm of rain, and leaves the white streams to the sun, and high hills with their heads of grass: so the returning war brightened the mind of Fingal. He boundedDisplay note, on his spear, over [ 145 ] View Page Image Lubar, and struck his ecchoing shield. His ridgy host bend forward, at once, with all their pointed steel.
Nor Erin heard, with fear, the sound: wide they came rolling along. Dark Malthos, in the wing of war, looks forward from shaggy brows. Next rose that beam of light Hidalla; then the side-long-looking gloom of Maronnan. Blue-shielded Clonar lifts the spear; Cormar shakes his bushy locks on the wind.—Slowly, from behind a rock, rose the bright form of Atha. First appeared his two pointed spears, then the half of his burnished shield: like the rising of a nightly meteor, over the vale of ghosts. But when he shone all abroad: the hosts· plunged, at once, into strife. The gleaming waves of steel are poured on either side.
As meet two troubled seas, with the rolling of all their waves, when they feel the wings of contending winds, in the rock-sided sirth of Lumon; along the echoing hills is the dim course of ghosts: from the blast fall the torn groves on the deep, amidst the foamy path of whales.—So mixed the hosts!—Now Fingal; now Cathmor came abroad.—The dark tumbling of death is before them: the gleam of broken steel is rolled on their steps, as, loud, the high-bounding kings hewed down the ridge of shields.[ 146 ] View Page Image
Maronnan fell, by Fingal, laid large across a stream. The waters gathered by his side, and leapt grey over his bossy shield.—Clonar is pierced by Cathmor: nor yet lay the chief on earth. An oak seized his hair in his fall. His helmet rolled on the ground. By its thong, hung his broad shield; over it wandered his streaming blood. Tla-minDisplay note shall weep, in the hall, and strike her heaving breast.
Nor did Ossian forget the spear, in the wing of his war. He strewed the field with dead.—Young Hidalla came. Soft voice of [ 147 ] View Page Image streamy Clonra! Why dost thou lift the steel?—O that we met, in the strife of song, in thy own rushy vale!—Malthos beheld him low, and darkened as he rushed along. On either side of a stream, we bend in the echoing strife.—Heaven comes rolling down: around burst the voices of squally winds.—Hills are clothed, at times, in fire. Thunder rolls in wreaths of mist.—In darkness shrunk the foe: Morven’s warriors stood aghast.—Still I bent over the stream, amidst my whistling locks.
Then rose the voice of Fingal, and the sound of the flying foe, I saw the king, at times, in lightning, darkly-striding in his might. I struck my echoing shield, and hung forward on the steps of Alnecma: the foe is rolled before me, like a wreath of smoak.
The sun looked forth from his cloud. The hundred streams of Moi-lena shone. Slow rose the blue columns of mist, against the glittering hill.—Where are the mighty kings?Display note—Nor by that stream, nor wood, are they!—I hear the clang of arms!—Their strife is in the bosom of that mist.—Such is the contending of spirits in a nightly cloud, when they strive for the wintry wings of winds, and the rolling of the foam-covered waves.[ 148 ] View Page Image
I rushed along. The grey mist rose.—Tall, gleaming, they flood at Lubar.—Cathmor leaned against a rock. His half-fallen shield received the stream, that leapt from the moss above.—Towards him is the stride of Fingal: he saw the hero’s blood. His sword fell slowly to his side.—He spoke, midst his darkening joy.
Yields the race of Borbar-duthul? Or still does he lift the spear? Not unheard is thy name, at Atha, in the green dwelling of strangers. It has come, like the breeze of his desart, to the ear of Fingal.—Come to my hill of feasts: the mighty fail, at times. No fire am I to low-laid foes: I rejoice not over the fall of the brave.—To closeDisplay note the wound is mine: I have known the herbs of the hills. I seized their fair heads, on high, as they waved by their secret streams.—Thou art dark and silent, king of Atha of strangers.
By Atha of the stream, he said, there rises a mossy rock. On its head is the wandering of boughs, within the course of winds. Dark, in its face, is a cave, with its own loud rill.—There have I heard the tread of strangersDisplay note, when they passed to my hall of shells. [ 149 ] View Page Image Joy rose, like a flame, on my soul: I blest the echoing rock. Here be my dwelling, in darkness; in my grassy vale. From this I shall mount the breeze, that pursues my thistle's beard; or look down, on blue-winding Atha, from its wandering mist.
Why speaks the king of the tomb?—Ossian! the warrior has failed!—Joy meet thy soul, like a stream, Cathmor, friend of strangers!—My son, I hear the call of years; they take my spear as they pass along. Why does not Fingal, they seem to say, rest within his hall? Dost thou always delight in blood? In the tears of the sad?—No: ye darkly-rolling years, Fingal delights not in blood. Tears are wintry streams that waste away my soul. But, when I lie down to rest, then comes the mighty voice of war. It awakes me, in my hall, and calls forth all my steel.—It shall call it forth no more; Ossian, take thou thy father’s spear. Lift it, in battle, when the proud arise.
My fathers, Ossian, trace my steps; my deeds are pleasant to their eyes. Wherever I come forth to battle, on my field, are their columns of mist.—But mine arm rescued the feeble; the haughty sound my rage was fire. Never over the fallen did mine eye rejoice. For thisDisplay note, my fathers shall meet me, at the gates of [ 150 ] View Page Image their airy halls, tall, with robes of light, with mildly-kindled eyes. But, to the proud in arms, they are darkened moons in heaven, which send the fire of night, red-wandering over their face.
Father of heroes, Trenmor, dweller of eddying winds! I give thy spear to Ossian, let thine eye rejoice. Thee have I seen, at times, bright from between thy clouds; so appear to my son, when he is to lift the spear: then shall he remember thy mighty deeds, though thou art now but a blast.
He gave the spear to my hand, and raised, at once, a stone on high, to speak to future times, with its grey head of moss. Beneath he placed a swordDisplay note in earth, and one bright boss from his shield. Dark in thought, a-while, he bends: his word, at length, come forth.
When thou, O stone, shall moulder down, and lose thee, in the moss of years, then shall the traveller come, and whistling pass away.—Thou know'st not, feeble man, that fame once shone on [ 151 ] View Page Image Μoi-lena. Here Fingal resigned his spear, after the last of his fields.—Pass away, thou empty shade; in thy voice there is no renown. Thou dwellest by some peaceful stream; yet a few years, and thou art gone. No one remembers thee, thou dweller of thick mist!—But Fingal shall be clothed with fame, a beam of light to other times; for he went forth, in echoing steel, to save the weak in arms.
Brightening in his fame, the king strode to Lubar’s founding oak, where it bent, from its rock, over the bright-tumbling stream. Beneath it is a narrow plain, and the sound of the fount of the rock.—Here the standardDisplay note of Morven poured its wreaths on the wind, to mark the way of Ferad-artho, from his secret vale.——Bright, from his parted west, the sun of heaven looked abroad. The hero saw his people, and heard their shouts of joy. In broken ridges round, they glittered to the beam. The king rejoiced, as a hunter in his own green vale, when, after the storm is rolled away, he sees the gleaming sides of the rocks. The green thorn shakes, its head in their face; from their top, look forward the roes.
Display noteGrey, at his mossy cave, is bent the aged form of Clonmal. The eyes of the bard had failed. He leaned forward, on his staff. [ 152 ] View Page Image Bright, in her locks, before him, Sul-malla listened to the tale; the tale of the kings of Atha, in the days of old. The noise of battle had ceased in his ear: he stopt, and raised the secret sigh. The spirits of the dead, they said, often lightened over his soul. He saw the king of Atha low, beneath his bending tree.
