Conlath And Cuthona
Conlath was the youngest of Morni's sons, and brother to the celebrated Gaul. He was in love with Cuthona, the daughter of Rumar, when Toscar, the son of Kenfena, accompanied by Fercuth his friend, arrived from Ireland, at Mora, where Conlath dwelt. He was hospitably received, and according to the custom of the times, feasted three days with Conlath. On the fourth he set sail, and coasting the island of waves, one of the Hebrides, be saw Cuthona hunting, fell in love with her, and carried her away, by force, in his ship. He was forced, by stress of weather, into I-thona, a desert isle. In the mean time Conlath hearing of the rape, sailed after him, and found him on the point of sailing for the coast of Ireland. They fought: and they and their followers fell by mutual wounds. Cuthona did not long survive: for she died of grief the third day after. Fingal hearing of their unfortunate death, sent Stormal the son of Moran to bury them, but forgot to send a bard to sing the funeral song over their tombs. The ghost of Conlath comes long after to Ossian, to entreat him to transmit to posterity, his and Cuthona's fame. For it was the opinion of the times, that the souls of the deceased were not happy, till their elegies were composed by a bard.
Did not Ossian hear a voice? or is it the sound of days that are no more? Often does the memory of former times come, like the evening sun, on my soul. The noise of the chase is renewed. In thought, I lift the spear. But Ossian did hear a voice! Who art thou, son of night? The children of the feeble are asleep. The midnight wind is in my hall. Perhaps it is the shield of Fingal that echoes to the blast. It hangs in Ossian's hall. He feels it sometimes with his hands. Yes, I hear thee, my friend! Long has thy voice been absent from mine ear! What brings thee, on thy cloud, to Ossian, son of generous Morni! Are the friends of the aged near thee? Where is Oscar, son of fame? He was often near thee, O Conlath, when the sound of battle arose.
Ghost of Conlath: Sleeps the sweet voice of Cona, in the midst of his rustling hall? Sleeps Ossian in his hall, and his friends without their fame? The sea rolls round dark I-thona. Our tombs are not seen in our isle. How long shall our fame be unheard, son of resounding Selma?
Ossian: O that mine eyes could behold thee! Thou sittest, dim on thy cloud! Art thou like the mist of Lano? An half-extinguished meteor of fire? Of what are the skirts of thy robe? Of what is thine airy bow? He is gone on his blast like the shade of a wandering cloud. Come from thy wall, O harp! Let me hear thy sound. Let the light of memory rise on I-thona! Let me behold again my, friends! And Ossian does behold his friends, on the dark-blue isle. The cave of Thona appears, with its mossy rocks and bending trees. A stream roars at its mouth. Toscar bends over its course. Fercuth is sad by his side. Cuthona sits at a distance and weeps. Does the wind of the waves deceive me? Or do I hear them speak?
Toscar: The night was stormy. From their hills the groaning oaks came down. The sea darkly tumbled beneath the blast. The roaring waves climbed against our rocks. The lightning came often and showed the blasted fern. Fercuth! I saw the ghost who embroiled the night. Silent he stood, on that bank. His robe of mist flew on the wind. I could behold his tears. An aged man he seemed, and full of thought!
Fercuth: It was thy father, O Toscar. He foresees some death among his race. Such was his appearance on Cromla before the great Maronnan fell. Erin of hills of grass! how pleasant are thy vales! Silence is near thy blue streams. The sun is on thy fields. Soft is the sound of the harp in Seláma. Lovely the cry of th hunter on Cromla. But we are in dark I-thona, surrounded by the storm. The billows lift their white heads above our rocks. We tremble amidst the night.
Toscar: Whither is the soul of battle fled, Fercuth, with locks of age? I have seen thee undaunted in danger: thine eyes burning with joy in the light. Whither is the soul of battle fled? Our fathers never feared. Go; view the settling sea: the stormy wind is laid. The billows still tremble on the deep. They seem to fear the blast. Go; view the settling sea. Morning is gray on our rocks. The sun will look soon from his east; in all his pride of light! I lifted up my sails with joy before the halls of generous Conlath. My course was by a desert isle: where Cuthona pursued the deer. I saw her, like that beam of the sun that issues from the cloud. Her hair was on her heaving breast. She, bending forward, drew the bow. Her white arm seemed, behind her, like the snow of Cromla. Come to my soul, I said, huntress of the desert isle! But she wastes her time in tears. She thinks of the generous Conlath. Where can I find thy peace, Cuthona, lovely maid?
Cuthona: A distant steep bends over the sea, with aged trees and mossy rocks. The billow rolls at its feet. On its side is the dwelling of roes. The people call it Mora. There the towers of my love arise. There Conlath looks over the sea for his only love. The daughters of the chase returned. He beheld their downcast eyes. "Where is the daughter of Rumar?" But they answered not. My peace dwells on Mora, son of the distant land!
Toscar: Cuthona shall return to her peace: to the towers of generous Conlath. He is the friend of Toscar! I have feasted in his halls! Rise, ye gentle breezes of Erin. Stretch my sails towards Mora's shores. Cuthona shall rest on Mora; but the days of Toscar must be sad. I shall sit in my cave in the field of the sun. The blast will rustle in my trees, I shall think it is Cuthona's voice. But she is distant far, in the halls of the mighty Conlath!
Cuthona: Ha! what cloud is that? It carries the ghost of my fathers. I see the skirts of their robes, like gray and watery mist. When shall I fall, O Rumar? Sad Cuthona foresees her death. Will not Conlath behold me, before I enter the narrow house?
Ossian: He shall behold thee, O maid! He comes along the heaving sea. The death of Toscar is dark on his spear. A wound is in his side! He is pale at the cave of Thona. He shows his ghastly wound. Where art thou with thy tears, Cuthona? The chief of Mora dies. The vision grows dim on my mind. I behold the chiefs no more! But, O ye bards of future times, remember the fall of Conlath with tears. He fell before his day. Sadness darkened in his hall. His mother looked to his shield on the wall, and it was bloody. She knew that her hero fell. Her sorrow was heard on Mora. Art thou pale on thy rock, Cuthona, beside the fallen chiefs? Night comes, and day returns, but none appears to raise their tomb. Thou frightenest the screaming fowls away. Thy tears for ever flow. Thou art pale as a watery cloud, that rises from a lake.
The sons of green Selma came. They found Cuthona cold. They raised a tomb over the heroes. She rests at the side of Conlath! Come not to my dreams, O Conlath! Thou hast received thy fame. Be thy voice far distant from my hail; that sleep may descend at night. O that I could forget my friends; till my footsteps should cease to be seen; till I come among them with joy! and lay my aged limbs in the narrow house!
The War Of Inis-Thona
Reflections on the poet's youth. An apostrophe to Selma. Oscar obtains leave to go to Inis-thona, an island of Scandinavia. The mournful story of Argon and Ruro, the two sons of the king of Inis-thona. Oscar revenges their death, and returns in triumph to Selma. A soliloquy by the poet himself.
Our youth is like the dream of the hunter on the hill of heath. He sleeps in the mild beams of the sun: he awakes amidst a storm; the red lightning flies around: trees shake their heads to the wind! He looks back with joy on the day of the sun, and the pleasant dreams of his rest! When shall Ossian's youth return? When his ear delight in the sound of arms? When shall I, like Oscar, travel in the light of my steel? Come with your streams, ye hills of Cona! listen to the voice of Ossian. The song rises, like the sun, in my soul. I feel the joys of other times.
I behold thy towers, O Selma! the oaks of thy shaded wall: thy streams sound in my ear; thy heroes gather round. Fingal sits in the midst. He leans on the shield of Trenmor; his spear stands against the wall; he listens to the songs of his bards. The deeds of his arm are heard; the actions of the king in his youth! Oscar had returned from the chase, and heard the hero's praise. He took the shield of Branno from the wall; his eyes were filed with tears. Red was the cheek of youth. His voice was trembling low. My spear shook its bright head in his hand: he spoke to Morven's king.
"Fingal! thou king of heroes! Ossian, next to him in war! ye have fought in your youth; your names are renowned in song. Oscar is like the mist of Cona; I appear and I vanish away. The bard will not know my name. The hunter will not search in the heath for my tomb. Let me fight, O heroes, in the battles of Inis-thona. Distant is the land of my war! ye shall not hear of Oscar's fall: some bard may find me there; some bard may give my name to song. The daughter of the stranger shall see my tomb, and weep over the youth, that came from afar. The bard shall say, at the feast, Hear the song of Oscar from the distant land!"
" Oscar," replied the king of Morven, " thou shalt fight, son of my fame! Prepare my dark-bosomed ship to carry my hero to Inis-thona. Son of my son, regard our fame; thou art of the race of renown: let not the children of strangers say, Feeble are the sons of Morven! Be thou, in battle, a roaring storm: mild as the evening sun in peace! Tell, Oscar, to Inis-thona's king, that Fingal remembers his youth; when we strove in the combat together, in the days of Agandecca."
They lifted up the sounding sail: the wind whistled through the thongs of their masts. Waves lashed the oozy rocks: the strength of ocean roars. My son beheld, from the wave, the land of groves. He rushed into Runa's sounding bay, and sent his sword to Annir of spears. The gray-headed hero rose, when he saw the sword of Fingal. His eyes were full of tears; he remembered his battles in youth. Twice had they lifted the spear before the lovely Agandecca.: heroes stood far distant, as if two spirits were striving in winds.
" But now," began the king, " I am old; the Sword lies useless in my hall. Thou who art of Morven's race! Annir has seen the battle of spears; but now he is pale and withered, like the oak of Lano. I have no son to meet thee with joy, to bring thee to the halls of his fathers. Argon is pale in the tomb, and Ruro is no more. My daughter is in the hall of strangers: she longs to behold my tomb. Her spouse shakes ten thousand spears; he comes a cloud of death from Lano. Come, to share the feast of Annir, son of echoing Morven?
Three days they feasted together. On the fourth, Annir heard the name of Oscar. They rejoiced in the shell. They pursued the boars of Runa. Beside the fount of mossy stones the weary heroes rest. The tear steals in secret from Annir: he broke the rising sigh. "Here darkly rest," the hero said, "the children of my youth. This stone is the tomb of Ruro; that tree sounds over the grave of Argon. Do ye hear my voice, O my sons, within your narrow house? Or do ye speak in these rustling leaves, when the wind of the desert rises?"
"King of Inis-thona," said Oscar, "how fell the children of youth? The wild boar rushes over their tombs, but he does not disturb their repose. They pursue deer formed of clouds, and bend their airy bow. They still love the sport of their youth; and mount the wind with joy."
"Cormalo," replied the king, " is a chief of ten thousand spears. He dwells at the waters of Lano which sends forth the vapor of death. He came to Runa's echoing halls, and sought the honor of the spear. The youth was lovely as the first beam of the sun; few were they who could meet him in fight. My heroes yielded to Cormalo; my daughter was seized in his love. Argon and Ruro returned from the chase; the tears of their pride descend: they roll their silent eyes on Runa's heroes, who had yielded to stranger. Three days they feasted with Cormalo; on the fourth young Argon fought. But who could light with Argon? Cormalo is overcome. His heart swelled with the grief of pride; he resolved in secret to behold the death of my sons. They went to the hills of Runa; they pursued the dark-brown hinds. The arrow of Cormalo flew in secret; my children fell in blood. He came to the maid of his love; to Inis-thona's long-haired maid. They fled over the desert, Annir remained alone. Night came on, and day appeared; nor Argon's voice nor Ruro's came. At length their much-loved dog was seen; the fleet and bounding Runa. He came into the hall and howled; and seemed to look towards the place of their fall. We followed him; we found them here: we laid them by this mossy stream. This is the haunt of Annir, when the chase of the hinds is past. I bend like the trunk of an aged oak; my tears for ever flow!"
" O Ronnan!" said the rising Oscar, "Osgar, king of spears! call my heroes to my side, the sons of streamy Morven. To-day we go to Lano's water, that sends forth the vapor of death. Cormalo will not long rejoice: death is often at the point of our swords!"
They came over the desert like stormy clouds, when the winds roll them along the heath; their edges are tinged with lightning; the echoing groves foresee the storm! The horn of Oscar's battle is heard; Lano shook over all its waves. The children of the lake convened around the sounding shield of Cormalo. Oscar fought as he was wont in war. Cormalo fell beneath his sword: the sons of dismal Lano fled to their secret vales! Oscar brought the daughter of Inis-thona to Annir's echoing halls. The face of age is bright with joy; he blest the king of swords.
How great was the joy of Ossian, when he beheld the distant sail of his son! it was like a cloud of light that rises in the east, when the traveller is sad in a land unknown: and dismal night with her ghosts, is sitting around in shades! We brought him with songs to Selma's halls. Fingal spread the feast of shells. A thousand bards raised the name of Oscar: Morven answered to the sound. The daughter of Toscar was there; her voice was like the harp, when the distant sound comes in the evening, on the soft rustling breeze of the vale!
O lay me, ye that see the light, near some rock of my hills! let the thick hazels be around, let the rustling oak be near. Green be the place of my rest; let the sound of the distant torrent be heard. Daughter of Toscar, take the harp, and raise the lovely song of Selma; that sleep may overtake my soul in the midst of joy; that the dreams of my youth may return, and the days of the mighty Fingal. Selma! I behold thy towers, thy trees, thy shaded wall! I see the heroes of Morven; I hear the song of bards: Oscar lifts the sword of Cormalo; a thousand youths admire its studded thongs. They look with wonder on my son: they admire the strength of his arm. They mark the joy of his father's eyes; they long for an equal fame, and ye shall have your fame, O sons of streamy Morven! My soul is often brightened with song; I remember the friends of my youth. But sleep descends in the sound of the harp! pleasant dreams begin to rise! Ye Sons of the chase, stand far distant nor disturb my rest The bard of other times holds discourse with his fathers! the chiefs of the days of old! Sons of the chase, stand far distant! disturb not the dreams of Ossian!
Calthon And Colmal
This piece, as many more of Ossian's compositions, is addressed to one of the first Christian missionaries. The story of the poem is handed down by tradition thus:- In the country of the Britons, between the walls, two chiefs lived in the days of Fingal, Dunthalmo, Lord of Teutha, supposed to be the Tweed; and Rathmor, who dwelt at Clutha, well known to be the river Clyde. Rathmor was not more renowned for his generosity and hospitality, than Dunthalmo was infamous for his cruelty and ambition. Dunthalmo, through envy, or on account of some private feuds, which subsisted between the families, murdered Rathmor at a feast; but being afterward touched with remorse, he educated the two sons of Rathmor, Calthon and Colmar, in his own house. They growing up to man's estate, dropped some hints that they intended to revenge the death of their father, upon which Dunthalmo shut them up in two caves, on the banks of Teutha, intending to take them off privately. Colmal, the daughter of Dunthalmo, who was secretly in love with Calthon, helped him to make his escape from prison, and hied with him to Fingal, disguised in the habit of a young warrior, and implored his aid against Dunthalmo. Fingal sent Ossian with three hundred men to Colmar's relief. Dunthalmo, having previously murdered Colmar, came to a battle with Ossian, but he was killed by that hero, and his army totally defeated. Calthon married Colmal his deliverer; and Ossian returned to Morven.
Pleasant is the voice of thy song, thou lonely dweller of the rock! It comes on the sound of the stream, along the narrow vale. My soul awakes, O stranger, in the midst of my hall. I stretch my hand to the spear, as in the days of other years. I stretch my hand, but it is feeble: and the sigh of my bosom grows. Wilt thou not listen, son of the rock! to the song of Ossian? My soul is full of other times; the joy of my youth returns. Thus the sun appears in the west, after the steps of his brightness have moved behind a storm: the green hills lift their dewy heads: the blue streams rejoice in the vale. The aged hero comes forth on his stair; his gray hair glitters in the beam. Dost thou not behold, son of the rock! a shield in Ossian's hall? It is marked with the strokes of battle; and the brightness of its bosses has failed. That shield the great Dunthalmo bore, the chief of streamy Teutha. Dunthalmo bore it in battle before he fell by Ossian's spear. Listen, son of the rock! to the tale of other years.
Rathmor was a chief of Clutha. The feeble dwelt in his ball. The gates of Rathmor were never shut: his feast was always spread. The sons of the stranger came. They blessed the generous chief of Clutha. Bards raised the song, and touched the harp: joy brightened on the face of the sad! Dunthalmo came, in his pride, and rushed into the combat of Rathmor. The chief of Clutha overcame: the rage of Dunthalmo rose. He came, by night, with his warriors; the mighty Rathmor fell. He fell in his halls, where his feast was often spread for strangers.
Colmar and Calthon were young, the sons of car-borne Rathmor. They came, in the joy of youth, into their father's hall. They behold him in his blood; their bursting tears descend. The soul of Dunthalmo melted, when he saw the children of youth. He brought them to Alteutha's walls; they grew in the house of their foe. They bent the bow in his presence: and came forth to his wars. They saw the fallen walls of their fathers; they saw the green thorn in the hall. Their tears rushed forth in secret. At times their faces were sad. Dunthalmo beheld their grief; his darkening soul designed their death. He closed them in two caves, on the echoing banks of Teutha. The sun did not come there with his beams; nor the moon of heaven by night. The sons of Rathmor remained in darkness, and foresaw their death.
The daughter of Dunthalmo wept in silence, the fair-haired blue-eyed Colmal. Her eye had rolled in secret on Calthon; his loveliness swelled in her soul. She trembled for her warrior; but what could Colmal do? Her arm could not lift the spear; nor was the sword formed for her side. Her white breast never rose beneath a mail. Neither was her eye the terror of heroes. What canst thou do, O Colmal!! for the falling chief? Her steps are unequal; her hair is loose; her eye looks wildly through her tears. She came, by night, to the hall. She armed her lovely form in steel; the steel of a young warrior, who fell in the first of his battles. She came to the cave of Calthon, and loosed the thong from his hands.
"Arise, son of Rathmor," she said, "arise, the night is dark! Let us fly to the king of Selma, chief of fallen Clutha! I am the son of Lamgal, who dwelt in thy father's hall. I heard of thy dark dwelling in the cave, and my soul arose. Arise, son of Rathmor! arise, the night is dark!" — "Blest voice!" replied the chief, "comest thou from the clouds to Calthon? The ghosts of his fathers have often descended in his dreams, since the sun has retired from his eyes, and darkness has dwelt around him. Or art thou the son of Lamgal, the chief I often saw in Clutha? But shall I fly to Fingal, and Colmar my brother low? Will I fly to Morven, and the hero closed in night? No; give me that spear, son of Lamgal; Calthon will defend his brother!"
"A thousand warriors," replied the maid, "stretch their spears round car-borne Colmar. What can Calthon do against a host so great? Let us fly to the king of Morven, he will come with war. His arm is stretched forth to the unhappy; the lightning of his sword is round the weak. Arise, thou son of Rathmor; the shadows will fly away. Arise, or thy steps may be seen, and thou must fall in youth."
The sighing hero rose; his tears descend for car-borne Colmar. He came with the maid to Selma's hall: but he knew not that it was Colmal. The helmet covered her lovely face. Her bosom heaved beneath the steel. Fingal returned from the chase, and found the lovely strangers. They were like two beams of light, in the midst of the hall of shells. The king heard the tale of grief, and turned his eyes around. A thousand heroes half rose before him; claiming the war of Teutha. I came with my spear from the hill; the joy of battle rose in my breast: for the king spoke to Ossian in the midst of a thousand chiefs.
" Son of my strength," began the king, "take thou the spear of Fingal. Go to Teutha's rushing stream, and save the car-borne Colmar. Let thy fame return before thee like a pleasant gale; that my soul may rejoice over my son, who renews the renown of fathers. Ossian! be thou a storm in war; but mild when the foe is low! it was thus my fame arose, O my son! be thou like Selma's chief. When the haughty come to my halls, my eyes behold them not. But my arm is stretched forth to the unhappy. My sword defends the weak."
I rejoiced in the words of the king. I took my rattling arms. Diaran rose at my side, and Dargo, king of spears. Three hundred youths followed our steps; the lovely strangers were at my side. Dunthalmo heard the sound of our approach. He gathered the strength of Teutha. He stood on a hill with his host. They were like rocks broken with thunder, when their bent trees are singed and bare, and the streams of their chinks have failed. The stream of Teutha rolled in its pride, before the gloomy foe. I sent a bard to Dunthalmo, to offer the combat on the plain; but he smiled in the darkness of his pride. His unsettled host moved on the hill; like the mountain cloud, when the blast has entered its womb, and scatters the curling gloom on every side.
They brought Colmar to Teutha's bank, bound with a thousand thongs. The chief is sad, but stately. His eye is on his friends; for we stood in our arms, whilst Teutha's waters rolled between. Dunthalmo came with his spear, and pierced the hero's side: he rolled on the bank in his blood. We heard his broken sighs. Calthon rushed into the stream: I bounded forward on my spear. Teutha's race fell before us. Night came rolling down. Dunthalmo rested on a rock, amidst an aged wood. The rage of his bosom burned against the car-borne Calthon. But Calthon stood in grief; he mourned the fallen Colmar; Colmar slain in youth before his fame arose!
I bade the song of wo to rise, to soothe the mournful chief; but he stood beneath a tree, and often threw his spear on the earth. The humid eye of Colmar rolled near in a secret tear: she foresaw the fall of Dunthalmo, or of Clutha's warlike chief. Now half the night had passed away. Silence and darkness were on the field. Sleep rested on the eyes of the heroes: Calthon's settling soul was still. His eyes were half closed; but the murmur of Teutha had not yet failed in his ear. Pale, and showing his wounds, the ghost of Colmar came: he bent his head over the hero, and raised his feeble voice!
" Sleeps the son of Rathmor in his night, and his brother low? Did we not rise to the chase together? Pursued we not the dark-brown hinds? Colmar was not forgot till he fell, till death had blasted his youth I lie pale beneath the rock of Lona. O let Calthon rise! the morning comes with its beams; Dunthalmo will dishonor the fallen." He passed away in his blast The rising Calthon saw the steps of his departure. He rushed in the sound of his steel. Unhappy Colmal rose. She followed her hero through night, and dragged her spear behind. But when Calthon came to Lona's rock, he found his fallen brother. The rage of his bosom rose; he rushed among the foe. The groans of death ascend. They close around the chief. He is bound in the midst, and brought to gloomy Dunthalmo. The shout of joy arose; and the hills of night replied.
