Fingal - Book Vi
Night comes on. Fingal gives a feast to his army, at which Swaran is present. The king commands Ullin his bard to give "the song of peace;" a custom always observed at the end of a war. Ullin relates the actions of Trenmor, great-grandfather to Fingal, in Scandinavia, and his marriage with Inibaca, the daughter of a king of Lochlin, who was ancestor to Swaran; which consideration, together with his being brother to Agandecca, with whom Fingal was in love in his youth, induced the king to release him, and permit him to return with the remains of his army into Lochlin, upon his promise of never returning to Ireland in a hostile manner. The night is spent in settling Swaran's departure, in songs of bards, and in a conversation in which the story of Grumal is introduced by Fingal. Morning comes. Swaran departs. Fingal goes on a hunting party, and finding Cuthullin in the cave of Tura, comforts him, and sets sail the next day for Scotland, which concludes the poem.
THE clouds of night came rolling down. Darkness rests on the steeps of Cromla. The stars of the north arise over the rolling of Erin's waves; they show their heads of fire through the flying mist of heaven. A distant wind roars in the wood. Silent and dark is the plain of death! Still on the dusky Lena arose in my ears the voice of Carril. He sung of the friends of our youth; the days of former years; when we met on the banks of Lego; when we sent round the joy of the shell. Cromla answered to his voice. The ghosts of those he sung came in their rustling winds. They were seen to bend with joy, towards the sound of their praise!
Be thy soul blest, O Carril! in the midst of thy eddying winds. O that thou wouldst come to my hall, when I am alone by night! And thou dost come, my friend. I hear often thy light hand on my harp, when it hangs on the distant wall, and the feeble sound touches my ear. Why dost thou not speak to me in my grief: and tell when I shall behold my friends? But thou passest away in thy murmuring blast; the wind whistles through the gray hair of Ossian!
Now, on the side of Mora, the heroes gathered to the feast. A thousand aged oaks are burning to the wind. The strength of the shell goes round. The souls of warriors brighten with joy. But the king of Lochlin is silent. Sorrow reddens in the eyes of his pride. He often turned towards Lena. He remembered that he fell. Fingal leaned on the shield of his fathers. His gray locks slowly waved on the wind, and glittered to the beam of night. He saw the grief of Swaran, and spoke to the first of bards.
"Raise, Ullin, raise the song of peace. O soothe my soul from war! Let mine ear forget, in the sound, the dismal noise of arms. Let a hundred harps be near to gladden the king of Lochlin. He must depart from us with joy. None ever went sad from Fingal. Oscar! the lightning of my sword is against the strong in fight. Peaceful it lies by my side when warriors yield in war."
"Trenmor," said the mouth of songs, "lived in the days of other years. He bounded over the waves of the north; companion of the storm! The high reeks of the land of Lochlin, its groves of murmuring sounds, appeared to the hero through mist; he bound his white. bosomed sails. Trenmor pursued the boar that roared through the woods of Gormal. Many had fled from its presence; but it rolled in death on the spear of Trenmor. Three chiefs, who beheld the deed, told of the mighty stranger. They told that he stood, like a pillar of fire, in the bright arms of his valor. The king of Lochlin prepared the feast. He called the blooming Trenmor. Three days he feasted at Gormal's windy towers, and received his choice in the combat. The land of Lochlin had no hero that yielded not to Trenmor. The shell of joy went round with songs in praise of the king of Morven. He that came over the waves, the first of mighty men.
"Now when the fourth gray morn arose, the hero launched his ship. He walked along the silent shore, and called for the rushing wind; for loud and distant he heard the blast murmuring behind the groves. Covered over with arms of steel, a son of the woody Gormal appeared. Red was his cheek, and fair his hair. His skin was like the snow of Morven. Mild rolled his blue and smiling eye, when he spoke to the king of swords.
"'Stay, Trenmor, stay, thou first of men; thou hast not conquered Lonval's son. My sword has often met the brave. The wise shun the strength of my bow.' 'Thou fair-haired youth,' Trenmor replied, 'I will not fight with Lonval's son. Thine arm is feeble, sunbeam of youth! Retire to Gormal's dark-brown hinds.' 'But I will retire,' replied the youth, 'with the sword of Trenmor; and exult in the sound of my fame. The virgins shall gather with smiles around him who conquered mighty Trenmor. They shall sigh with the sighs of love, and admire the length of thy spear: when I shall carry it among thousands; when I lift the glittering point to the sun.'
"'Thou shalt never carry my spear,' said the angry king of Morven. 'Thy mother shall find thee pale on the shore; and looking over the dark-blue deep, see the sails of him that slew her son!' 'I will not lift the spear,' replied the youth, 'my arm is not strong with years. But with the feathered dart I have learned to pierce a distant foe. Throw down that heavy mail of steel. Trenmor is covered from death. I first will lay my mail on earth. Throw now thy dart, thou king of Morven!' He saw the heaving of her breast. It was the sister of the king. She had seen him in the hall: and loved his face of youth. The spear dropt from the hand of Trenmor: he bent his red cheek to the ground. She was to him a beam of light that meets the sons of the cave; when they revisit the fields of the sun, and bend their aching eyes!
"'Chief of the windy Morven,' began the maid of the arms of snow, 'let me rest in thy bounding ship, far from the love of Corlo. For he, like the thunder of the desert, is terrible to Inibaca. He loves me in the gloom of pride. He shakes ten thousand spears!' — ' Rest thou in peace,' said the mighty Trenmor, 'rest behind the shield of my fathers. I will not fly from the chief, though he shakes ten thousand spears.' Three days he waited on the shore. He sent his horn abroad. He called Corlo to battle, from all his echoing hills. But Corlo came not to battle. The king of Lochlin descends from his hall. He feasted on the roaring shore. He gave the maid to Trenmor!"
"King of Lochlin," said Fingal, "thy blood flows in the veins of thy foe. Our fathers met in battle, because they loved the strife of spears. But often did they feast in the hall, and send round the joy of the shell. Let thy thee brighten with gladness, and thine ear delight in the harp. Dreadful as the storm of thine ocean, thou hast poured thy valor forth; thy voice has been like the voice of thousands when they engage in war. Raise, to-morrow, raise thy white sails to the wind, thou brother of Agandecca! Bright as the beam of noon, she comes on my mournful soul. I have seen thy tears for the fair one. I spared thee in the halls of Starno; when my sword was red with slaughter: when my eye was full of tears for the maid. Or dost thou choose the fight? The combat which thy fathers gave to Trenmor is thine! that thou mayest depart renowned, like the sun setting in the west!"
"King of the race of Morven!" said the chief of resounding Lochlin, "never will Swaran fight with thee, first of a thousand heroes! I have seen thee in the halls of Starno; few were thy years beyond my own. When shall I, I said to my soul, lift the spear like the noble Fingal? We have fought heretofore, O warrior, on the side of the shaggy Malmor; after my waves had carried me to thy halls, and the feast of a thousand shells was spread. Let the bards send his name who overcame to future years, for noble was the strife of Malmor! But many of the ships of Lochlin have lost their youths on Lena. Take these, thou king of Morven, and be the friend of Swaran! When thy sons shall come to Gormal, the feast of shells shall be spread, and the combat offered on the vale."
