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Argument to Book I.

Cuchullin, (general of the Irish tribes, in the minority of Cormac, king of Ireland) sitting alone beneath a tree, at the gate of Tura, a castle of Ulster, (the other chiefs having gone on a hunting party to Cromla, a neighbouring hill) is informed of the landing of Swaran, king of Lochlin, by Moran, the son of Fithil, one of his scouts. He convenes the chiefs; a council is held, and disputes run high about giving battle to the enemy. Connal, the petty king of Togorma, and an intimate friend of Cuchullin, was for retreating till Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabited the north-west coast of Scotland, whose aid had been previously sollicited, should arrive, but Calmar, the son of Matha, lord of Lara, a country in Connaught, was for engaging the enemy immediately.—Cuchullin, of himself willing to fight, went into the opinion of Calmar. Marching towards the enemy, he missed three of his bravest heroes, Fergus, Duchomar, and Caithbat. Fergus arriving, tells Cuchullin of the death of the two other chiefs; which introduces the affecting episode of Morna, the daughter of Cormac—The army of Cuchullin is descried at a distance by Swaran, who sent the son of Arno to observe the motions of the enemy, while he himself ranged his forces in order of battle.——The son of Arno returning to Swaran, describes to him Cuchullin's chariot, and the terrible appearance of that hero. The armies engage, but night coming on, leaves the victory undecided. Cuchullin, according to the hospitality of the times, sends to Swaran a formal invitation to a feast, by his bard Carril, the son of Kinfena.—Swaran refuses to come. Carril relates to Cuchullin the story of Grudar and Brassolis. A party, by Connal's advice, is sent to observe the enemy; which closes the action of the first day.

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Fingal, An Ancient Epic Poem. In Six Books.

Book I.

CuchullinDisplay note sat by Tura's wall; by the tree of the rustling leaf.—His spear leaned against the mossy rock. His shield lay [ 4 ] View Page Image by him on the grass. As he thought of mighty CarbarDisplay note, a hero whom he slew in war; the scoutDisplay note of the ocean came, MoranDisplay note the son of Fithil.

Rise, said the youth, Cuchullin, rise; I see the ships of Swaran. Cuchullin, many are the foe: many the heroes of the dark-rolling sea.

Moran! replied the blue-eyed chief, thou ever tremblest, son of Fithil: Thy fears have much increased the foe. Perhaps it is the kingDisplay note of the lonely hills coming to aid me on green Ullin's plains.

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I saw their chief, says Moran, tall as a rock of ice. His spear is like that blasted fir. His shield like the rising moon. He sat on a rock on the shore: his dark host rolled, like clouds around him.——Many, chief of men! I said, many are our hands of war.——Well art thou named, the Mighty Man, but many mighty men are seen from Tura's windy walls.——He answered, like a wave on a rock, who in this land appears like me? Heroes stand not in my presence: they fall to earth beneath my hand. None can meet Swaran in the fight but Fingal, king of stormy hills. Once we wrestled on the heath of MalmorDisplay note, and our heels overturned the wood. Rocks fell from their place; and rivulets, changing their course, fled murmuring from our strife. Three days we renewed our strife, and heroes stood at a distance and trembled. On the fourth, Fingal says, that the king of the ocean fell; but Swaran says, he stood. Let dark Cuchullin yield to him that is strong as the storms of Malmor.

No: replied the blue-eyed chief, I will never yield to man. Dark Cuchullin will be great or dead. Go, Fithil's son, and take my spear: [ 6 ] View Page Imagestrike the sounding shield of CabaitDisplay note. It hangs at Tura's rustling gate; the sound of peace is not its voice. My heroes shall hear on the hill.