I started at the sound; and took my father's spear. Diaran rose at my side; and the youthful strength of Dargo. We missed the chief of Clutha, and our souls were sad. I dreaded the departure of my fame. The pride of my valor rose. "Sons of Morven," I said, "it is not thus our fathers fought. They rested not on the field of strangers, when the foe was not fallen before them. Their strength was like the eagles of heaven; their renown is in the song. But our people fall by degrees. Our fame begins to depart. What shall the king of Morven say, if Ossian conquers not at Teutha? Rise in your steel, ye warriors, follow the sound of Ossian's course. He will not return, but renowned, to the echoing walls of Selma."
Morning rose on the blue waters of Teutha. Colmal stood before me in tears. She told of the chief of Clutha: thrice the spear fell from her hand. My wrath turned against the stranger; for my soul trembled for Calthon. '"Son of the feeble hand!" I said, "do Teutha's warriors fight with tears? The battle is not won with grief; nor dwells the sigh in the soul of war. Go to the deer of Carmun, to the lowing herds of Teutha. But leave these arms, thou son of fear! A warrior may lift them in fight."
I tore the mail from her shoulders. Her snowy breast appeared. She bent her blushing face to the ground. I looked in silence to the chiefs. The spear fell from my hand; the sigh of my bosom rose! But when I heard the name of the maid, my crowding tears rushed down. I blessed the lovely beam of youth, and bade the battle move!
Why, son of the rock, should Ossian tell how warriors died? They are now forgot in their land; their tombs are not found on the heath. Years came on with their storms. The green mounds are mouldered away. Scarce is the grave of Dunthalmo seen, or the place where he fell by the spear of Ossian.
Some gray warrior, half blind with age, sitting by night at the flaming oak of the hall, tells now my deeds to his sons, and the fall of the dark Dunthalmo. The faces of youth bend sidelong towards his voice. Surprise and joy burn in their eyes! I found Calthon bound to an oak; my sword cut the thongs from his hands. I gave him the white-bosomed Colmal. They dwelt in the halls of Teutha.
The Songs Of Selma
ARGUMENTAddress to the evening star:
An apostrophe to Fingal and his times. Minonasings before the king the song of the unfortunate Colma; and the bards exhibit other specimens of their poetical talents; according to an annual custom established by the monarchs of the ancient Caledonians.
STAR of descending night! fair is thy light in the west! thou that liftest thy unshorn head from thy cloud: thy steps are stately on thy hill. What dost thou behold in the plain? The stormy winds are laid. The murmur of the torrent comes from afar. Roaring waves climb the distant rock. The flies of evening are on their feeble wings: the hum of their course is in the field. What dost thou behold, fair light? But thou dost smile and depart. The waves come with joy around thee: they bathe thy lovely hair. Farewell, thou silent beam! Let the light of Ossian's soul arise!
And it does arise in its strength! I behold my departed friends. Their gathering is on Lora, as in the days of other years. Fingal comes like a watery column of mist! his heroes are around: and see the bards of song, gray-haired Ullin! Stately Ryno! Alpin with the tuneful voice! the soft complaint of Minona! How are ye changed, my friends, since the days of Selma's feast! when we contended, like gales of spring, as they fly along the hill, and bend by turns the feebly whistling grass.
Minona came forth in her beauty: with downcast look and tearful eye. Her hair flew slowly on the blast, that rushed unfrequent from the hill. The souls of the heroes were sad when she raised the tuneful voice. Often had they seen the grave of Salgar, the dark dwelling of white-bosomed Colma. Colma left alone on the hill, with all her voice of song! Salgar promised to come: but the night descended around. Hear the voice of Colma, when she sat alone on the hill.
Colma. It is night, I am alone, forlorn on the hill of storms. The wind is heard on the mountain. The torrent pours down the rock. No hut receives me from the rain; forlorn on the hill of winds!
Rise, moon! from behind thy clouds. Stars of the night, arise! Lead me, some light, to the place where my love rests from the chase alone! his bow near him, unstrung: his dogs panting around him. But here I must sit alone, by the rock of the mossy stream. The stream and the wind roar aloud. I hear not the voice of my love! Why delays my Salgar, why the chief of the hill, his promise? here is the rock, and here the tree! here is the roaring stream! Thou didst promise with night to be here. Ah! whither is my Salgar gone? With thee, I would fly from my father; with thee, from my brother of pride. Our race have long been foes; we are not foes, O Salgar!
Cease a little while, O wind! stream, be thou silent awhile! let my voice be heard around. Let my wanderer hear me! Salgar! it is Colma who calls. Here is the tree, and the rock. Salgar, my love! I am here. Why delayest thou thy coming? Lo! the calm moon comes forth. The flood is bright in the vale. The rocks are gray on the steep, I see him not on the brow. His dogs come not before him, with tidings of his near approach. Here I must sit alone!
Who lie on the heath beside me? Are they my love and my brother? Speak to me, O my friends! To Colma they give no reply. Speak to me; I am alone! My soul is tormented with fears! Ah! they are dead! Their swords are red from the fight. O my brother! my brother! why hast thou slain my Salgar? why, O Salgar! hast thou slain my brother? Dear were ye both to me! what shalt I say in your praise? Thou wert fair on the hill among thousands! he was terrible in fight. Speak to me; hear my voice; hear me, song of my love! They are silent; silent for ever! Cold, cold, are their breasts of clay! Oh! from the rock on the hill, from the top of the windy steep, speak, ye ghosts of the dead! speak, I will not be afraid! Whither are ye gone to rest? In what cave of the hill shall I find the departed? No feeble voice is on the gale: no answer half-drowned in the storm!
I sit in my grief; I wait for morning in my tears! Rear the tomb, ye friends of the dead. Close it not till Colma come. My life flies away like a dream: why should I stay behind? Here shall I rest with my friends, by the stream of the sounding rock. When night comes on the hilt; when the loud winds arise; my ghost shall stand in the blast, and mourn the death of my friends. The hunter shall hear from his booth. he shall fear but love my voice! For sweet shall my voice be for my friends: pleasant were her friends to Colma!
Such was thy song, Minona, softly-blushing daughter of Torman. Our tears descended for Colma, and our souls were sad! Ullin came with his harp! he gave the song of Alpin. The voice of Alpin was pleasant: the soul of Ryno was a beam of fire! But they had rested in the narrow house: their voice had ceased in Selma. Ullin had returned, one day, from the chase, before the heroes fell. He heard their strife on the hilt; their song was soft but sad! They mourned the fall of Morar, first of mortal men! His soul was like the soul of Fingal: his sword like the sword of Oscar. But he fell, and his father mourned: his sister's eyes were full of tears. Minona's eyes were full of tears, the sister of car-borne Morar. She retired from the song of Ullin, like the moon in the west, when she foresees the shower, and hides her fair head in a cloud. I touched the harp with Ullin; the song of mourning rose!
Ryno. The wind and the rain are past; calm is the noon of day. The clouds are divided in heaven. Over the green hills flies the inconstant sun. Red through the stony vale comes down the stream of the hill. Sweet are thy murmurs, O stream! but more sweet is the voice I hear. It is the voice of Alpin, the son of song, mourning for the dead! Bent is his head of age; red his tearful eye. Alpin, thou son of song, why alone on the silent hill? why complainest thou, as a blast in the wood; as a wave on the lonely shore?
Alpin. My tears, O Ryno! are for the dead; my voice for those that have passed away. Tall thou art on the hill; fair among the sons of the vale. But thou shalt fall like Morar; the mourner shall sit on thy tomb. The hills shall know thee no more; thy bow shall in thy hall unstrung.
Thou wert swift, O Morar! as a roe on the desert; terrible as a meteor of fire. Thy wrath was as the storm. Thy sword in battle, as lightning in the field. Thy voice was a stream after rain; like thunder on distant hills. Many fell by thy arm; they were consumed in the flames of thy wrath. But when thou didst return from war, how peaceful was thy brow! Thy face was like the sun after rain; like the moon in the silence of night; calm as the breast of the lake when the loud wind is laid.
Narrow is thy dwelling now! Dark the place of thine abode! With three steps I compass thy grave. O thou who wast so great before! Four stones, with their heads of moss, are the only memorial of thee. A tree with scarce a leaf, long grass, which whistles in the wind, mark to the hunter's eye the grave of the mighty Morar. Morar! thou art low indeed. Thou hast no mother to mourn thee; no maid with her tears of love. Dead is she that brought thee forth. Fallen is the daughter of Morglan.
Who on his staff is this? who is this whose head is white with age; whose eyes are red with tears? who quakes at every step? It is thy father, O Morar! the father of no son but thee. He heard of thy fame in war; he heard of foes dispersed. He heard of Morar's renown; why did he not hear of his wound? Weep, thou father of Morar! weep; but thy son heareth thee not. Deep is the sleep of the dead; low their pillow of dust. No more shall he hear thy voice; no more awake at thy call. When shall it be morn in the grave, to bid the slumberer awake Farewell, thou bravest of men! thou conqueror in the field! but the field shall see thee no more; nor the dark wood be lightened with the splendor of thy steel. Thou hast left no son. The song shall preserve thy name. Future times shall hear of thee; they shall hear of the fallen Morar.
The grief of all arose, but most the bursting sigh of Armin. He remembers the death of his son, who fell in the days of his youth. Carmor was near the hero, the chief of the echoing Galmal. Why burst the sigh of Armin? he said. Is there a cause to mourn? The song comes, with its music, to melt and please the soul. It is like soft mist, that, rising from a lake, pours on the silent vale; the green flowers are filled with dew, but the sun returns in his strength, and the mist is gone. Why art thou sad, O Armin, chief of sea-surrounded Gorma?
Sad I am! nor small is my cause of wo. Carmor, thou hast lost no son; thou hast lost no daughter of beauty. Colgar the valiant lives; and Annira, fairest maid. The boughs of thy house ascend, O Carmor! but Armin is the last of his race. Dark is thy bed, O Daura! deep thy sleep in the tomb! When shalt thou awake with thy songs? with all thy voice of music?
Arise, winds of autumn, arise; blow along the heath! streams of the mountains, roar! roar, tempests, in the groves of my oaks! walk through broken clouds, O moon! show thy pale face, at intervals! bring to my mind the night, when all my children fell; when Arindal the mighty fell! when Daura the lovely failed! Daura, my daughter! thou wert fair; fair as the moon on Fura , white as the driven snow; sweet as the breathing gale. Arindal, thy bow was strong. Thy spear was swift on the field. Thy look was like mist on the wave: thy shield, a red cloud in a storm. Armar, renowned in war, came, and sought Daura's love. He was not long refused: fair was the hope of their friends!
Erath, son of Odgal, repined: his brother had been slain by Armar. He came disguised like a son of the sea: fair was his skiff on the wave; white his locks of age; calm his serious brow. Fairest of women, he said, lovely daughter of Armin! a rock not distant in the sea bears a tree on its side: red shines the fruit afar! There Armar waits for Daura. I come to carry his love! She went; she called on Armar. Nought answered, but the son of the rock. Armar, my love! my love! why tormentest thou me with fear! hear, son of Arnart, hear: it is Daura who calleth thee! Erath the traitor fled laughing to the land. She lifted up her voice; she called for her brother and for her father. Arindal! Armin! none to relieve your Daura!
Her voice came over the sea. Arindal my son descended from the hill; rough in the spoils of the chase. His arrows rattled by his side; his bow was in his hand; five dark-gray dogs attended his steps. He saw fierce Erath on the shore: he seized and bound him to an oak. Thick wind the thongs of the hide around his limbs: he loads the winds with his groans . Arindal ascends the deep in his boat, to bring Daura to land. Armar came in his wrath, and let fly the gray-feathered shaft. It sunk, it sunk in thy heart, O Arindal, my son! for Erath the traitor thou diest. The oar is stopped at once; he panted on the rock and expired. What is thy grief, O Daura, when round thy feet is poured thy brother's blood! The boat is broke in twain. Armar plunges into the sea, to rescue his Daura, or die. Sudden a blast from a hill came over the waves. He sunk, and he rose no more.
Alone on the sea-beat rock, my daughter was heard to complain. Frequent and loud were her cries. What could her father do? All night I stood on the shore. I saw her by the faint beam of the moon. All night I heard her cries. Loud was the wind; the rain beat hard on the hill. Before morning appeared her voice was weak. it died away, like the evening breeze among the grass of the rocks. Spent with grief, she expired; and left thee, Armin, alone. Gone is my strength in war! fallen my pride among women! When the storms aloft arise; when the north lifts the wave on high! I sit by the sounding shore, and look on the fatal rock. Often by the setting moon, I see the ghosts of my children. Half viewless, they walk in mournful conference together. Will none of you speak in pity. They do not regard their father. I am sad, O Carmor, nor small is my cause of wo.
Such were the words of the bards in the days of song: when the king heard the music of harps, the tales of other times! The chiefs gathered from all their hills, and heard the lovely sound. They praised the voice of Cona; the first among a thousand bards! But age is now on my tongue; my soul has failed: I hear, at times, the ghosts of bards, and learn their pleasant Song. But memory fails on my mind. I hear the call of years; they say, as they pass along, Why does Ossian sing? Soon shall he lie in the narrow house, and no bard shall raise his fame! Roll on, ye dark-brown years; ye bring no joy on your course! Let the tomb open to Ossian, for his strength has failed. The sons of song are gone to rest. My voice remains, like a blast, that roars, lonely, on a sea-surrounded rock, after the winds are laid. The dark moss whistles there; the distant mariner sees the waving trees!
By "the son of the rock," the poet means the echoing back of the human voice from a rock.
Ossian is sometimes poetically called "the voice of Cona".
The Battle Of Lora
Fingal, at his return from Ireland, after he had expelled Swaran from that kingdom, made a feast to all his heroes: he forgot to invite Ma-Ronnan and Aldo, two chiefs, who had not been along with him in his expedition. They resented his neglect; and went over to Erragon, king of Sora, a country of Scandinavia, the declared enemy of Fingal. The valor of Aldo soon gained him a great reputation in Sora; and Lorma, the beautiful wife of Erragon, fell in love with him. He found means to escape with her, and to come to Fingal, who resided then in Selma, on the western coast. Erragon invaded Scotland, and was slain in battle by Gaul the son of Morni, after he had rejected terms of peace offered him by Fingal. In this war Aldo fell, in a single combat, by the hands of his rival Erragon, and the unfortunate Lorma afterward died of grief.
SON of the distant land, who dwellest in the secret cell; do I hear the sound of thy grove? or is it thy voice of songs? The torrent was loud in my ear; but I heard a tuneful voice. Dost thou praise the chiefs of thy land: or the spirits of the wind? But, lonely dweller of rocks! look thou on that heathy plain. Thou seest green tombs, with their rank, whistling grass, with their stones of mossy heads. Thou seest them, son of the rock, but Ossian's eyes have failed!
A mountain-stream comes roaring down, and sends its waters round a green hill. Four mossy stones, in the midst of withered grass, rear their heads on the top. Two trees which the storms have bent, spread their whistling branches around. This is thy dwelling, Erragon; this thy narrow house; the sound of thy shells has been long forgot in Sora. Thy shield is become dark in thy hall. Erragon, king of ships, chief of distant Sora! how hast thou fallen on our mountains? How is the mighty low? Son of the secret cell! dost thou delight in songs? Hear the battle of Lora. The sound of its steel is long since past. So thunder on the darkened hill roars and is no more. The sun returns with his silent beams. The glittering rocks, and the green heads of the mountains, smile.
The bay of Cona received our ships from Erin's rolling waves. Our white sheets hung loose to the masts. The boisterous winds roared behind the groves of Morven. The horn of the king is sounded; the deer start from their rocks. Our arrows flew in the woods. The feast of the hill is spread. Our joy was great on our rocks, for the fall of the terrible Swaran. Two heroes were forgot at our feast. The rage of their bosoms burned. They rolled their red eyes in secret. The sigh bursts from their breasts. They were seen to talk together, and to throw their spears on earth. They were two dark clouds in the midst of our joy; like pillars of mist on the settled sea: they glitter to the sun, but the mariners fear a storm.
"Raise my white sails," said Ma-Ronnan, "raise them to the winds of the west. Let us rush, O Aldo! through the foam of the northern wave. We are forgot at the feast: but our arms have been red in blood. Let us leave the hills of Fingal, and serve the king of Sora. His countenance is fierce. War darkens around his spear. Let us be renowned, O Aldo, in the battles of other lands!"
They took their swords, their shields of thongs. They rushed to Lumar's resounding bay. They came to Sora's haughty king, the chief of bounding steeds. Erragon had returned from the chase. His spear was red in blood. He bent his dark face to the ground; and whistled as he went. He took the strangers to his feast: they fought and conquered in his wars.
Aldo returned with his fame towards Sora's lofty walls. From her tower looked the spouse of Erragon, the humid, rolling eyes of Lorma. Her yellow hair flies on the wind of ocean. Her white breast heaves, like snow on heath; when the gentle winds arise, and slowly move it in the light. She saw young Aldo, like the beam of Sora's setting sun. Her soft heart sighed. Tears filled her eyes. Her white arm supported her head. Three days she sat within the hall, and covered her grief with joy. On the fourth she fled with the hero, along the troubled sea. They came to Cona's mossy towers, to Fingal king of spears.
"Aldo of the heart of pride!" said Fingal, rising in wrath; "shall I defend thee from the rage of Sora's injured king? Who will now receive my people into their halls? Who will give the feast of strangers, since Aldo of the little soul has dishonored my name in Sora? Go to thy hills, thou feeble hand! Go: hide thee in thy caves. Mournful is the battle we must fight with Sora's gloomy king. Spirit of the noble Trenmor! when will Fingal cease to fight? I was born in the midst of battles, and my steps must move in blood to the tomb. But my hand did not injure the weak, my steel did not touch the feeble in arms. I behold thy tempests, O Morven! which will overturn my halls! when my children are dead in battle, and none remains to dwell in Selma. Then will the feeble come, but they will not know my tomb. My renown is only in song. My deeds shall be as a dream to future times!"
His people gathered around Erragon, as the storms round the ghosts of night; when he calls them from the top of Morven, and prepares to pour them on the land of the stranger. He came to the shore of Cona. He sent his bard to the king to demand the combat of thousands: or the land of many hills! Fingal sat in his hall with the friends of his youth around him. The young heroes were at the chase, far distant in the desert. The gray-haired chiefs talked of other times; of the actions of their youth; when the aged Nartmor came, the chief of streamy Lora.
"This is no time," said Nartmor, "to hear the songs of other years: Erragon frowns on the coast, and lifts ten thousand swords. Gloomy is the king among his chiefs! he is like the darkened moon amidst the meteors of night; when they sail along her skirts, and give the light that has failed o'er her orb." "Come," said Fingal, "from thy hall, come, daughter of my love: come from thy hall, Bosmina, maid of streamy Morven! Nartmor, take the steeds of the strangers. Attend the daughter of Fingal! Let her bid the king of Sora to our feast, to Selma's shaded wall. Offer him, O Bosmina! the peace of heroes, and the wealth of generous Aldo. Our youths are far distant. Age is on our trembling hands!"
She came to the host of Erragon, like a beam of light to a cloud. In her right hand was seen, a sparkling shell. In her left an arrow of gold. The first, the joyful mark of peace! The latter, the sign of war. Erragon brightened in her presence, as a rock before the sudden beams of the sun; when they issue from a broken cloud divided by the roaring wind!
"Son of the distant Sora," began the mildly-blushing maid," come to the feast of Morven's king, to Selma's shaded walls. Take the peace of heroes, O warrior! Let the dark sword rest by thy side. Choosest thou the wealth of kings? Then hear the words of generous Aldo. He gives to Erragon a hundred steeds, the children of the rein; a hundred maids from distant lands; a hundred hawks with fluttering wing, that fly across the sky. A hundred girdles shall also be thine, to bind high-bosomed maids. The friends of the births of heroes. The cure of the sons of toil. Ten shells, studded with gems, shall shine in Sora's towers: the bright water trembles on their stars, and seems to be sparkling wine. They gladdened once the kings of the world, in the midst of their echoing halls. These, O hero! shall be thine; or thy white bosomed spouse. Lorma shall roll her bright eyes in thy halls; though Fingal loves the generous Aldo: Fingal, who never injured a hero, though his arm is strong!"
"Soft voice of Cona!" replied the king, "tell him, he spreads his feast in vain. Let Fingal pour his spoils around me. Let him bend beneath my power. Let him give me the swords of his fathers: the shields of other times; that my children may behold them in my halls, and say, 'These are the arms of Fingal!'" "Never shall they behold them in thy halls," said the rising pride of the maid. "They are in the hands of heroes, who never yield in war. King of echoing Sora! the storm is gathering on our hills. Dost thou not foresee the fall of thy people, son of the distant land?"
She came to Selma's silent halls. The king beheld her downcast eyes. He rose from his place, in his strength. He shook his aged locks. He took the sounding mail of Trenmor. The dark-brown shield of his fathers. Darkness filled Selma's hall, when he stretched his hand to the spear: the ghosts of thousands were near, and foresaw the death of the people. Terrible joy rose in the face of the aged heroes. They rushed to meet the foe. Their thoughts are on the deeds of other years: and on the fame that rises from death!
Now at Trathal's ancient tomb the dogs of the chase appeared. Fingal knew that his young heroes followed. He stopped in the midst of his course. Oscar appeared the first; then Morni's son, and Némi's race. Fercuth showed his gloomy form. Dermid spread his dark hair on wind. Ossian came the last. I hummed the song of other times. My spear supported my steps over the little streams. My thoughts were of mighty men. Fingal struck his bossy shield, and gave the dismal sign of war. A thousand swords at once, unsheathed, gleam on the waving heath. Three gray-haired sons of the song raise the tuneful, mournful voice. Deep and dark, with sounding steps, we rush, a gloomy ridge, along; like the shower of the storm when it pours on a narrow vale.
The king of Morven sat on his hill. The sunbeam of battle flew on the wind. The friends of his youth are near, with all their waving locks of age. Joy rose in the hero's eyes when he beheld his sons in war; when he saw us amidst the lightning of swords, mindful of the deeds of our fathers. Erragon came on, in his strength, like the roar of a winter stream. The battle falls around his steps: death dimly stalks along by his side.