"Nor ship," replied the king, "shall Fingal take, nor land of many hills. The desert is enough to me, with all its deer and woods. Rise on thy waves again, thou noble friend of Agandecca! Spread thy white sails to the beam of the morning; return to the echoing hills of Gormal." — "Blest be thy soul, thou king of shells," said Swaran of the dark-brown shield." In peace thou art the gale of spring; in war the mountain storm. Take now my hand in friendship, king of echoing Selma! Let thy bards mourn those who fell. Let Erin give the sons of Lochlin to earth. Raise high the mossy stones of their fame: that the children of the north hereafter may behold the place where their fathers fought. The hunter may say, when he leans on a mossy tomb, Here Fingal and Swaran fought, the heroes of other years. Thus hereafter shall he say, and our fame shall last for ever."
"Swaran," said the king of hills, "to-day our fame is greatest. We shall pass away like a dream. No sound will remain in our fields of war. Our tombs will be lost in the heath. The hunter shall not know the place of our rest. Our names may be heard in song. What avails it, when our strength hath ceased? O Ossian, Carril, and Ullin! you know of heroes that are no more. Give us the song of other years. Let the night pass away on the sound, and morning return with joy."
We gave the song to the kings. A hundred harps mixed their sound with our voice. The face of Swaran brightened, like the full moon of heaven; when the clouds vanish away, and leave her calm and broad in the midst of the sky.
"Where, Carril," said the great Fingal, "Carril of other times! where is the son of Semo, the king of the isle of mist? Has he retired like the meteor of death, to the dreary cave of Tura?" — "Cuthullin," said Carril of other times, "lies in the dreary cave of Tura. His hand is on the sword of his strength. His thoughts on the battles he lost. Mournful is the king of spears: till now unconquered in war. He sends his sword, to rest on the side of Fingal: for, like the storm of the desert, thou hast scattered all his foes. Take, O Fingal! the sword of the hero. His fame is departed like mist, when it flies, before the rustling wind, along the brightening vale."
"No," replied the king, "Fingal shall never take his sword. His arm is mighty in war: his fame shall never fail. Many have been overcome in battle; whose renown arose from their fall. O Swaran, king of resounding woods, give all thy grief away. The vanquished, if brave, are renowned. They are like the sun in a cloud, when he hides his face in the south, but looks again on the hills of grass."
"Grumal was a chief of Cona. He sought the battle on every coast. His soul rejoiced in blood; his ear in the din of arms. He poured his warriors on Craca; Craca's king met him from his grove; for then, within the circle of Brumo, he spoke to the stone of power. Fierce was the battle of the heroes, for the maid of the breast of snow. The fame of the daughter of Craca had reached Grumal at the streams of Cona; he vowed to have the white-bosomed maid, or die on echoing Craca. Three days they strove together, and Grumal on the fourth was bound. Far from his friends they placed him in the horrid circle of Brumo; where often, they said, the ghosts of the dead howled round the stone of their fear. But he afterward shone, like a pillar of the light of heaven. They fell by his mighty hand. Grumal had all his fame!
"Raise, ye bards of other times," continued the great Fingal, "raise high the praise of heroes: that my soul may settle on their fame; that the mind of Swaran may cease to be sad." They lay in the heath of Mora. The dark winds rustled over the chiefs. A hundred voices, at once, arose; a hundred harps were strung. They sung of other times; the mighty chiefs of former years! When now shall I hear the bard? When rejoice at the fame of my fathers? The harp is not strung on Morven. The voice of music ascends not on Cona. Dead, with the mighty, is the bard. Fame is in the desert no more."
Morning trembles with the beam of the east; it glimmers on Cromla's side. Over Lena is heard the horn of Swaran. The sons of the ocean gather around. Silent and sad they rise on the wave. The blast of Erin is behind their sails. White, as the mist of Morven, they float along the sea. "Call," said Fingal, "call my dogs, the long-bounding sons of the chase. Call white-breasted Bran, and the surly strength of Luath! Fillan, and Ryno; — but he is not here! My son rests on the bed of death. Fillan and Fergus! blow the horn, that the joy of the chase may arise; that the deer of Cromla may hear, and start at the lake of roes."
The shrill sound spreads along the wood. The sons of heathy Cromla arise. A thousand dogs fly off at once, gray-bounding through the heath. A deer fell by every dog; three by the white-breasted Bran. He brought them, in their flight, to Fingal, that the joy of the king might be great! One deer fell at the tomb of Ryno. The grief of Fingal returned. He saw how peaceful lay the stone of him, who was the first at the chase! "No more shalt thou rise, O my son! to partake of the feast of Cromla. Soon will thy tomb be hid, and the grass grow rank on thy grave. The sons of the feeble shall pass along. They shall not know where the mighty lie.
"Ossian and Fillan, sons of my strength! Gaul, chief of the blue steel of war! Let us ascend the hill to the cave of Tura. Let us find the chief of the battles of Erin. Are these the walls of Tura? gray and lonely they rise on the heath. The chief of shells is sad, and the halls are silent and lonely. Come, let us find Cuthullin, and give him all our joy. But is that Cuthullin, O Fillan, or a pillar of smoke on the heath? The wind of Cromla is on my eyes. I distinguish not my friend."
"Fingal!" replied the youth, "it is the son of Semo! Gloomy and sad is the hero! his hand is on his sword. Hail to the son of battle, breaker of the shields!" "Hail to thee," replied Cuthullin, "hail to all the sons of Morven! Delightful is thy presence, O Fingal! it is the sun on Cromla: when the hunter mourns his absence for a season, and sees him between the clouds. Thy sons are like stars that attend thy course. They give light in the night! It is not thus thou hast seen me, O Fingal! returning from the wars of thy land: when the kings of the world had fled, and joy returned to the hills of hinds!"
"Many are thy words, Cuthullin," said Connan of small renown. "Thy words are many, son of Semo, but where are thy deeds in arms? Why did we come, over ocean, to aid thy feeble sword? Thou fliest to thy cave of grief, and Connan fights thy battles. Resign to me these arms of light. Yield them, thou chief of Erin." — "No hero," replied the chief," ever sought the arms of Cuthullin! and had a thousand heroes sought them, it were in vain, thou gloomy youth! I fled not to the cave of grief, till Erin failed at her streams."
"Youth of the feeble arm," said Fingal, "Connan, cease thy words! Cuthullin is renowned in battle: terrible over the world. Often have I heard thy fame, thou stormy chief of Inis-fail. Spread now thy white sails for the isle of mist. See Bragéla leaning on her rock. Her tender eye is in tears, the winds lift her long hair from her heaving breast. She listens to the breeze of night, to hear the voice of thy rowers; to hear the song of the sea; the sound of thy distant harps."
"Long shall she listen in vain. Cuthullin shall never return. How can I behold Bragéla, to raise the sigh of her breast? Fingal, I was always victorious, in battles of other spears." — "And hereafter thou shalt be victorious," said Fingal of generous shells. "The fame of Cuthullin shall grow, like the branchy tree of Cromla. Many battles await thee, O chief! Many shall be the wounds of thy hand! Bring hither, Oscar, the deer! Prepare the feast of shells; Let our souls rejoice after danger, and our friends delight in our presence."
We sat. We feasted. We sung. The soul of Cuthullin rose. The strength of his arm returned. Gladness brightened along his face. Ullin gave the song; Carril raised the voice. I joined the bards, and sung of battles of the spear. Battles! where I often fought. Now I fight no more! The fame of my former deeds is ceased. I sit forlorn at the tombs of my friends!