He went and struck the bossy shield. The hills and their rocks replied. The sound spread along the wood: deer start by the lake of roes. CurachDisplay note leapt from the sounding rock; and Connal of the bloody spear. Crugal'sDisplay note breast of snow beats high. The son of Favi leaves the dark-brown hind. It is the shield of war, said Ronnar, the spear of Cuchullin, said Lugar.——Son of the sea put on thy arms! Calmar lift thy sounding steel! Puno! horrid hero, rise: Cairbar from thy red tree of Cromla. Bend thy white knee, O Eth; and descend from the streams of Lena.——Ca-olt stretch thy white side as thou movest along the whirling heath of Mora: thy side that is white as the foam of the troubled sea, when the dark winds pour it on the murmuring rocks of CuthonDisplay note.

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Now I behold the chiefs in the pride of their former deeds; their souls are kindled at the battles of old, and the actions of other times. Their eyes are like flames of fire, and roll in search of the foes of the land.——Their mighty hands are on their swords; and lightning pours from their sides of steel.——They came like streams from the mountains; each rushed roaring from his hill. Bright are the chiefs of battle in the armour of their fathers.——Gloomy and dark their heroes followed, like the gathering of the rainy clouds behind the red meteors of heaven.——The sounds of crashing arms ascend. The grey dogs howl between.——Unequally bursts the song of battle; and rocking CromlaDisplay note echoes round. On Lena's dusky heath they stood, like mistDisplay note that shades the hills of autumn: when broken and dark it settles high, and lifts its head to heaven.

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Hail, said Cuchullin, sons of the narrow vales, hail ye hunters of the deer. Another sport is drawing near: it is like the dark rolling of that wave on the coast. Shall we fight, ye sons of war! or yield green InnisfailDisplay note to Lochlin?——O ConnalDisplay note speak, thou first of men! thou breaker of the shields! thou hast often fought with Lochlin; wilt thou lift up thy father's spear?

Cuchullin! calm the chief replied, the spear of Connal is keen. It delights to shine in battle, and to mix with the blood of thousands. But tho' my hand is bent on war, my heart is for the peace of ErinDisplay note. Behold, thou first in Cormac's war, the sable fleet of Swaran. His masts are as numerous on our coast as reeds in [ 9 ] View Page Imagethe lake of Lego. His ships are like forests cloathed with mist, when the trees yield by turns to the squally wind. Many are his chiefs in battle. Connal is for peace.——Fingal would shun his arm the first of mortal men: Fingal that scatters the mighty, as stormy winds the heath; when the streams roar thro' echoing Cona: and night settles with all her clouds on the hill.

Fly, thou chief of peace, said CalmarDisplay note the son of Matha; fly, Connal, to thy silent hills, where the spear of battle never shone; pursue the dark-brown deer of Cromla: and stop with thine arrows the bounding roes of Lena. But, blue-eyed son of Semo, Cuchullin, ruler of the war, scatter thou the sons of LochlinDisplay note, and roar thro' the ranks of their pride. Let no vessel of the kingdom of Snow bound on the dark-rolling waves of Inis-toreDisplay note.

O ye dark winds of Erin rise! and roar ye whirlwinds of the heath! Amidst the tempest let me die, torn in a cloud by angry ghosts of men; amidst the tempest let Calmar die, if ever chace was sport to him so much as the battle of shields.

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Calmar! slow replied the chief, I never fled, O Matha's son. I was swift with my friends in battle, but small is the fame of Connal. The battle was won in my presence, and the valiant overcame. But, son of Semo, hear my voice, regard the ancient throne of Cormac. Give wealth and half the land for peace, till Fingal come with battle. Or, if war be thy choice, I lift the sword and spear. My joy shall be in the midst of thousands, and my soul brighten in the gloom of the fight.

To me, Cuchullin replies, pleasant is the noise of arms: pleasant as the thunder of heaven before the shower of Spring. But gather all the shining tribes that I may view the sons of war. Let them move along the heath, bright as the sun-shine before a storm; when the west wind collects the clouds and the oaks of Morven eccho along the shore.

But where are my friends in battle? The companions of my arm in danger? Where art thou, white-bosom'd Cathbat? Where is that cloud in war, DuchomarDisplay note: and hast thou left me, O FergusDisplay note! in the day of the storm? Fergus, first in our joy at the feast; son of [ 11 ] View Page ImageRossa! arm of death! comest thou like a roeDisplay note from Malmor? Like a hart from the ecchoing hills? ——Hail thou son of Rossa! what shades the soul of war?