"Who comes," said Fingal, "like the bounding roe!; like the hart of echoing Cona? His shield glitters on his side. The clang of his armor is mournful. He meets with Erragon in the strife. Behold the battle of the chiefs! It is like the contending of ghosts in a gloomy storm. But fallest thou, son of the hill, and is thy white bosom stained with blood? Weep, unhappy Lorma! Aldo is no more!" The king took the spear of his strength. He was sad for the fall at Aldo. He bent his deathful eyes on the foe: but Gaul met the king of Sora. Who can relate the light of the chiefs? The mighty stranger fell! "Sons of Cona!' Fingal cried aloud, "stop the hand of death. Mighty was he that is low. Much is he mourned in Sora! The stranger will come towards his hall, and wonder why it is so silent. The king is fallen, O stranger! The joy of his house is ceased. Listen to the sound of his woods! Perhaps his ghost is murmuring there! But he is far distant, on Morven, beneath the sword of a foreign foe." Such were the words of Fingal, when the bard raised the song of peace. We stopped our uplifted swords. We spared the feeble foe. We laid Erragon in a tomb. I raised the voice of grief. The clouds of night came rolling down. The ghost of Erragon appeared to some. His face was cloudy and dark; a half-formed sigh in his breast. "Blest be thy soul, O king of Sora! thine arm was terrible in war!"
Lorma sat in Aldo's hall. She sat at the light of a flaming oak. The night came down, but he did not return. The soul of Lorma is sad! "What detains thee, hunter of Cona? Thou didst promise to return. Has the deer been distant far? Do the dark winds sigh, round! thee, on the heath? I am in the land of strangers; who is my friend, but Aldo? Come from thy sounding hills, O my best beloved!"
Her eyes are turned towards the gate. She listens to the rustling blast. She thinks it is Aldo's tread. Joy rises in her face! But sorrow returns again, like a thin cloud on the moon. "Wilt thou not return, my love? Let me behold the face of the hill. The moon is in the east. Calm and bright is the breast of the lake! When shall I behold his dogs, returning from the chase? When shall I hear his voice, loud and distant on the wind? Come from thy sounding hills, hunter of woody Cona!" His thin ghost appeared, on a rock, like a watery beam of feeble light: when the moon rushes sudden from between two clouds, and the midnight shower is on the field. She followed the empty form over the heath. She knew that her hero fell. I heard her approaching cries on the wind, like the mournful voice of the breeze, when it sighs on the grass of the cave
She came. She found her hero! Her voice was heard no more. Silent she rolled her eyes. She was pale and wildly sad! Few were her days on Cona. She sunk into the tomb. Fingal commanded his bards; they sung over the death of Lorma. The daughters of Morven mourned her, for one day in the year, when the dark winds of autumn returned!
Son of the distant land! Thou dwellest in the field of fame! O let the song arise, at times, in praise of those who fell! Let their thin ghosts rejoice around thee; and the soul of Lorma come on a feeble beam; when thou liest down to rest, and the moon looks into thy cave. Then shalt thou see her lovely; but the tear is still on her cheek!
The Death Of Carthullin
Cuthullin, after the arms of Fingal had expelled Swaran from Ireland, continued to manage the affairs of that kingdom as the guardian of Cormac the young king. In the third year of Cuthullin's administration, Torlath, the son of Cantela, rebelled in Connaught: and advanced to Temora to dethrone Cormac. Cuthullin marched against him, came up with him at the lake of Lego, and totally defeated his forces. Torlath fell in battle by Cuthullin's hand; but as he too eagerly pressed on the enemy, he was mortally wounded. The affairs of Cormac, though for some time supported by Nathos, as mentioned in the preceding poem, fell into confusion at the death of Cuthullin. Cormac himself was slain by the rebel Cairbar; and the re-establishment of the royal family of Ireland, by Fingal, furnishes the subject of the epic poem of Temora.
Is the wind on the shield of Fingal? Or is the voice of past times in my hall? Sing on, sweet voice! for thou art pleasant. Thou carriest away my night with joy. Sing on, O Bragéla, daughter of car-borne Sorglan!
"It is the white wave of the rock, and not Cuthullin's sails. Often do the mists deceive me for the ship of my love! when they rise round some ghost, and spread their gray skirts on the wind. Why dost thou delay thy coming, son of the generous Semo? Four times has autumn returned with its winds, and raised the seas of Togorma, since thou hast been in the roar of battles, and Bragéla distant far! Hills of the isle of mist! when will ye answer to his hounds? But ye are dark in your clouds. Sad Bragéla calls in vain! Night comes rolling down. The face of ocean falls. The heath-cock's head is beneath his wing. The hind sleeps with the hart of the desert. They shall rise with morning's light, and feed by the mossy stream. But my tears return with the sun. My sighs come on with the night. When wilt thou come in thine arms, O chief of Erin's wars?"
Pleasant is thy voice in Ossian's ear, daughter of car-borne Sorglan! But retire to the hall of shells, to the beam of the burning oak. Attend to the murmur of the sea: it rolls at Dunscäi's walls: let sleep descend on thy blue eyes. Let the hero arise in thy dreams!
Cuthullin sits at Lego's lake, at the dark rolling of waters. Night is around the hero. His thousands spread on the heath. A hundred oaks burn in the midst. The feast of shells is smoking wide. Carril strikes the harp beneath a tree. His gray locks glitter in the beam. The rustling blast of night is near, and lifts his aged hair. His song is of the blue Togorma, and of its chief, Cuthullin's friend! "Why art thou absent, Connal, in the days of the gloomy storm? The chiefs of the south have convened against the car-borne Cormac. The winds detain thy sails. Thy blue waters roll around thee. But Cormac is not alone. The son of Semo fights his wars! Semo's son his battles fights! the terror of the stranger! He that is like the vapor of death, slowly borne by sultry winds. The sun reddens in its presence; the people fall around."
Such was the song of Carril, when a son of the foe appeared. He threw down his pointless spear. He spoke the words of Torlath; Torlath chief of heroes, from Lego's sable surge! He that led his thousands to battle, against car-borne Cormac. Cormac, who was distant far, in Temora's echoing halls: he learned to bend the bow of his fathers; and to lift the spear. Nor long didst thou lift the spear, mildly-shining beam of youth! death stands dim behind thee, like the darkened half of the moon behind its growing light. Cuthullin rose before the bard, that came from generous Torlath. He offered him the shell of joy. He honored the son of songs. "Sweet voice of Lego!" he said, "what are the words of Torlath? Comes he to our feast or battle, the car-borne son of Cantela?"
"He comes to thy battle," replied the bard, "to the sounding strife of spears. When morning is gray on Lego, Torlath will fight on the plain. Wilt thou meet him, in thine arms, king of the isle of mist? Terrible is the spear of Torlath! it is a meteor of night. He lifts it, and the people fall! death sits in the lightning of his sword!" — "Do I fear," replied Cuthullin, "the spear of car-borne Torlath? He is brave as a thousand heroes: but my soul delights in war! The sword rests not by the side of Cuthullin, bard of the times of old! Morning shall meet me on the plain, and gleam on the blue arms of Semo's son. But sit thou on the heath, O bard, and let us hear thy voice. Partake of the joyful shell: and hear the songs of Temora!"
"This is no time," replied the bard, "to hear the song of joy: when the mighty are to meet in battle, like the strength of the waves of Lego. Why art thou so dark, Slimora! with all thy silent woods? No star trembles on thy top. No moonbeam on thy side. But the meteors of death are there: the gray watery forms of ghosts. Why art thou dark, Slimora! why thy silent woods?" He retired, in the sound of his song. Carril joined his voice. The music was like the memory of joys that are past, pleasant and mournful to the soul. The ghosts of departed bards heard on Slimora's side. Soft sounds spread along the wood. The silent valleys of night rejoice. So when he sits in the silence of the day, in the valley of his breeze, the humming of the mountain bee comes to Ossian's ear: the gale drowns it in its course: but the pleasant sound returns again! Slant looks the sun on the field! gradual grows the shade of the hill!
"Raise," said Cuthullin to his hundred bards, "the song of the noble Fingal: that song which he hears at night, when the dreams of his rest descend; when the bards strike the distant harp, and the faint light gleams on Selma's walls. Or let the grief of Lara rise: the sighs of the mother of Calmar, when he was sought, in vain, on his hills; when she beheld his bow in the hall. Carril, place the shield of Caithbat on that branch. Let the spear of Cuthullin be near; that the sound of my battle may rise, with the gray beam of the east."
The hero leaned on his father's shield: the song of Lara rose! The hundred bards were distant far: Carril alone is near the chief. The words of the song were his: the sound of his harp was mournful.
"Alcletha with the aged locks! mother of car-borne Calmar! why dost thou look towards the desert, to behold the return of thy son? These are not his heroes, dark on the heath: nor is that the voice of Calmar. It is but the distant grove, Alcletha! but the roar of the mountain-wind — [Alcletha speaks] 'Who bounds over Lara's stream, sister of the noble Calmar? Does not Alcletha behold his spear? But her eyes are dim! Is it not the son of Matha, daughter of my love?'
"'It is but an aged oak, Alcletha!' replied the lovely weeping Alona. 'It is but an oak, Alcletha, bent over Lara's stream. But who comes along the plain? sorrow is in his speed. He lifts high the spear of Calmar. Alcletha, it is covered with blood!' —
"[Alcletha speaks] 'But it is covered with the blood of foes, sister of car-borne Calmar! His spear never returned unstained with blood: nor his bow from the strife of the mighty. The battle is consumed in his presence: he is a flame of death, Alona! — Youth of the mournful speed! where is the son of Alcletha! Does he return with his fame, in the midst of his echoing shields? Thou art dark and silent! Calmar is then no more! Tell me not, warrior, how he fell. I must not hear of his wound!' Why dost thou look towards the desert, mother of low-laid Calmar?"
Such was the song of Carril, when Cuthullin lay on his shield. The bards rested on their harps. Sleep fell softly around. The son of Semo was awake alone. His soul fixed on war. The burning oaks began to decay. Faint red light is spread around. A feeble voice is heard! The ghost of Calmar came! He stalked dimly along the beam. Dark is the wound in his side. His hair is disordered and loose. Joy sits pale on his face. He seems to invite Cuthullin to his cave.
"Son of the cloudy night!" said the rising chief of Erin; "why dost thou bend thy dark eyes on me, ghost of the noble Calmar? wouldst thou frighten me, O Matha's son! from the battles of Cormac? Thy hand was not feeble in war: neither was thy voice for peace. How art thou changed, chief of Lara! if thou now dost advise to fly! But, Calmar, I never fled. I never feared the ghosts of night. Small is their knowledge, weak their hands; their dwelling is in the wind. But my soul grows in danger, and rejoices in the noise of steel. Retire thou to thy cave. Thou art not Calmar's ghost. He delighted in battle. His arm was like the thunder of heaven! He retired in his blast with joy, for he had heard the voice of his praise."
The faint beam of the morning rose. The sound of Caithbat's buckler spread. Green Erin's warriors convened, like the roar of many streams. The horn of war is heard over Lego. The mighty Torlath came! "Why dost thou come with thy thousands, Cuthullin," said the chief of Lego." I know the strength of thy arm. Thy soul is an unextinguished fire. Why fight we not on the plain, and let our hosts behold our deeds? Let them behold us like roaring waves, that tumble round a rock; the mariners hasten away, and look on their strife with fear."
"Thou risest like the sun, on my soul, replied the son of Semo. Thine arm is mighty, O Torlath! and worthy of my wrath. Retire, ye men of Ullin, to Slimora's shady side. Behold the chief of Erin, in the day of his fame. Carril, tell to mighty Connal, if Cuthullin must fall, tell him I accused the winds, which roar on Togorma's waves. Never was he absent in battle, when the strife of my fame arose. Let his sword be before Cormac, like the beam of heaven. Let his counsel sound in Temora, in the day of danger!"
He rushed, in the sound of his arms, like the terrible spirit of Loda, when he comes, in the roar of a thousand storms, and scatters battles from his eyes. He sits on a cloud over Lochlin's seas. His mighty hand is on his sword. Winds lift his flaming locks! The waning moon half lights his dreadful face. His features blended in darkness arise to view. So terrible was Cuthullin in the day of his fame. Torlath fell by his hand. Lego's heroes mourned. They gather around the chief, like the clouds of the desert. A thousand swords rose at once; a thousand arrows flew; but he stood like a rock in the midst of a roaring sea. They fell around. He strode in blood. Dark Slimora echoed wide. The sons of Ullin came on. The battle spread over Lego. The chief of Erin overcame. He returned over the field with his fame. But pale he returned! The joy of his face was dark. He rolled his eyes in silence. The sword hung, unsheathed, in his hand. His spear bent at every step!
"Carril," said the chief in secret, "the strength of Cuthullin fails. My days are with the years that are past. No morning of mine shall arise. They shall seek me at Temora, but I shall not be found. Cormac will weep in his hall, and say, Where is Erin's chief? But my name is renowned! my fame in the song of bards. The youth will say, in secret, O let me die as Cuthullin died! Renown clothed him like a robe. The light of his fame is great. — Draw the arrow from my side. Lay Cuthullin beneath that oak. Place the shield of Caithbat near, that they may behold me amidst the arms of my fathers!"
"And is the son of Semo fallen?" said Carril with a sigh." Mournful are Tura's walls. Sorrow dwells at Dunscäi. Thy spouse is left alone in her youth. The son of thy love is alone! He shall come to Bragéla and ask her why she weeps! He shalt lift his eyes to the wall, and see his father's sword. Whose sword is that? he will say. The soul of his mother is sad. Who is that, like the hart of the desert, in the murmur of his course? His eyes look wildly round in search of his friend. Connal, son of Colgar, where hast thou been, when the mighty fell? Did the seas of Togorma roll around thee? Was the wind of the south in thy sails? The mighty have fallen in battle, and thou wast not there. Let none tell it in Selma, nor in Morven's woody land. Fingal will be sad, and the sons of the desert mourn!"
By the dark-rolling waves of Lego they raised the hero's tomb. Luath, at a distance, lies. The song of bards rose over the dead.
Blest be thy soul, son of Semo! Thou wert mighty in battle. Thy strength was like the strength of a stream; thy speed like the eagle's wing. Thy path in battle was terrible: the steps of death were behind thy sword. Blest be thy soul, son of Semo, car-borne chief of Dunscäi! Thou hast not fallen by the sword of the mighty, neither was thy blood on the spear of the brave. The arrow came, like the sting of death in a blast: nor did the feeble hand, which drew the bow, perceive it. Peace to thy soul, in thy cave, chief of the isle of mist!
"The mighty are dispersed at Temora; there is none in Cormac's hall. The king mourns in his youth. He does not behold thy return. The sound of thy shield is ceased: his foes are gathering round. Soft be thy rest in thy cave, chief of Erin's wars! Bragéla will not hope for thy return, or see thy sails in ocean's foam. Her steps are not on the shore: nor her ear open to the voice of thy rowers. She sits in the hall of shells. She sees the arms of him that is no more. Thine eyes are full of tears, daughter of car-borne Sorglan! Blest be thy soul in death, O chief of shady Tura!"
Fingal - Book V
Cuthullin and Connal still remain on the hill. Fingal and Swaran meet: the combat is described. Swaran is overcome, bound, and delivered over as a prisoner to the care of Ossian, and Gaul, the son of Morni; Fingal, his younger sons and Oscar still pursue the enemy. The episode of Orla, a chief of Lochlin, who was mortally wounded in the battle, is introduced. Fingal, touched with the death of Orla, orders the pursuit to be discontinued; and calling his sons together, he is informed that Ryno, the youngest of them, was slain. He laments his death, hears the story of Lamderg and Gelchossa, and returns towards the place where he had left Swaran. Carril, who had been sent by Cuthullin to congratulate Fingal on his victory, comes in the mean time to Ossian. The conversation of the two poets closes the action of the fourth day.
On Cromla's resounding side Connal spoke to the chief of the noble car. Why that gloom, son of Semo? Our friends are the mighty in fight. Renowned art thou, O warrior! many were the deaths of thy steel. Often has Bragéla met, with blue-rolling eyes of joy: often has she met her hero returning in the midst of the valiant, when his sword was red with slaughter, when his foes were silent in the fields of the tomb. Pleasant to her ears were thy bards, when thy deeds, arose in song.
But behold the king of Morven! He moves, below, like a pillar of fire. His strength is like the stream of Lubar, or the wind of the echoing Cromla, when the branchy forests of night are torn from all their rocks. Happy are thy people, O Fingal! thine arm shall finish their wars. Thou art the first in their dangers: the wisest in the days of their peace. Thou speakest, and thy thousands obey: armies tremble at the sound of thy steel. Happy are thy people, O Fingal! king of resounding Selma. Who is that so dark and terrible coming in the thunder of his course? who but Starno's son, to meet the king of Morven? Behold the battle of the chiefs! it is the storm of the ocean, when two spirits meet far distant, and contend for the rolling of waves. The hunter hears the noise on his bill. He sees the high billows advancing to Ardven's shore.
Such were the words of Connal when the heroes met in fight. There was the clang of arms! there every blow, like the hundred hammers of the furnace! Terrible is the battle of the kings; dreadful the look of their eyes. Their dark-brown shields are cleft in twain. Their steel flies, broken, from their helms. They fling their weapons down. Each rushes to his hero's grasp; their sinewy arms bend round each other: they turn from side to side, and strain and stretch their large-spreading limbs below. But when the pride of their strength arose they shook the hill with their heels. Rocks tumble from their places on high; the green-headed bushes are overturned. At length the strength of Swaran fell; the king of the groves is bound. Thus have I seen on Cona; but Cona I behold no more! thus have I seen two dark hills removed from their place by the strength of their bursting stream. They turn from side to side in their fall; their tall oaks meet one another on high. Then they tumble together with all their rocks and trees. The streams are turned by their side. The red ruin is seen afar.
"Sons of distant Morven, "said Fingal, "guard the king of Lochlin. He is strong as his thousand waves. His hand is taught to war. His race is of the times of old. Gaul, thou first of my heroes; Ossian, king of songs attend. He is the friend of Agandecca; raise to joy his grief. But Oscar, Fillan, and Ryno, ye children of the race, pursue Lochlin over Lena, that no vessel may hereafter bound on the dark-rolling waves of Inistore."
They flew sudden across the heath. He slowly moved, like a cloud of thunder, when the sultry plain of summer is silent and dark. His sword is before him as a sunbeam; terrible as the streaming meteor of night. He came towards a chief of Lochlin. He spoke to the son of the wave. — "Who is that so dark and sad, at the rock of the roaring stream? He cannot bound over its course. How stately is the chief! His bossy shield is on his side; his spear like the tree f the desert. Youth of the dark-red hair, art thou of the foes of Fingal?"
"I am a son of Lochlin," he cries; "strong is my arm in war. My spouse is weeping at home. Orla shall never return!" "Or fights or yields the hero?" said Fingal of the noble deeds; "foes do not conquer in my presence: my friends are renowned in the hall. Son of the wave, follow me: partake the feast of my shells: pursue the deer of my desert: be thou the friend of Fingal." "No," said the hero: "I assist the feeble. My strength is with the weak in arms. My sword has been always unmatched, O warrior! let the king of Morven yield!" "I never yielded, Orla. Fingal never yielded to man. Draw thy sword, and choose thy foe. Many are my heroes!"
"Does then the king refuse the fight?" said Orla of the dark-brown shield. "Fingal is a match for Orla; and he alone of all his race! But, king of Morven, if I shall fall, as one time the warrior must die; raise my tomb in the midst: let it be the greatest on Lena. Send over the dark-blue wave, the sword of Orla to the spouse of his love, that she may show it to her son, with tears to kindle his soul to war." "Son of the mournful tale," said Fingal, "why dost thou awaken my tears! One day the warriors must die, and the children see their useless arms in the hall. But, Orla, thy tomb shall rise. Thy white-bosomed spouse shall weep over thy sword."
They fought on the heath of Lena. Feeble was the arm of Orla. The sword of Fingal descended, and cleft his shield in twain. It fell and glittered on the ground, as the moon on the ruffled stream. "King of Morven," said the hero, "lift thy sword and pierce my breast. Wounded and faint from battle, my friends have left me here. The mournful tale shall come to my love on the banks of the streamy Lota, when she is alone in the wood, and the rustling blast in the leaves!"
"No," said the king of Morven: "I will never wound thee, Orla. On the banks of Lota let her see thee, escaped from the hands of war. Let thy gray-haired father, who, perhaps, is blind with age, let him hear the sound of thy voice, and brighten within his hall. With joy let the hero rise, and search for the son with his hands!" "But never will he find him, Fingal," said the youth of the streamy Lota: "on Lena's heath I must die: foreign bards shall talk of me. My broad belt covers my wound of death. I give it to the wind!"
The dark blood poured from his side; he fell pale on the heath of Lena. Fingal bent over him as he died, and. called his younger chiefs. "Oscar and Fillan, my sons, raise high the memory of Orla. Here let the dark-haired hero rest, far from the spouse of his love. Here let him rest in his narrow house, far from the sound of Lota. The feeble will find his bow at home, but will not be able to bend it. His faithful dogs howl on his hills; his boars which he used to pursue, rejoice. Fallen is the arm of battle! the mighty among the valiant is low! Exalt the voice, and blow the horn, ye sons of the king of Morven! Let us go back to Swaran, to send the night away in song. Fillan, Oscar, and Ryno, fly over the heath of Lena. Where, Ryno, art thou, young son of fame? thou art not wont to be the last to answer thy father's voice!"
"Ryno," said Ullin, first of bards, "is with the awful forms of his fathers. With Trathal, king of shields; with Trenmor of mighty deeds. The youth is low, the youth is pale, he lies on Lena's heath!" "Fell the swiftest of the race," said the king, "the first to bend the bow? Thou scarce hast been known to me! Why did young Ryno fall? But sleep thou softly on Lena; Fingal shall soon behold thee. Soon shall my voice be heard no more, and my footsteps cease to be seen. The bards will tell of Fingal's name. The stones will talk of me. But, Ryno, thou art low, indeed: thou hast not received thy fame. Ullin, strike the harp for Ryno; tell what the chief would have been. Farewell, thou first in every field. No more shall I direct thy dart. Thou that hast been so fair! I behold thee not. Farewell." The tear is on the cheek of the king, for terrible was his son in war. His son that was like a beam of fire by night on a hill, when the forests sink down in its course, and the traveller trembles at the sound. But the winds drive it beyond the steep. It sinks from sight, and darkness prevails.
