Fingal, An Ancient Epic Poem. Book II.[ 30 ] View Page Image
ARGUMENT to Book II.
The ghost of Crugal, one of the Irish heroes who was killed in battle, appearing to Connal, foretels the defeat of Cuchullin in the next battle; and earnestly advises him to make peace with Swaran. Connal communicates the vision; but Cuchullin is inflexible; from a principle of honour he would not be the first to sue for peace, and he resolved to continue the war. Morning comes; Swaran proposes dishonourable terms to Cuchullin, which are rejected. The battle begins, and is obstinately fought for some time, until, upon the flight of Grumal, the whole Irish army gave way. Cuchullin and Connal cover their retreat: Carril leads them to a neighbouring hill, whither they are soon followed by Cuchullin himself, who descries the fleet of Fingal making towards the coast; but, night coming on, he lost sight of it again. Cuchullin, dejected after his defeat, attributes his ill success to the death of Ferda his friend, whom he had killed some time before. Carril, to shew that ill success did not always attend those who innocently killed their friends, introduces the episode of Comal and Galvina.[ 31 ] View Page Image
Fingal, An Ancient Epic Poem. In Six Books.
ConallDisplay note lay by the sound of the mountain stream, beneath the aged tree. A stone, with its moss, supported his head. Shrill [ 32 ] View Page Imagethro' the heath of Lena, he heard the voice of night. At distance from the heroes he lay, for the son of the sword feared no foe.
My hero saw in his rest a dark-red stream of fire coming down from the hill. Crugal sat upon the beam, a chief that lately fell. He fell by the hand of Swaran, striving in the battle of heroes. His face is like the beam of the setting moon; his robes are of the clouds of the hill: his eyes are like two decaying flames. Dark is the wound of his breast.
Crugal, said the mighty Connal, son of Dedgal famed on the hill of deer. Why so pale and sad, thou breaker of the shields? [ 33 ] View Page ImageThou hast never been pale for fear.——What disturbs the son of the hill?
Dim, and in tears, he stood and stretched his pale hand over the hero.——Faintly he raised his feeble voice, like the gale of the reedy Lego.
My ghost, O Connal, is on my native hills; but my corse is on the sands of Ullin. Thou shalt never talk with Crugal, or find his lone steps in the heath. I am light as the blast of Cromla, and I move like the shadow of mist. Connal, son of Colgar,Display note I see the dark cloud of death: it hovers over the plains of Lena. The sons of green Erin shall fall. Remove from the field of ghosts.——Like the darkened moonDisplay note he retired, in the midst of the whistling blast.
Stay, said the mighty Connal, stay my dark-red friend. Lay by that beam of heaven, son of the windy Cromla. What cave of the hill is thy lonely house? What green-headed [ 34 ] View Page Image hill is the place of thy rest? Shall we not hear thee in the storm? In the noise of the mountain-stream? When the feeble sons of the wind come forth, and ride on the blast of the desart.
The soft-voiced Connal rose in the midst of his sounding arms. He struck his shield above Cuchullin. The son of battle waked.
Why, said the ruler of the car, comes Connal through my night? My spear might turn against the sound; and Cuchullin mourn the death of his friend. Speak, Connal, son of Colgar, speak, thy counsel is like the son of heaven.
Son of Semo, replied the chief, the ghost of Crugal came from the cave of his hill.——The stars dim-twinkled through his form; and his voice was like the sound of a distant stream.——He is a messenger of death.——He speaks of the dark and narrow house. Sue for peace, O chief of Dunscaich; or fly over the heath of Lena.
He spoke to Connal, replied the hero, though stars dim-twinkled through his form. Son of Colgar, it was the wind that murmured in the caves of Lena.——Or if it was the formDisplay note of [ 35 ] View Page Image Crugal, why didst thou not force him to my sight. Hast thou enquired where is his cave? The house of the son of the wind? My sword might find that voice, and force his knowledge from him. And small is his knowledge, Connal, for he was here to day. He could not have gone beyond our hills, and who could tell him there of our death?
Ghosts fly on clouds and ride on winds, said Connal's voice of wisdom. They rest together in their caves, and talk of mortal men.