Why art thou dark, said the maid? The strife of arms is past. SoonDisplay note shall he come to thy cave, over thy winding streams. The sun looks from the rocks of the west. The mists of the lake arise. Grey, they spread on that hill, the rushy dwelling of roes. From the mist shall my king appear!—Behold, he comes in his arms. Come to the cave of Clonmal, O my best beloved!
It was the spirit of Cathmor, stalking, large, a gleaming form. He sunk by the hollow stream, that roared between the hills.—"It was but the hunter, she said, who searches for the bed of the roe. His steps are not forth to war; his spouse expects him with night.—He shall, whistling, return, with the spoils of the dark-brown hinds."——Her eyes are turned to the hill; again the stately form came down. She rose, in the midst of joy. He retired in mist. Gradual vanish his limbs of smoak, and mix with the mountain-wind.—Then she knew that he fell! "King of Erin art thou low!"—Let Ossian forget her grief; it wastes the soul of ageDisplay note[ 153 ] View Page Image
Evening came down on Moi-lena. Grey rolled the streams of the land. Loud came forth the voice of Fingal: the beam of oaks arose. The people gathered round with gladness; with gladness blended with shades. They sidelong looked to the king, and beheld his unfinished joy.—Pleasant, from the way of the desart, the voice of music came. It seemed, at first, the noise of a stream, far-distant on its rocks. Slow it rolled along the hill, like the ruffled wing of a breeze, when it takes the tufted beard of the rocks, in the [ 154 ] View Page Image still season of night.—It was the voice of Condan, mixed with Carril’s trembling harp. They came, with blue-eyed Ferad-artho, to Mora of the streams.
Sudden bursts the song from our bards, on Lena: the host struck their shields midst the sound. Gladness rose brightening on the king, like the beam of a cloudy day, when it rises, on the green hill, before the roar of winds.—He struck the bossy shield of kings; at once they cease around. The people lean forward, from their spears, towards the voice of their landDisplay note.
Sons of Morven, spread the feast, send the night away on song. Ye have shone around me, and the dark storm is past. My people are the windy rocks, from which I spread my eagle-wings, when I rush forth to renown, and seize it on its field.—Οssian, thou hast the spear of Fingal: it is not the staff of a boy with which he strews the thistle round, young wanderer of the field.—No: it is the lance of the mighty, with which they stretched [ 155 ] View Page Image forth their hands to death. Look to thy fathers, my son; they are awful beams.—With morning lead Ferad-artho forth to the echoing halls of Temora. Remind him of the kings of Erin; the stately forms of old.—Let not the fallen be forgot, they were mighty in the field. Let Carril pour his song, that the kings may rejoice in their mist.—To-morrow I spread my sails to Selma's shaded walls; where streamy Duthula winds through the seats of roes.—FINIS.
Cathlin of Clutha: A Poem.
An address to Malvina, the daughter of Toscar.—The poet relates the arrival of Cathlin in Selma, to solicit aid against Duth-carmor of Cluba, who had killed Cathmol, for the sake of his daughter Lanul.—Fingal declining to make a choice among his heroes, who were all claiming the command of the expedition; they retired each to his hill of ghosts, to be determined by dreams. The spirit of Trenmor appears to Ossian and Oscar: they sail, from the bay of Carmona, and, on the fourth day, appear off the valley of Rath-col, in Inis-huna, where Duth-carmor had fixed his residence.——Ossian dispatches a bard to Duth-carmor to demand battle.—Night comes on.—The distress of Cathlin of Clutha.—Ossian devolves the command on Oscar, who, according to the custom of the kings of Morven, before battle, retired to a neighbouring hill.—Upon the coming on of day, the battle joins.—Oscar and Duth-carmor meet. The latter falls.—Oscar carries the mail and helmet of Duth-carmor to Cathlin, who had retired from the field. Cathlin is discovered to be the daughter of Cathmol, in disguise, who had been carried off, by force, by, and had made her escape from, Duth-carmor.
Cathlin of Clutha: A Poem.
Display noteCome, thou beam that art lonely, from watching in the night! The squally winds are around thee, from all their echoing hills. Red, over my hundred streams, are the light-covered paths of the dead. They rejoice, on the eddying winds, in the [ 160 ] View Page Image season of night.—Dwells there no joy in song, white hand of the harps of Lutha? Awake the voice of the string, and roll my soul to me. It is a dream that has failed.—Malvina pour the song.
I hear thee, from thy darkness, in Selma, thou that watchest, lonely, by night! Why didst thou with-hold the song, from Ossian’s failing soul?——As the falling brook to the ear of the hunter, descending from his storm-covered hill; in a sun-beam rolls the echoing stream; he hears, and shakes his dewy locks: such is the voice of Lutha, to the friend of the spirits of heroes.—My swelling bosom beats high. I look back on the days that are past.——Come, thou beam that art lonely, from the watching of night.
In the echoing bay of CarmonaDisplay note we saw, one day, the bounding ship. On high, hung a broken shield; it was marked with [ 161 ] View Page Image wandering blood. Forward came a youth, in armour, and stretched his pointless spear. Long, over his tearful eyes, hung loose his disordered locks. Fingal gave the shell of kings. The words of the stranger arose.
In his hall lies Cathmol of Clutha, by the winding of his own dark streams. Duth-carmor saw white-bosomed LanulDisplay note, and pierced her father’s side. In the rushy desart were my steps. He fled in the season of night. Give thine aid to Cathlin to revenge his father.——I fought thee not as a beam, in a land of clouds. Thou, like that sun, art known, king of echoing Selma.
Selma’s king looked around. In his presence, we rose in arms. But who should lift the shield? for all had claimed the war. The night came down; we strode, in silence; each to his hill of ghosts: that spirits might descend, in our dreams, to mark us for the field.
We struck the shield of the dead, and raised the hum of songs. We thrice called the ghosts of our fathers. We laid us down in dreams.——Trenmor came, before mine eyes, the tall form of other years. His blue hosts were behind him in half-distinguished rows. Scarce seen is their strife in mist, or their stretching forward to deaths. I listened; but no sound was there. The forms were empty wind.[ 162 ] View Page Image
I started from the dream of ghosts. On a sudden blast flew my whistling hair. Low-sounding, in the oak, is the departure of the dead. I took my shield from its bough. Onward came the rattling of steel. It was OscarDisplay note of Lego. He had seen his fathers.
As rushes forth the blast, on the bosom of whitening waves; so careless shall my course be, thro’ ocean, to the dwelling of foes. I have seen the dead, my father. My beating soul is high. My fame is bright before me, like the streak of light on a cloud, when the broad sun comes forth, red traveller of the sky.
Grandson of Branno, I said; not Oscar alone shall meet the foe. I rush forward, thro’ ocean, to the woody dwelling of heroes. Let us contend, my son, like eagles, from one rock; when they lift their broad wings, against the stream of winds.—We raised our sails in Carmona. From three ships, they marked my shield on the wave, as I looked on nightly Ton-thenaDisplay note, red traveller between the clouds.—Four days came the breeze abroad. Lumon came forward in mist. In winds were its hundred groves. [ 163 ] View Page ImageSun-beams marked, at times, its brown side. White, leapt the foamy streams, from all its echoing rocks.
A green field, in the bosom of hills, winds silent with its own blue stream. Here, midst the waving of oaks, were the dwellings of kings of old. But silence, for many dark-brown years, had settled in grassy Rath-colDisplay note; for the race of heroes had sailed, along the pleasant vale.—Duth-carmor was here, with his people, dark rider of the wave. Ton-thena had hid her head in the sky. He bound his white-bosomed sails. His course is on the hills of Rath-col, to the seats of roes.