"Whose fame is in that dark-green tomb?" began the king of generous shells: "four stones with their heads of moss stand there. They mark the narrow house of death. Near it let Ryno rest. A neighbor to the brave let him lie. Some chief of fame is here, to fly with my son on clouds. O Ullin! raise the songs of old. Awake their memory in their tomb. If in the field they never fled, my son shall rest by their side. He shall rest, far distant from Morven, on Lena's resounding plains."
"Here," said the bard of song, "here rest the first of heroes. Silent is Lamderg in this place, dumb is Ullin, king of swords. And who, soft smiling from her cloud, shows me her face of love? Why, daughter, why so pale art thou, first of the maids of Cromla? Dost thou sleep with the foes in battle, white-bosomed daughter of Tuathal? Thou hast been the love of thousands, but Lamderg was thy love. He came to Tura's mossy towers, and striking his dark buckler, spoke: 'Where is Gelchossa, my love, the daughter of the noble Tuathal? I left her in the hall of Tura, when I fought with the great Ulfada. Return soon, O Lamderg! she said, for here I sit in grief. Her white breast rose with sighs. Her cheek was wet with tears. But I see her not coming to meet me to soothe my soul after war. Silent is the hull of my joy. I near not the voice of the bard. Bran does not shake his chains at the gate, glad at the coming of Lamderg. Where is Gelchossa, my love, the mild daughter of generous Tuathal?'
"'Lamderg,' says Ferchios, son of Aidon, 'Gelchossa moves stately on Cromla. She and the maids of the bow pursue the flying deer!' 'Ferchios!' replied the chief of Cromla, 'no noise meets the ear of Lamderg! No sound is in the woods of Lena. No deer fly in my sight. No panting dog pursues. I see not Gelchossa, my love, fair as the full moon setting on the hills.. Go, Ferchios, go to Allad, the gray-haired son of the rock. His dwelling is in the circle of stones He may know of the bright Gelchossa!'
"The son of Aidon went. He spoke to the ear of age. 'Allad, dweller of rocks, thou that tremblest alone, what saw thine eyes of age?' 'I saw,' answered Allad the old, 'Ullin the son of Cairbar. He came, in darkness, from Cromla. He hummed a surly song, like a blast in a leafless wood. He entered the hall of Tura. "Lamderg," he said, "most dreadful of men, fight or yield to Ullin." "Lamderg," replied Gelchossa, "the son of battle is not here. He fights Ulfada, mighty chief. He is not here, thou first of men! But Lamderg never yields. He will fight the son of Cairbar!" "Lovely thou," said terrible Ullin, "daughter of the generous Tuathal. I carry thee to Cairbar's halls. The valiant shall have Gelchossa. Three days I remain on Cromla, to wait that son of battle, Lamderg. On the fourth Gelchossa is mine, if the mighty Lamderg flies."'
"'Allad,' said the chief of Cromla, 'peace to thy dreams in the cave! Ferchios, sound the horn of Lamderg, that Ullin may hear in his halls.' Lamderg, like a roaring storm ascended the hill from Tura. He hummed a surly song as he went, like the noise of a falling stream. He darkly stood upon the hill, like a cloud varying its form to the wind. He rolled a stone, the sign of war. Ullin heard in Cairbar's hall. The hero heard, with joy, his foe. He took his father's spear. A smile brightens his dark-brown cheek, as he places his sword by his side. The dagger glittered in his hand, he whistled as he went.
"Gelchossa saw the silent chief, as a wreath of mist ascending the hill. She struck her white and heaving breast; and silent, tearful, feared for Lamderg. 'Cairbar, hoary chief of shells,' said the maid of the tender hand, 'I must bend the bow on Cromla. I see the dark-brown hinds.' She hasted up the hill. In vain the gloomy heroes fought. Why should I tell to Selma's king how wrathful heroes fight? Fierce Ullin fell. Young Lamderg came, all pale, to the daughter of generous Tuathal! 'What blood, my love;' she trembling said, 'what blood runs down my warrior's side?' ' It is Ullin's blood,' the chief replied, 'thou fairer than the snow! Gelchossa, let me rest here a little while.' The mighty Lamderg died! 'And sleepest thou so soon on earth, O chief of shady Tura?' Three days she mourned beside her love. The hunters found her cold. They raised this tomb above the three. Thy son, O king of Morven, may rest here with heroes!"
"And here my son shall rest," said Fingal. "The voice of their fame is in mine ears. Fillan and Fergus, bring hither Orla, the pale youth of the stream of Lota! not unequalled shall Ryno lie in earth, when Orla is by his side. Weep, ye daughters of Morven! ye maids of the streamy Lota, weep! Like a tree they grew on the hills. They have fallen like the oak of the desert, when it lies across a stream, and withers in the wind. Oscar, chief of every youth, thou seest how they have fallen. Be thou like them on earth renowned. Like them the song of bards. Terrible were their forms in battle; but calm was Ryno in the days of peace. He was like the bow of the shower seen far distant on the stream, when the sun is setting on Mora, when silence dwells on the hill of deer. Rest, youngest of my sons! rest, O Ryno! on Lena. We too shall be no more. Warriors one day must fall!"
Such was thy grief, thou king of swords, when Ryno lay on earth. What must the grief of Ossian be, for thou thyself art gone! I hear not thy distant voice on Cona. My eyes perceive thee not. Often forlorn and dark I sit at thy tomb, and feel it with my hands. When I think I hear thy voice, it is but the passing blast. Fingal has long since fallen asleep, the ruler of the war!
Then Gaul and Ossian sat with Swaran, on the soft green banks of Lubar. I touched the harp to please the king; but gloomy was his brow. He rolled his red eyes towards Lena. The hero mourned his host. I raised mine eyes to Cromla's brow. I saw the son of generous Semo. Sad and slow he retired from his hilt, towards the lonely cave of Tura. He saw Fingal victorious, and mixed his joy with grief. The sun is bright on his armor. Connal slowly strode behind. They sunk behind the hill, like two pillars of the fire of night, when winds pursue them over the mountain, and the flaming death resounds! Beside a stream of roaring foam his cave is in a rock. One tree bends above it. The rushing winds echo against its sides. Here rests the chief of Erin, the son of generous Semo. His thoughts are on the battles he lost. The tear is on his cheek. He mourned the departure of his fame, that fled like the mist of Cona. O Bragéla! thou art too far remote to cheer the soul of the hero. But let him see thy bright form in his mind, that his thoughts may return to the lonely sunbeam of his love!
Who comes with the locks of age? It is the son of songs. "Hail, Carril of other times! Thy voice is like the harp in the halls of Tura. Thy words are pleasant as the shower which falls on the sunny field. Carril of the times of old, why comest thou from the son of the generous Semo?"
"Ossian, king of swords," replied the bard, "thou best canst raise the song. Long hast thou been known to Carril, thou ruler of war! Often have I touched the harp to lovely Everallin. Thou too hast often joined my voice in Branno's hall of generous shells. And often, amidst our voices, was heard the mildest Everallin. One day she sung of Cormac's fall, the youth who died for her love. I saw the tears on her cheek, and on thine, thou chief of men. Her soul was touched for the unhappy, though she loved him not. How fair among a thousand maids was the daughter of generous Branno!"
Bring not, Carril," I replied, "bring not her memory to my mind. My soul must melt at the remembrance. My eyes must have their tears. Pale in the earth is she, the softly-blushing fair of my love! But sit thou on the heath, O bard! and let us hear thy voice. It is pleasant as the gale of spring, that sighs on the hunter's ear, when he awakens from dreams of joy, and has heard the music of the spirits of the hill!"
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?"
Fingal - Book Iv
The action of the poem being suspended by night, Ossian takes the opportunity to relate his own actions at the lake of Lego, and his courtship of Everallin, who was the mother of Oscar, and had died some time before the expedition of Fingal into Ireland. Her ghost appears to him, and tells him that Oscar, who had been sent, the beginning of the night, to observe the enemy, was engaged with an advanced party, and almost overpowered. Ossian relieves his son; and an alarm is given to Fingal of the approach of Swaran. The king rises, calls his army together, and, as he had promised the preceding night, devolves the command on Gaul the son of Morni, while he himself, after charging his sons to behave gallantly and defend his people, retires to a hill, from whence he could have a view of the battle. The battle joins; the poet relates Oscar's great actions. But when Oscar, in conjunction with his father, conquered in one wing, Gaul, who was attacked by Swaran in person, was on the point of retreating in the other. Fingal sends Ullin his bard to encourage them with a war song, but notwithstanding Swaran prevails; and Gaul and his army are obliged to give way. Fingal descending from the hill, rallies them again; Swaran desists from the pursuit, possesses himself of a rising ground, restores the ranks, and waits the approach of Fingal. The king, having encouraged his men, gives the necessary orders, and renews the battle. Cuthullin, who, with his friend Connal, and Carril his bard, had retired to the cave of Tura, hearing the noise, came to the brow of the hill, which overlooked the field of battle, where he saw Fingal engaged with the enemy. He, being hindered by Connal from joining Fingal, who was himself upon the point of obtaining a complete victory, sends Carril to congratulate that hero on success.
Who comes with her songs from the hill, like the bow of the showery Lena? It is the maid of the voice of love: the white-armed daughter of Toscar! Often hast thou heard my song; often given the tear of beauty. Hast thou come to the wars of thy people? to hear the actions of Oscar? When shall I cease to mourn, by the streams of resounding Cona? My years have passed away in battle. My age is darkened with grief!
"Daughter of the hand of snow, I was not so mournful and blind; I was not so dark and forlorn, when Everallin loved me! Everallin with the dark-brown hair, the white-bosomed daughter of Branno. A thousand heroes sought the maid, she refused her love to a thousand. The sons of the sword were despised: for graceful in her eyes was Ossian. I went, in suit of the maid, to Lego's sable surge. Twelve of my people were there, the sons of streamy Morven! We came to Branno, friend of strangers! Branno of the sounding mail! 'From whence,' he said, 'are the arms of steel? Not easy to win is the maid, who has denied the blue-eyed sons of Erin. But blest be thou, O son of Fingal! Happy is the maid that waits thee! Though twelve daughters of beauty were mine, thine were the choice, thou son of fame!'
"He opened the hall of the maid, the dark-haired Everallin. Joy kindled in our manly breasts. We blest the maid of Branno. Above us on the hill appeared the people of stately Cormac. Eight were the heroes of the chief. The heath flamed wide with their arms. There Colla; there Durra of wounds; there mighty Toscar, and Tago; there Fresta the victorious stood; Dairo of the happy deeds; Dala the battle's bulwark in the narrow way! The sword flamed in the hand of Cormac. Graceful was the look of the hero! Eight were the heroes of Ossian. Ullin, stormy son of war. Mullo of the generous deeds. The noble, the graceful Scelacha. Oglan, and Cerdan the wrathful. Dumariccan's brows of death. And why should Ogar be the last; so wide-renowned on the hills of Ardven?
"Ogar met Dala the strong face to face, on the field of heroes. The battle of the chiefs was like wind, on ocean's foamy waves. The dagger is remembered by Ogar; the weapon which he loved. Nine times he drowned it in Dala's side. The stormy battle turned. Three times I broke on Cormac's shield: three times he broke his spear. But, unhappy youth of love! I cut his head away. Five times I shook it by the lock. The friends of Cormac fled. Whoever would have told me, lovely maid, when then I strove in battle, that blind, forsaken, and forlorn, I now should pass the night; firm ought his mail to have been; unmatched his arm in war."
On Lena's gloomy heath the voice of music died away. The inconstant blast blew hard. The high oak shook its leaves around. Of Everallin were my thoughts, when in all the light of beauty she came; her blue eyes rolling in tears. She stood on a cloud before my sight, and spoke with feeble voice! "Rise, Ossian, rise, and save my son; save Oscar, prince of men. Near the red oak of Luba's stream he fights with Lochlin's sons." She sunk into her cloud again. I covered me with steel. My spear supported my steps; my rattling armor rung. I hummed, as I was wont in danger, the songs of heroes of old. Like distant thunder Lochlin heard. They fled; my son pursued.
I called him like a distant stream. "Oscar, return over Lena. No further pursue the foe," I said, "though Ossian is behind thee." He came! and pleasant to my ear was Oscar's sounding steel. "Why didst thou stop my hand," he said, "till death had covered all? For dark and dreadful by the stream they met thy son and Fillin. They watched the terrors of the night. Our swords have conquered some. But as the winds of night pour the ocean over the white sands of Mora, so dark advance the sons of Lochlin, over Lena's rustling heat! The ghosts of night shriek afar: I have seen the meteors of death. Let me awake the king of Morven, he that smiles in danger! He that is like the sun of heaven, rising in a storm!"
Fingal had started from a dream, and leaned on Trenmor's shield! the dark-brown shield of his fathers, which they had lifted of old in war. The hero had seen, in his rest, the mournful form of Agandecca. She came from the way of the ocean. She slowly, lonely, moved over Lena. Her face was pale, like the mist of Cromla. Dark were the tears of her cheek. She often raised her dim hand from her robe, her robe which was of the clouds of the desert: she raised her dim hand over Fingal, and turned away silent eyes! "Why weeps the daughter of Starno?" said Fingal with a sigh; "why is thy face so pale, fair wanderer of the clouds?" She departed on the wind of Lena. She left him in the midst of the night. She mourned the sons of her people, that were to fall by the hand of Fingal.
The hero started from rest. Still he beheld her in his soul. The sound of Oscar's steps approached. The king saw the gray shield on his side: for the faint beam of the morning came over the waters of Ullin. "What do the foes in their fear?" said the rising king of Morven: "or fly they through ocean's foam, or wait they the battle of steel? But why should Fingal ask? I hear their voice on the early wind! Fly over Lena's heath: O Oscar, awake our friends!"
The king stood by the stone of Lubar. Thrice he reared his terrible voice. The deer started from the fountains of Cromla. The rocks shook, on all their hills. Like the noise of a hundred mountain-streams, that burst, and roar, and foam! like the clouds, that gather to a tempest on the blue face of the sky! so met the sons of the desert, round the terrible voice of Fingal. Pleasant was the voice of the king of Morven to the warriors of his land. Often had he led them to battle; often returned with the spoils of the foe.
"Come to battle," said the king, "ye children of echoing Selma! Come to the death of thousands! Comhal's son will see the fight. My sword shall wave on the hill, the defence of my people in war. But never may you need it, warriors; while the son of Morni fights, the chief of mighty men! He shall lead my battle, that his fame may rise in song! O ye ghosts of heroes dead! ye riders of the storm of Cromla! receive my falling people with joy, and bear them to your hills. And may the blast of Lena carry them over my seas, that they may come to my silent dreams, and delight my soul in rest. Fillan and Oscar of the dark-brown hair! fair Ryno, with the pointed steel! advance with valor to the fight. Behold the son of Morni! Let your swords be like his in strife: behold the deeds of his hands. Protect the friends of your father. Remember the chiefs of old. My children, I will see you yet, though here you should fall in Erin. Soon shall our cold pale ghosts meet in a cloud, on Cona's eddying winds."
Now like a dark and stormy cloud, edged round with the red lightning of heaven, flying westward from the morning's beam, the king of Selma removed. Terrible is the light of his armor; two spears are in his hand. His gray hair falls on the wind. He often looks back on the war. Three bards attend the son of fame, to bear his words to the chiefs high on Cromla's side he sat, waving the Lightning of his sword, and as he waved we moved.
Joy rises in Oscar's face. His cheek is red. His eye sheds tears. The sword is a beam of fire in his hand. He came, and smiling, spoke to Ossian. "O ruler of the fight of steel! my father, hear thy son! Retire with Morven's mighty chief. Give me the fame of Ossian. If here I fall, O chief, remember that breast of snow, the lonely sunbeam of my love, the white-handed daughter of Toscar! For, with red cheek from the rock, bending over the stream, her soft hair flies about her bosom, as she pours the sigh for Oscar. Tell her I am on my hills, a lightly-bounding son of the wind; tell her, that in a cloud I may meet the lovely maid of Toscar." "Raise, Oscar, rather raise my tomb. I will not yield the war to thee. The first and bloodiest in the strife, my arm shall teach thee how to fight. But remember, my son, to place this sword, this bow, the horn of my deer, within that dark and narrow house, whose mark is one gray stone! Oscar, I have no love to leave to the care of my son. Everallin is no more, the lovely daughter of Branno!"
Such were our words, when Gaul's loud voice came growing on the wind. He waved on high the sword of his father. We rushed to death and wounds. As waves, white bubbling over the deep, come swelling, roaring on; as rocks of ooze meet roaring waves; so foes attacked and fought. Man met with man, and steel with steel. Shields sound and warriors fall. As a hundred hammers on the red son of the furnace, so rose, so rung their swords!
Gaul rushed on, like a whirlwind in Ardven. The destruction of heroes is on his sword. Swaran was like the fire of the desert in the echoing heath of Gormal! How can I give to the song the death of many spears? My sword rose high, and flamed in the strife of blood. Oscar, terrible wert thou, my best, my greatest son! I rejoiced in my secret soul, when his sword flamed over the slain. They fled amain through Lena's heath. We pursued and slew. As stones that bound from rock to rock; as axes in echoing woods; as thunder rolls from hill to hill, in dismal broken peals; so blow succeeded to blow, and death to death, from the hand of Oscar and mine.
But Swaran closed round Morni's son, as the strength of the tide of Inistore. The king half rose from his hill at the sight. He half-assumed the spear. "Go, Ullin, go, my aged bard," began the king of Morven. "Remind the mighty Gaul of war. Remind him of his fathers. Support the yielding fight with song; for song enlivens war." Tall Ullin went, with step of age, and spoke to the king of swords. "Son of the chief of generous steeds! high-bounding king of spears! Strong arm in every perilous toil! Hard heart that never yields! Chief of the pointed arms of death! Cut down the foe; let no white sail bound round dark Inistore. Be thine arm like thunder, thine eyes like fire, thy heart of solid rock. Whirl round thy sword as a meteor at night: lift thy shield like the flame of death. Son of the chief of generous steeds, cut down the foe! Destroy!" The hero's heart beat high. But Swaran came with battle. He cleft the shield of Gaul in twain. The sons of Selma fled.
Fingal at once arose in arms. Thrice he reared his dreadful voice. Cromla answered around. The sons of the desert stood still. They bent their blushing faces to earth, ashamed at the presence of the king. He came like a cloud of rain in the day of the sun, when slow it rolls on the hill, and fields expect the shower. Silence attends its slow progress aloft; but the tempest is soon to rise. Swaran beheld the terrible king of Morven. He stopped in the midst of his course. Dark he leaned on his spear, rolling his red eyes around. Silent and tall he seemed as an oak on the banks of Lubar, which had its branches blasted of old by the lightning of heaven. It bends over the stream: the gray moss whistles in the wind: so stood the king. Then slowly he retired to the rising heath of Lena. His thousands pour round the hero. Darkness gathers on the hill!
Fingal, like a beam of heaven, shone in the midst of his people. His heroes gather around him. He sends forth the voice of his power. "Raise my standards on high; spread them on Lena's wind, like the flames of a hundred hills! Let them sound on the wind of Erin, and remind us of the fight. Ye sons of the roaring streams, that pour from a thousand hills be near the king of Morven! attend to the words of his power! Gaul, strongest arm of death! O Oscar, of the future fights! Connal, son of the blue shields of Sora! Dermid, of the dark-brown hair! Ossian, king of many songs, be near your father's arm!" We reared the sunbeam of battle; the standard of the king! Each hero exulted with joy, as, waving, it flew on the wind. It was studded with gold above, as the blue wide shell of the nightly sky. Each hero had his standard too, and each his gloomy men!
"Behold," said the king of generous shells, "how Lochlin divides on Lena! They stand like broken clouds on a hill, or a half-consumed grove of oaks, when we see the sky through its branches, and the meteor passing behind! Let every chief among the friends of Fingal take a dark troop of those that frown so high: nor let a son of the echoing groves bound on the waves of Inistore!"
"Mine," said Gaul, "be the seven chiefs that came from Lano's lake." "Let Inistore's dark king," said Oscar, "come to the sword of Ossian's son." "To mine the king of Iniscon," said Connal, heart of steel!" Or Mudan's chief or I," said brown-haired Dermid, "shall sleep on clay-cold earth." My choice, though now so weak and dark, was Terman's battling king; I promised with my hand to win the hero's dark-brown shield, "Blest and victorious be my chiefs," said Fingal of the mildest look. "Swaran, king of roaring waves, thou art the choice of Fingal!"
Now, like a hundred different winds that pour through many vales, divided, dark the sons of Selma advanced. Cromla echoed around! How can I relate the deaths, when we closed in the strife of arms? O, daughter of Toscar, bloody were our hands! The gloomy ranks of Lochlin fell like the banks of roaring Cona! Our arms were victorious on Lena: each chief fulfilled his promise. Beside the murmur of Branno thou didst often sit, O maid! thy white bosom rose frequent, like the down of the swan when slow she swims on the lake, and sidelong winds blow on her ruffled wing. Thou hast seen the sun retire, red and slow behind his cloud: night gathering round on the mountain, while the unfrequent blast roared in the narrow vales. At length the rain beats hard: thunder rolls in peals. Lightning glances on the rocks! Spirits ride on beams of fire! The strength of the mountain streams comes roaring down the hills. Such was the noise of battle, maid of the arms of snow! Why. daughter of Toscar, why that tear? The maids of Lochlin have cause to weep! The people of their country fell. Bloody were the blue swords of the race of my heroes! But I am sad, forlorn, and blind: no more the corn ion of heroes! Give, lovely maid to me thy tears. I have seen the tombs of all my friends!
It was then, by Fingal's hand, a hero fell, to his grief! Gray-haired he rolled in the dust. He lifted his faint eyes to the king. "And is it by me thou hast fallen," said the son of Comhal, "thou friend of Agandecca? I have seen thy tears for the maid of my love in the halls of the bloody Starno! Thou hast been the foe of the foes of my love, and hast thou fallen by my hand? Raise Ullin, raise the grave of Mathon, and give his name to Agandecca's song. Dear to my soul hast thou been, thou darkly-dwelling maid of Ardven!"