Then let them talk of mortal men; of every man but Erin's chief. Let me be forgot in their caves; for I will not fly from Swaran.——If I must fall, my tomb shall rise amidst the fame of future times. The hunter shall shed a tear on my stone; and sorrow dwell round the high-bosomed Bragéla. I fear not death, but I fear to fly, for Fingal saw me often victorious. Thou dim phantom of the hill, shew thyself to me! come on thy beam of heaven, and shew me my death in thine hand, yet will I not fly, thou feeble son of the wind. Go, son of Colgar, strike the shield of Caithbat, it hangs between [ 36 ] View Page Image the spears. Let my heroes rise to the sound in the midst of the battles of Erin. Though Fingal delays his coming with the race of the stormy hills; we shall fight, O Colgar's son, and die in the battle of heroes.
The sound spreads wide; the heroes rise, like the breaking of a blue-rolling wave. They stood on the heath, like oaks with all their branches round themDisplay note; when they eccho to the stream of frost, and their withered leaves rustle to the wind.
High Cromla's head of clouds is gray; the morning trembles on the half-enlightened ocean. The blue, gray mist swims slowly by, and hides the sons of Inis-fail.
Rise ye, said the king of the dark-brown shields, ye that came from Lochlin's waves. The sons of Erin have fled from our arms——pursue them over the plains of Lena.——And, Morla, go to Cormac's hall and bid them yield to Swaran; before the people shall fall into the tomb; and the hills of Ullin be silent.——They rose like a flock of sea-fowl when the waves expel them from the shore. Their sound [ 37 ] View Page Image was like a thousand streams that meet in Cona's vale, when after a stormy night, they turn their dark eddies beneath the pale light of the morning.
As the dark shades of autumn fly over the hills of grass; so gloomy, dark, successive came the chiefs of Lochlin's echoing woods. Tall as the stag of Morven moved on the king of groves. His shining shield is on his side like a flame on the heath at night. When the world is silent and dark, and the traveller sees some ghost sporting in the beam.
A blast from the troubled ocean removed the settled mist. The sons of Inisfail appear like a ridge of rocks on the shore.
Go, Morla, go, said Lochlin's king, and offer peace to these. Offer the terms we give to kings when nations bow before us. When the valiant are dead in war, and the virgins weeping on the field.
Great Morla came, the son of Swart, and stately strode the king of shields. He spoke to Erin's blue-eyed son, among the lesser heroes.
Take Swaran's peace, the warrior spoke, the peace he gives to kings when the nations bow before him. Leave Ullin's lovely plains to us, and give thy spouse and day. Thy spouse high-bosom'd, heaving fair. Thy dog that [ 38 ] View Page Image overtakes the wind. Give these to prove the weakness of thine arm, and live beneath our power.
Tell Swaran, tell that heart of pride, that Cuchullin never yields.——I give him the dark-blue rolling of ocean, or I give his people graves in Erin! Never shall a stranger have the lovely sun-beam of Dunscaich; or ever deer fly on Lochlin's hills before the nimble-footed Luäth.
Vain ruler of the car, said Morla, wilt thou fight the king; that king whose ships of many groves could carry off thine Isle? So little is thy green-hilled Ullin to the king of stormy waves.
In words I yield to many, Morla; but this sword shall yield to none. Erin shall own the sway of Cormac, while Connal and Cuchullin live. O Connal, first of mighty men, thou hast heard the words of Morla; shall thy thoughts then be of peace, thou breaker of the shields? Spirit of fallen Crugal! why didst thou threaten us with death? Thy narrow house shall receive me in the midst of the light of renown.——Exalt, ye sons of Inisfail, exalt the spear and bend the bow; rush on the foe in darkness, as the spirits of stormy nights.[ 39 ] View Page Image
Then dismal, roaring, fierce, and deep the gloom of battle rolled along; as mistDisplay note that is poured on the valley, when storms invade the silent sun-shine of heaven. The chief moves before in arms, like an angry ghost before a cloud; when meteors inclose him with fire; and the dark winds are in his hand.——Carril, far on the heath, bids the horn of battle sound. He raises the voice of the song, and pours his soul into the minds of heroes.
Where, said the mouth of the song, where is the fallen Crugal? He lies forgot on earth, and the hall of shellsDisplay note is silent.——Sad is the spouse of Crugal, for she is a strangerDisplay note in the hall of her sorrow. But who is she, that, like a sun-beam, flies before the ranks of the foe? It is DegrenaDisplay note, lovely fair, the spouse of fallen Crugal. Her hair is on the wind behind. Her [ 40 ] View Page Image eye is red; her voice is shrill. Green, empty is thy Crugal now, his form is in the cave of the hill. He comes to the ear of rest, and raises his feeble voice; like the humming of the mountain-bee, or collected flies of evening. But Degrena falls like a cloud of the morn; the sword of Lochlin is in her side. Cairbar, she is fallen, the rising thought of thy youth. She is fallen, O Cairbar, the thought of thy youthful hours.