We came. I sent the bard, with songs, to call the foe to fight. Duth-carmor heard him, with joy. The king’s soul was like a beam of fire; a beam of fire, marked with smoak, rushing, varied thro’ the bosom of night. The deeds of Duth-carmor were dark, tho’ his arm was strong.
Night came, with the gathering of clouds. By the beam of the oak we sat down. At a distance stood Cathlin of Clutha. I saw the changingDisplay note soul of the stranger. As shadows fly over the [ 164 ] View Page Image field of grass, so various is Cathlin’s cheek. It was fair, within locks, that rose on Rath-col’s wind. I did not rush, amidst his soul, with my words. I bade the song to rise.
Oscar of Lego, I said, be thine the secret hillDisplay note, to night. Strike the shield, like Morven’s kings. With day, thou shalt lead in war. From my rock, I shall see thee, Oscar, a dreadful form ascending in fight, like the appearance of ghosts amidst the storms they raise.——Why should mine eyes return to the dim times of old, ere yet the song had bursted forth, like the sudden rising of winds?——But the years, that are past, are marked with mighty deeds. As the nightly rider of waves looks up to Τοn-thena of beams: so let us turn our eyes to Trenmor, the father of kings.
Wide, in Caracha’s echoing field, Carmal had poured his tribes. They were a dark ridge of waves; the grey-haired bards were like moving foam on their face. They kindled the strife around, with their red-rolling eyes.—Nor alone were the dwellers of rocks; [ 165 ] View Page Image a son of Loda was there; a voice, in his own dark land, to call the ghosts from high.——On his hill, he had dwelt, in Lochlin, in the midst of a leafless grove. Five stones lifted, near, their heads. Loud roared his rushing stream. He often raised his voice to winds, when meteors marked their nightly wings; when the dark-crusted moon was rolled behind her hill. Nor unheard of ghosts was he!—They came with the sound of eagle wings. They turned battle, in fields, before the kings of men.
But, Trenmor, they turned not from battle; he drew forward the troubled war; in its dark skirt was Trathal, like a rising light.—It was dark; and Loda’s son poured forth his signs, on night.—The feeble were not before thee, son of other lands!
Display noteThen rose the strife of kings, about the hill of night; but it was soft as two summer gales, shaking their light wings, on a lake.——Trenmor yielded to his son; for the fame of the king was heard.—Trathal came forth before his father, and the foes sailed, in echoing Caracha. The years that are past, my son, are marked with mighty deedsDisplay note
In clouds rose the eastern light. The foe came forth in arms. The strife is mixed at Rath-col, like the roar of streams. Behold the contending of kings! They meet beside the oak. In gleams [ 166 ] View Page Image of steel the dark forms are lost; such is the meeting of meteors, in a vale by night: red light is scattered round, and men foresee the storm.——Duth-carmor is low in blood. The son of Ossian overcame. Not harmless in battle was he, Malvina hand of harps!
Nor, in the field, are the steps of Cathlin. The stranger stood by a secret stream, where the foam of Rath-col skirted the mossy stones. Above, bends the branchy birch, and strews its leaves, on winds. The inverted spear of Cathlin touched, at times, the stream.——Oscar brought Duth-carmor’s mail: his helmet with its eagle-wing. He placed them before the stranger, and his words were heard.——"The foes of thy father have failed. They are laid in the field of ghosts. Renown returns to Morven, like a rising wind. Why art thou dark, chief of Clutha? Is there cause for grief?"
Son of Ossian of harps, my soul is darkly sad. I behold the arms of Cathmol, which he raised in war. Take the mail of Cathlin, place it high in Selma’s hall; that thou mayst remember the hapless in thy distant land.
From white breasts descended the mail. It was the race of kings; the soft-handed daughter of Cathmol, at the streams of Clutha.—Duth-carmor saw her bright in the hall, he came, by night, to Clutha. Cathmol met him, in battle, but the hero fell. Three days dwelt the foe, with the maid. On the fourth she fled in arms. She remembered the race of kings, and felt her bursting soul.[ 167 ] View Page Image
Why, maid of Toscar of Lutha, should I tell how Cathlin failed? Her tomb is at rushy Lumon, in a distant land. Near it were the steps of Sul-malla, in the days of grief. She raised the song, for the daughter of strangers, and touched the mournful harp.
Come, from the watching of night, Malvina, lonely beam!
Sul-malla of Lumon: A Poem.
This poem, which, properly speaking, is a continuation of the last, opens with an address to Sul-malla, the daughter of the king of Inis-huna, whom Ossian met, at the chace, as he returned from the battle of Rath-col. Sul-malla invites Ossian and Oscar to a feast, at the residence of her father, who was then absent in the wars.——Upon hearing their name and family, she relates an expedition of Fingal into Inis-huna. She casually mentioning Cathmor, chief of Atha, (who then assisted her father against his enemies) Ossian introduces the episode of Culgorm and Surandronlo, two Scandinavian kings, in whose wars Ossan himself and Cathmor were engaged on opposite sides.——The story is imperfect, a part of the original being lost.—Ossian, warned, in a dream, by the ghost of Trenmor, sets sail from Inis-huna.
Sul-malla of Lumon: A Poem.
Display noteWho moves so stately, on Lumon, at the roar of the foamy waters? Her hair falls upon her heaving breast. White is her arm behind, as slow she bends the bow. Why dost thou wander in desarts, like a light thro’ a cloudy field? The [ 172 ] View Page Image young roes are panting, by their secret rocks.——Return, thou daughter of kings; the cloudy night is near.
It was the young branch of Lumon, Sul-malla of blue eyes. She sent the bard from her rock, to bid us to her feast. Amidst the song we sat down, in Conmor’s echoing hall. White moved the hands of Sul-malla, on the trembling strings. Half-heard, amidst the found, was the name of Atha’s king: he that was absent in battle for her own green land.—Nor absent from her soul was he: he came midst her thoughts by night: Ton-thena looked in, from the sky, and saw her tossing arms.
The sound of the shells had ceased. Amidst long locks, Sul-malla rose. She spoke with bended eyes, and asked of our course thro' seas; “for of the kings of men are ye, tall riders of the waveDisplay note.——Not unknown, I said, at his streams is he, the father of our race. Fingal has been heard of at Cluba, blue-eyed daughter [ 173 ] View Page Image of kings.—Nor only, at Cona’s stream, is Ossian and Oscar known. Foes trembled at our voice, and shrunk in other lands.
Not unmarked, said the maid, by Sul-malla, is the shield of Morven’s king. It hangs high, in Conmor’s hall, in memory of the past; when Fingal came to Cluba, in the days of other years. Loud roared the boar of Culdarnu, in the midst of his rocks and woods. Inis-huna sent her youths, but they failed; and virgins wept over tombs,—Careless went the king to Culdarnu. On his spear rolled the strength of the woods.—He was bright, they said, in his looks, the first of mortal men.—Nor at the feast were heard his words. His deeds passed from his soul of fire, like the rolling of vapours from the face of the wandering sun.—Not careless looked the blue eyes of Cluba on his stately steps. In white bosoms rose the king of Selma, in midst of their thoughts by night. But the winds bore the stranger to the echoing vales of his roes.——Nor lost to other lands was he, like a meteor that sinks in a cloud. He came forth, at times, in his brightness, to the distant dwelling of foes. His fame came, like the sound of winds, to Cluba’s woody valeDisplay note[ 174 ] View Page Image
Darkness dwells in Cluba of harps: the race of kings is distant far; in battle is Conmor of spears; and LormarDisplay note king of streams. Nor darkening alone are they; a beam, from other lands, is nigh: the friend of strangersDisplay note in Atha, the troubler of the field. High, from their misty hills, look forth the blue eyes of Erin; for he is far away, young dweller of their souls.—Nor, harmless, white hands of Erin! is he in the skirts of war; he rolls ten thousand before him, in his distant field.