Cuthullin, from the cave of Cromla, heard the noise of the troubled war. He called to Connal, chief of swords: to Carril of other times. The gray-haired heroes heard his voice. They took their pointed spears. They came, and saw the tide of battle, like ocean's crowded waves, when the dark wind blows from the deep, and rolls the billows through the sandy vale! Cuthullin kindled at the sight. Darkness gathered on his brow. His hand is on the sword of his fathers: his red-rolling eyes on the foe. He thrice attempted to rush to battle. He thrice was stopped by Connal. "Chief of the isle of mist," he said, "Fingal subdues the foe. Seek not a part of the fame of the king; himself is like the storm!"
"Then, Carril, go," replied the chief, "go greet the king of Morven. When Lochlin falls away like a stream after rain; when the noise of the battle is past; then be thy voice sweet in his ear to praise the king of Selma! Give him the sword of Caithbat. Cuthullin is not worthy to lift the arms of his fathers! Come, o ye ghosts of the lonely Cromla! ye souls of chiefs that are no more! be near the steps of Cuthullin; talk to him in the cave of his grief. Never more shall I be renowned among the mighty in the land. I am a beam that has shone; a mist that has fled away when the blast of the morning came, and brightened the shaggy side of the hill. Connal, talk of arms no more! departed is my fame. My sighs shall be on Cromla's wind, till my footsteps cease to be seen. And thou, white-bosomed Bragéla! mourn over the fall of my fame: vanquished, I will never return to thee, thou sunbeam of my soul!"
Temora - Book Viii
The fourth morning from the opening of the poem comes on Fingal, still continuing in the place to which he had retired on the preceding sight, is seen, at intervals, through the mist which covered the rock of Cormul. The descent of the king is described. He orders Gaul, Dermid, and Carril the bard, to go to the valley of China, and conduct from thence the Caledonian army, Ferad-artho, the son of Cairbar, the only person remaining of the family of Conar, the first king of Ireland. The king makes the command of the army, and prepares for battle. Marching towards the enemy, he comes to the cave of Lubar, where the body of Fillan lay. Upon seeing his dog, Bran, who lay at the entrance of the cave, his grief returns. Cathmor arranges the Irish army in order of battle. The appearance of that hero. The general conflict is described. The actions of Fingal and Cathmor. A storm. The total rout of the Fir-bolg. The two kings engage, in a column of mist, on the banks of Lubar, Their attitude and conference after the combat. The death of Cathmor. Fingal resigns the spear of Trenmor to Ossian. The ceremonies observed on that occasion. The spirit of Cathmor, in the mean time, appears to Sul-malla, in the valley of Lona. Her sorrow. Evening comes on. A feast is prepared. The coming of Ferad-artho is announced by the songs of a hundred bards. The poem closes with a speech of Fingal.
As when the wintry winds have seized the waves of the mountain lake, have seized them in stormy night, and clothed them over with ice; white to the hunter's early eye, the billows still seem to roll. He turns his ear to the sound of each unequal ridge. But each is silent, gleaming, strewn with boughs, and tufts of grass, which shake and whistle to the wind, over their gray seats of frost. So silent shone to the morning the ridges of Morven's host, as each warrior looked up from his helmet towards the hill of the king; the cloud-covered hill of Fingal, where he strode in the folds of mist. At times is the hero seen, greatly dim in all his arms. From thought to thought tolled the war, along his mighty soul.
Now is the coming forth of the king. First appeared the sword of Luno; the spear half issuing from a cloud, the shield still dim in mist. But when the stride of the king came abroad, with all his gray dewy locks in the wind; then rose the shouts of his host over every moving tribe. They gathered, gleaming round, with all their echoing shields. So rise the green seas round a spirit, that comes down from the squally wind. The traveller hears the sound afar, and lifts his head over the rock. He looks on the troubled bay, and thinks he dimly sees the form. The waves sport, unwieldy, round, with all their backs of foam.
Far distant stood the son of Morni, Duthno's race, and Cona's bard. We stood far distant; each beneath his tree. We shunned the eyes of the king: we had not conquered in the field. A little stream rolled at my feet: I touched its light wave, with my spear. I touched it with my spear: nor there was the soul of Ossian. It darkly rose, from thought to thought, and sent abroad the sigh.
"Son of Morni," said the king, "Dermid, hunter of roes! why are ye dark, like two rocks, each with its trickling waters? No wrath gathers on Fingal's soul, against the chiefs of men. Ye are my strength in battle; the kindling of my joy in peace. My early voice has been a pleasant gale to your years, when Fillan prepared the bow. The son of Fingal is not here, nor yet the chase of the bounding roes. But why should the breakers of shields stand, darkened, far way?"
Tall they strode towards the king: they saw him turned to Morn's wind. His, tears came down for his blue-eyed son, no slept in the cave of streams. But he brightened before them, and spoke to the broad-shielded kings.
"Crommal, with woody rocks, and misty top, the field of winds, pours forth, to the sight, blue Lubar's streamy roar. Behind it rolls clear-winding Lavath, in the still vale of deer. A cave is dark in a rock; above it strong-winged eagles dwell; broad-headed oaks, before it, sound in Cluna's wind. Within, in his locks of youth, is Ferad-artho, blue-eyed king, the son of broad-shielded Cairbar, from Ullin of the roes. He listens to the voice of Condan, as gray he bends in feeble light. He listens, for his foes dwell in the echoing halls of Temora. He comes, at times, abroad in the skirts of mist, to pierce the bounding roes. When the sun looks on the field, nor by the rock, nor stream, is he! He shuns the race of Bolga, who dwell in his father's hall. Tell him, that Fingal lifts the spear, and that his foes, perhaps, may fail.
"Lift up, O Gaul, the shield before him. Stretch, Dermid, Temora's spear. Be thy voice in his ear, O Carril, with the deeds of his fathers. Lead him to green Moi-lena, to the dusky field of ghosts; for there, I fall forward, in battle, in the folds of war. Before dun night descends, come to high Dunmora's top. Look, from the gray skirts of mist, on Lena of the streams. If there my standard shall float on wind, over Lubar's gleaming stream, then has not Fingal failed in the last of his fields."
Such were his words; nor aught replied the silent striding kings. They looked sidelong on Erin's host, and darkened as they went. Never before had they left the king, in the midst of the stormy field. Behind them, touching at times his harp, the gray-haired Carril moved. He foresaw the fall, of the people, and mournful was the sound! It was like a breeze that comes, by fits, over Lego's reedy lake; when sleep half descends on the hunter, within his mossy cave.
"Why bends the bard of Cona," said Fingal, "over his secret stream? Is this a time for sorrow, father of low-laid Oscar? Be the warriors remembered in peace; when echoing shields are heard no more. Bend, then, in grief, over the flood, where blows the mountain breeze. Let them pass on thy soul, the blue-eyed dwellers of the tomb. But Erin rolls to war; wide tumbling, rough, aid dark. Lift, Ossian, lift the shield. I am alone, my son
As comes the sudden voice of winds to the becalmed ship of Inis-huna, and drives it large, along the deep, dark rider of the wave; so the voice of Fingal sent Ossian, tall along the heath. He lifted high his shining shield, in the dusky wing of war; like the broad, blank moon, in the skirt of a cloud, before the storms. arise.
Loud, from moss-covered Mora, poured down, at once, the broad-winged war. Fingal led his people forth, king of Morven of streams. On high spreads the eagle's wing. His gray hair is poured on his shoulders broad. In thunder are his mighty strides. He often stood, and saw, behind, the wide-gleaming rolling of armor. A rock he seemed, gray over with ice, whose woods are high in wind. Bright streams leapt from its head, and spread their foam on blasts.
Now he came to Lubar's cave, where Fillan darkly slept. Bran still lay on the broken shield: the eagle-wing is strewed by the winds. Bright, from withered furze, looked forth the hero's spear. Then grief stirred the soul of the king, like whirlwinds blackening on a lake. He turned his sudden step, and leaned on his bending spear.
White-breasted Bran came bounding with joy to the known path of Fingal. He came, and looked towards the cave, where the blue-eyed hunter lay, for he was wont to stride, with morning, to the dewy bed of the roe. It was then the tears of the king came down and all his soul was dark. But as the rising wind rolls away the storm of rain, and leaves the white streams to the sun, and high hills with their heads of grass; so the returning war brightened the mind of Fingal. He bounded, on his spear, over Lubar, and struck his echoing shield. His ridgy host bend forward, at once, with all their pointed steel.
Nor Erin heard, with fear, the sound: wide they come rolling along. Dark Malthos, in the wing of war, looks forward from shaggy brows. Next rose that beam of light, Hidalla! then the sidelong-looking gloom of Maronnan. Blue-shielded Clonar lifts the spear: Cormar shakes his bushy locks on the wind. Slowly, from behind a rock, rose the bright form of Atha. First appeared his two-pointed spears, then the half of his burnished shield: like the rising of a nightly meteor, over the valley of ghosts. But when ha shone all abroad, the hosts plunged, at once, into strife. The gleaming waves of steel are poured on either side.
As meet two troubled seas, with the rolling of all their waves, when they feel the wings of contending winds, in the rock-sided firth of Lumon; along the echoing hills in the dim course of ghosts: from the blast fall the torn groves on the deep, amidst the foamy path of whales. So mixed the hosts! Now Fingal; now Cathmor came abroad. The dark tumbling of death is before them: the gleam of broken steel is rolled on their steps, as, loud, the high-bounding kings hewed down the ridge of shields.
Maronnan fell, by Fingal, laid large across a stream. The waters gathered by his side, and leapt gray over his bossy shield. Clonar is pierced by Cathmor; nor yet lay the chief on earth. An oak seized his hair in his fall. His helmet rolled on the ground. By its thong, hung his broad shield; over it wandered his streaming blood. Tla-min shall weep, in the hall, and strike her heaving breast. Nor did Ossian forget the spear, in the wing of his war. He strewed the field with dead. Young Hidallan came. "Soft voice of streamy Clonra! why dost thou lift the steel? O that we met in the strife of song, in thine own rushy vale!" Malthos beheld him low, and darkened as he rushed along. On either side of a stream, we bent in the echoing strife. Heaven comes rolling down; around burst the voices of squally winds. Hills are clothed, at times, in fire. Thunder rolls in wreaths of mist. In darkness shrunk the foe: Morven's warriors stood aghast. Still I bent over the stream, amidst my whistling locks.
Then rose the voice of Fingal, and the sound of the flying foe. I saw the king, at times, in lightning, darkly striding in his might. I struck my echoing shield, and hung forward on the steps of Alnecma; the foe is rolled before me, like a wreath of smoke.
The sun looked forth from his cloud. The hundred streams of Moi-lena shone. Slow rose the blue columns of mist, against the glittering hill. Where are the mighty kings? Nor by that stream, nor wood, are they! I hear the clang of arms! Their strife is in the bosom of that mist. Such is the contending of spirits in a nightly cloud, when they strive for the wintry wings of winds, and the rolling of the foam-covered waves.
I rushed along. The gray mist rose. Tall, gleaming, they stood at Lubar. Cathmor leaned against a rock. His half-fallen shield received the stream, that leapt from the moss above. Towards him is the stride of Fingal: he saw the hero's blood. His sword fell slowly to his side. He spoke, amidst his darkening joy.
"Yields the race of Borbar-duthul? Or still does he lift the spear? Not unheard is thy name, at Atha, in the green dwelling of strangers. It has come, like the breeze of his desert, to the ear of Fingal. Come o my hill of feasts: the mighty fail, at times. No fire am I to low-laid foes; I rejoice not over the fall of the brave. To close the wound is mine: I have known the herbs of the hills. I seized their fair heads, on high, as they waved by their secret streams. Thou art dark and silent, king of Atha of strangers!"
"By Atha of the stream," he said, "there rises a mossy rock. On its head is the wandering of boughs, within the course of winds. Dark, in its face, is a cave, with its own loud rill. There have I heard the tread of strangers, when they passed to my hall of shells. Joy rose, like a flame, on my soul; I blest the echoing rock. Here be my dwelling, in darkness; in my grassy vale. From this I shall mount the breeze, that pursues my thistle's beard; or look down on blue-winding Atha, from its wandering mist."
"Why speaks the king of the tomb? Ossian, the warrior has failed! Joy meet thy soul, like a stream, Cathmor friend of strangers! My son, I hear the call of years; they take my spear as they pass along. Why does not Fingal, they seem to say, rest within his hall? Dost thou always delight in blood? In the tears of the sad? No; ye dark-rolling years, Fingal delights not in blood. Tears are wintry streams that waste away my soul. But when I lie down to rest, then comes the mighty voice of war. It awakes me in my hall and calls forth all my steel. It shall call it forth no more; Ossian, take thou thy father's spear. Lift it, in battle, when the proud arise.
"My fathers, Ossian, trace my steps; my deeds are pleasant to their eyes. Wherever I come forth to battle, on my field, are their columns of mist. But mine arm rescued the feeble! the haughty found my rage was fire. Never over the fallen did mine eye rejoice. For this, my fathers shall meet me, at the gates of their airy halls, tall, with robes of light, with mildly-kindled eyes. But to the proud in arms, they are darkened moons in heaven, which send the fire of night red wandering over their face.
"Father of heroes, Trenmor, dweller of eddying winds, I give thy spear to Ossian: let thine eye rejoice. Thee have I seen, at times, bright from between thy clouds; so appear to my son, when he is to lift the spear: then shall he remember thy mighty deeds, though thou art now but a blast."
He gave the spear to my hand, and raised at once a stone on high, to speak to future times, with its gray head of moss. Beneath he placed a sword in earth, and one bright boss from his shield. Dark in thought awhile he bends: his words at length came forth.
"When thou, O stone, shalt moulder down, and lose thee in the moss of years, then shall the traveller come, and whistling pass away. Thou knowest not, feeble man, that fame once shone on Moi-lena. Here Fingal resigned his spear, after the last of his fields. Pass away, thou empty shade! in thy voice there is no renown. Thou dwellest by some peaceful stream; yet a few years, and thou art gone. No one remembers thee, thou dweller of thick mist! But Fingal shall be clothed with fame, a beam of light to other times; for he went forth, with echoing steel, to save the weak in arms."
Brightening, in his fame, the king strode to Lubar's sounding oak, where it bent, from its rock, over the bright tumbling stream. Beneath it is a narrow plain, and the sound of the fount of the rock. Here the standard of Morven poured its wreaths on the wind, to mark the way of Ferad-artho from his secret vale. Bright, from his parted west, the son of heaven looked abroad. The hero saw his people, and heard their shouts of joy. In broken ridges round, they glittered to the beam. The king rejoiced, as a hunter in his own green vale, when, after the storm is rolled away, he sees the gleaning sides of the rocks. The green thorn shakes its head in their face; from their top look forward the roes.
Gray, at his mossy cave, is bent the aged form of Clonmal. The eyes of the bard had failed. He leaned forward on his staff. Bright in her locks, before him, Sul-malla listened to the tale; the tale of the kings of Atha, in the days of old. The noise of battle had ceased in his Sir: he stopt and raised the secret sigh. The spirits of the dead, they said, often lightened along his soul. He saw the king of Atha low, beneath his bending tree.
"Why art thou dark?" said the maid." The strife of arms is past. Soon shall he come to thy cave, over thy winding streams. The sun looks from the rocks of the west. The mists of the lake arise. Gray they spread on that hill, the rushy dwelling of roes. From the mist shall my king appear! Behold, he comes in his arms. Come to the cave of Clonmal, O my best beloved!"
It was the spirit of Cathmor, stalking, large, a gleaming form. He sunk by the hollow stream, that roared between the hills. "It was but the hunter," she said," who searches for the bed of the roe. His steps are not forth to war; his spouse expects him with night. He shall, whistling, return with the spoils of the dark-brown hinds." Her eyes were turned to the bill; again the stately form came down. She rose in the midst of joy. He retired again in mist. Gradual vanish his limbs of smoke, and mix with the mountain wind. Then she knew that he fell! "King of Erin, art thou low!" Let Ossian forget her grief; it wastes the soul of age.
Evening came down on Moi-lena. Gray rolled the streams of the land. Loud came forth the voice of Fingal: the beam of oaks arose. The people gathered round with gladness, with gladness blended with shades. They sidelong looked to the king, and beheld his unfinished joy. Pleasant from the way of the desert, the voice of music came. It seemed, at first, the noise of a stream, far distant on its rocks. Slow it rolled along the hill, like the ruffled wing of a breeze, when it takes the tufted beard of the rocks, in the still season of night. It was the voice of Condon, mixed with Carril's trembling harp. They came, with blue-eyed Ferad-artho, to Mora of the streams.
Sudden bursts the song from our bards, on Lena: the host struck their shields midst the sound. Gladness rose brightening on the king, like the beam of a cloudy day, when it rises on the green hill, before the roar of winds. He struck the bossy shield of kings; at once they cease around. The people lean forward, from their spears, towards the voice of their land.
"Sons of Morven, spread the feast; send the night away in song. Ye have shone around me, and the dark storm is past. My people are the windy rocks, from which I spread my eagle wings, when I rush forth to renown, and seize it on its field. Ossian, thou hast the spear of Fingal; it is not the staff of a boy with which he strews the thistles round, young wanderer of the field. No: it is the lance of the mighty, with which they stretched forth their hands to death. Look to thy fathers, my son; they are awful beams. With morning lead Ferad-artho forth to the echoing halls of Temora. Remind him of the kings of Erin: the stately forms of old. Let not the fallen be forgot: they were mighty in the field. Let Carril pour his song, that the kings may rejoice in their mist. To morrow I spread my sails to Selma's shaded walls: where streamy Duth-ula winds through the seats of roes."
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.
Temora - Book Ii
This book opens, we may suppose, about midnight, with a soliloquy of Ossian, who had retired from the rest of the army, to mourn for his son Oscar. Upon hearing the noise of Cathmor's army approaching, he went to find out his brother Fillan, who kept the watch on the hill of Mora, in the front of Fingal's army. In the conversation of the brothers, the episode of Conar, the son of Trenmor, who was the first king of Ireland, is introduced, which lays open the origin of the contests between the Gael and the Fir-bolg, the two nations who first possessed themselves of that island. Ossian kindles a fire on Mora: upon which Cathmor desisted from the design he had formed of surprising the army of the Caledonians. He calls a council of his chiefs: reprimands Foldath for advising a night attack, as the Irish were so much superior in number to the enemy. The bard Fonar introduces the story of Crothar, the ancestor of the king, which throws further light on the history of Ireland, and the original pretensions of the family of Atha to the throne of that kingdom. The Irish chiefs lie down to rest, and Cathmor himself undertakes the watch. In his circuit round the army he is met by Ossian. The interview of the two heroes is described. Cathmor obtains a promise from Ossian to order a funeral elegy to be sung over the grave of Cairbar: it being the opinion of the times, that the souls of the dead could not be happy till their elegies were sung by a bard. Morning comes. Cathmor and Ossian part; and the latter, casually meeting with Carril the son of Kinfena, sends that bard, with a funeral song, to the tomb of Cairbar.
FATHER of heroes! O Trenmor! High dweller of eddying winds! where the dark-red thunder marks the troubled clouds! Open thou thy stormy halls. Let the bards of old be near. Let them draw near with songs and their half viewless harps. No dweller of misty valley comes! No hunter unknown at his streams! It is the car-borne Oscar, from the field of war. Sudden is thy change, my son, from what thou wert on dark Moi-lena! The blast folds thee in its skirt, and rustles through the sky! Dost thou not behold thy father, at the stream of night? The chiefs of Morven sleep far distant. They have lost no son! But ye have lost a hero, chiefs of resounding Morven! Who could equal his strength, when battle rolled against his side, like the darkness of crowded waters? Why this cloud on Ossian's soul? It ought to burn in danger. Erin is near with her host. The king of Selma is alone. Alone thou shalt not be, my father, while I can lift the spear!
I rose in all my arms. I rose and listened to the wind. The shield of Fillan is not heard. I tremble for the son of Fingal. "Why should the foe come by night? Why should the dark-haired warrior fall?" Distant, sullen murmurs rise; like the noise of the lake of Lego, when its waters shrink, in the days of frost, and all its bursting ice resounds. The people of Lara look to heaven, and foresee the storm! My steps are forward on the heath. The spear of Oscar is in my hand? Red stars looked from high. I gleamed along the night.
I saw Fillan silent before me, bending forward from Mora's rock. He heard the shout of the foe. The joy of his soul arose. He heard my sounding tread, and turned his lifted spear. "Comest thou, son of night, in peace? Or dost thou meet my wrath? The foes of Fingal are mine. Speak, or fear my steel. I stand not, in vain, the shield of Morven's race." "Never mayest thou stand in vain, son of blue-eyed Clatho! Fingal begins to be alone. Darkness gathers on the last of his days. Yet he has two sons who ought to shine in war. Who ought to be two beams of light, near the steps of his departure."
"Son of Fingal," replied the youth, "it is not long since I raised the spear. Few are the marks of my sword in war. But Fillan's soul is fire! The chiefs of Bolga crowd around the shield of generous Cathmor. Their gathering is on the heath. Shall my steps approach their host? I yielded to Oscar alone in the strife of the race of Cona!"
"Fillan, thou shalt not approach their host; nor fall before thy fame is known. My name is heard in song; when needful, I advance. From the skirts of night I shall view them over all their gleaming tribes. Why, Fillan, didst thou speak of Oscar? Why awake my sigh! I must forget the warrior, till the storm is rolled away. Sadness ought not to dwell in danger, nor the tear in the eye of war. Our fathers forgot their fallen sons, till the noise of arms was past. Then sorrow returned to the tomb, and the song of bards arose. The memory of those who fell quickly followed the departure of war: when the tumult of battle is past, the soul in silence melts away for the dead.
"Conar was the brother of Trathal, first of mortal men. His battles were on every coast. A thousand streams rolled down the blood of. his foes. His fame filled green Erin, like a pleasant gale. The nations gathered in Ullin, and they blessed the king; the king of the race of their fathers, from the land of Selma.