Fierce Cairbar heard the mournful sound, and rushed on like ocean's whale; he saw the death of his daughter; and roared in the midst of thousandsDisplay note. His spear met a son of Lochlin, and battle spread from wing to wing. As a hundred winds in Lochlin's groves, as fire in the firs of a hundred hills; so loud, so ruinous and vast the ranks of men are hewn down.——Cuchullin cut off heroes like thistles, and Swaran wasted Erin. Curach fell by his hand, and Cairbar of the bossy shield. Morglan lies in lasting rest; and Ca-olt trembles as he dies. His white breast is stained with his blood; and his yellow hair stretched in the dust of his native land. He often had spread the feast where he fell; and often raised the voice of the harp: [ 41 ] View Page Image when his dogs leapt around for joy; and the youths of the chace prepared the bow.
Still Swaran advanced, as a stream that bursts from the desart. The little hills are rolled in its course; and the rocks half-sunk by its side.
But Cuchullin stood before him like a hillDisplay note, that catches the clouds of heaven.——The winds contend on its head of pines; and the hail rattles on its rocks. But, firm in its strength, it stands and shades the silent vale of Cona.
So Cuchullin shaded the sons of Erin, and stood in the midst of thousands. Blood rises like the fount of a rock, from panting heroes around him. But Erin falls on either wing like snow in the day of the sun.[ 42 ] View Page Image
O sons of Inisfail, said Grumal, Lochlin conquers on the field. Why strive we as reeds against the wind? Fly to the hill of dark-brown hinds. He fled like the stag of Morven, and his spear is a trembling beam of light behind him. Few fled with Grumal, the chief of the little soul: they fell in the battle of heroes on Lena's echoing heath.
High on his car, of many gems, the chief of Erin stood; he slew a mighty son of Lochlin, and spoke, in haste, to Connal. O Connal, first of mortal men, thou hast taught this arm of death! Though Erin's sons have fled, shall we not fight the foe? O Carril, son of other times, carry my living friends to that bushy hill.——Here, Connal, let us stand like rocks, and save our flying friends.
Connal mounts the car of light. They stretch their shields like the darkened moon, the daughter of the starry skies, when she moves, a dun circle, through heaven. Sithfadda panted up the hill, and Stronnal haughty steed. Like waves behind a whale behind them rushed the foe.
Now on the rising side of Cromla stood Erin's few sad sons; like a grove through which the flame had rushed hurried on by the winds of the stormy night.——Cuchullin stood beside an [ 43 ] View Page Image oak. He rolled his red eye in silence, and heard the wind in his bushy hair; when the scout of ocean came, Moran the son of Fithil.——The ships, he cried, the ships of the lonely isle! There Fingal comes the first of men, the breaker of the shields. The waves foam before his black prows. His masts with sails are like groves in clouds.
Blow, said Cuchullin, all ye winds that rush over my isle of lovely mist. Come to the death of thousands, O chief of the hills of hinds. Thy sails, my friend, are to me like the clouds of the morning; and thy ships like the light of heaven; and thou thyself like a pillar of fire that giveth light in the night. O Connal, first of men, how pleasant are our friends! But the night is gathering around; where now are the ships of Fingal? Here let us pass the hours of darkness, and wish for the moon of heaven.
The winds came down on the woods. The torrents rushed from the rocks. Rain gathered round the head of Cromla. And the red stars trembled between the flying clouds. Sad, by the side of a stream whose sound was ecchoed by a tree, sad by the side of a stream the chief of Erin sat. Connal son of Colgar was there, and Carril of other times.[ 44 ] View Page Image
Unhappy is the hand of Cuchullin, said the son of Semo, unhappy is the hand of Cuchullin since he slew his friend.——Ferda, thou son of Damman, I loved thee as myself.
How, Cuchullin, son of Semo, fell the breaker of the shields? Well I remember, said Connal, the noble son of Damman. Tall and fair he was like the rain-bow of the hill.