Four stonesDisplay note, replied the chief, rise on the grave of Cathbat.——These hands have laid in earth Duchomar, that cloud in war. Cathbat, thou son of Torman, thou wert a sun-beam on the hill.——And thou, O valiant Duchomar, like the mist of marshy Lano; when it sails over the plains of autumn and brings death to the people. Morna! thou fairest of maids! calm is thy sleep in the cave of the rock. Thou hast fallen in darkness like a star, that shoots athwart the desart, when the traveller is alone, and mourns the transient beam.

Say, said Semo's blue-eyed son, say how fell the chiefs of Erin? Fell they by the sons of [ 12 ] View Page Image Lochlin, striving in the battle of heroes? Or what confines the chiefs of Cromla to the dark and narrow houseDisplay note?

Cathbat, replied the hero, fell by the sword of Duchomar at the oak of the noisy streams. Duchomar came to Tura's cave, and spoke to the lovely Morna.

MornaDisplay note, fairest among women, lovely daughter of Cormac-cairbar. Why in the circle of stones; in the cave of the rock alone? The stream murmurs hoarsely. The old tree's groan is in the wind. The lake is troubled before thee, and dark are the clouds of the sky. But thou art like snow on the heath; and thy hair like the mist of Cromla; when it curls on the rocks, and shines to the beam of the west.——Thy breasts are like two smooth rocks seen from Branno of the streams. Thy arms like two white pillars in the halls of the mighty Fingal.

From whence, the white-armed maid replied, from whence, Duchomar the most gloomy of men? Dark are thy brows and terrible. Red are thy rolling eyes. Does Swaran appear on the sea? What of the foe, Duchomar?

From the hill I return, O Morna, from the hill of the dark-brown hinds. Three have I [ 13 ] View Page Image slain with my bended yew. Three with my long bounding dogs of the chace.——Lovely daughter of Cormac, I love thee as my soul.——I have slain one stately deer for thee.——High was his branchy head; and fleet his feet of wind.

Duchomar! calm the maid replied, I love thee not, thou gloomy man.——Hard is thy heart of rock, and dark thy terrible brow. But Cathbat, thou son of TormanDisplay note, thou art the love of Morna. Thou art like a sun-beam on the hill in the day of the gloomy storm. Sawest thou the son of Torman, lovely on the hill of his hinds? Here the daughter of Cormac waits the coming of Cathbat.

And long shall Morna wait, Duchomar said, his blood is on my sword.—Long shall Morna wait for him. He fell at Branno's stream. High on Cromla I will raise his tomb, daughter of Cormac-cairbar; but fix thy love on Duchomar, his arm is strong as a storm.—

And is the son of Torman fallen? said the maid of the tearful eye. Is he fallen on his ecchoing hill; the youth with the breast of snow? he that was first in the chace of the hill; the foe of the strangers of the ocean.——Duchomar [ 14 ] View Page Image thou art darkDisplay note indeed, and cruel is thy arm to Morna. But give me that sword, my foe; I love the blood of Caithbat.

He gave the sword to her tears; but she pierced his manly breast. He fell, like the bank of a mountain-stream; stretched out his arm and said;

Daughter of Cormac-cairbar, thou hast slain Duchomar. The sword is cold in my breast: Morna, I feel it cold. Give me to MoinaDisplay note the maid; Duchomar was the dream of her night. She will raise my tomb; and the hunter shall see it and praise me. But draw the sword from my breast; Morna, the steel is cold.