Not unseen by Ossian, I said, rushed Cathmor from his streams, when he poured his strength on I-thornoDisplay note isle of many waves. In strife met two kings in I-thorno, Culgorm and Suran-dronlo: each from his echoing isle, stern hunters of the boar![ 175 ] View Page Image
They met a boar, at a foamy stream: each pierced it with his spear. They strove for the fame of the deed: and gloomy battle rose. From isle to isle they sent a spear, broken and stained with blood, to call the friends of their fathers, in their sounding arms. Cathmor came, from Bolga, to Culgorm, red-eyed king: I aided Suran-dronlo, in his land of boars.
We rushed on either side of a stream, which roared thro’ a blasted heath. High broken rocks were round, with all their bending trees. Near are two circles of Loda, with the stone of power; where spirits descended, by night, in dark-red streams of fire.——There, mixed with the murmur of waters, rose the voice of aged men, they called the forms of night, to aid them in their war.
Display noteHeedless I stood, with my people, where fell the foamy stream from rocks. The moon moved red from the mountain. My song, at times, arose. Dark, on the other side, young Cathmor heard my voice; for he lay, beneath the oak, in all his gleaming arms.——Morning came; we rushed to fight: from wing to wing is the rolling of strife. They fell, like the thistle’s head, beneath autumnal winds.
In armour came a stately form: I mixed my strokes with the king. By turns our shields are pierced: loud rung our steely mails. His helmet fell to the ground. In brightness shone the foe. His [ 176 ] View Page Image eyes, two pleasant flames, rolled between his wandering locks.—I knew the king of Atha, and threw my spear on earth.—Dark, we turned, and silent passed to mix with other foes.
Not so passed the striving kingsDisplay note. They mixed in echoing fray; like the meeting of ghosts, in the dark wing of winds. Thro’ either breast rushed the spears; nor yet lay the foes on earth. A rock received their fall; and half-reclined they lay in death. Each held the lock of his foe; and grimly seemed to roll his eyes. The stream of the rock leapt on their shields, and mixed below with blood.
The battle ceased in I-thorno. The strangers met in peace: Cathmor from Atha of streams, and Ossian, king of harps. We placed the dead in earth. Our steps were by Runar’s bay. With the bounding boat, afar, advanced a ridgy wave. Dark was the rider of seas, but a beam of light was there, like the ray of the sun, in Stromlo’s rolling smoak. It was the daughterDisplay note of Suran-dronlo, [ 177 ] View Page Image wild in brightened looks. Her eyes were wandering flames, amidst disordered locks. Forward is her white arm, with the spear; her high-heaving breast is seen, white as foamy waves that rise, by turns, amidst rocks. They are beautiful, but they are terrible, and mariners call the winds.
Come, ye dwellers of Loda! Carchar, pale in the midst of clouds! Sluthmor, that stridest in airy halls! Corchtur, terrible in winds! Receive, from his daughter’s spear, the foes of Suran-dronlo.
No shadow, at his roaring streams; no mildly-looking form was he! When he took up his spear, the hawks shook their sounding wings: for blood was poured around the steps of dark-eyed Surandronlo.
He lighted me, no harmless beam, to glitter on his streams. Like meteors, I was bright, but I blasted the foes of Suran-dronlo——[ 178 ] View Page Image
Nor unconcerned heard Sul-malla, the praise of Cathmor of shields. He was within her soul, like a fire in secret heath, which awakes at the voice of the blast, and sends its beam abroad. Amidst the song removed the daughter of kings, like the soft sound of a summer-breeze; when it lifts the heads of flowers, and curls the lakes and streams.
By night came a dream to Ossian; without form stood the shadow of Trenmor. He seemed to strike the dim shield, on Selma’s streamy rock. I rose, in my rattling steel; I knew that war was near. Before the winds our sails were spread; when Lumon shewed its streams to the morn.
Come from the watching of night, Malvina, lonely beam!
Cath-loda; A Poem.
Duan First.[ 180 ] View Page Image
Fingal, in one of his voyages to the Orkney islands, was driven, by stress of weather, into a bay of Scandinavia, near the residence of Starno, king of Lochlin. Starno invites Fingal to a feast. Fingal, doubting the faith of the king, and mindful of his former breach of hospitality, [Fingal, b. 3.] refuses to go.——Starno gathers together his tribes: Fingal resolves to defend himself.——Night coming on, Duth-maruno proposes to Fingal, to observe the motions of the enemy.—The king himself undertakes the watch. Advancing towards the enemy, he, accidentally, comes to the cave of Turthor, where Starno had confined Conban-carglas, the captive daughter of a neighbouring chief.—Her story is imperfect, a part of the original being lost.—Fingal comes to a place of worship, where Starno and his son, Swaran, consulted the spirit of Loda, concerning the issue of the war.—The rencounter of Fingal and Swaran.—The duän concludes, with a description of the airy hall of Cruth-loda supposed to be the Odin of Scandinavia.[ 181 ] View Page Image
Cath-loda: A Poem.
DuanDisplay note First.
A tale of the times of old!—Why, thou wanderer unseen, that bendest the thistle of Lora,—why, thou breeze of the valley, hast thou left mine ear? I hear no distant roar of streams, no sound of the harp, from the rocks! Come, thou huntress of Lutha, roll back his soul to the bard.[ 182 ] View Page Image
I look forward to Lochlin of lakes, to the dark, ridgy bay of U-thorno, where Fingal descended from Ocean, from the roar of winds. Few are the heroes of Morven, in a land unknown!—Starno sent a dweller of Loda, to bid Fingal to the feast; but the king remembered the past, and all his rage arose.
Nor Gormal’s mossy towers, nor Starno shall Fingal behold. Deaths wander, like shadows, over his fiery soul. Do I forget that beam of light, the white-handed daughterDisplay note of kings? Go, son of Loda; his words are but blasts to Fingal: blasts, that, to and fro, roll the thistle, in autumnal vales.
Duth-marunoDisplay note, arm of death! Cromma-glas, of iron shields! Struthmor, dweller of battle’s wing! Cormar, whose ships [ 183 ] View Page Imagebound on seas, careless as the course of a meteor, on dark-rolling clouds! Arise, around me, children of heroes, in a land unknown. Let each look on his shield, like Trenmor, the ruler of battles. “Come down, said the king, thou dweller between the harps. Thou shalt roll this stream away, or dwell with me in earth.”
Around him they rose in wrath.—No words came forth: they seized their spears. Each soul is rolled into itself.—At length the sudden clang is waked, on all their echoing shields.—Each took his hill, by night; at intervals, they darkly stood. Unequal bursts the hum of songs, between the roaring wind.—Broad over them rose the moon.—In his arms, came tall Duth-maruno; he from Cromacharn of rocks, stern hunter of the boar. In his dark boat he rose on waves, when CrumthormothDisplay note awaked its woods. In the chace he shone, among foes:—No fear was thine, Duth-maruno.
Son of Comhal, he said, my steps shall be forward thro’ night. From this shield I shall view them, over their gleaming tribes. Starno, of lakes, is before me, and Swaran, the foe of strangers. Their words are not in vain, by Loda’s stone of power.—If Duth-maruno returns not, his spouse is lonely, at home, where meet two roaring streams, on Crathmo-craulo’s plain. Around are hills, [ 184 ] View Page Image with their woods; the ocean is rolling near. My son looks on screaming sea-fowl, young wanderer of the field. Give the head of a boar to Can-donaDisplay note, tell him of his father’s joy, when the bristly strength of I-thorno rolled on his lifted spear.[ 185 ] View Page Image
Not forgeting my fathers, said Fingal, I have bounded over ridgy seas: theirs was the times of danger, in the days of old. Nor gathers darkness on me, before foes, tho’ I am young, in my locks.—Chief of Crathmo-craulo, the field of night is mine.