Thus the night passed away in song. We brought back the morning with joy. Fingal arose on the heath, and shook his glittering spear. He moved first to wards the plains of Lena. We followed in all our arms.
"Spread the sail," said the king, "seize the winds as they pour from Lena." We rose on the wave with songs. We rushed, with joy, through the foam of the deep.
Fingal, in his voyage to Lochlin, whither he had been invited by Starno, the father of Agandecca, touched at Berrathon an island of Scandinavia, where he was kindly entertained by Larthmor, the petty king of the place, who was a vassal of the supreme kings of Lochlin. The hospitality of Larthmor gained him Fingal's friendship, which that hero manifested, after the imprisonment of Larthmor by his own son, by sending Ossian and Toscar, the father of Malvina, so often mentioned, to rescue Larthmor, and to punish the unnatural behavior of Uthal. Uthal was handsome, and, by the ladies, much admired. Nina-thoma, the beautiful daughter of Tor-thoma, a neighboring prince, fell in love and fled with him. He proved inconstant; for another lady, whose name is not mentioned, gaining his affections, he confined Nina-thoma to a desert island, near the coast of Berrathon. She was relieved by Ossian, who, in company with Toscar, landing on Berrathon, defeated the forces of Uthal, and killed him in single combat. Nina-thoma, whose love not all the bad behavior of Uthal could erase, hearing of his death, died of grief. In the mean time Larthmor is restored, and Ossian and Toscar return in triumph to Fingal.
The poem opens with an elegy on the death of Malvina, the daughter of Toscar, and closes with the presages of Ossian's death.
BEND thy blue course, O stream! round the narrow plain of Lutha. Let the green woods hang over it, from their hills; the sun look on it at noon. The thistle is there on its rock, and shakes its beard to the wind. The flower hangs its heavy head, waving, at times, to the gale. "Why dost thou awake me, O gale?" it seems to say: "I am covered with the drops of heaven. The time of my fading is near, the blast that shall scatter my leaves. To-morrow shall the traveller come; he that saw me in my beauty shall come. His eyes will search the field, but they will not find me." So shall they search in vain for the voice of Cona, after it has failed in the field. The hunter shall come forth in the morning, and thee vote a of my harp shall not be heard. "Where is the son of car-borne Fingal?" The tear will be on his cheek! Then come thou, O Malvina! with all thy music, come! Lay Ossian in the plain of Lutha: let his tomb rise in the lovely field.
Malvina! where art thou, with thy songs; with the soft sound of thy steps? Son of Alpin, art thou near? where is the daughter of Toscar? "I passed, O son of Fingal, by Torlutha's mossy walls. The smoke of the hall was ceased. Silence was among the trees of the hill. The voice of the chase was over. I saw the daughters of the bow. I asked about Malvina, but they answered not. They turned their faces away: thin darkness covered their beauty. They were like stars, on a rainy hill, by night, each looking faintly through the mist!"
Pleasant be thy rest, O lovely beam! soon hast thou set on our hills! The steps of thy departure were stately, like the moon, on the blue-trembling wave. But thou hast left us in darkness, first of the maids of Lutha! We sit, at the rock, and there is no voice; no light but the meteor of fire! Soon hast thou set, O Malvina, daughter of generous Toscar! But thou risest, like the beam of the east, among the spirits of thy friends, where they sit, in their stormy halls, the chambers of the thunder! A cloud hovers over Cona. Its blue curling sides are high. The winds are beneath it, with their wings. Within it is the dwelling of Fingal. There the hero sits in darkness. His airy spear is in his hand. His shield, half covered with clouds, is like the darkened moon; when one half still remains in the wave, and the other looks sickly on the field!
His friends sit round the king, on mist! They hear the songs of Ullin; he strikes the half-viewless harp. He raises the feeble voice. The lesser heroes, with a thousand meteors, light the airy hall. Malvina rises in the midst: a blush is on her cheek. She beholds the unknown faces of her fathers. She turns aside her humid eyes. "An thou come so soon," said Fingal, "daughter of generous Toscar! Sadness dwells in the halls of Lutha. My aged son is sad! I hear the breeze of Cona, that was wont to lift thy heavy locks. It comes to the hall, but thou art not there. Its voice is mournful among the arms of thy fathers! Go, with thy rustling wing, O breeze! sigh on Malvina's tomb. It rises yonder beneath the rock, at the blue stream of Lutha. The maids are departed to their place. Thou alone, O breeze, mournest there!"
But who comes from the dusky west, supported on a cloud? A smile is on his gray, watery face. His locks of mist fly on wind. He bends forward on his airy spear. It is thy father, Malvina! "Why shinest thou, so soon, on our clouds," he says, "O lovely light of Lutha? But thou wert sad, my daughter. Thy friends had passed away. The sons of little men were in the hail. None remained of the heroes, but Ossian, king of spears!"
And dost thou remember Ossian, car-borne Toscar, son of Conloch? The battles of our youth were many. Our swords went together to the field. They saw us coming like two falling rocks. The sons of the stranger fled. "There come the warriors of Cona!" they said. "Their steps are in the paths of the flying!" Draw near, son of Alpin, to the song of the aged. The deeds of other times are in my soul. My memory beams on the days that are past: on the days of mighty Toscar, when our path was in the deep. Draw near, son of Alpin, to the last sound of the voice of Cona!
The king of Morven commanded. I raised my sails to the wind. Toscar, chief of Lutha, stood at my side: I rose on the dark-blue wave. Our course was to sea-surrounded Berrathon, the isle of many storms. There dwelt, with his locks of age, the stately strength of Larthmor. Larthmor, who spread the feast of shells to Fingal, when he went to Starno's halls, in the days of Agandecca. But when the chief was old, the pride of his son arose; the pride of fair-haired Uthal, the love of a thousand maids. He bound the aged Larthmor, and dwelt in his sounding halls!
Long pined the king in his cave, beside his rolling sea. Day did not come to his dwelling: nor the burning oak by night. But the wind of ocean was there, and the parting beam of the moon. The red star looked on the king, when it trembled on the western wave. Snitho came to Selma's hall; Snitho, the friend of Larthmor's youth. He told of the king of Berrathon: the wrath of Fingal arose. Thrice he assumed the spear, resolved to stretch his hand to Uthal. But the memory of his deeds rose before the king. He sent his son and Toscar. Our joy was great on the rolling sea. We often half unsheathed our swords. For never before had we fought alone, in battles of the spear.
Night came down on the ocean. The winds departed on their wings. Cold and pale is the moon. The red stars lift their heads on high. Our course is slow along the coast of Berrathon. The white waves tumble on the rocks. "What voice is that," said Toscar, "which comes between the sounds of the waves? It is soft hut mournful, like the voice of departed bards. But I behold a maid. She sits on the rock alone. Her head bends on her arms of snow. Her dark hair is in the wind. Hear, son of Fingal, her song; it is smooth as the gliding stream. We came to the silent bay, and heard the maid of night.
"How long will ye roll round me, blue-tumbling waters of ocean? My dwelling was not always in caves, nor beneath the whistling tree. The feast was spread in Tor-thoma's hall. My father delighted in my voice. The youths beheld me in the steps of my loveliness. They blessed the dark-haired Nina-thoma. It was then thou didst come, O Uthal! like the sun €4 heaven! The souls of the virgins are thine, son of generous Larthmor! But why dost thou leave me alone, in the midst of roaring waters? Was my soul dark with thy death? Did my while hand lift the sword? Why then hast thou left me alone, king of high Fin-thormo?"