"The chiefs of the south were gathered, in the darkness of their pride. In the horrid cave of Moma they mixed their secret words. Thither often, they said, the spirits of their fathers came; showing their pale forms from the chinky rocks; reminding them of the honor of Bolga. 'Why should Conar reign,' they said, 'the son of resounding Morven?'
"They came forth, like the streams of the desert, with the roar of their hundred tribes. Cona was a rock before them: broken, they rolled on every side. But often they returned, and the sons of Selma fell. The king stood, among the tombs of his warriors. He darkly bent his mournful face. His soul was rolled into itself: and he had marked the place where he was to fall: when Trathal came, in his strength, his brother from cloudy Morven. Nor did he come alone. Colgar was at his side: Colgar the son of the king and of white-bosomed Solin-corma.
"As Trenmor, clothed with meteors, descends from the halls of thunder, pouring the dark storm before him over the troubled sea: so Colgar descended to battle, and wasted the echoing field. His father rejoiced over the hero: but an arrow came! His tomb was raised without a tear. The king was to revenge his son. He lightened forward in battle, till Bolga yielded at her streams!
"When peace returned to the land: when his blue waves bore the king to Morven: then he remembered his son, and poured the silent tear. Thrice did the bards, at the cave of Furmono, call the soul of Colgar. They called him to the hills of his land. He heard them in his mist. Trathal placed his sword in the cave, that the spirit of his son might rejoice."
"Colgar, son of Trathal," said Fillan, "thou wert renowned in youth! but the king hath not marked my sword, bright streaming on the field. I go forth with the crowd. I return without my fame. But the foe approaches, Ossian! I hear their murmur on the heath. The sound of their steps is like thunder, in the bosom of the ground, when the rocking hills shake their groves, and not a blast pours from the darkened sky!"
Ossian turned sudden on his spear. He raised the flame of an oak on high. I spread it large on Mora's wind. Cathmor stopt in his course. Gleaming he stood, like a rock, on whose sides are the wandering blasts; which seize its echoing streams, and clothe them with ice. So stood the friend of strangers! The winds lift his heavy locks. Thou art the tallest of the race of Erin, king of streamy Atha!
"First of bards" said Cathmor, "Fonar, call the chiefs of Erin. Call red-haired Cormar: dark-browed Malthos: the sidelong-looking gloom of Maronnan. Let the pride of Foldath appear. The red-rolling eye of Turlotho. Nor let Hidalla be forgot; his voice, in danger, is the sound of a shower, when it falls in the blasted vale, near Atha's falling stream. Pleasant is its sound on the plain, whilst broken thunder travels over the sky!"
They came in their clanging arms. They bent forward to his voice, as if a spirit of their fathers spoke from a cloud of night. Dreadful shone they to the light, like the fall of the stream of Bruno, when the meteor lights it, before the nightly stranger. Shuddering he stops in his journey, and looks up for the beam of the morn!
"Why delights Foldath," said the king, "to pour the blood of foes by night? Fails his arm in battle, in the beams of day? Few are the foes before us; why should we clothe us in shades? The valiant delight to shine in the battles of their land! Thy counsel was in vain, chief of Moma! The eyes of Morven do not sleep. They are watchful as eagles on their mossy rocks. Let each collect beneath his cloud the strength of his roaring tribe. To-morrow I move, in light, to meet the foes of Bolga! Mighty was he that is low, the race of Borbar-duthul!"
"Not unmarked," said Foldath, "were my steps be. fare thy race. In light, I met the foes of Cairbar. The warrior praised my deeds. But his stone was raised without a tear! No bard sung over Erin's king. Shall his foes rejoice along their mossy hills? No they must not rejoice! He was the friend of Foldath. Our words were mixed, in secret, in Moma's silent cave; whilst thou, a boy in the field, pursued'st the thistle's beard. With Moma's sons I shall rush abroad, and find the foe on his dusky hills. Fingal shall die without his song, the gray-haired king of Selma."
" Dost thou think, thou feeble man," replied Cathmor, half enraged: "Dost thou think Fingal can fail, without his fame, in Erin? Could the bards be silent at the tomb of Selma's king; the song would burst in secret! the spirit of the king would rejoice! It is when thou shalt fall, that the bard shall forget the song. Thou art dark, chief of Moma, though thine arm is a tempest in war. Do I forget the king of Erin, in his narrow house? My soul is not lost to Cairbar, the brother of my love! I marked the bright beams of joy which travelled over his cloudy mind, when I returned, with fame, to Atha of the streams."
Tall they removed, beneath the words of the king. Each to his own dark tribe; where, humming, they rolled on the heath, faint-glittering to the stars: like waves in a rocky bay, before the nightly wind. Beneath an oak lay the chief of Atha. His shield, a dusky round, hung high. Near him, against a rock, leaned the fair stranger of Inis-huna: that beam of light, with wandering locks, from Lumon of the roes. At a distance rose the voice of Fonar, with the deeds of the days of old. The song fails, at times, in Lubar's growing roar.
"Crothar," began the bard, first dwelt at Atha's mossy stream! A thousand oaks, from the mountains, formed his echoing hail. The gathering of the people
was there, around the feast of the blue-eyed king. But who, among his chiefs, was like the stately Crothar? Warriors kindled in his presence. The young sigh of the virgins rose. In Alnecma was the warrior honored: the first of the race of Bolga.
"He pursued the chase in Ullin: on the moss-covered top of Drumardo. From the wood looked the daughter of Cathmin, the blue-rolling eye of Con-láma. Her sigh rose in secret. She bent her head, amidst her wandering locks. The moon looked in, at night, and saw the white tossing of her arms; for she thought of the mighty Crothar in the season of dreams.
"Three days feasted Crothar with Cathmin. On the fourth they awaked the hinds. Con-láma moved to the chase, with all her lovely steps. She met Crothar in the narrow path. The bow fell at once from her hand. She turned her face away, and half hid it with her locks. The love of Crothar rose. He brought the white-bosomed maid to Atha. Bards raised the song in her presence. Joy dwelt round the daughter of Cathmin.
"The pride of Turloch rose, a youth who loved the white-handed Con-láma. He came, with battle, to Alnecma; to Atha of the roes. Cormul went forth to the strife, the brother of car-borne Crothar. He went forth, but he fell. The sigh of his people rose. Silent and tall across the stream, came the darkening strength of Crothar: he rolled the foe from Alnecma. He returned midst the joy of Con-láma.
"Battle on battle comes. Blood is poured on blood. The tombs of the valiant rise. Erin's clouds arc hung round with ghosts. The chiefs of the South gathered round the echoing shield of Crothar. He came, with death to the paths of the foe. The virgins wept, by the streams of Ullin. They looked the mist of the hill: no hunter descended from its folds. Silence darkened in the land. Blasts sighed lonely on grassy tombs.
"Descending like the eagle of heaven, with all his rustling winds, when he forsakes the blast with joy, the son of Trenmor came; Conar, arm of death, from Morven of the groves, lie poured his might along green Erin. Death dimly strode behind his sword. The sons of Bolga fled from his course, as from a stream, that, bursting from the stormy desert, rolls the fields together, with all their echoing woods Crothar met him in battle: but Alnecma's warriors fled. The king of Atha slowly retired, in the grief of his soul. He afterward shone in the south; but dim as the sun of autumn, when he visits, in his robes of mist, Lara of dark streams. 'The withered grass is covered with dew; the field, though bright, is sad."
"Why wakes the bard before me," said Cathmor, "the memory of those who fled? Has some ghost, from his dusky cloud, bent forward to thine ear; to frighten Cathmor from the field, with the tales of old? Dwellers of the skirts of night, your voice is but a blast to me; which takes the gray thistle's head, and strews its beard on streams. Within my bosom is a voice. Others hear it not. His soul forbids the king of Erin to shrink back from war."
Abashed, the bard sinks back on night; retired, lie bends above a stream. His thoughts are on the days of Atha, when Cathmor heard his song with joy. His tears came rolling down. The winds are in his beard. Erin sleeps around. No sleep comes down on Cathmor's eyes. Dark, in his soul, he saw the spirit of low-laid Cairbar. He saw him, without his song, rolled in a blast of night. He rose. His steps were round the host. He struck, at times, his echoing shield. The sound reached Ossian's ear on Mora's mossy brow.
"Fillan," I said, "the foes advance. I hear the shield of war. Stand thou in the narrow path. Ossian shall mark their course. if over my fall the host should pour; then be thy buckler heard. Awake the king on his heath, lest his fame should fly away." I strode in all my rattling arms; wide bounding over a stream that darkly winded in the field, before the king of Atha. Green Atha's king with lifted spear, came forward on my course. Now would we have mixed in horrid, fray, like two contending ghosts, that bending forward from two clouds, send forth the roaring winds; did not Ossian behold, on high, the helmet of Erin's kings. The eagle's wing spread above it, rustling in the breeze. A red star looked through the plumes. I stopt the lifted spear.
"The helmet of kings is before me! Who art thou, son of night? Shall Ossian's spear be renowned, when thou art lowly laid?" At once he dropt the gleaming lance. Growing before me seemed the form. He stretched his hand in night. He spoke the words of kings.
"Friend of the spirits of heroes, do I meet thee thus in shades? I have wished for thy stately steps in Atha, in the days of joy. Why should my spear now arise?' The sun must behold us, Ossian, when we bend, gleaming in the strife. Future warriors shall mark the place, and shuddering think of other years. They shall mark it, like the haunt of ghosts, pleasant and dreadful to the soul ."
"Shall it then be forgot," I said, "where we meet in peace? Is the remembrance of battles always pleasant to the soul? Do not we behold, with joy, the place where our fathers feasted? But our eyes are full of tears, on the fields of their war. This stone shall rise with all its moss and speak to other years. 'Here Cathmor and Ossian met; the warriors met in peace!' When thou, O stone, shalt fail: when Lubar's stream shall roll away; then shall the traveller come and bend here, perhaps, in rest. When the darkened moon is rolled over his head, our shadowy forms may come, and, mixing with his dreams, remind him of his place. But why turnest thou so dark away; son of Borbar-duthul?"
"Not forgot, son of Fingal, shall we ascend these winds. Our deeds are streams of light, before the eyes of bards. But darkness is rolled on Atha: the king is low without his song; still there was a beam towards Cathmor, from his stormy soul; like the moon in a cloud, amidst the dark-red course of thunder."
"Son of Erin," I replied, "my wrath dwells not in his earth. My hatred flies on eagle wings, from the foe that is low. He shall hear the song of bards. Cairbar shall rejoice on his winds."
Cathmor's swelling soul arose. He took the dagger from his side, and placed it gleaming in my hand. He placed it in my hand, with sighs, and silent strode away. Mine eyes followed his departure. He dimly gleamed, like the form of a ghost, which meets a traveller by night, on the dark-skirted heath. His words are dark, like songs of old: with morning strides the unfinished shade away!
Who comes from Luba's vale? from the skirts of the morning mist? The drops of heaven are on his head. His steps are in the paths of the sad. It is Carril of other times. He comes from Tura's silent cave. I behold it dark in the rock, through the thin folds of mist. There, perhaps, Cuthullin sits, on the blast which bends its trees. Pleasant is the song of the morning from the bard of Erin.
"The waves crowd away," said Carril." They crowd away for fear. They hear the sound of thy coming forth, O sun! Terrible is thy beauty, son of heaven, when death is descending on thy locks: when thou rollest thy vapors before thee, over the blasted host. But pleasant is thy beam to the hunter, sitting by the rock in a storm, when thou showest thyself from the parted cloud, and brightenest his dewy locks he looks down on the streamy vale, and beholds the de. scent of roes! How long shalt thou rise on war, and roll, a bloody shield, through heaven? I see the death of heroes, dark wandering over thy face!"
"Why wander the words of Carril?" I said. "Does the son of heaven mourn? lie is unstained in his course, ever rejoicing in his fire. Roll on, thou careless light. Thou too, perhaps, must fall. Thy darkening hour may seize thee, struggling as thou rollest through thy sky. But pleasant is the voice of the bard: pleasant to Ossian's soul! It is like the shower of the morning, when it comes through the rustling vale, on which the sun looks through mist, just rising from his rocks. But this is no time, O bard! to sit down, at the strife of song. Fingal is in arms on the vale. Thou seest the flaming shield of the king. His face darkens between his locks. He beholds the wide rolling of Erin. Does not Carril behold that tomb, beside the roaring stream? Three stones lift their gray heads, beneath a bending oak. A king is lowly laid! Give thou his soul to the wind. He is the brother of Cathmor! Open his airy hall! Let thy song be a stream of joy to Cairbar's darkened ghost!"
Fingal - Book Iii
Cuthullin, pleased with the story of Carril, insists with that bard for more of his songs. He relates the actions of Fingal in Lochlin, and death of Agandecca, the beautiful sister of Swaran. He had scarce finished, when Calmar, the son of Matha, who had advised the first battle, came wounded from the field, and told them of Swaran's design to surprise the remains of the Irish army. He himself proposes to withstand singly the whole force of the enemy, in a narrow pass, till the Irish should make good their retreat. Cuthullin, touched with the gallant proposal of Calmar, resolves to accompany him and orders Carril to carry off the few that remained of the Irish. Morning comes, Calmar dies of his wounds; and the ships of the Caledonians appearing, Swaran gives over the pursuit of the Irish, and returns to oppose Fingal's landing. Cuthullin, ashamed, after his defeat, to appear before Fingal re tires to the cave of Tura. Fingal engages the enemy, puts them to flight: but the coming on of night makes the victory not decisive. The king, who had observed the gallant behavior of his grandson Oscar, gives him advice concerning his conduct in peace and war. He recommends to him to place the example of his fathers before his eyes, as the best model for his conduct; which introduces the episode concerning Fainasóllis, the daughter of the king of Craca, whom Fingal had taken under his protection in his youth. Fillan and Oscar are despatched to observe the motions of the enemy by night: Gaul, the son of Morni, desires the command of the army in the next battle, which Fingal promises to give him. Some general reflections of the poet close the third day.
"PLEASANT are the words of the song! "said Cuthullin, "lovely the tales of other times! They are like the calm dew of the morning on the hill of roes! when the sun is faint on its side, and the lake is settled and blue on the vale. O Carril, raise again thy voice! let me hear the song of Selma: which was sung in my halls of joy, when Fingal, king of shields, was there, and glowed at the deeds of his fathers.
"Fingal! thou dweller of battle," said Carril, "early were thy deeds in arms. Lochlin was consumed in thy wrath, when thy youth strove in the beauty of maids. They smiled at the fair-blooming face of the hero; but death was in his hands. He was strong as the waters of Lora. His followers were the roar of a thousand streams. They took the king of Lochlin in war; they restored him to his ship. His big heart swelled with pride; the death of the youth was dark in his soul. For none ever but Fingal, had overcome the strength of the mighty Starno. He sat in the hall of his shells in Lochlin's woody land. He called the gray-haired Snivan, that often sung round the circle of Loda; when the stone of power heard his voice , and battle turned in the field of the valiant!
"'Go, gray-haired Snivan,' Starno said: 'go to Ardven's sea-surrounded rocks. Tell to the king of Selma; he the fairest among his thousands; tell him I give to him my daughter, the loveliest maid that ever heaved a breast of snow. Her arms are white as the foam of my waves. Her soul is generous and mild. Let him come with his bravest heroes to the daughter of the secret hall!' Snivan came to Selma's hall: fair-haired Fingal attended his steps. His kindled soul flew to the maid, as he bounded on the waves of the north. 'Welcome,' said the dark-brown Starno, 'welcome, king of rocky Morven! welcome his heroes of might, sons of the distant isle! Three days within thy halls shall we feast; three days pursue my boars; that your fame may reach the maid who dwells in the secret hall.'
"Starno designed their death. He gave the feast of shells. Fingal, who doubted the foe, kept on his arms of steel. The sons of death were afraid: they fled from the eyes of the king. The voice of sprightly mirth arose. The trembling harps of joy were strung. Bards sung the battles of heroes; they sung the heaving breast of love. Ullin, Fingal's bard, was there: the sweet voice of resounding Cona. He praised the daughter of Lochlin; and Morven's high-descended chief. The daughter of Lochlin overheard. She left the hall of her secret sigh! She came in all her beauty, like the moon from the cloud of the east. Loveliness was round her as light. Her steps were the music of songs. She saw the youth and loved him. He was the stolen sigh of her soul. Her blue eyes rolled on him in secret: she blessed the chief of resounding Morven.
"The third day, with all its beams, shone bright on the wood of boars. Forth moved the dark-browed Starno; and Fingal, king of shields. Half the day they spent in the chase; the spear of Selma was red in blood. It was then the daughter of Starno, with blue eyes rolling in tears; it was then she came with her voice of love, and spoke to the king of Morven. 'Fingal, high-descended chief, trust not Starno's heart of pride. Within that wood he has placed his chiefs. Beware of the wood of death. But remember, son of the isle, remember Agandecca; save me from the wrath of my father, king of the windy Morven!'
"The youth with unconcern went on; his heroes by his side. The sons of death fell by his hand; and Germal echoed around! Before the halls of Starno the sons of the chase convened. The king's dark brows were like clouds; his eyes like meteors of night. 'Bring hither,' he said, 'Agandecca to her lovely king of Morven! His hand is stained with the blood of my people; her words have not been in vain!' She came with the red eye of tears. She came with loosely flowing locks. Her white breast heaved with broken sighs, like the foam of the streamy Lubar. Starno pierced her side with steel. She fell, like a wreath of snow, which slides from the rocks of Ronan, when the woods are still, and echo deepens in the vale! Then Fingal eyed his valiant chiefs: his valiant chiefs took arms! The gloom of battle roared: Lochlin fled or died. Pale in his bounding ship he closed the maid of the softest soul. Her tomb ascends on Ardven; the sea roars round her narrow dwelling."
"Blessed be her soul," said Cuthullin; "blessed be the mouth of the song! Strong was the youth of Fingal; strong is his arm of age. Lochlin shall fall again before the king of echoing Morven. Show thy face from a cloud, O moon! light his white sails on the wave: and if any strong spirit of heaven sits on that low-hung cloud; turn his dark ships from the rock, thou rider of the storm!"
Such were the words of Cuthullin at the sound of the mountain stream; when Calmar ascended the hill, the wounded son of Matha. From the field he came in his blood. He leaned on his bending spear. Feeble is the arm of battle! but strong the soul of the hero! "Welcome! O son of Matha," said Connal, "welcome art thou to thy friends! Why bursts that broken sigh from the breast of him who never feared before?" "And never, Connal, will he fear, chief of the pointed steel! My soul brightens in danger; in the noise of arms I am of the race of battle. My fathers never feared.
"Cormar was the first of my race. He sported through the storms of waves. His black skiff bounded on ocean; he travelled on the wings of the wind. A spirit once embroiled the night. Seas swell and rocks resound. Winds drive along the clouds. The lightning flies on wings of fire. He feared, and came to land, then blushed that he feared at all. He rushed again among the waves, to find the son of the wind. Three youths guide the bounding bark: he stood with sword unsheathed. When the low-hung vapor passed, he took it by the curling head. He searched its dark womb with his steel. The son of the wind forsook the air. The moon and the stars returned! Such was the boldness of my race. Calmar is like his fathers. Danger flies from the lifted sword. They best succeed who dare!
"But now, ye sons of green Erin, retire from Lena's bloody heath. Collect the sad remnant of our friends, and join the sword of Fingal. I heard the sound of Lochlin's advancing arms: Calmar will remain and fight. My voice shall be such, my friends, as if thousands were behind me. But, son of Semo, remember me. Remember Calmar's lifeless corse. When Fingal shall have wasted the field, place me by some stone of remembrance, that future times may hear my fame; that the mother of Calmar may rejoice in my renown."
"No: son of Matha," said Cuthullin, "I will never leave thee here. My joy is in an unequal fight: my soul increases in danger. Connal, and Carril of other times, carry off the sad sons of Erin. When the battle is over, search for us in this narrow way. For near this oak we shall fall, in the streams of the battle of thousands! O Fithal's son, with flying speed rush over the heath of Lena. Tell to Fingal that Erin is fallen. Bid the king of Morven come. O let him come like the sun in a storm, to lighten, to restore the isle!"
Morning is gray on Cromla. The sons of the sea ascend. Calmar stood forth to meet them in the pride of his kindling soul. But pale was the face of the chief. He leaned on his father's spear. That spear which he brought from Lara, when the soul of his mother was sad; the soul of the lonely Alcletha, waning in the sorrow of years. But slowly now the hero falls, like a tree on the plain. Dark Cuthullin stands alone like a rock in a sandy vale. The sea comes with its waves, and roars on its hardened sides. Its head is covered with foam; the hills are echoing round.
Now from the gray mist of the ocean the white-sailed ships of Fingal appear. High is the grove of their masts, as they nod, by turns, on the rolling wave. Swaran saw them from the hill. He returned from the sons of Erin. As ebbs the resounding sea, through the hundred isles of Inistore; so loud, so vast, so immense, returned the sons of Lochlin against the king. But bending, weeping, sad, and slow, and dragging his long spear behind, Cuthullin sunk in Cromla's wood, and mourned his fallen friends. He feared the face of Fingal, who was wont to greet him from the fields of renown!
"How many lie there of my heroes! the chiefs of Erin's race! they that were cheerful in the hall, when the sound of the shells arose! No more shall I find their steps in the heath! No more shall I hear their voice in the chase. Pale, silent, low on bloody beds, are they who were my friends! O spirits of the lately dead, meet Cuthullin on his heath! Speak to him on the winds, when the rustling tree of Tura's cave resounds. There, far remote, I shall lie unknown. No bard shall hear of me. No gray stone shall rise to my renown. Mourn me with the dead, O Bragéla! departed is my fame." Such were the words of Cuthullin, when he sunk in the woods of Cromla!
Fingal, tall in his ship, stretched his bright lance before him. Terrible was the gleam of his steel: It was like the green meteor of death, setting in the heath of Malmor, when the traveller is alone, and the broad moon is darkened in heaven.
"The battle is past," said the king. "I behold the blood of my friends. Sad is the heath of Lena! mournful the oaks of Cromla! The hunters have fallen in their strength: the son of Semo is no more! Ryno and Fillan, my sons, sound the horn of Fingal! Ascend that hill on the shore; call the children of the foe. Call them from the grave of Lamderg, the chief of other times. Be your voice like that of your father, when he enters the battles of his strength! I wait for the mighty stranger. I wait on Lena's shore for Swaran. Let him come with all his race; strong in battle are the friends of the dead!"