He rushed, in all his arms, wide-bounding over Turthor’s dream, that sent its sullen roar, by night, thro’ Gormal’s misty vale.—A moon-beam glittered on a rock; in the midst, stood a stately form; a form with floating locks, like Lochlin’s white-bosomed maids.—Unequal are her steps, and short: she throws a broken song on wind. At times she tosses her white arms: for grief is in her soul.
Torcul-tornoDisplay note, of aged locks! where now are thy steps, by Lulan? thou hast failed, at thine own dark streams, father of [ 186 ] View Page ImageConban-carglas! ——But I behold thee, chief of Lulan, sporting by Loda’s hall, when the dark-skirted night is rolled along the sky.
Thou, sometimes, hidest the moon, with thy shield. I have seen her dim, in heaven. Thou kindlest thy hair into meteors, and sailest along the night.—Why am I forgot, in my cave, king of shaggy boars? Look, from the hall of Loda, on lonely Conban-carglas.
"Who art thou, said Fingal, voice of night? ——She, trembling, turned away. “Who art thou, in thy darkness?" ——She shrunk into the cave.——The king loosed the thong from her hands; he asked about her fathers.
Torcul-torno, she said, once dwelt at Lulan’s foamy stream: he dwelt——but, now, in Loda’s hall, he shakes the sounding shell. He met Starno of Lochlin, in battle; long fought the dark-eyed kings. My father fell, at length, blue-shielded Torcul-torno.
By a rock, at Lulan’s stream, I had pierced the bounding roe. My white hand gathered my hair, from off the stream of winds. I heard a noise. Mine eyes were up. My soft breast rose on high. My step was forward, at Lulan, to meet thee, Torcul-torno!
It was Starno, dreadful king!——His red eyes rolled on Conban-carglas. Dark waved his shaggy brow, above his gathered smile. Where is my father, I said, he that was mighty in war? Thou are left alone among foes, daughter of Torcul-torno![ 187 ] View Page Image
He took my hand. He raised the sail. In this cave he placed me dark. At times, he comes, a gathered mist. He lifts, before me, my father’s shield. Often passes a beamDisplay note of youth, far-distant from my cave. He dwells lonely in the soul of the daughter of Torcul-torno.
Daughter of Lulan, said Fingal, white-handed Conban-carglas; a cloud, marked with streaks of fire, is rolled along the soul. Look not to that dark-robed moon; nor yet to those meteors of heaven; my gleaming steel is around thee, daughter of Torcul-torno.
It is not the steel of the feeble, nor of the dark in soul. The maids are not shut in ourDisplay note caves of streams; nor toiling their white arms alone. They bend, fair within their locks, above the harps of Selma. Their voice is not in the desart wild, young light of Torcul-torno.
Fingal, again, advanced his steps, wide thro’ the bosom of night, to where the trees of Loda shook amidst squally winds. Three stones, with heads of moss, are there; a stream, with [ 188 ] View Page Imagefoaming course; and dreadful, rolled around them, is the dark-red cloud of Loda. From its top looked forward a ghost, half-formed of the shadowy smoak. He poured his voice, at times, amidst the roaring stream.—Near, bending beneath a blasted tree, two heroes received his words: Swaran of the lakes, and Starno foe of strangers.—On their dun shields, they darkly leaned: their spears are forward in night. Shrill sounds the blast of darkness, in Starno’s floating beard.
They heard the tread of Fingal. The warriors rose in arms. “Swaran, lay that wanderer low, said Starno, in his pride. Take the shield of thy father; it is a rock in war.”—Swaran threw his gleaming spear: it stood fixed in Loda’s tree. Then came the foes forward, with swords. They mixed their rattling steel. Thro’ the thongs of Swaran’s shield rushed the bladeDisplay note of Luno. The shield fell rolling on earth. Cleft the helmetDisplay note fell down. Fingal stopt the lifted steel. Wrathful stood Swaran, unarmed. He rolled his silent eyes, and threw his sword on earth. Then, slowly stalking over the stream, he whistled as he went.
Nor unseen of his father is Swaran. Starno turned away in wrath. His shaggy brows waved dark, above his gathered rage. He struck Loda’s tree, with his spear; he raised the hum of songs.—They came to the host of Lochlin, each in his own dark path; like two foam-covered streams, from two rainy vales.[ 189 ] View Page Image
To Turthor’s plain Fingal returned. Fair rose the beam of the east. It shone on the spoils of Lochlin in the hand of the king. From her cave came forth, in her beauty, the daughter of Torcul-torno. She gathered her hair from wind; and wildly raised her song. The song of Lulan of shells, where once her father dwelt.
She saw Starno’s bloody shield. Gladness rose, a light, on her face. She saw the cleft helmet of SwaranDisplay note, she shrunk, darkened, from the king.——“Art thou fallen, by thy hundred streams, O love of Conban-carglas!——
U-thorno, that risest in waters; on whose side are the meteors of night! I behold the dark moon descending behind thy echoing woods. On thy top dwells the misty Loda, the house of the spirits of men.—In the end of his cloudy hall bends forward Cruth-loda of swords. His form is dimly seen, amidst his wavy mist. His right-hand is on his shield: in his left is the half-viewless shell. The roof of his dreadful hall is marked with nightly fires.[ 190 ] View Page Image
The race of Cruth-loda advance, a ridge of formless shades. He reaches the sounding shell, to those who shone in war; but, between him and the feeble, his shield rises, a crust of darkness. He is a setting meteor to the weak in arms.—Bright, as a rainbow on streams, came white-armed Conban-carglas.——
Cath-loda; A Poem.
Duan Second.[ 192 ] View Page Image
Fingal returning, with day, devolves the command of the army on Duth-maruno, who engages the enemy, and drives them over the stream of Turthor. Fingal, after recalling his people, congratulates Duth-maruno on his success, but discovers, that that hero was mortally wounded in the engagement.—Duth-maruno dies. Ullin, the bard, in honour of the dead, introduces the episode of Colgorm and Strina-dona, with which the duän concludes.[ 193 ] View Page Image
Cath-loda: A Poem.
Where art thou, son of the king, said dark-haired Duth-maruno? Where hast thou failed, young beam of Selma?—He returns not from the bosom of night! Morning is spread U-thorno: in his mist is the sun, on his hill.—Warriors, lift the shields, in my presence. He must not fall, like a fire from heaven, whose place is not marked on the ground.——He comes, like an eagle, from the skirt of his squally wind! In his hand are the spoils of foes.—King of Selma, our souls were sad.
Near us are the foes, Duth-maruno. They come forward, like waves in mist, when their foamy tops are seen, at times, above the low-sailing vapour.—The traveller shrinks on his journey, and knows not whither to fly.—No trembling travellers are we!—Sons [ 194 ] View Page Image of heroes call forth the steel.—Shall the sword of Fingal arise, or shall a warrior lead?
Display noteThe deeds of old, said Duth-maruno, are like paths to our eyes, O Fingal. Broad-shielded Trenmor, is still seen, amidst his own dim years. Nor feeble was the soul of the king. There, no dark deed wandered in secret.——From their hundred streams came the tribes, to grassy Colglan-crona. Their chiefs were before them. Each strove to lead the war. Their swords were often half-un-sheathed. Red rolled their eyes of rage. Separate they stood, and hummed their surly songs.——"Why should they yield to each other? their fathers were equal in war."
