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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.——