She came, in all her tears, she came, and drew it from his breast. He pierced her white side with steel; and spread her fair locks on the ground. Her bursting blood sounds from her side: and her white arm is stained with red. Rolling in death she lay and Tura's cave answered to her sighs.——

Peace, said Cuchullin, to the souls of the heroes; their deeds were great in danger. Let them ride aroundDisplay note me on clouds and shew [ 15 ] View Page Image their features of war: that my soul may be strong in danger; my arm like the thunder of heaven.——But be thou on a moon-beam, O Morna, near the window of my rest; when my thoughts are of peace; and the din of arms is over.——Gather the strength of the tribes, and move to the Wars of Erin.——Attend the car of my battles; and rejoice in the noise of my course.——Place three spears by my side; and follow the bounding of my steeds; that my soul may be strong in my friends, when the battle darkens round the beams of my steel.

As rushes a streamDisplay note of foam from the dark shady steep of Cromla; when the thunder is rolling above, and dark-brown night on half the hill. So fierce, so vast, and so terrible rushed on the sons of Erin. The chief like a whale [ 16 ] View Page Image of ocean, whom all his billows follow, poured valour forth as a stream, rolling his might along the shore.

The sons of Lochlin heard the noise as the sound of a winter-stream. Swaran struck his bossy shield, and called the son of Arno. What murmur rolls along the hill like the gathered flies of evening? The sons of Innis-fail descend, or rustling winds roar in the distant wood. Such is the noise of Gormal before the white tops of my waves arise. O son of Arno, ascend the hill and view the dark face of the heath.

He went, and trembling, swift returned. His eyes rolled wildly round. His heart beat high against his side. His words were faultering, broken, slow.

Rise, son of ocean, rise chief of the dark-brown shields. I see the dark, the mountain-stream of the battle: the deep-moving strength of the sons of Erin.——The car, the car of battle comes, like the flame of death; the rapid car of Cuchullin, the noble son of Semo. It bends behind like a wave near a rock; like the golden mist of the heath. Its sides are embossed with stones, and sparkle like the sea round the [ 17 ] View Page Image boat of night. Of polished yew is its beam, and its seat of the smoothest bone. The sides are replenished with spears; and the bottom is the footstool of heroes. Before the right side of the car is seen the snorting horse. The high-maned, broad-breasted, proud, high-leaping strong steed of the hill. Loud and resounding is his hoof; the spreading of his mane above is like that stream of smoke on the heath. Bright are the sides of the steed, and his name is Sulin-Sifadda.

Before the left side of the car is seen the snorting horse. The dark-maned, high-headed, strong-hooffed, fleet, bounding son of the hill: his name is Dusronnal among the stormy sons of the sword.——A thousand thongs bind the car on high. Hard polished bits shine in a wreath of foam. Thin thongs bright-studded with gems, bend on the stately necks of the steeds.——The steeds that like wreaths of mist fly over the streamy vales. The wildness of deer is in their course, the strength of the eagle descending on her prey. Their noise is like the blast of winter on the sides of the snow-headed GormalDisplay note.

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Within the car is seen the chief; the strong stormy son of the sword; the hero's name is Cuchullin, son of Semo king of shells. His red cheek is like my polished yew. The look of his blue-rolling eye is wide beneath the dark arch of his brow. His hair flies from his head like a flame, as bending forward he wields the spear. Fly, king of ocean, fly; he comes, like a storm, along the streamy vale.

When did I fly, replied the king, from the battle of many spears? When did I fly, son of Arno, chief of the little soul? I met the storm of Gormal when the foam of my waves was high; I met the storm of the clouds and shall I fly from a hero? Were it Fingal himself my soul should not darken before him.——Rise to the battle, my thousands; pour round me like the ecchoing main. Gather round the bright steel of your king; strong as the rocks of my land; that meet the storm with joy, and stretch their dark woods to the wind.

As autumn'sDisplay note dark storms pour from two ecchoing hills, towards each other approached [ 19 ] View Page Image the heroes.——As two dark streams from high rocks meet, and mix and roar on the plain; loud, rough and dark in battle meet Lochlin and Innis-fail. Chief mixed his strokes with chief, and man with man; steel, clanging, sounded on steel, helmets are cleft on high. Blood bursts and smoaks around.——Strings twang on the polished yews. Darts rush along the sky. Spears fall like the circles of light that gild the stormy face of the night.