The tear started from my eye, when I heard the voice of the maid. I stood before her in my arms. I spoke the words of peace! "Lovely dweller of the cave! what sigh is in thy breast? Shall Ossian lift his sword in thy presence, the destruction of thy foes? Daughter of Tor-thoma, rise! I have heard the words of thy grief. The race of Morven are around thee, who never injured the weak. Come to our dark bosomed ship, thou brighter than the setting moon! Our course is to the rocky Berrathon, to the echoing walls of Fin-thormo." She came in her beauty; she came with all her lovely steps. Silent joy brightened in her face; as when the shadows fly from the field of spring; the blue stream is rolling in brightness, and the green bush bends over its course!
The morning rose with its beams. We came to Rothma's bay. A boar rushed from the wood: my spear pierced his side, and he fell. I rejoiced over the blood. I foresaw my growing fame. But now the sound of Uthal's train came, from the high Fin-thormo. They spread over the heath to the chase of the boar. Himself comes slowly on, in the pride of his strength. He lifts two pointed spears. On his side is the hero's sword. Three youths carry his polished bows. The bounding of five dogs is before him. His heroes move on, at a distance, admiring the steps of the king. Stately was the son of Larthmor! but his soul was dark! Dark as the troubled face of the moon, when it foretells the storms.
We rose on the heath before the king. He stopped in the midst of his course. His heroes gathered around. A. gray-haired bard advanced. "Whence are the sons of the strangers?" began the bard of song. "The children of the unhappy come to Berrathon: to the sword of car-borne Uthal. He spreads no feast in his hall. The blood of strangers is on his streams. If from Selma's walls ye come, from the mossy walls of Fingal, choose three youths to go to your king to tell of the fall of his people. Perhaps the hero may come and pour his blood on Uthal's sword. So shall the fame of Fin-thormo arise; like the growing tree of the vale!"
"Never, will it rise, O bard!" I said, in the pride of my wrath. "He would shrink from the presence of Fingal, whose eyes are the flames of death. The son of Comhal comes, and kings vanish before him. They are rolled together, like mist, by the breath of his rage. Shall three tell to Fingal, that his people fell? Yes! they may tell it, bard! but his people shall fall with fame!"
I stood in the darkness of my strength. Toscar drew his sword at my side. The foe came on like a stream. The mingled sound of death arose. Man took man; shield met shield; steel mixed its beams with steel. Darts hiss through air. Spears ring on mails. Swords on broken bucklers bound. All the noise of an aged grove beneath the roaring wind, when a thousand ghosts break the trees by night, such was the din of arms! But Uthal fell beneath my sword. The sons of Berrathon fled. It was then I saw him in his beauty, and the tear hung in my eye! "Thou art fallen, young tree, I said, with all thy beauty round thee. Thou art fallen on thy plains, and the field is bare. The winds come from the desert! there is no sound in thy leaves! Lovely art thou in death, son of car-borne Larthmor"
Nina-thoma sat on the shore. She heard the sound of battle. She turned her red eyes on Lethmal, the gray-haired bard of Selma. He alone had remained on the coast with the daughter of Tor-thoma. "Son of the times of old!" she said, "I hear the noise of death. Thy friends have met with Uthal, and the chief is low! O that I had remained on the rock, enclosed with the tumbling waves? Then would my soul be sad, but his death would not reach my ear. Art thou fallen on the heath, O son of high Fin-thormo? Thou didst leave me on a rock, but my soul was full of thee. Son of high Fin-thormo! art thou fallen on thy heath?"
She rose pale in her tears. She saw the bloody shield of Uthal. She saw it in Ossian's hand. Her steps were distracted on the heath. She flew. She found him. She fell. Her soul came forth in a sigh. Her hair is spread on her face. My bursting tears descend. A tomb arose on the unhappy. My song of wo was heard. "Rest, hapless children of youth! Rest at the noise of that mossy stream! The virgins will see your tomb, at the chase, and turn away their weeping eyes. Your fame will be in song. The voice of the harp will be heard in your praise. The daughters of Selma shall hear it: your renown shall be in other lands. Rest, children of youth, at the noise of the mossy stream!"
Two days we remained on the coast. The heroes of Berrathon convened. We brought Larthmor to his halls. The feast of shells is spread. The joy of the aged was great. He looked to the arms of his fathers; the arms which he left in his hall, when the pride of Uthal rose. We were renowned before Larthmor. He blessed the chiefs of Morven. He knew not that his son was low, the stately strength of Uthal! They had told, that he had retired to the woods, with the tears of grief. They had told it, but he was silent in the tomb of Rothma's heath.
On the fourth day we raised our sails, to the roar of the northern wind. Larthmor came to the coast. His bards exalted the song. The joy of the king was great; he looked to Rothma's gloomy heath. He saw the tomb of his son. The memory of Uthal rose. "Who of my heroes," he said, "lies there? he seems to have been of the kings of men. Was he renowned in my halls before the pride of Uthal rose? Ye are silent, sons of Berrathon! is the king of heroes low? My heart melts for thee, O Uthal! though thy hand was against thy father. O that I had remained in the cave! that my son had dwelt in Fin-thormo! I might have heard the tread of his feet, when he went to the chase of the boar. I might have heard his voice on the blast of my cave. Then would my soul be glad; but now darkness dwells in my halls."
Such were my deeds, son of Alpin, when the arm of my youth was strong. Such the actions of Toscar, the car-borne son of Conloch. But Toscar is on his flying cloud. I am alone at Lutha. My voice is like the last sound of the wind, when it forsakes the woods. But Ossian shall not be long alone. He sees the mist that shall receive his ghost. He beholds the mist that shall form his robe, when he appears on his hills. The Sons of feeble men shall behold me, and admire the stature of the chiefs of old. They shall creep to their caves. They shall look to the sky with fear: for my steps shall be in the clouds. Darkness shall roll on my side.
Lead, son of Alpin, lead the aged to his woods. The winds begin to rise. The dark wave of the lake resounds. Bends there not a tree from Mora with its branches bare? It bends, son of Alpin, in the rustling blast. My harp hangs on a blasted branch. The sound of its strings is mournful. Does the wind touch thee, O harp, or is it some passing ghost? It is the hand of Malvina! Bring me the harp, son of Alpin. Another song shall rise. My soul shall depart in the sound. My fathers shall hear it in their airy hail. Their dim faces shall hang, with joy, from their clouds; and their hands receive their son. The aged oak bends over the stream. It sighs with all its moss. The withered fern whistles near, and mixes, as it waves, with Ossian's hair.
"Strike the harp, and raise the song: be near, with all your wings, ye winds. Bear the mournful sound away to Fingal's airy hail. Bear it to Fingal's hall, that he may hear the voice of his son: the voice of him that praised the mighty!
"The blast of north opens thy gates, O king! I behold thee sitting on mist dimly gleaming in all thine arms. Thy form now is not the terror of the valiant. It is like a watery cloud, when we see the stars behind it with their weeping eyes. Thy shield is the aged moon: thy sword a vapor half kindled with fire. Dim and feeble is the chief who travelled in brightness be fore! But thy steps are on the winds of the desert. The storms are darkening in thy hand. Thou takest the sun in thy wrath, and hidest him in thy clouds. The sons of little men are afraid. A thousand showers descend. But when thou comest forth in thy mildness, the gale of the morning is near thy course. The sun laughs in his blue fields. The gray stream winds in its vale. The bushes shake their green heads in the wind. The roes bound towards the desert.