Trenmor was there, with his people, stately in youthful locks. He saw the advancing foe. The grief of his soul arose. He bade [ 195 ] View Page Image the chiefs to lead, by turns: they led, but they were rolled away.—From his own mossy hill, blue-shielded Trenmor came down. He led wide-skirted battle, and the strangers failed.—Around him the dark-browed warriors came: they struck the shield of joy. Like a pleasant gale, the words of power rushed forth from Selma of kings. But the chiefs led, by turns, in war, till mighty danger rose: then was the hour of the king to conquer in the field.
"Not unknown, said Cromma-glasDisplay note of shields, are the deeds of our fathers.—But who shall now lead the war, before the race of kings? Mist settles on these four dark hills: within it let each warrior strike his shield. Spirits may descend in darkness, and mark us for the war."——They went, each to his hill of mist. Bards marked the sounds of the shields. Loudest rung thy boss, Duth-maruno. Thou must lead in war.[ 196 ] View Page Image
Like the murmur of waters, the race of U-thorno came down. Starno led the battle, and Swaran of stormy isles. They looked forward from iron shields, like Cruth-loda fiery-eyed, when he looks from behind the darkened moon, and strews his signs on night.
The foes met by Turthor’s stream. They heaved like ridgy waves. Their echoing strokes are mixed. Shadowy death flies over the hosts. They were clouds of hail, with squally winds in their skirts. Their showers are roaring together. Below them swells the dark-rolling deep.
Strife of gloomy U-thorno, why should I mark thy wounds? Thou art with the years that are gone; thou fadest on my soul. Starno brought forward his skirt of war, and Swaran his own dark wing. Nor a harmless fire is Duth-maruno’s word.—Lochlin is rolled over her streams. The wrathful kings are folded in thoughts. They roll their silent eyes, over the flight of their land.—The horn of Fingal was heard; the sons of woody Albion returned. But many lay, by Turthor’s stream, silent in their blood.
Chief of Crom-charn, said the king, Duth-maruno, hunter of boars! not harmless returns my eagle, from the field of foes. For this white-bosomed Lanul shall brighten, at her streams; Candona shall rejoice, at rocky Crathmo-craulo.
ColgormDisplay note, replied the chief, was the first of my race in Albion; Colgorm, the rider of ocean, thro’ its watry vales. He slew [ 197 ] View Page Imagehis brother in I-thorno: he left the land of his fathers. He chose his place, in silence, by rocky Crathmo-craulo. His race came forth, in their years; they came forth to war, but they always fell. The wound of my fathers is mine, king of echoing isles!
He drew an arrow from his side. He fell pale, in a land unknown. His soul came forth to his fathers, to their stormy isle. There they pursued boars of mist, along the skirts of winds.——The chiefs stood silent around, as the stones of Loda, on their hill. The traveller sees them, thro’ the twilight, from his lonely path. He thinks them the ghosts of the aged, forming future wars.
Night came down, on U-thorno. Still stood the chiefs in their grief. The blast hissed, by turns, thro’ every warrior's hair.—Fingal, at length, bursted forth from the thoughts of his soul. He called Ullin of harps, and bade the song to rise.—No falling fire, that is only seen, and then retires in night; no departing meteor was Crathmo-craulo’s chief. He was like the strong-beaming sun, long rejoicing on his hill. Call the names of his fathers, from their dwellings old.
I-thornoDisplay note, said the bard, that risest midst ridgy seas! Why is thy head so gloomy, in the ocean’s mist? From thy vales came [ 198 ] View Page Imageforth a race, fearless as thy strong-winged eagles; the race of Colgorm of iron shields, dwellers of Loda’s hall.
In Tormoth’s resounding isle, arose Lurthan, streamy hill. It bent its woody head above a silent vale. There, at foamy Cruruth’s source, dwelt Rurmar, hunter of boars. His daughter was fair as a sun-beam, white-bosomed Strina-dona!
Many a king of heroes, and hero of iron shields; many a youth of heavy locks came to Rurmar’s echoing hall. They came to woo the maid, the stately huntress of Tormoth wild.—But thou lookest careless from thy steps, high-bosomed Strina-dona!
If on the heath she moved, her breast was whiter than the down of CanaDisplay note; if on the sea-beat shore, than the foam of the rolling ocean. Her eyes were two stars of light; her face was heaven’s bow in showers; her dark hair flowed round it, like the streaming clouds.—Thou wert the dweller of souls, white-handed Strina-dona![ 199 ] View Page Image
Colgorm came, in his ship, and Corcul-Suran, king of shells. The brothers came, from I-thorno, to woo the sun-beam of Tormoth’s isle. She saw them in their echoing steel. Her soul was fixed on blue-eyed Colgorm.—Ul-lochlin’sDisplay note nightly eye looked in, and saw the tossing arms of Strina-dona.
Wrathful the brothers frowned. Their flaming eyes, in silence, met. They turned away. They struck their shields. Their hands were trembling on their swords. They rushed into the strife of heroes, for long-haired Strina-dona.
Corcul-suran fell in blood. On his isle, raged the strength of his father. He turned Colgorm, from I-thorno, to wander on all the winds.—In Crathmo-craulo’s rocky field, he dwelt, by a foreign stream. Nor darkened the king alone, that beam of light was near, the daughter of echoing Tormoth, white-armed Strina-donaDisplay note[ 200 ] View Page Image
Cath-loda; A Poem.
Duan Third.[ 202 ] View Page Image
Ossian, after some reflections, describes the situation of Fingal, and the position of the army of Lochlin.—The conversation of Starno and Swaran.—The episode of Cormar-trunar and Foinar-bragal.—Starno, from his own example, recommends to Swaran, to surprize Fingal, who had retired alone to a neighbouring hill. Upon Swaran’s refusal, Starno undertakes the enterprize himself, is overcome, and taken prisoner, by Fingal.—He is dismissed, after a severe reprimand for his cruelty.[ 203 ] View Page Image
Cath-loda: A Poem.
Whence is the stream of years? Whither do they roll along? Where have they hid, in mist, their many-coloured sides? I look into the times of old, but they seem dim to Ossian’s eyes, like reflected moon-beams, on a distant lake. Here rise the red beams of war!—There, silent, dwells a feeble race! They mark no years with their deeds, as slow they pass along.—Dweller between the shields; thou that awakest the failing soul, descend from thy wall, harp of Cona, with thy voices three! Come with that which kindles the past: rear the forms of old, on their own dark-brown years!
Display noteUthorno, hill of storms, I behold my race on thy side. Fingal is bending, in night, over Duth-maruno’s tomb. Near [ 204 ] View Page Image him are the steps of his heroes, hunters of the boar.—By Turthor’s stream the host of Lochlin is deep in shades. The wrathful kings stood on two hills; they looked forward from their bossy shields. They looked forward on the stars of night, red-wandering in the west. Cruth-loda bends from high, like a formless meteor in clouds. He sends abroad the winds, and marks them, with his signs. Starno foresaw, that Morven’s king was never to yield in war.
He twice struck the tree in wrath. He rushed before his son. He hummed a surly song; and heard his hair in wind. Turned Display note [ 205 ] View Page Imagefrom one another, they stood, like two oaks, which different winds had bent; each hangs over its own loud rill, and shakes its boughs in the course of blasts.
Annir, said Starno of lakes, was a fire that consumed of old. He poured death from his eyes, along the striving fields. His joy was in the fall of men. Blood, to him, was a summer stream, that brings joy to withered vales, from its own mossy rock.—He came forth to the lake Luth-cormo, to meet the tall Corman-trunar, he from Urlor of streams, dweller of battle’s wing.
