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Cath-loda; A Poem.

Duan First.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.——

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Cath-loda; A Poem.

Duan Second.

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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.

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Cath-loda: A Poem.

Duan Second.

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.

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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!

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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

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Cath-loda; A Poem.

Duan Third.

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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.

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Cath-loda: A Poem.

Duan Third.

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.

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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!