"There is a murmur in the heath! the stormy winds abate! I hear the voice of Fingal. Long has it been absent from mine ear! 'Come, Ossian, come away, he says. Fingal has received his fame. We passed away, like flames that have shone for a season. Our departure was in renown. Though the plains of our battles are dark and silent; our fame is in the four gray stones. The voice of Ossian has been heard. The harp has been strung in Selma. 'Come, Ossian, come away,' he says; 'come, fly with thy fathers on clouds.' I come, I come, thou king of men! The life of Ossian fails. I begin to vanish on Cona. My steps are not seen in Selma. Beside the stone of Mora I shall fall asleep. The winds whistling in my gray hair, shall not awaken me. Depart on thy wings, O wind, thou canst not disturb the rest of the bard. The night is long, but his eyes are heavy. Depart, thou rustling blast.
"But why art thou sad, son of Fingal? Why grows the cloud of thy soul? The chiefs of other times are departed. They have gone without their fame. The sons of future years shall pass away. Another race shall arise. The people are like the waves of ocean; like the leaves of woody Morven, they pass away in the rustling blast, and other leaves lift their green heads on high.
"Did thy beauty last, O Ryno? Stood the strength of car-borne Oscar! Fingal himself departed! The hails of his fathers forgot his steps. Shalt thou then remain, thou aged bard? when the mighty have failed? But my fame shall remain, and grow like the oak of Morven; which lifts its broad head to the storm, and rejoices in the course of the wind?"
Lathmon, a British prince, taking advantage of Fingal's absence on an expedition to Ireland, made a descent on Morven, and advanced within sight of Selma, the royal residence. Fingal arrived in the mean time, and Lathmon retreated to a hill, where his army was surprised by night, and himself taken prisoner by Ossian and Gaul the son of Morni. The poem opens with the first appearance of Fingal on the coast of Morven, and ends, it may be supposed, about noon the next day.
SELMA, thy halls are silent. There is no sound in the woods of Morven. The wave tumbles along on the coast. The silent beam of the sun is on the field. The daughters of Morven come forth, like the bow of the shower; they look towards green Erin for the white sails of the king. He had promised to return, but the winds of the north arose!
Who pours from the eastern hill, like a stream of darkness? It is the host of Lathmon. He has heard of the absence of Fingal. He trusts in the winds of the north. His soul brightens with joy. Why dost thou come, O Lathmon? The mighty are not in Selma. Why comest thou with thy forward spear? Will the daughters of Morven fight? But stop, O mighty stream, in thy course! Does not Lathmon behold these sails? Why dost thou vanish, Lathmon, like the mist of the lake? But the squally storm is behind thee; Fingal pursues thy steps!
The king of Morven had started from sleep, as we rolled on the dark-blue wave. He stretched his hand to his spear, his heroes rose around. We knew that he had seen his fathers, for they often descended to his dreams, when the sword of the foe rose over the land and the battle darkened before us. "Whither hast thou fled, O wind?" said the king of Morven. "Dost thou rustle in the chambers of the south? pursuest thou the shower in other lands? Why dost thou not come to my sails? to the blue face of my seas? The foe is in the land of Morven, and the king is absent far. But let each bind on his mail, and each assume his shield. Stretch every spear over the wave; let every sword be unsheathed. Lathmon is before us with his host; he that fled from Fingal on the plains of Lona. But he returns like a collected stream, and his roar is between our hills."
Such were the words of Fingal. We rushed into Carmon's bay. Ossian ascended the hill! he thrice struck his bossy shield. The rock of Morven replied: the bounding roes came forth. The foe was troubled in my presence: he collected his darkened host. I stood like a cloud on the hill, rejoicing in the arms of my youth.
Morni sat beneath a tree on the roaring waters of Strumon: his locks of age are gray: he leans forward on his staff; young Gaul is near the hero, hearing the battles of his father. Often did he rise in the fire of his soul, at the mighty deeds of Morni. The aged heard the sound of Ossian's shield; he knew the sign of war. He started at once from his place. His gray hair parted on his back. lie remembered the deeds of other years.
"My son," he said, to fair-haired Gaul, "I hear the sound of war. The king of Morven is returned; his signals are spread on the wind. Go to the halls of Strumon; bring his arms to Morni. Bring the shield of my father's latter years, for my arm begins to fail. Take thou thy armor, O Gaul! and rush to the first of thy battles. Let thine arm reach to the renown of thy fathers. Be thy course in the field like the eagle's wing. Why shouldst thou fear death, my son? the valiant fall with fame; their shields turn the dark stream of danger away; renown dwells on their aged hairs. Dost thou not see, O Gaul! low the steps of my age are honored? Morni moves forth. and the young men meet him, with silent joy, on his course. But I never fled from danger, my son! my sword lightened through the darkness of war. The stranger melted before me; the mighty were blasted in my presence."
Gaul brought the arms to Morni: the aged warrior is covered with steel. He took the spear in his hand, which was stained with the blood of the valiant. He came towards Fingal; his son attended his steps. The son of Comhal arose before him with joy, when he came in his locks of age.
"Chief of the roaring Strumon!" said the rising soul of Fingal; "do I behold thee in arms, after thy strength has failed? Often has Morni shone in fight, like the beam of the ascending sun; when he disperses the storms of the hill, and brings peace to the glittering fields. But why didst thou not rest in thine age? Thy renown is in the song. The people behold thee, and bless the departure of mighty Morni. Why didst thou not rest in thine age? The foe will vanish before Fingal!"
"Son of Comhal," replied the chief, "the strength of Morni's arm has failed. I attempt to draw the sword of my youth, but it remains in its place. I throw the spear, but it falls short of the mark. I feel the weight of my shield. We decay like the grass of the hill; our strength returns no more. I have a son, O Fingal! his soul has delighted in Morni's deeds; but his sword has not been lifted against a foe, neither has his fame begun. I come with him to the war; to direct his arm in fight. His renown will be a light to my soul in the dark hour of my departure. O that the name of Morni were forgot among the people! that the heroes would only say, 'Behold the father of Gaul!'"
"King of Strumon," Fingal replied, "Gaul shall lift the sword in fight. But he shall lift it before Fingal; my arm shall defend his youth. But rest thou in the halls of Selma, and hear of our renown. Bid the harp to be strung, and the voice of the bard to arise, that those who fall may rejoice in their fame, and the soul of Morni brighten with joy. Ossian, thou hast fought in battles: the blood of strangers is on thy spear: thy course be with Gaul in the strife; but depart not from the side of Fingal, lest the foe should find you alone, and your fame fail in my presence."
[Ossian speaks ] "I saw Gaul in his arms; my soul was mixed with his. The fire of the battle was in his eyes! he looked to the foe with joy. We spoke the words of friendship in secret; the lightning of our swords poured together; for we drew them behind the wood, and tried the strength of our arms on the empty air!"
Night came down on Morven. Fingal sat at the beam of the oak. Morni sat by his side with all his gray-waving locks. Their words were of other times, of the mighty deeds of their fathers. Three bards, at times, touched the harp: Ullin was near with his song. He sung of the mighty Comhal; but darkness gathered on Morni's brow. He rolled his red eye on Ullin: at once ceased the song of the bard. Fingal observed the aged hero, and he mildly spoke: "Chief of Strumon, why that darkness? Let the days of other years be forgot. Our fathers contended in war; but we meet together at the feast. Our swords are turned on the foe of our land: he melts before us on the field. Let the days of our fathers be forgot, hero of mossy Strumon!"