Fair Ryno as lightning gleamed along: dark Fillan rushed like the shade of autumn. On Lena's heath their voice is heard. The sons of ocean heard the horn of Fingal. As the roaring eddy of ocean returning from the kingdom of snows: so strong, so dark, so sudden, came down the sons of Lochlin. The king in their front appears, in the dismal pride of his arms! Wrath burns on his dark-brown face; his eyes roll in the fire of his valor. Fingal beheld the son of Starno: he remembered Agandecca. For Swaran with tears of youth had mourned his white-bosomed sister. He sent Ullin of songs to bid him to the feast of shells: for pleasant on Fingal's soul returned the memory of the first of his loves!
Ullin came with aged steps, and spoke to Starno's son. "O thou that dwellest afar, surrounded, like a rock, with thy waves! come to the feast of the king, and pass the day in rest. To-morrow let us fight, O Swaran, and break the echoing shields." — "To-day," said Starno's wrathful son, "we break the echoing shields: to-morrow my feast shall be spread; but Fingal shall lie on earth." — "To-morrow let his feast be spread," said Fingal, with a smile. "To-day, O my sons! we shall break the echoing shields. Ossian, stand thou near my arm. Gaul, lift thy terrible sword. Fergus, bend thy crooked yew. Throw, Fillan, thy lance through heaven. Lift your shields, like the darkened moon. Be your spears the meteors of death. Follow me in the path of my fame. Equal my deeds in battle."
As a hundred winds on Morven; as the streams of a hundred hills; as clouds fly successive over heaven; as the dark ocean assails the shore of the desert: so roaring, so vast, so terrible, the armies mixed on Lena's echoing heath. The groans of the people spread over the hills: it was like the thunder of night, when the cloud bursts on Cona; and a thousand ghosts shriek at once on the hollow wind. Fingal rushed on in his strength, terrible as the spirit of Trenmor; when in a whirlwind he comes to Morven, to see the children of his pride. The oaks resound on their mountains, and the rocks fall down before him. Dimly seen as lightens the night, he strides largely from hill to hill. Bloody was the hand of my father, when he whirled the gleam of his sword. He remembers the battles of his youth. The field is wasted in its course!
Ryno went on like a pillar of fire. Dark is the brow of Gaul. Fergus rushed forward with feet of wind; Fillin like the mist of the hill. Ossian, like a rock, came down. I exulted in the strength of the king. Many were the deaths of my arm! dismal the gleam of my sword! My locks were not then so gray; nor trembled my hands with age. My eyes were not closed in darkness; my feet failed not in the race!
Who can relate the deaths of the people? who the deeds of mighty heroes? when Fingal, burning in his wrath, consumed the sons of Lochlin? Groans swelled on groans from hill to hill, till night had covered all. Pale, staring like a herd of deer, the sons of Lochlin convene on Lena. We sat and heard the sprightly harp, at Lubar's gentle stream. Fingal himself was next to the foe. He listened to the tales of his bards. His godlike race were in the song, the chiefs of other times. Attentive, leaning on his shield, the king of Morven sat. The wind whistled through his locks; his thoughts are of the days of other years. Near him, on his bending spear, my young, my valiant Oscar stood. He admired the king of Morven: his deeds were swelling in his soul.
"Son of my son," began the king, "O Oscar, pride of youth: I saw the shining of the sword. I gloried in my race. Pursue the fame of our fathers; be thou what they have been, when Trenmor lived, the first of men, and Trathal, the father of heroes! They fought the battle in their youth. They are the song of bards. O Oscar! bend the strong in arm; but spare the feeble hand. Be thou a stream of many tides against the foes of thy people; but like the gale, that moves the grass. to those who ask thine aid. So Trenmor lived; such Trathal was; and such has Fingal been. My arm was the support of the injured; the weak rested behind the lightning of my steel.
"Oscar! I was young, like thee, when lovely Fainasóllis came: that sunbeam! that mild light of love! the daughter of Craca's king. I then returned from Cona's heath, and few were in my train. A white-sailed boat appeared far off; we saw it like a mist that rode on ocean's wind. It soon approached. We saw the fair. Her white breast heaved with sighs. The wind was in her loose dark hair; her rosy cheek had tears. 'Daughter of beauty,' calm I said, 'what sigh is in thy breast? Can I, young as I am, defend thee, daughter of the sea? My sword is not unmatched in war, but dauntless is my heart."
"'To thee I fly,' with sighs she said, 'O prince of mighty men! To thee I fly, chief of the generous shells, supporter of the feeble hand! The king of Craca's echoing isle owned me the sunbeam of his race. Cromla's hills have heard the sighs of love for unhappy Fainasóllis! Sora's chief beheld me fair; he loved the daughter of Craca. His sword is a beam of light upon the warrior's side. But dark is his brow; and tempests are in his soul. I shun him on the roaring sea; but Sora's chief pursues.'
"'Rest thou,' I said, 'behind my shield! rest in peace, thou beam of light! The gloomy chief of Sora will fly, if Fingal's arm is like his soul. In some lone cave I might conceal thee, daughter of the sea. But Fingal never flies. Where the danger threatens, I rejoice in the storm of spears.' I saw the tears upon her cheek. I pitied Craca's fair. Now, like a dreadful wave afar, appeared the ship of stormy Borbar. His masts high-bended over the sea behind their sheets of snow. White roll the waters on either side. The strength of ocean sounds. 'Come thou,' I said, 'from the roar of ocean, thou rider of the storm. Partake the feast within my hall. It is the house of strangers.'
"The maid stood trembling by my side. He drew the bow. She fell. 'Unerring is thy hand,' I said, 'but feeble was the foe.' We fought, nor weak the strife of death. He sunk beneath my sword. We laid them in two tombs of stone; the hapless lovers of youth! Such have I been, in my youth, O Oscar! be thou like the age of Fingal. Never search thou for battle; nor shun it when it comes.
"Fillan and Oscar of the dark-brown hair! ye that are swift in the race fly over the heath in my presence. View the sons of Lochlin. Far off I hear the noise of their feet, like distant sounds in woods. Go: that they may not fly from my sword, along the waves of the north. For many chiefs of Erin's race lie here on the dark bed of death. The children of war are low; the sons of echoing Cromla."
The heroes flew like two dark clouds: two dark clouds that are the chariots of ghosts; when air's dark children come forth to frighten hapless men. It was then that Gaul, the son of Morni, stood like a rock in night. His spear is glittering to the stars; his voice like many streams.
"Son of battle," cried the chief, "O Fingal, king of shells! let the bards of many songs soothe Erin's friends to rest. Fingal, sheath thou thy sword of death; and let thy people fight. We wither away without our fame; our king is the only breaker of shields! When morning rises on our hills, behold at a distance our deeds. Let Lochlin feel the sword of Morni's son; that bards may sing of me. Such was the custom heretofore of Fingal's noble race. Such was thine own, thou king of swords, in battles of the spear."
O son of Morni," Fingal replied, "I glory in thy fame. Fight; but my spear shall be near, to aid thee in the midst of danger. Raise, raise the voice, ye sons of song, and lull me into rest. Here will Fingal lie, amidst the wind of night. And if thou, Agandecca, art near, among the children of thy land; if thou sittest on a blast of wind, among the high-shrouded masts of Lochlin; come to my dreams, my fair one! Show thy bright face to my soul ."
Many a voice and many a harp, in tuneful sounds arose. Of Fingal noble deeds they sung; of Fingal's noble race: and sometimes, on the lovely sound was heard the name of Ossian. I often fought, and often won in battles of the spear. But blind, and tearful, and forlorn, I walk with little men! O Fingal, with thy race of war I now behold thee not. The wild roes feed on the green tomb of the mighty king of Morven! Blest be thy soul, thou king of swords, thou most renowned on the hills of Cona!
It may not be improper here to give the story which is the foundation of this poem, as it is handed down by tradition. Usnoth, lord of Etha, which is probably that part of Argyleshire which is near Loch Eta, an arm of the sea in Lorn, had three sons, Nathos, Althos, and Ardan, by Slissáma, the daughter of Semo, and sister to the celebrated Cuthullin. The three brothers, when very young, were sent over to Ireland by their father, to learn the use of arms under their uncle Cuthullin, who made a great figure in that kingdom. They were just landed in Ulster, when the news of Cuthullin's death arrived. Nathos, though very young, took the command of Cuthullin's army, made head against Cairbar the usurper, and defeated him in several battles. Cairbar at last, having found means to murder Cormac, the lawful king, the army of Nathos shifted sides, and he himself was obliged to return into Ulster, in order to pass over into Scotland.
Dar-thula, the daughter of Colla, with whom Cairbar was in love, resided at that time in Seláma, a castle in Ulster. She saw, fell in love, and fled with Nathos; but a storm rising at sea, they were unfortunately driven back on that part of the coast of Ulster, where Cairbar was encamped with his army. The three brothers, after having defended themselves for some time with great bravery, were overpowered and slain, and the unfortunate Dar-thula killed herself upon the body of her beloved Nathos.
The poem opens, on the night preceding the death of the sons of Usnoth, and brings in, by way of episode, what passed before. it relates the death of Dar-thula differently from the common tradition. This account, is the most probable, as suicide seems to have been unknown in those early times, for no traces of it are found in the old poetry.
DAUGHTER of heaven, fair art thou! the silence of thy face is pleasant! Thou comest forth in loveliness. The stars attend thy blue course in the east. The clouds rejoice in thy presence, O moon! They brighten their dark-brown sides. Who is like thee in heaven, light of the silent night? The stars are shamed in thy presence. They turn away their sparkling eyes. Whither dost thou retire from thy course when the darkness of thy countenance grows? Hast thou thy hall, like Ossian? Dwellest thou in the shadow of grief? Have thy sisters fallen from heaven? Are they who rejoiced with thee, at night, no more? Yes, they have fallen, fair light! and thou dost often retire to mourn. But thou thyself shalt fail one night and leave thy blue path in heaven. The stars will then lift their heads: they who were ashamed in thy presence, will rejoice. Thou art now clothed with thy brightness. Look from thy gates in the sky. Burst the cloud, O wind! that the daughters of night may look forth; that the shaggy mountains may brighten, and the ocean roll its white waves in light!
Nathos is on the deep, and Althos, that beam of youth! Ardan is near his brothers. They move in the gloom of their course. The sons of Usnoth move in darkness, from the wrath of Cairbar of Erin. Who is that, dim by their side? The night has covered her beauty! Her hair sighs on ocean's wind. Her robe streams in dusky wreaths. She is like the fair spirit of heaven in the midst of the shadowy mist. Who is it but Dar-thula, the first of Erin's maids? She has fled from the love of Cairbar, with blue-shielded Nathos. But the winds deceive thee, O Dar-thula! They deny the woody Etha to thy sails. These are not the mountains of Nathos; nor is that the roar of his climbing waves. The halls of Cairbar are near: the towers of the foe lift their heads! Erin stretches its green head into the sea. Tura's bay receives the ship. Where have ye been, ye southern Winds, when the sons of my love were deceived? But ye have been sporting on the plains, pursuing the thistle's beard. O that ye had been rustling in the sails of Nathos, till the hills of Etha arose! till they arose in their clouds, and saw their returning chief! Long hast thou been absent, Nathos! the day of thy return is past!
But the land of strangers saw thee lovely! thou wast lovely in the eyes of Dar-thula. Thy face was like the light of the morning. Thy hair like the raven's wing. Thy soul was generous and mild, like tho hour of the setting sun. Thy words were the gale of the reeds; the gliding stream of Lora! But when the rage of battle rose, thou wast a sea in a storm. The clang of thy arms was terrible: the host vanished at the sound of thy course. It was then Dar-thula beheld thee, from the top of her mossy tower; from the tower of Seláma, where her fathers dwelt.
"Lovely art thou, O stranger!" she said, for her trembling soul arose. "Fair art thou in thy battles, friend of the fallen Cormac! Why dost thou rush on in thy valor, youth of the ruddy look? Few are thy hands in fight against the dark-brown Cairbar! O that I might be freed from his love, that I might rejoice in the presence of Nathos! Blest are the rocks of Etha! they will behold his steps at the chase; they will see his white bosom, when the winds lift his flowing hair!" Such were thy words, Dar-thula, in Seláma's mossy towers. But now the night is around thee. The winds have deceived thy sails- — the winds have deceived thy sails, Dar-thula! Their blustering sound is high. Cease a little while, O north wind! Let me hear the voice of the lovely. Thy voice is lovely, Dar-thula, between the rustling blasts!
"Are these the rocks of Nathos?" she said, "this the roaring of his mountain streams? Comes that beam of light from Usnoth's nightly hall? The mist spreads around; the beam is feeble and distant far. But the light of Dar-thula's soul dwells in the chief of Etha! Son of the generous Usnoth, why that broken sigh? Are we in the land of strangers, chief of echoing Etha?"
"These are not the rocks of Nathos," he replied, "nor this the roar of his stream. No light comes from Etha's hall, for they are distant far. We are in the land of strangers, in the land of cruel Cairbar. The winds have deceived us, Dar-thula. Erin lifts here her hills. Go towards the north, Althos: be thy steps, Ardan, along the coast; that the foe may not come in darkness, and our hopes of Etha fail. I will go towards that mossy tower, to see who dwells about the beam. Rest, Dar-thula, on the shore! rest in peace, thou lovely light! the sword of Nathos is around thee, like the lightning of heaven!"
He went. She sat alone: she heard the roiling of the wave. The big tear is in her eye. She looks for returning Nathos. Her soul trembles at the bast. She turns her ear towards the tread of his feet. The tread of his feet is not heard. "Where art thou, son of my love! The roar of the blast is around me. Dark is the cloudy night. But Nathos does not return. What detains thee, chief of Etha? Have the foes met the hero in the strife of the night?"
He returned; but his face was dark. He had seen his departed friend! it was the wall of Tura. The ghost of Cuthullin stalked there alone; the sighing of his breast was frequent. The decayed flame of his eyes was terrible! His spear was a column of mist. The stars looked dim through his form. His voice was like hollow wind in a cave: his eye a light seen afar. He told the tale of grief. The soul of Nathos was sad, like the sun in the day of mist, when his face watery and dim.
"Why art thou sad, O Nathos!" said the lovely daughter of Colla. "Thou art a pillow of light to Dar-thula. The joy of her eyes is in Etha's chief. Where is my friend, but Nathos? My father, my brother is fallen! Silence dwells on Seláma. Sadness spreads on the blue streams of my land. My friends have fallen with Cormac. The mighty were slain in the battles of Erin. Hear, son of Usnoth! hear, O Nathos! my tale of grief.
"Evening darkened on the plain. The blue streams failed before mine eyes. The unfrequent blast came rustling in the tops of Seláma's groves. My seat was beneath a tree, on the walls of my fathers. Truthil past before my soul; the brother of my love: he that was absent in battle against the haughty Cairbar! Bending on his spear, the gray-haired Colla came. His downcast face is dark, and sorrow dwells in his soul. His sword is on the side of the hero; the helmet of his fathers on his head. The battle grows in his breast. He strives to hide the tear.
"'Dar-thula, my daughter,' he said, 'thou art the last of Colla's race! Truthil is fallen in battle. The chief of Seláma is no more! Cairbar comes, with his thousands, towards Seláma's walls. Colla will meet his pride, and revenge his son. But where shall I find thy safety, Dar-thula with the dark-brown hair! thou art lovely as the sunbeam of heaven, and thy friends are low!' 'Is the son of battle fallen?' I said, with a bursting sigh. 'Ceased the generous soul of Truthil to lighten through the field? My safety, Colla, is in that bow. I have learned to pierce the deer. Is not Cairbar like the hart of the desert, father of fallen Truthil?'
"The face of age brightened with joy. The crowded tears of his eyes poured down. The lips of Colla trembled. His gray beard whistled in the blast. 'Thou art the sister of Truthil,' he said; 'thou burnest in the fire of his soul. Take, Dar-thula, take that spear, that brazen shield, that burnished helm; they are the spoils of a warrior, a son of early youth! When the light rises on Seláma, we go to meet the car-borne Cairbar. But keep thou near the arm of Colla, beneath the shadow of my shield. Thy father, Dar-thula, could once defend thee; but age is trembling On his hand. The strength of his arm has failed. His soul is darkened with grief.'
"We passed the night in sorrow. The light of morning rose. I shone in the arms of battle. The gray haired hero moved before. The sons of Seláma convened around the sounding shield of Colla. But few were they in the plain, and their locks were gray. The youths had fallen with Truthil, in the battle of car-borne Cormac. 'Friends of my youth,' said Colla, 'it was not thus you have seen me in arms. It was not thus I strode to battle when the great Confaden fell. But ye are laden with grief. The darkness of age comes like the mist of the desert. My shield is worn with years! my sword is fixed in its place! I said to my soul, Thy evening shall be calm; thy departure like a fading light. But the storm has returned. I bend like an aged oak. My boughs are fallen on Seláma. I tremble in my place. Where art thou, with thy fallen heroes, O my beloved Truthil! Thou answerest not from thy rushing blast. The soul of thy father is sad. But I will be sad no more! Cairbar or Colla must fall! I feel the returning strength of my arm. My heart leaps at the sound of war.'
"The hero drew his sword. The gleaming blades of his people rose. They moved along the plain. Their gray hair streamed in the wind. Cairbar sat at the feast, in the silent plain of Lena. He saw the coming of the heroes. He called his chiefs to war. Why should I tell to Nathos how the strife of battle grew? I have seen thee in the midst of thousands, like the beam of heaven's fire: it is beautiful, but terrible; the people fall in its dreadful course. The spear of Colla flew. He remembered the battles of his youth. An arrow came with its sound. It pierced the hero's side. He fell on his echoing shield. My soul started with fear. I stretched my buckler over him: but my heaving breast was seen! Cairbar came with his spear. He beheld Seláma's maid. Joy rose on his dark-brown Taco. He stayed his lifted steel. He raised the tomb of Colla. He brought me weeping to Seláma. He spoke the words of love, but my soul was sad. I saw the shields of my fathers; the sword of car-borne Truthil. I saw the arms of the dead; the tear was on my cheek! Then thou didst come, O Nathos! and gloomy Cairbar fled. He fled like the ghost of the desert before the morning's beam. His host was not near; and feeble was his arm against thy steel! Why art thou sad, O Nathos?" said the lovely daughter of Colla.
"I have met," replied the hero, "the battle in my youth. My arm could not lift the spear when danger first arose. My soul brightened in the presence of war, as the green narrow vale, when the sun pours his streamy beams, before he hides his head in a storm. The lonely traveller feels a mournful joy. He sees the darkness that slowly comes. My soul brightened in danger before I saw Seláma's fair; before I saw thee, like a star that shines on the hill at night; the cloud advances, and threatens the lovely light! We are in the land of foes. The winds have deceived us, Dar-thula! The strength of our friends is not near, nor the mountains of Etha. Where shall I find thy peace, daughter of mighty Colla! The brothers of Nathos are brave, and his own sword has shone in fight. But what are the sons of Usnoth to the host of dark-brown Cairbar! O that the winds had brought thy sails, Oscar king of men! Thou didst promise to come to the battles of fallen Cormac! Then would my hand be strong as the flaming arm of death. Cairbar would tremble in his halls, and peace dwell round the lovely Dar-thula. But why dost thou fall, my soul? The sons of Usnoth may prevail!"
"And they will prevail, O Nathos!" said the rising soul of the maid. "Never shall Dar-thula behold the halls of gloomy Cairbar. Give me those arms of brass, that glitter to the passing meteor. I see them dimly in the dark-bosomed ship. Dar-thula will enter the battles of steel. Ghost of the noble Colla! do I behold thee on that cloud! Who is that dim beside thee? Is it the car-borne Truthil? Shall I behold the halls of him that slew Seláma's chief? No: I will not behold them, spirits of my love!"
Joy rose in the face of Nathos when he heard the white-bosomed maid. "Daughter of Seláma! thou shinest along my soul. Come, with thy thousands, Cairbar! the strength of Nathos is returned! Thou O aged Usnoth! shalt not hear that thy son has fled. I remembered thy words on Etha, when my sails began to rise: when I spread them towards Erin, towards the mossy walls of Tura! 'Thou goest,' he said, 'O Nathos, to the king of shields! Thou goest to Cuthullin, chief of men, who never fled from danger. Let not thine arm be feeble: neither be thy thoughts of flight; lest the son of Semo should say that Etha's race are weak. His words may come to Usnoth, and sadden his soul in the hall.' The tear was on my father's cheek. He gave this shining sword!
"I came to Tura's bay; but the halls of Tara were silent. I looked around, and there was none to tell of the son of generous Semo. I went to the hall of shells, where the arms of his fathers hung. But the arms were gone, and aged Lamhor sat in tears. 'Whence are the arms of steel?' said the rising Lamhor. 'The light of the spear has long been absent from Tura's dusky walls. Come ye from the rolling sea? or from Temora's mournful halls?'
"'We come from the sea,' I said, 'from Usnoth's rising towers. We are the sons of Slissáma, the daughter of car-borne Semo. Where is Tura's chief, son of the silent hall? But why should Nathos ask? for I behold thy tears. How did the mighty fall, son of the lonely Tura?' 'He fell not,' Lamhor replied, 'like the silent star of night, when it flies through darkness and is no more. But he was like a meteor that shoots into a distant land. Death attends its dreary course. Itself is the sign of wars. Mournful are the banks of Lego; and the roar of streamy Lara! There the hero fell, son of the noble Usnoth!' 'The hero fell in the midst of slaughter,' I said with a bursting sigh. 'His hand was strong in war. Death dimly sat behind his sword.'
"We came to Lego's sounding banks. We found his rising tomb. His friends in battle are there: his bards of many songs. Three days we mourned over the hero: on the fourth I struck the shield of Caithbat. The heroes gathered around with joy, and shook their beamy spears. Corlath was near with his host, the friend of car-borne Cairbar. We came like a stream by night. His heroes fell before us. When the people of the valley rose, they saw their blood with morning's light. But we rolled away, like wreaths of mist, to Cormac's echoing hall. Our swords rose to defend the king. But Temora's halls were empty. Cormac had fallen in his youth. The king of Erin was no more!