Ferda from Albion came, the chief of a hundred hills. In Muri'sDisplay note hall he learned the sword, and won the friendship of Cuchullin. We moved to the chace together; and one was our bed in the heath.
Deugala was the spouse of Cairbar, chief of the plains of Ullin. She was covered with the light of beauty, but her heart was the house of pride. She loved that sun-beam of youth, the noble son of Damman. Cairbar, said the white-armed woman, give me half of the herd. No more I will remain in your halls. Divide the herd, dark Cairbar.[ 45 ] View Page Image
Let Cuchullin, said Cairbar, divide my herd on the hill. His breast is the seat of justice. Depart, thou light of beauty.——I went and divided the herd. One snow-white bull remained. I gave that bull to Cairbar. The wrath of Deugala rose.
Son of Damman, begun the fair, Cuchullin pains my soul. I must hear of his death, or Lubar's stream shall roll over me. My pale ghost shall wander near thee, and mourn the wound of my pride. Pour out the blood of Cuchullin or pierce this heaving breast.
Deugala, said the fair-haired youth, how shall I slay the son of Semo? He is the friend of my secret thoughts, and shall I lift the sword? She wept three days before him, on the fourth he consented to fight.
I will fight my friend, Deugala! but may I fall by his sword. Could I wander on the hill and behold the grave of Cuchullin? We fought on the hills of Muri. Our swords avoid a wound. They slide on the helmets of steel; and sound on the slippery shields. Deugala was near with a smile, and said to the son of Damman, thine arm is feeble, thou son-beam of youth. Thy years are not strong for steel.——Yield to the son of Semo. He is like the rock of Malmor.[ 46 ] View Page Image
The tear is in the eye of youth. He faultering said to me, Cuchullin, raise thy bossy shield. Defend thee from the hand of thy friend. My soul is laden with grief: for I must slay the chief of men.
I sighed as the wind in the chink of a rock. I lifted high the edge of my steel. The sun-beam of the battle fell; the first of Cuchullin's friends.——
Unhappy is the hand of Cuchullin since the hero fell.
Mournful is thy tale, son of the car, said Carril of other times. It sends my soul back to the ages of old, and to the days of other years.——Often have I heard of Comal who slew the friend he loved; yet victory attended his steel; and the battle was consumed in his presence.
Comal was a son of Albion; the chief of an hundred hills. His deer drunk of a thousand streams. A thousand rocks replied to the voice of his dogs. His face was the mildness of youth. His hand the death of heroes. One was his love, and fair was she! the daughter of mighty Conloch. She appeared like a sun-beam among women. And her hair was like the wing of the raven. Her dogs were taught to the chace. Her bow-string sounded on the winds of the forest. Her soul was fixed on Comal. Often [ 47 ] View Page Image met their eyes of love. Their course in the chace was one, and happy were their words in secret.——But Gormal loved the maid, the dark chief of the gloomy Ardven. He watched her lone steps in the heath; the foe of unhappy Comal.
One day, tired of the chace, when the mist had concealed their friends, Comal and the daughter of Conloch met in the cave of RonanDisplay note. It was the wonted haunt of Comal. Its sides were hung with his arms. A hundred shields of thongs were there; a hundred helms of sounding steel.
Rest here, he said, my love Galvina; thou light of the cave of Ronan. A deer appears on Mora's brow. I go but I will soon return. I fear, she said, dark Grumal my foe; he haunts the cave of Ronan. I will rest among the arms; but soon return, my love.[ 48 ] View Page Image
He went to the deer of Mora. The daughter of Conloch would try his love. She cloathed her white sides with his armour, and strode from the cave of Ronan. He thought it was his foe. His heart beat high. His colour changed, and darkness dimmed his eyes. He drew the bow. The arrow flew. Galvina fell in blood. He run with wildness in his steps and called the daughter of Conloch. No answer in the lonely rock. Where are thou, O my love! He saw, at length, her heaving heart beating around the feathered dart. O Conloch's daughter, is it thou? He sunk upon her breast.
The hunters found the hapless pair; he afterwards walked the hill. But many and silent were his steps round the dark dwelling of his love. The fleet of the ocean came. He fought, the strangers fled. He searched for his death over the field. But who could kill the mighty Comal! He threw away his dark-brown shield. An arrow found his manly breast. He sleeps with his loved Galvina at the noise of the sounding surge. Their green tombs are seen by the mariner, when he bounds on the waves of the north.