King of Morven," replied the chief, "I remember thy father with joy. He was terrible in battle, the rage of the chief was deadly. My eyes were full of tears when the king of heroes fell. The valiant fall, O Fingal! the feeble remain on the hills! How many heroes have passed away in the days of Morni! Yet I did not shun the battle; neither did I fly from the strife of the valiant. Now let the friends of Fingal rest, for the night is around, that they may rise with strength to battle against car-borne Lathmon. I hear the sound of his host, like thunder moving on the hills. Ossian! and fair-haired Gaul! ye are young and swift in the race. Observe the foes of Fingal from that woody hill. But approach them not: your fathers are near to shield you. Let not your fame fall at once. The valor of youth may fail!"
We heard the words of the chief with joy. We moved in the clang of our arms. Our steps are on the woody hill. Heaven burns with all its stars. The meteors of death fly over the field. The distant noise of the foe reached our ears. It was than Gaul spoke, in his valor: his hand half unsheathed his sword.
"Son of Fingal!" he said, "why burns the soul of Gaul? my heart beats high. My steps are disordered; my hand trembles on my sword. When I look towards the foe, my soul lightens before me. I see their sleeping host. Tremble thus the souls of the valiant in battles of the spear? How would the soul of Morni rise if we should rush on the foe? Our renown should grow in song: our steps would be stately in the eyes of the brave."
"Son of Morni," I replied, "my soul delights in war. I delight to shine in battle alone, to give my name to the bards. But what if the foe should prevail? can I behold the eyes of the king? They are terrible in his displeasure, and like the flames of death. But I will not behold them in his wrath! Ossian shall prevail or fall. But shall the fame of the vanquished rise? They pass like a shade away. But the fame of Ossian shall rise! His deeds shall be like his father's. Let us rush in our arms; son of Morni, let us rush to fight. Gaul, if thou shouldst return, go to Selma's lofty hall. Tell to Everallin that I fell with fame; carry this sword to Branno's daughter. Let her give it to Oscar, when the years of his youth shall arise."
"Son of Fingal," Gaul replied with a sigh, "shall I return after Ossian is low? What would my father say? what Fingal, the king of men? The feeble would turn their eyes and say, 'Behold Gaul, who left his friend in his blood!' Ye shall not behold me, ye feeble, but in the midst of my renown! Ossian, I have heard from my father the mighty deeds of heroes; their mighty deeds when alone! for the soul increases in danger!"
"Son of Morni," I replied, and strode before him on the heath, "our fathers shall praise our valor when they mourn our fall. A beam of gladness shall rise on their souls, when their eyes are full of tears. They will, say, 'Our sons have not fallen unknown: they spread death around them.' But why should we think of the narrow house? The sword defends the brave. But death pursues the flight of the feeble; their renown is never heard."
We rushed forward through night; we came to the roar of a stream, which bent its blue course round the foe, through trees that echoed to its sound. We came to the bank of the stream, and saw the sleeping host. Their fires were decayed on the plain: the lonely steps of their scouts were distant far. I stretched my spear before me, to support my steps over the stream. But Gaul took my hand, and spoke the words of the brave. "Shall the son of Fingal rush on the sleeping foe? Shall he come like a blast by night, when it overturns the young trees in secret? Fingal did no receive his fame, nor dwells renown on the gray hairs of Morni, for actions like these. Strike, Ossian, strike the shield, and let their thousands rise! Let them meet Gaul in his first battle, that he may try the strength of his arm."
My soul rejoiced over the warrior; my bursting tears came down. "And the foe shall meet thee, Gaul," I said: "the fame of Morni's son shall arise. But rush not too far, my hero: let the gleam of thy steel be near to Ossian. Let our hands join in slaughter. Gaul! dost thou not behold that rock? Its gray side dimly gleams to the stars. Should the foe prevail, let our back be towards the rock. Then shall they fear to approach our spears; for death is in our hands!"
I struck thrice my echoing shield. The startling foe arose. We rushed on in the sound of our arms. Their crowded steps fly over the heath. They thought that the mighty Fingal was come. The strength of their arms withered away. The sound of their flight was like that of flame, when it rushes through the blasted groves. It was then the spear of Gaul flew in its strength; it was then his sword arose. Cramo fell; and mighty Leth! Dunthormo struggled in his blood. The steel rushed through Crotho's side, as bent he rose on his spear; the black stream poured from the wound, and hissed on the half-extinguished oak. Cathmin saw the steps of the hero behind him: he ascended a blasted tree; but the spear pierced him from behind. Shrieking, panting, he fell. Moss and withered branches pursue his fall, and strew the blue arms of Gaul.
Such were thy deeds, son of Morni, in the first of thy battles. Nor slept the sword by thy side, thou last of Fingal's race! Ossian rushed forward in his strength; the people fell before him; as the grass by the stall of the boy, when he whistles along the field, and the gray beard of the thistle falls. But careless the youth moves on; his steps are towards the desert. Gray morning rose around us; the winding streams are bright along the heath. The foe gathered on a bill; and the rage of Lathmon rose. He bent the red eye of his wrath: he is silent in his rising grief. He often struck his bossy shield: and his steps are unequal on the heath. I saw the distant darkness of the hero, and I spoke to Morni's son.
"Car-borne chief of Strumon, dost thou behold the foe? 'They gather on the hill in their wrath. Let our steps be toward the king. He shall rise in his strength, and the host of Lathmon vanish. Our fame is around us, warrior; the eyes of the aged will rejoice. But let us fly, son of Morni, Lathmon descends the hill." "Then let our steps be slow," replied the fair-haired Gaul;" lest the foe say with a smile, 'Behold the warriors of night! They are, like ghosts, terrible in darkness; they melt away before the beam of the east.' Ossian, take the shield of Gormar, who fell beneath thy spear. The aged heroes will rejoice, beholding the deeds of their sons."
Such were our words on the plain, when Sulmath came to car-borne Lathmon: Sulmath chief of Datha, at the dark-rolling stream of Duvranna." Why dost thou not rush, son of Nuäth, with a thousand of thy heroes? Why dost thou not descend with thy host before the warriors fly? Their blue arms are beaming to the rising light, and their steps are before us on the heath!"
"Son of the feeble hand," said Lathmon," shall my host descend? They are but two, son of Dutha! shall a thousand lift the steel? Nuäth would mourn in his hall, for the departure of his fame. His eyes would turn from Lathmon, when the tread of his feet approached. Go thou to the heroes, chief of Dutha! I behold the stately steps of Ossian. His fame is worthy of my steel! let us contend in fight."
The noble Sulmath came. I rejoiced in the words of the king. I raised the shield on my arm: Gaul placed in my hand the sword of Morni. We returned to the murmuring stream; Lathmon came down in his strength. His dark host rolled, like clouds, behind him; but the son of Nuäth was bright in his steel.
"Son of Fingal," said the hero, "thy fame has grown on our fall. How many lie there of my people by thy hand, thou king of men! Lift now thy spear against Lathmon; lay the son of Nuäth low! Lay him low among his warriors, or thou thyself must fall! It shall never be told in my halls, that my people fell in my presence: that they fell in the presence of Lathmon when his sword rested by his side: the blue eyes of Couth would roll in tears; her steps be lonely in the vales of Dunlathmon!"