The chief of Urlor had come to Gormal, with his dark-bosomed ships; he saw the daughter of Annir, white-armed Foinar-bragal. He saw her: nor careless rolled her eyes, on the rider of stormy waves. She fled to his ship in darkness, like a moon-beam thro’ a nightly vale.—Annir pursued along the deep; he called the winds of heaven.—Nor alone was the king; Starno was by his side. Like U-thorno’s young eagle, I turned my eyes on my father.
We came to roaring Urlor. With his people came tall Corman-trunar. We fought; but the foe prevailed. In his wrath stood Annir of lakes. He lopped the young trees, with his sword. His eyes rolled red in his rage. I marked the soul of the king, and I retired in night.——From the field I took a broken helmet: a shield that was pierced with steel: pointless was the spear in my hand. I went to find the foe.[ 206 ] View Page Image
On a rock sat tall Corman-trunar, beside his burning oak; and, near him, beneath a tree, sat deep-bosomed Foinar-bragal. I threw my broken shield before her; and spoke the words of peace.—Beside his rolling sea, lies Annir of many lakes. The king was pierced in battle; and Starno is to raise his tomb. Me, a son of Loda, he sends to white-handed Foinar-bragal, to bid her send a lock from her hair, to rest with her father, in earth.—And thou king of roaring Urlor, let the battle cease, till Annir receive the shell, from fiery-eyed Cruth-loda.
Display noteBursting into tears, she rose, and tore a lock from her hair; a lock, which wandered, in the blast, along her heaving breast.—Corman-trunar gave the shell; and bade me to rejoice before him.—I rested in the shade of night; and hid my face in my helmet deep.—Sleep descended on the foe. I rose, like a stalking ghost. I pierced the side of Corman-trunar. Nor did Foinar-bragal escape. She rolled her white bosom in blood. Why then, daughter of heroes, didst thou wake my rage?—Morning rose. The foe were fled, like the departure of mist. Annir struck his bossy shield. He called his dark-haired son. I came, streaked with wandering blood: thrice rose the shout of the king, like the bursting forth of a squall of wind, from a cloud, by night.—We rejoiced, three days, above the dead, and called the hawks of heaven. They came, from all their winds, to feast on Annir’s foes.—Swaran!— [ 207 ] View Page ImageFingal is aloneDisplay note, on his hill of night. Let thy spear pierce the king in secret; like Annir, my soul shall rejoice.
Son of Annir of Gormal, Swaran shall not stay in shades. I move forth in light: the hawks rush from all their winds. They are wont to trace my course: it is not harmless thro’ war.
Burning rose the rage of the king. He thrice raised his gleaming spear. But, starting, he spared his son; and rushed into the night.—By Turthor’s stream a cave is dark, the dwelling of Conban-carglas. There he laid the helmet of kings, and called the maid of Lulan, but she was distant far, in Loda’s resounding hall.
Swelling in his rage, he strode, to where Fingal lay alone. The king was laid on his shield, on his own secret hill.—Stern hunter of shaggy boars, no feeble maid is laid before thee; no boy, on his ferny bed, by Turthor’s murmuring stream. Here is spread the couch of the mighty, from which they rise to deeds of death. Hunter of shaggy boars awaken not the terrible.
Starno came murmuring on. Fingal arose in arms. “Who art thou, son of night?” Silent he threw the spear. They mixed their gloomy strife. The shield of Starno fell, cleft in twain. He is bound to an oak. The early beam arose.—Then Fingal beheld the king of Gormal. He rolled a while his silent eyes. He thought [ 208 ] View Page Image of other days, when white-bosomed Agandecca moved like the music of songs.—He loosed the thong from his hands.—Son of Annir, he said, retire. Retire to Gormal of shells; a beam that was set returns. I remember thy white-bosomed daughter;——dreadful king away!——Go to thy troubled dwelling, cloudy foe of the lovely! Let the stranger shun thee, thou gloomy in the hall!
A tale of the times of old!
Oina-morul: A Poem.
After an address to Malvina, the daughter of Toscar, Ossian proceeds to relate his own expedition to Fuärfed, an island of Scandinavia.—Mal-orchol, king of Fuärfed, being hard pressed in war, by Ton-thormod, chief of Sar-dronlo, (who had demanded, in vain, the daughter of Mal-orchol in marriage) Fingal sent Ossian to his aid.——Ossian, on the day after his arrival, came to battle with Ton-thormod, and took him prisoner.—Mal-orchol offers his daughter Oina-morul to Ossian; but he, discovering her passion for Ton-thormod, generously surrenders her to her lover, and brings about a reconciliation between the two kings.
Oina-morul: A Poem.
As flies the unconstant sun, over Larmon's grassy hill; so pass the tales of old, along my soul, by night. When bards are removed to their place; when harps are hung in Selma's hall; then comes a voice to Ossian, and awakes his soul. It is the voice of years that are gone: they roll before me, with all their deeds. I seize the tales, as they pass, and pour them forth in song. Nor a troubled stream is the song of the king, it is like the rising of music from Lutha of the strings.—Lutha of many strings, not silent are thy streamy rocks, when the white hands of Malvina move upon the harp.—Light of the shadowy thoughts, that fly across my soul, daughter of Toscar of helmets, wilt thou not hear the song! We call back, maid of Lutha, the years that have rolled away.
It was in the days of the king, while yet my locks were young, that I marked Con-cathlinDisplay note, on high, from ocean's nightly wave. [ 212 ] View Page Image My course was towards the isle of Fuärfed, woody dweller of seas. Fingal had sent me to the aid of Mal-orchol, king of Fuärfed wild: for war was around him, and our fathers had met, at the feast.
In Col-coiled, I bound my sails, and sent my sword to Mal-orchol of shells. He knew the signal of Albion, and his joy arose. He came from his own high hall, and seized my hand in grief. “Why comes the race of heroes to a falling king? Ton-thormod of many spears is the chief of wavy Sar-dronlo. He saw and loved my daughter, white-bosomed Oina-morul. He sought; I denied the maid; for our fathers had been foes.—He came, with battle, to Fuärfed; my people are rolled away.—Why comes the race of heroes to a falling king?”
I come not, I said, to look, like a boy, on the strife. Fingal remembers Mal-orchol, and his hall for strangers. From his waves, the warrior descended, on thy woody isle. Thou wert no cloud before him. Thy feast was spread with songs. For this my sword shall rise; and thy foes perhaps may fail.—Our friends are not forgot in their danger, tho' distant is our land.
Son of the daring Trenmor, thy words are like the voice of Cruth-loda, when he speaks, from his parting cloud, strong dweller [ 213 ] View Page Image of the sky! Many have rejoiced at my feast; but they all have forgot Mal-orchol. I have looked towards all the winds; but no white sails were seen.—But steelDisplay note resounds in my hall; and not the joyful shells.—Come to my dwelling, race of heroes; dark-skirted night is near. Hear the voice of songs, from the maid of Fuärfed wild.
We went. On the harp arose the white hands of Oina-morul. She waked her own sad tale, from every trembling string. I stood in silence; for bright in her locks was the daughter of many isles. Her eyes were like two stars, looking forward thro' a rushing shower. The mariner marks them on high, and blesses the lovely beams.—With morning we rushed to battle, to Tormul's resounding stream: the foe moved to the sound of Ton-thormod's bossy shield. From wing to wing the strife was mixed. I met the chief of Sar-dronlo. Wide flew his broken steel. I seized the king in fight. I gave his hand, bound fast with thongs, to Mal-orchol, the giver of shells. Joy rose at the feast of Fuärfed, for the foe had failed.——Ton-thormod turned his face away, from Oina-morul of isles.[ 214 ] View Page Image
Son of Fingal, begun Mal-orchol, not forgot shalt thou pass from me. A light shall dwell in thy ship, Oina-morul of slow-rolling eyes. She shall kindle gladness, along thy mighty soul. Nor unheeded shall the maid move in Selma, thro' the dwelling of kings.