As the troubled noise of the ocean when roll the waves on high; as the last peal of the thunder of heaven, such is the noise of battle. Though Cormac's hundred bards were there to give the war to song; feeble were the voices of a hundred bards to send the deaths to future times. For many were the falls of the heroes; and wide poured the blood of the valiant.

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Mourn, ye sons of the song, the death of the noble SithallinDisplay note.——Let the sighs of Fiöna rise on the dark heaths of her lovely Ardan.——They fell, like two hinds of the desart, by the hands of the mighty Swaran; when, in the midst of thousands he roared like the shrill spirit of a storm, that sits dim, on the clouds of Gormal, and enjoys the death of the mariner.

Nor slept thy hand by thy side, chief of the isle of mistDisplay note; many were the deaths of thine arm, Cuchullin, thou son of Semo. His sword was like the beam of heaven when it pierces the sons of the vale; when the people are blasted and fall, and all the hills are burning around.——DusronnalDisplay note snorted over the bodies of heroes; and SifaddaDisplay note bathed his hoof in blood. The battle lay behind them as groves overturned on the desart of Cromla; when the blast has passed the heath laden with the spirits of night.

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Weep on the rocks of roaring winds, O maid of InistoreDisplay note, bend thy fair head over the waves, thou fairer than the ghost of the hills; when it moves in a sun-beam at noon over the silence of Morven. He is fallen! thy youth is low; pale beneath the sword of Cuchullin. No more shall valour raise the youth to match the blood of kings.——Trenar, lovely Trenar died, thou maid of Inistore. His gray dogs are howling at home, and see his passing ghost. His bow is in the hall unstrung. No sound is in the heath of his hinds.

As roll a thousand waves to the rocks, so Swaran's host came on; as meets a rock a thousand waves, so Inisfail met Swaran. Death raises all his voices around, and mixes with the sound of shields.—Each hero is a pillar of darkness, and the sword a beam of fire in his hand. The field echoes from wing to wing, as [ 22 ] View Page Image a hundred hammers that rise by turns on the red son of the furnace.

Who are these on Lena's heath that are so gloomy and dark? Who are these like two cloudsDisplay note and their swords like lightning above them? The little hills are troubled around, and the rocks tremble with all their moss.——Who is it but Ocean's son and the car-borne chief of Erin? Many are the anxious eyes of their friends, as they see them dim on the heath. Now night conceals the chiefs in her clouds, and ends the terrible fight.

It was on Cromla's shaggy side that Dorglas placed the deerDisplay note; the early fortune of the chace, before the heroes left the hill.——A hundred youths collect the heath; ten heroes blow the fire; three hundred chuse the polish'd stones. The feast is smoaking wide.

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Cuchullin, chief of Erin's war, resumed his mighty soul. He stood upon his beamy spear, and spoke to the son of songs; to Carril of other times, the gray-haired son of KinfenaDisplay note. Is this feast spread for me alone and the king of Lochlin on Ullin's shore; far from the deer of his hills, and sounding halls of his feasts? Rise, Carril of other times, and carry my words to Swaran; tell him from the roaring of waters, that Cuchullin gives his feast. Here let him listen to the sound of my groves amidst the clouds of night.——For cold and bleak the blustering winds rush over the foam of his seas. Here let him praise the trembling harp, and hear the songs of heroes.

Old Carril went, with softest voice, and called the king of dark-brown shields. Rise from the skins of thy chace, rise, Swaran king of groves.——Cuchullin gives the joy of shells; partake the feast of Erin's blue-eyed chief.