"Neither shall it be told," I replied, "that the son of Fingal fled. Were his steps covered with darkness, yet would not Ossian fly! His soul would meet him and say, 'Does the bard of Selma fear the foe?" No: he does not fear the foe. His joy is in the midst of battle."
Lathmon came on with his spear. He pierced the shield of Ossian. I felt the cold steel by my side. I drew the sword of Morni. I cut the spear in twain. The bright point fell glittering on earth. The son of Nuäth burnt in his wrath. He lifted high his sounding shield. His dark eyes rolled above it, as bending forward, it shone like a gate of brass. But Ossian's spear pierced the brightness of its bosses, and sunk in a tree that rose behind. The shield hung on the quivering lance! But Lathmon still advanced! Gaul foresaw the fall of the chief. He stretched his buckler before my sword, when it descended, in a stream of light, over the king of Dunlathmon!
Lathmon beheld the son of Morni. The tear started from his eye. He threw the sword of his fathers on the earth, and, spoke the words of the brave.
"Why should Lathmon fight against the first of men? Your souls are beams from heaven; your swords the flames of death! Who can equal the renown of the heroes, whose deeds are so great in youth? O that ye were in the halls of Nuäth, in the green dwelling of Lathmon! Then would my father say that his son did not yield to the weak. But who comes, a mighty stream, along the echoing heath? The little hills are troubled before him. A thousand ghosts are on the beams of his steel; the ghosts of those who are to fall by the king of resounding Morven. Happy art thou, O Fingal! thy son shall fight thy wars. They go forth before thee: they return with the steps of their renown!"
Fingal came in his mildness, rejoicing in secret over the deeds of his son. Morni's face brightened with gladness. His aged eyes look faintly through tears of joy. We came to the halls of Selma. We sat around the feasts of shells. The maids of song came in to our presence, and the mildly-blushing Everallin! Her hair spreads on her neck of snow, her eye rolls in secret on Ossian. She touched the harp of music! we blessed the daughter of Branno!
Fingal rose in his place, and spoke to Lathmon, king of spears. The sword of Trenmor shook by his side, as high he raised his mighty arm Son of Nuäth," he said, "why dost thou search for fame in Morven? We are not of the race of the feeble; our swords gleam not over the weak. When did we rouse thee, O Lathmon, with the sound of war? Fingal does not delight in battle, though his arm is strong! My renown grows on the fall of the haughty. The light of my steel pours on the proud in arms. The battle comes! and the tombs of the valiant rise; the tombs of my people rise, O my fathers! I at last must remain alone! But I will remain renowned: the departure of my soul shall be a stream of light. Lathmon! retire to thy place! Turn thy battles to other lands! The race of Morven are renowned; their foes are the sons of the unhappy."
Fingal - Book Ii
The ghost of Crugal, one of the Irish heroes who was killed in battle, appearing to Connal, foretells the defeat of Cuthullin in the next battle, and earnestly advises him to make peace with Swaran. Connal communicates the vision; but Cuthullin is inflexible; from a principle of honor he would not be the first to sue for peace, and he resolved to continue the war. Morning comes; Swaran proposes dishonorable terms to Cuthullin, 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. Cuthullin and Connal cover their retreat. Carril leads them to a neighboring hill, whither they are soon followed by Cuthullin himself; who descries the fleet of Fingal making towards their coast; but night coming on, he lost sight of it again. Cuthullin, dejected after his defeat, attributes his ill success to the death of Ferda, his friend, whom he had killed some time before. Carril, to show that ill success did not always attend those who innocently killed their friends, introduces the episode of Connal and Galvina.
Connal lay by the sound of the mountain-stream, beneath the aged tree. A stone, with its moss, supported his head. Shrill, through the heath of Lena, he heard the voice of night. At distance from the heroes he lay; the son of the sword feared no foe! The hero beheld, in his rest, a dark-red stream of fire rushing down from the hill. Crugal sat upon the beam, a chief who fell in fight. 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 two decaying flames.
Dark is the wound of his breast! "Crugal," said the mighty Connal, "son of Dedgal famed on the hill of hinds! Why so pale and sad, thou breaker of shields? Thou hast never been pale for fear! What disturbs the departed Crugal?" 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 spirit, Connal, is on my hills; my course on the sands of Erin. Thou shalt never talk with Crugal, nor find his lone steps in the heath. I am light as the blast of Cromla. I move like the shadow of mist! Connal, son of Colgar, I see a cloud of death: it hovers dark over the plains of Lena. The Sons of green Erin must fall. Remove from the field of ghosts." Like the darkened moon 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 windy Cromla! What cave is thy lonely house? What green-headed hill the place of thy repose? 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, scarcely seen, pass over the desert?"
The soft-voiced Connal rose, in the midst of his sounding arms. He struck his shield above Cuthullin. 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 Cuthullin mourn the death of his friend. Speak, Connal; son of Colgar, speak; thy counsel is the sun of heaven!" "Son of Semo!" replied the chief, "the ghost of Crugal came from his cave. The stars dim twinkled through his form 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 Erin!, 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 across thy car. Or if it was the form of Crugal, why didst thou not force him to my sight? Hast thou inquired where is his cave? the house of that son of wind? My sword might find that voice, and force his knowledge from Crugal. But small is his knowledge, Connal; he was here to-day. He could not have gone beyond our hills! who could tell him there of our fall?" "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 cave. I will not fly from Swaran! If fall I must, my tomb shall rise amidst the fame of future times. The hunter shall shed a tear on my stone: sorrow shall dwell around the high-bosomed Bragéla. I fear not death; to fly I fear! Fingal has seen me victorious! Thou dim phantom of the hill, show thyself to me! come on thy beam of heaven, show me my death in thine hand! yet I will not fly, thou feeble son of the wind! Go, son of Colgar, strike the shield. It hangs between the spears. Let my warriors rise to the sound in the midst of the battles of Erin. Though Fingal delays his coming with the race of his stormy isles, 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 them, when they echo to the stream of frost, and their withered leaves are rustling to the wind! High Cromla's head of clouds is gray. Morning trembles on the half-enlightened ocean. The blue 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! Morla, go to Cormac's hall. Bid them yield to Swaran, before his people sink to the tomb, and silence spread over his isle." They rose, rustling like a flock of sea-fowl, when the waves expel them from the shore. Their sound 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 morn.
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 stately before them the king. 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 ghosts sporting in the beam! Dimly gleam the hills around, and show indistinctly their oaks! A blast from the troubled ocean removed the settled mist. The Sons of Erin appear, like a ridge of rocks on the coast; when mariners, on shores unknown, are trembling at veering winds!
"Go, Morla, go," said the king of Lochlin, "offer peace to these. Offer the terms we give to kings, when nations bow down to our swords. When the valiant are dead in war; when virgins weep on the field!" Tall Morla came, the son of Swaran, and stately strode the youth along! He spoke to Erin's blue-eyed chief, among the lesser heroes. "Take Swaran's peace," the warrior spoke, "the peace he gives to kings when nations bow to his sword. Leave Erin's streamy plains to us, and give thy spouse and dog. Thy spouse, high-bosomed heaving fair! Thy dog that overtakes the wind! Give these to prove the weakness of thine arm, live then beneath our power!"