In the hall I lay in night. Mine eyes were half-closed in sleep. Soft music came to mine ear: it was like the rising breeze, that whirls, at first, the thistle's beard; then flies, dark-shadowy, over the grass. It was the maid of Fuärfed wild: she raised the nightly song; for she knew that my soul was a stream, that flowed at pleasant sounds.
Who looks, she said, from his rock, on ocean's closing mist? His long locks, like the raven's wing, are wandering on the blast. Stately are his steps in grief. The tears are in his eyes. His manly breast is heaving over his bursting soul.—Retire, I am distant far; a wanderer in lands unknown. Tho' the race of kings are around me, yet my soul is dark.—Why have our fathers been foes, Ton-thormod love of maids!
Soft voice of the streamy isle, why dost thou mourn by night? The race of daring Trenmor are not the dark in soul. Thou shalt not wander, by streams unknown, blue-eyed Oina-morul.—Within this bosom is a voice; it comes not to other ears: it bids Ossian hear the hapless, in their hour of woe.——Retire, soft singer by night; Ton-thormod shall not mourn on his rock.
With morning I loosed the king. I gave the long-haired maid. Mal-orchol heard my words, in the midst of his echoing halls.——"King of Fuärfed wild, why should Ton-thormod [ 215 ] View Page Image mourn? He is of the race of heroes, and a flame in war. Your fathers have been foes, but now their dim ghosts rejoice in death. They stretch their arms of mist to the same shell in Loda. Forget their rage, ye warriors, it was the cloud of other years.”——
Such were the deeds of Ossian, while yet his locks were young: tho' loveliness, with a robe of beams, clothed the daughter of many isles.—We call back, maid of Lutha, the years that have rolled away!
Colna-dona: A Poem.
Fingal dispatches Ossian and Toscar to raise a stone, on the banks of the stream of Crona, to perpetuate the memory of a victory, which he had obtained in that place. When they were employed in that work, Car-ul, a neighbouring chief, invited them to a feast.—They went: and Toscar fell desperately in love with Colna-dona, the daughter of Car-ul. Colna-dona became no less enamoured of Toscar. An incident, at a hunting party, brings their loves to a happy issue.
Colna-dona: A Poem.
Display noteCol-amon of troubled streams, dark wanderer of distant vales, I behold thy course, between trees, near Car-ul's echoing halls. There dwelt bright Colna-dona, the daughter of the king. Her eyes were rolling stars; her arms were white as the foam of streams. Her breast rose slowly to sight, like ocean's heaving wave. Her soul was a stream of light.—Who, among the maids, was like the love of heroes?[ 220 ] View Page Image
Beneath the voice of the king, we moved to CronaDisplay note of the streams, Toscar of grassy Lutha, and Ossian, young in fields. Three bards attended with songs. Three bossy shields were born before us: for we were to rear the stone, in memory of the past. By Crona's mossy course, Fingal had scattered his foes: he had rolled away the strangers, like a troubled sea. We came to the place of renown: from the mountains descended night. I tore an oak from its hill, and raised a flame on high. I bade my fathers to look down, from the clouds of their hall; for, at the fame of their race, they brighten in the wind.
I took a stone from the stream, amidst the song of bards. The blood of Fingal's foes hung curdled in its ooze. Beneath, I placed, at intervals, three bosses from the shields of foes, as rose or fell the sound of Ullin's nightly song. Toscar laid a dagger in earth, a mail of sounding steel. We raised the mould around the stone, and bade it speak to other years.
Oozy daughter of streams, that now art reared on high, speak to the feeble, O stone, after Selma's race have failed!—Prone, from the stormy night, the traveller shall lay him, by thy side: thy whirling moss shall sound in his dreams; the years that were past [ 221 ] View Page Image shall return.—Battles rise before him, blue-shielded kings descend to war: the darkened moon looks from heaven, on the troubled field.—He shall burst, with morning, from dreams, and see the tombs of warriors round. He shall ask about the stone, and the aged shall reply, “This grey stone was raised by Ossian, a chief of other years!”
Display noteFrom Col-amon came a bard, from Car-ul, the friend of strangers. He bade us to the feast of kings, to the dwelling of bright Colna-dona. We went to the hall of harps. There Car-ul brightened between his aged locks, when he beheld the sons of his friends, like two young trees before him.
Sons of the mighty, he said, ye bring back the days of old, when first I descended from waves, on Selma's streamy vale. I pursued Duth-mocarglos, dweller of ocean's wind. Our fathers had been foes, we met by Clutha's winding waters. He fled, along the sea, and my sails were spread behind him.—Night deceived me, on the deep. I came to the dwelling of kings, to [ 222 ] View Page Image Selma of high-bosomed maids.—Fingal came forth with his bards, and Conloch, arm of death. I feasted three days in the hall, and saw the blue-eyes of Erin, Ros-crana, daughter of heroes, light of Cormac's race.—Nor forgot did my steps depart: the kings gave their shields to Car-ul: they hang, on high, in Col-amon, in memory of the past.—Sons of the daring kings, ye bring back the days of old.
Car-ul placed the oak of feasts. He took two bosses from our shields. He laid them in earth, beneath a stone, to speak to the hero's race. “When battle, said the king, shall roar, and our sons are to meet in wrath. My race shall look, perhaps, on this stone, when they prepare the spear.—Have not our fathers met in peace, they will say, and lay aside the shield?”
Night came down. In her long locks moved the daughter of Car-ul. Mixed with the harp arose the voice of white-armed Colna-dona.—Toscar darkened in his place, before the love of heroes. She came on his troubled soul, like a beam to the dark-heaving ocean: when it bursts from a cloud, and brightens the foamy side of a waveDisplay note.
With morning we awaked the woods; and hung forward on the path of the roes. They fell by their wonted streams. We returned thro' Crona's vale. From the wood a youth came forward, with a shield and pointless spear. “Whence, said Toscar [ 223 ] View Page Image of Lutha, is the flying beam? Dwells there peace at Col-amon, round bright Colna-dona of harps?”
By Col-amon of streams, said the youth, bright Colna-dona dwelt. She dwelt; but her course is now in desarts, with the son of the king; he that seized her soul as it wandered thro' the hall.
Stranger of tales, said Toscar, hast thou marked the warrior's course? He must fall,—give thou that bossy shield!—In wrath he took the shield. Fair behind it rose the breasts of a maid, white as the bosom of a swan, trembling on swift-rolling waves. It was Colna-dona of harps, the daughter of the king.—Her blue eyes had rolled on Toscar, and her love arose.
A Specimen of the Original of Temora.
It is thought proper to give a specimen of the original Galic, for the satisfaction of those who doubt the authenticity of Ossian's poems. The seventh book of Temora is fixed on, for that purpose, not from any other superior merit, than the variety of its versification. To print any part of the former collection was unnecessary, as a copy of the originals lay, for many months, in the bookseller's hands, for the inspection of the curious. Tho' the erroneous orthography of the bards is departed from, in many instances, in the following specimen, yet several quiescent consonants are retained, to shew the derivation of the words. This circumstance may give an uncouth appearance to the language, in the eyes of those who are strangers to its harmony. They ought, however, to consider, that a language is put to the severest test, when it is stripped of its own proper characters; especially, when the power of one of them requires, sometimes, a combination of two or three Roman letters to express it.