He answered like the sullen sound of Cromla before a storm. Though all thy daughters, Inisfail! should extend their arms of snow; raise high the heavings of their breasts, and softly roll their eyes of love; yet, fixed as Lochlin's thousand rocks, here Swaran shall remain; [ 24 ] View Page Image till morn, with the young beams of my east, shall light me to the death of Cuchullin. Pleasant to my ear is Lochlin's wind. It rushes over my seas. It speaks aloft in all my shrowds, and brings my green forests to my mind; the green forests of Gormal that often ecchoed to my winds, when my spear was red in the chace of the boar. Let dark Cuchullin yield to me the ancient throne of Cormac, or Erin's torrents shall shew from their hills the red foam of the blood of his pride.

Sad is the sounds of Swaran's voice, said Carril of other times:——

Sad to himself alone, said the blue-eyed son of Semo. But, Carril, raise thy voice on high, and tell the deeds of other times. Send thou the night away in song; and give the joy of grief. For many heroes and maids of love, have moved on Inis-fail. And lovely are the songs of woe that are heard on Albion's rocks; when the noise of the chace is over, and the streams of Cona answer to the voice of OssianDisplay note.

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In other daysDisplay note, Carril replies, came the sons of Ocean to Erin. A thousand vessels bounded over the waves to Ullin's lovely plains. The sons of Inisfail arose to meet the race of dark-brown shields. Cairbar, first of men, was there, and Grudar, stately youth. Long had they strove for the spotted bull, that lowed on Golbun'sDisplay note echoing heath. Each claimed him as their own; and death was often at the point of their steel.

Side by side the heroes fought, and the strangers of Ocean fled. Whose name was fairer on the hill than the name of Cairbar and Grudar! ——But ah! why ever lowed the bull on Golbun's ecchoing heath; they saw him leaping like the snow. The wrath of the chiefs returned.

On Lubar'sDisplay note grassy banks they fought, and Grudar like a sun-beam, fell. Fierce Cairbar came to the vale of the echoing Tura, where [ 26 ] View Page Image BrassolisDisplay note, fairest of his sisters, all alone, raised the song of grief. She sung of the actions of Grudar, the youth of her secret soul.——She mourned him in the field of blood; but still she hoped for his return. Her white bosom is seen from her robe, as the moon from the clouds of night. Her voice was softer than the harp to raise the song of grief. Her soul was fixed on Grudar; the secret look of her eye was his.—When shalt thou come in thine arms, thou mighty in the war?——

Take, Brassolis, Cairbar came and said, take, Brassolis, this shield of blood. Fix it on high within my hall, the armour of my foe. Her soft heart beat against her side. Distracted, pale, she flew. She found her youth in all his blood; she died on Cromla's heath. Here rests their dust, Cuchullin; and these two lonely yews sprung from their tombs, and wish to meet on high. Fair was Brassolis on the plain, and Grudar on the hill. The bard shall preserve their names, and repeat them to future times.

Pleasant is thy voice, O Carril, said the blue-eyed chief of Erin; and lovely are the words of other times. They are like the calm [ 27 ] View Page Image showerDisplay note of spring; when the sun looks on the field, and the light cloud flies over the hills. O strike the harp in praise of my love, the lonely sun-beam of Dunscaich. Strike the harp in the praise of BragélaDisplay note, of her that I left in the Isle of Mist, the spouse of Semo's son. Dost thou raise thy fair face from the rock to find the sails of Cuchullin?——The sea is rolling far distant, and its white foam shall deceive thee for my sails. Retire, for it is night, my love, and the dark winds sigh in thy hair. Retire to the halls of my feasts, and think of the times that are past: for I will not return till the storm of war is ceased. O Connal, speak of wars and arms, and send her from my mind, for lovely with her raven-hair is the white-bosomed daughter of Sorglan.

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Connal, slow to speak, replied, Guard against the race of Ocean. Send thy troop of night abroad, and watch the strength of Swaran.——Cuchullin! I am for peace till the race of the desart come; till Fingal come, the first of men, and beam, like the sun, on our fields.

The hero struck the shield of his alarms——the warriors of the night moved on. The rest lay in the heath of the deer, and slept amidst the dusky wind.——The ghostsDisplay note of the lately dead were near, and swam on gloomy clouds. And far distant, in the dark silence of Lena, the feeble voices of death were heard.