"Tell Swaran, tell that heart of pride, Cuthullin never yields! I give him the dark-rolling sea; I give his people graves in Erin. But never shall a stranger have the pleasing sunbeam of my love. No deer shall fly on Lochlin's hills, before swift-footed Luäth." "Vain ruler of the car," said Morla, " wilt thou then fight the king? the king whose ships of many groves could carry off thine isle! So little is thy green-hilled Erin to him who rules the stormy waves!" " In words I yield to many, Morla. My sword shall yield to none. Erin shall own the sway of Cormac while Connal and Cuthullin live! O Connal, first of mighty men, thou hearest 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? The narrow house shall receive me in the midst of the light of renown. Exalt, ye sons of Erin, exalt the spear and bend the bow; rush on the foe in darkness, as the spirits of stormy nights!"
Then dismal, roaring fierce and deep, the gloom of battle poured along, as mist that is rolled on a valley when storms invade the silent sunshine of heaven. Cuthullin moves before me in arms, like an angry ghost before a cloud, when meteors enclose him with fire; when the dark winds are in his hand. Carril, far on the heath, bids the horn of battle sound. He raises the voice of song, and pours his soul into the minds of the brave.
"Where," said the mouth of the song, "where is the fallen Crugal? He lies forgot on earth; the hall of shells is silent. Sad is the spouse of Crugal. She is a stranger in the hall of her grief. But who is she that, like a sunbeam, flies before the ranks of the foe? It is Degrena, lovely fair, the spouse of fallen Crugal. Her hair is on the wind behind. Her eye is red; her voice is shrill. Pale, empty, is thy Crugal now! His form is in the cave of the hill. He comes to the ear of rest; he raises his feeble voice, like the humming of the mountain-bee, like the collected flies of the eve! 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. He rushed along like ocean's whale. He saw the death of his daughter: he roared in the midst of thousands. His spear met a son of Lochlin! battle spreads from wing to wing! As a hundred winds in Lochlin's groves, as fire in the pines of a hundred hills, so loud, so ruinous, so vast, the ranks of men are hewn down. Cuthullin cut off heroes like thistles; Swaran wasted Erin. Curach fell by his hand, Cairbar of the bossy shield! Morglan lies in lasting rest! Ca-olt trembles as he dies! His white breast is stained with blood! his yellow hair stretched in the dust of his native land! He often had spread the feast where he fell. He often there had raised the voice of the harp, when his dogs leapt round for joy, and the youths of the chase prepared the bow!
Still Swaran advanced, as a stream that bursts from the desert. The little hills are rolled in its course, the rocks are half-sunk by its side. But Cuthullin stood before him, like a hill, that catches the clouds of heaven. The winds contend on its head of pines, the hail rattles on its rocks. But, firm in its strength, it stands, and shades the silent vale of Cona. So Cuthullin shaded the sons of Erin, and stood in the midst of thousands. Blood rises like the fount of a rock from panting heroes around. But Erin falls on either wing, like snow in the day of the sun.
O sons of Erin," said Grumal, "Lochlin conquers in 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; his spear is a trembling beam of light behind him. Few fled with Grumal, 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? Carril, son of other times, carry my friends to that bushy hill. Here, Connal, let us stand like rocks, and save our flying friends."
Connal mounts the car of gems. They stretch their shields, like the darkened moon, the daughter of the starry skies, when she moves a dun circle through heaven, and dreadful change is expected by men. Sith-fadda 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; distant, withered, dark, they stand, with not a leaf to shake in the vale.
Cuthullin stood beside an oak. He rolled his red eye in silence, and heard the wind in his bushy hair; the scout of ocean came, Moran the son of Fithil "The ships," he cried, "the ships of the lonely isles. 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 Cuthullin, "blow, ye winds that rush along my isle of mist. Come to the death of thousands, O king of resounding Selma! Thy sails, my friend, are to me the clouds of the morning; thy ships the light of heaven; and thou thyself a pillar of fire that beams on the world by night. O Connal, first of men, how pleasing in grief are our friends! But the night is gathering around. Where now are the ships of Fingal? Here let us pass the hours of darkness; here wish for the moon of heaven."
The winds came down on the woods. The torrents rush from the rocks. Rain gathers round the head of Cromla. The red stars tremble between the flying clouds. Sad, by the side of a stream, whose sound is echoed by a tree, sad by the side of a stream the chief of Erin sits. Connal, son of Colgar, is there, and Carril of other times. "Unhappy is the hand of Cuthullin," said the son of Semo, "unhappy is the hand of Cuthullin since he slew his friend! Ferda, son of Damman, I loved thee as myself!"
"How, Cuthullin, son of Semo, how fell the breaker of the shields? Well I remember," said Connal, "the son of the noble Damman. Tall and fair, he was like the rainbow of heaven. Ferda from Albion came, the chief of a hundred hills. In Muri's hall he learned the sword, and won the friendship of Cuthullin. We moved to the chase together: 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 sunbeam of youth, the son of the noble Damman. "Cairbar," said the white-armed Deugala, "give me half of the herd. No more I will remain in your halls. Divide the herd, dark Cairbar!" "Let Cuthullin," 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," began the fair, "Cuthullin hath pained 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 Cuthullin, 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. Shall I then lift the sword?" She wept three days before the chief; on the fourth he said he would fight. "I will fight my friend, Deugala, but may I fall by his sword! Could I wander on the hill alone? Could I behold the grave of Cuthullin?" We fought on the plain of Mori. Our swords avoid a wound. They slide on the helmets of steel, or sound on the slippery shields. Deugala was near with a smile, and said to the son of Damman: "Thine arm is feeble, sunbeam of youth! Thy years are not strong for steel. Yield to the son of Semo. He is a rock on Malmor."
The tear is in the eye of youth. He faltering said to me: "Cuthullin, 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 cleft of a rock. I lifted high the edge of my steel. The sunbeam of battle fell: the first of Cuthullin's friends! Unhappy is the hand of Cuthullin 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, to the days of other years. Often have I heard of Comal, who slew the friend he loved; yet victory attended his steel: the battle was consumed in his presence!"
Comal was the son of Albion, the chief of a 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 the mighty Conloch. She appeared like a sunbeam among women. Her hair was the wing of the raven. Her dogs were taught to the chase. Her bowstring sounded on the winds. Her soul was fixed on Comal. Often met their eyes of love. Their course in the chase was one. Happy were their words in secret. But Grumal 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 chase, when the mist had concealed their friends, Comal and the daughter of Conloch met in the cave of Ronan. 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, Galbina: 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!"
He went to the deer of Mora. The daughter of Conloch would try his love. She clothed her fair sides with his armor: she strode from the cave of Ronan! he thought it was his foe. His heart beat high. His color changed, and darkness dimmed his eyes. He drew the bow. The arrow flew. Galbina fell in blood! He run with wildness in his steps: he called the daughter of Conloch. No answer in the lonely rock. Where art thou, O my love? He saw at length her heaving heart, beating around the arrow he threw. "O Conloch's daughter! is it thou?" He sunk upon her breast! The hunters found the hapless pair! He afterward 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 death along the field. But who could slay the mighty Coma!? He threw away his dark-brown shield. An arrow found his manly breast. He sleeps with his loved Galbina at the noise of the sounding surge! Their green tombs are seen by the mariner, when he bounds on the waves of the north.
The ancient Scots, well as the present Highlanders, drunk in shells; hence it is, that we so often meet in the old poetry with "chief of shells," and "the hall of shells."
Muri: A place in Ulster.