"Sadness seized the sons of Erin. They slowly gloomily retired: like clouds that long having threatened rain, vanish behind the hills. The sons of Usnoth moved, in their grief, towards Tura's sounding bay. We passed by Seláma. Cairbar retired like Lena's mist, when driven before the winds. It was then I beheld thee, O Dar-thula! like the light of Etha's sun. 'Lovely is that beam!' I said. The crowded sigh of my bosom rose. Thou camest in thy beauty, Dar-thula, to Etha's mournful chief. But the winds have deceived us, daughter of Colla, and the foe is near!"
"Yes, the foe is near," said the rushing strength of Althos." I heard their clanging arms on the coast. I saw the dark wreaths of Erin's standard. Distinct is the voice of Cairbar; loud as Cromla's falling stream. He had seen the dark ship on the sea, before the dusky night came down. His people watch on Lena's plain. They lift ten thousand swords." "And let them lift ten thousand swords," said Nathos with a smile." The sons of car-borne Usnoth will never tremble in danger! Why dost thou roll with all thy foam, thou roaring sea of Erin? Why do ye rustle on your dark wings, ye whistling storms of the sky? Do ye think, ye storms, that ye keep Nathos on the coast? No: his soul detains him, children of the night! Althos, bring my father's arms: thou seest them beaming to the stars. Bring the spear of Semo. It stands in the dark-bosomed ship!"
He brought the arms. Nathos covered his limbs in all their shining steel. The stride of the chief is lovely. The joy of' his eyes was terrible. He looks towards the coming of Cairbar. The wind is rustling in his hair. Dar-thula is silent at his side. Her look is fixed on the chief. She strives to hide the rising sigh. Two tears swell in her radiant eyes!
"Althos!" said the child of Etha, "I see a cave in that rock. Place Dar-thula there. Let thy arm, my brother, be strong. Ardan! we meet the foe; call to battle gloomy Cairbar. O that he came in his sounding steel, to meet the son of Usnoth! Dar-thula, if thou shalt escape, look not on the fallen Nathos! Lift thy sails, O Althos! towards the echoing groves of my land.
"Tell the chief that his son fell with fame; that my sword did not shun the fight. Tell him I fell in the midst of thousands. Let the joy of his grief be great. Daughter of Colla! call the maids to Etha's echoing hall! Let their songs arise for Nathos, when shadowy autumn returns. O that the voice of Cona, that Ossian might be heard in my praise! then would my spirit rejoice in the midst of the rushing winds." "And my voice shall praise thee, Nathos, chief of the woody Etha! The voice of Ossian shall rise in thy praise, son of the generous Usnoth! Why was I not on Lena when the battle rose? Then would the sword of Ossian defend thee, or himself fall low!"
We sat that night in Selma, round the strength of the shell. The wind was abroad in the oaks. The spirit of the mountain roared. The blast came rustling through the hall, and gently touched my harp. The sound was mournful and low, like the song of the tomb. Fingal heard it the first. The crowded sighs of his bosom rose. "Some of my heroes are low," said the gray-haired king of Morven. "I hear the sound of death on the harp. Ossian, touch the trembling string. Bid the sorrow rise, that their spirits may fly with joy to Morven's woody hills!" I touched the harp before the king; the sound was mournful and low. "Bend forward from your clouds," I said, "ghosts of my fathers! bend. Lay by the red terror of your course. Receive the fallen chief; whether he comes from a distant land, or rises from the rolling sea. Let his robe of mist be near; his spear that is formed of a cloud. Place an half-extinguished meteor by his side, in the form of the hero's sword. And, oh! let his countenance be lovely, that his friends may delight in his presence. Bend from your clouds," I said, "ghosts of my fathers! bend!"
Such was my song in Selma, to the lightly-trembling harp. But Nathos was on Erin's shore, surrounded by the night. He heard the voice of the foe, amidst the roar of tumbling waves. Silent he heard their voice, and rested on his spear! Morning rose, with its beams. The sons of Erin appear: like gray rocks, with all their trees, they spread along the coast. Cairbar stood in the midst. He grimly smiled when he saw the foe. Nathos rushed forward in his strength: nor could Dar-thula stay behind. She came with the hero, lifting her shining spear. "And who are these, in their armor, in the pride of youth? Who but the sons of Usnoth, Althos and dark-haired Ardan?"
"Come," said Nathos, "come, chief of high Temora! Let our battle be on the coast, for the white bosomed maid. His people are not with Nathos: they are behind these rolling seas. Why dost thou bring thy thousands against the chief of Etha? Thou didst fly from him in battle, when his friends were around his spear." "Youth of the heart of pride, shall Erin's king fight with thee? Thy fathers were not among the renowned, nor of the kings of men. Are the arms of foes in their halls? or the shields of other times? Cairbar is renowned in Temora, nor does he fight with feeble men
The tear started from car-borne Nathos. He turned his eyes to his brothers. Their spears flew at once. Three heroes lay on earth. Then the light of their swords gleamed on high. The ranks of Erin yield, as a ridge of dark clouds before a blast of wind! Then Cairbar ordered his people, and they drew a thousand bows. A thousand arrows flew. The sons of Usnoth fell in blood. They fell like three young oaks, which stood alone on the hill: the traveller saw the lovely trees, and wondered how they grew so lonely: the blast of the desert came by night, and laid their green heads low. Next day he returned, but they were withered, and the heath was bare!
Dar-thula stood in silent grief, and beheld their fall! No tear is in her eye. But her look is wildly sad. Pale was her cheek. Her trembling lips broke short an half-formed word. Her dark hair flew on wind. The gloomy Cairbar came. "Where is thy lover now? the car-borne chief of Etha? Hast thou beheld the halls of Usnoth? or the dark-brown hills of Fingal? My battle would have roared on Morven, had not the winds met Dar-thula. Fingal himself would have been low, and sorrow dwelling in Selma!" Her shield fell from Dar-thula's arm. Her breast of snow appeared. It appeared; but it was stained with blood. An arrow was fixed in her side. She fell on the fallen Nathos, like a wreath of snow! Her hair spreads wide on his face. Their blood is mixing round!
"Daughter of Colla! thou art low!" said Cairbar's hundred bards. "Silence is at the blue streams of Seláma. Truthil's race have failed. When wilt thou rise in thy beauty, first of Erin's maids? Thy sleep is long in the tomb. The morning distant far. The sun shall not come to thy bed and say, Awake, Dar-thula! awake, thou first of women! the wind of spring is abroad. The flowers shake their heads on the green hills. The woods wave their growing leaves. Retire, O sun! the daughter of Colla is asleep. She will not come forth in her beauty. She will not move in the steps of her loveliness."
Such was the song of the bards, when they raised the tomb. I sung over the grave, when the king of Morven came: when he came to green Erin to fight with car-borne Cairbar!
Fingal - Book I
Cuthullin (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 neighboring 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 Cuthullin, was for retreating, till Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabited the north-west coast of Scotland, whose aid had been previously solicited, should arrive; but Calmar, the son of Matha, lord of Lara, a country in Connaught, was for engaging the enemy immediately. Cuthullin, of himself willing to fight, went into the opinion of Calmar. Marching towards the enemy, he missed three of his bravest heroes, Fergus, Duchômar, and Cáthba. Fergus arriving, tells Cuthullin of the death of the two other chiefs: which introduces the affecting episode of Morna, the daughter of Cormac. The army of Cuthullin 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 Cuthullin's chariot, and the terrible appearance of that hero. The armies engage, but night coming on, leaves the victory undecided. Cuthullin, 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 Cuthullin 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.
CUTHULLIN sat by Tura's wall; by the tree of the rustling sound. His spear leaned against the rock. His shield lay on the grass by his side. Amid his thoughts of mighty Cairbar, a hero slain by the chief in war; the scout of ocean comes, Moran the son of Fithil!
"Arise," said the youth, "Cuthullin, arise. I see the ships of the north! Many, chief of men, are the foe. Many the heroes of the sea-borne Swaran!" — "Moran!" replied the blue-eyed chief "thou ever tremblest, son of Fithil! Thy fears have increased the foe. It is Fingal, king of deserts, with aid to green Erin of streams." — "I beheld their chief," says Moran, "tall as a glittering rock. His spear is a blasted pine. His shield the rising moon! He sat on the shore! like a cloud of mist on the silent hill! Many, chief of heroes! 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 spoke, like a wave on a rock, 'Who in this land appears like me? Heroes stand not in my presence: they fall to earth from my hand. Who can meet Swaran in fight? Who but Fingal, king of Selma of storms? Once we wrestled on Malmor; our heels overturned the woods. Rocks fell from their place; rivulets, changing their course, fled murmuring from our side. Three days we renewed the strife; 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 Cuthullin yield to him, that is strong as the storms of his land!'
"No!" replied the blue-eyed chief, "I never yield to mortal man! Dark Cuthullin shall be great or dead! Go, son of Fithil, take my spear. Strike the sounding shield of Semo. It hangs at Tura's rustling gale. The sound of peace is not its voice! My heroes shall hear and obey." He went. He struck the bossy shield. The hills, the rocks reply. The sound spreads along the wood: deer start by the lake of roes. Curach leaps from the sounding rock! and Connal of the bloody spear! Crugal's breast of snow beats high. The son of Favi leaves the dark-brown hind. It is the shield of war, said Ronnart; the spear of Cuthullin, said Lugar! Son of the sea, put on thy arms! Calmar, lift thy sounding steel! Puno! dreadful hero, arise! Cairbar, from thy red tree of Cromla! Bend thy knee, O Eth! descend from the streams of Lena Caolt, stretch thy side as thou movest along the whistling heath of Mora: thy side that is white as the foam of the troubled sea, when the dark winds pour it on rocky Cuthon.
Now I behold the chiefs, in the pride of their former deeds! Their souls are kindled at the battles of old; at the actions of other times. Their eyes are flames of fire. They roll in search of the foes of the land. Their mighty hands are on their swords. Lightning pours from their sides of steel. They come like streams from the mountains; each rushes roaring from the hill. Bright are the chiefs of battle, in the armor of their fathers. Gloomy and dark, their heroes follow like the gathering of the rainy clouds behind the red meteors of heaven. The sounds of crashing arms ascend. The gray dogs howl between. Unequal bursts the song of battle. Rocking Cromla echoes round. On Lena's dusky heath they stand, like mist that shades the hills of autumn; when broken and dark it settles high, and lifts its head to heaven.
"Hail," said Cuthullin, "Sons of the narrow vales! hail, hunters of the deer! Another sport is drawing near: it is like the dark rolling of that wave on the coast! Or shall we fight, ye sons of war! or yield green Erin to Lochlin? O Connal! speak, thou first of men! thou breaker of the shields! thou hast often fought with Lochlin: wilt thou lift thy father's spear?"
"Cuthullin!" calm the chief replied, "the spear of Connal is keen. it delights to shine in battle, to mix with the blood of thousands. But though my hand is bent on fight, my heart is for the peace of Erin. Behold, thou first in Cormac's war, the sable fleet of Swaran. His masts are many on our coasts, like reeds on the lake of Lego. His ships are forests clothed with mists, 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 who scatters the mighty, as stormy winds the echoing Cona; and night settles with all her clouds on the hill!"
"Fly, thou man of peace!" said Colmar, "fly," said the son of Matha; "go, Connal, to thy silent hills, where the spear never brightens in war! Pursue the dark-brown deer of Cromla: stop with thine arrows the bounding roes of Lena. But blue-eyed son of Semo, Cuthullin, ruler of the field, scatter thou the Sons of Lochlin! roar through the ranks of their pride. Let no vessel of the kingdom of snow bound on the dark-rolling waves of Inistore. Rise, ye dark winds of Erin, rise! roar, whirlwinds of Lara of hinds! Amid the tempest let me die, torn, in a cloud, by angry ghosts of men; amid the tempest let Calmar die, if ever chase was sport to him, so much as the battle of shields!
"Calmar!" Connal slow replied, "I never fled, young son of Matha! I was swift with my friends in fight; but small is the fame of Connal! The battle was won in my presence! 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 shall arrive on our coast. Or, if war be thy choice, I lift the sword and spear. My joy shall be in midst of thousands; my soul shall alighten through the gloom of the fight!"
"To me," Cuthullin 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 then pass along the heath, bright as the sunshine before a storm; when the west wind collects the clouds, and Morven echoes over all her oaks! But where are my friends in battle? the supporters of my arm in danger? Where art thou, white-bosomed Câthba? Where is that cloud in war, Duchômar? Hast thou left me, O Fergus! in the day of the storm? Fergus, first in our joy at the feast! son of Rossa! arm of death!
comest thou like a roe from Malmor? like a hart from thy echoing hills? Hall, thou son of Rossa! what shades the soul of war?"
"Four stones," replied the chief, "rise on the grave of Câthba. These hands have laid in earth Duchômar, that cloud in war! Câthba, son of Torman! thou wert a sunbeam in Erin. And thou, O valiant Duchômar! a mist of the marshy Lano; when it moves on the plains of autumn, bearing the death of thousands along. Morna! fairest of maids! calm is thy sleep in the cave of the rock! Thou hast fallen in darkness, like a star, that shoots across the desert; 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 Lochlin, striving in the battle of heroes? Or what confines the strong in arms to the dark and narrow house?"
"Câthba," replied the hero, " fell by the sword of Duchômar at the oak of the noisy streams. Duchômar came to Tura's cave; he spoke to the lovely Morna. 'Morna, fairest among women, lovely daughter of strong-armed Cormac! Why in the circle of stones: in the cave of the rock alone? The stream murmurs along. The old tree groans in the wind. The lake is troubled before thee: dark are the clouds of the sky! But thou art snow on the heath; thy hair is the mist of Cromla; when it curls on the hill, when it shines to the beam of the west! Thy breasts are two smooth rocks seen from Branno of streams. Thy arms, like two white pillars in the halls of the great Fingal.'
"'From whence,' the fair-haired maid replied, 'from whence Duchômar, 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, Duchômar?' 'From the hill I return, O Morna, from the hill of the dark-brown hinds. Three have I slain with my bended yew. Three with my long-bounding dogs of the chase. 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.' 'Duchômar!' calm the maid replied, 'I love thee not, thou gloomy man! hard is thy heart of rock; dark is thy terrible brow. But Câthba, young son of Torman, thou art the love of Morna. Thou art a sunbeam, 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 Câthba!"
"'Long shall Morna wait,' Duchômar said, 'long shall Morna wait for Câthba! Behold this sword unsheathed! Here wanders the blood of Câthba. Long shall Morna wait. He fell by the stream of Branno. On Croma I will raise his tomb, daughter of blue-shielded Cormac! Turn on Duchômar thine eyes; his arm is strong as a storm.' 'Is the son of Torman fallen?' said the wildly-bursting voice of the maid; 'is he fallen on his echoing hills, the youth with the breast of snow? the first in the chase of hinds! the foe of the strangers of ocean! Thou art dark to me, Duchômar; cruel is thine arm to Morna! Give me that sword, my foe! I loved the wandering blood of Câthba!'
"He gave the sword to her tears. She pierced his manly breast! He fell, like the bank of a mountain stream, and stretching forth his hand, he spoke: 'Daughter of blue-shielded Cormac! Thou hast slain me in youth! the sword is cold in my breast! Morna; I feel it cold. Give me to Moina the maid. Duchômar was the dream of her night! She will raise my tomb; the hunter shall raise my fame. But draw the sword from my breast, Morna, the steel is cold!' She came, in all her tears she came; she drew the sword from his breast. He pierced her white side! He spread her fair locks on the ground! Her bursting blood sounds from her side: her white arm is stained with red. Rolling in death she lay. The cave re-echoed to her sighs."
"Peace," said Cuthullin, "to the souls of the heroes! their deeds were great in fight. Let them ride around me on clouds. Let them show their features of war. My soul shall then be firm in danger; mine arm like the thunder of heaven! But be thou on a moonbeam, O Morna! near the window of my rest; when my thoughts are of peace; when the din of arms is past. Gather the strength of the tribes! Move to the wars of Erin! Attend the car of my battles! Rejoice in the noise of my course! Place three spears by my side: follow the bounding of my steeds! that my soul may be strong in my friends, when battle darken around the beams of my steel!
As rushes a stream of foam from the dark shady deep of Cromla, when the thunder is traveling above, and dark-brown night sits on half the hill. Through the breaches of the tempest look forth the dim faces of ghosts. So fierce, so vast, so terrible rushed on the sons of Erin. The chief, like a whale of ocean, whom all his billows pursue, poured valor forth, as a stream, rolling his might along the shore. The sons of Lochlin heard the noise, as the sound of a winter storm. Swaran struck his bossy shield: he called the son of Arno. "What murmur rolls along the hill, like the gathered flies of the eve? The sons of Erin 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; view the dark face of the heath!"
He went. He trembling swift returned. His eyes rolled wildly round. His heart beat high against his side. His words were faltering, broken, slow. "Arise, son of ocean, arise, chief of the dark-brown shields! I see the dark, the mountain-stream of battle! the deep. moving strength of the sons of Erin! the car of war comes on, like the flame of death! the rapid car of Cuthullin, the noble son of Semo! It bends behind like a wave near a rock; like a sun-streaked mist of the heath. Its sides are embossed with stones, and sparkle like the sea round the boat of night. Of polished yew is its beam; its seat of the smoothest bone. The sides are replenished with spears; the bottom is the foot-stool of heroes! Before the right side of the car is seen the snorting horse! the high-maned, broad-breasted, proud, wide-leaping strong steed of the hill. Loud and resounding is his hoof: the spreading of his mane above is like a stream of smoke on a ridge of rocks. Bright are the sides of his steed! his name Sulin-Sifadda!
"Before the left side of the car is seen the snorting horse! The thin-maned, high-headed, strong-hoofed 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 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 eagles descending on the prey. Their noise is like the blast of winter, on the sides of the snow-headed Gormal.
"Within the car is seen the chief; the strong-armed son of the sword. The hero's name is Cuthullin, 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; " when fled Swaran from the battle of spears? When did I shrink from danger, chief of the little soul? I met the storm of Gormal when the foam of my waves beat high. I met the storm of the clouds; shall Swaran fly from a hero? Were Fingal himself before me, my soul should not darken with fear. Arise to battle, my thousands! pour round me like the echoing main, gather round the bright steel of your king; strong as the rocks of my land; that meet the storm with joys and stretch their dark pines to the wind!"
Like autumn's dark storms pouring from two echoing hills, towards each other approached the heroes. Like two deep streams from high rocks meeting, mixing roaring on the plain; loud, rough, and dark in battle meet Lochlin and Ins-fail. Chief mixes his strokes with chief, and man with man: steel, clanging, sounds on steel. Helmets are cleft on high. Blood bursts and smokes around. Strings murmur on the polished yews. Darts rush along the sky. Spears fall like the circles of light, which gild the face of night: as the noise of the troubled ocean, when roll the waves on high. As the last peal of thunder in heaven, such is the din of war! Though Cormac's hundred bards were there to give the fight to song; feeble was the voice of a hundred bards to send the deaths to future times! For many were the deaths of heroes; wide poured the blood of the brave!
Mourn, ye sons of song, mourn the death of the noble Sithállin. Let the sons of Fiona rise, on the lone plains of her lovely Ardan. They fell, like two hinds of the desert, by the hands of the mighty Swaran; when, in the midst of thousands, he roared like the shrill spirit of a storm. He sits dim on the clouds of the north, and enjoys the death of the mariner. Nor slept thy hand by thy side, chief of the isle of mist! Many were the deaths of thine arm, Cuthullin, 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. Dusronnal snorted over the bodies of heroes. Sifadda bathed his hoof in blood. The battle lay behind them, as groves overturned on the desert of Cromla; when the blast has passed the heath, laden with the spirits of night!
Weep on the rocks of roaring winds, O maid of Inistore! Bend thy fair head over the waves, thou lovelier than the ghost of the hills, when it moves on the sun-beam, at noon, over the silence of Morven. He is fallen: thy youth is low! pale beneath the sword of Cuthullin! No more shall valor raise thy love to match the blood of kings. Trenar, graceful Trenar died, O maid of Inistore! His gray dogs are howling at home: they see his passing ghost. His bow is in the hall unstrung. No sound is in the hall 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 Erin met Swaran of spears. Death raises all his voices around, and mixes with the sounds of shields. Each hero is a pillar of darkness; the sword abeam of fire in his hand. The field echoes from wing to wing, as a hundred hammers, that rise, by turns, on the red son of the furnace. Who are these on Lena's heath, these so gloomy and dark? Who are these like two clouds, and their swords like lightning. above them? The little hills are troubled around; 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. But night conceals the chiefs in clouds, and ends the dreadful fight!
It was on Cromla's shaggy side that Dorglas had placed the deer; the early fortune of the chase, before the heroes left the hill. A hundred youths collect the heath; ten warriors make the fire; three hundred choose the polished stones. The feast is smoking wide! Cuthullin, 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-headed son of Kinfena. "Is this feast spread for me alone, and the king of Lochlin on Erin's shore, far from the deer of his hills, and sounding halls of his feasts? Rise, Carril of other times, carry my words to Swaran. Tell him from the roaring of waters, that Cuthullin 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. He called the king of dark-brown shields! Rise, from the skins of thy chase; rise, Swaran, king of groves! Cuthullin 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, Inis-fail, should stretch their arms of snow, should raise the heavings of their breasts, softly roll their eyes of love, yet fixed as Lochlin's thousand rocks here Swaran should remain, till morn, with the young beams of the east, shall light me to the death of Cuthullin. Pleasant to my ear is Lochlin's wind! It rushes over my seas! It speaks aloft in all my shrouds, and brings my green forests to my mind: the green forests of Gormal, which often echoed to my winds when my spear was red in the chase of the boar. Let dark Cuthullin yield to me the ancient throne of Cormac, or Erin's torrents shall show from their hills the red foam of the blood of his pride!
"Sad is the sound of Swaran's voice," said Carril other times! "Sad to himself alone," said the blue-eyed son of Semo. "But, Carril, raise the voice on high; 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 wo that are heard on Albion's rocks, when the noise of the chase is past, and the streams of Cona answer to the voice of Ossian.
"In other days," Carril replies, "came the sons of ocean to Erin; a thousand vessels bounded on waves to Ullin's lovely plains. The sons of Inis-fail 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 towed on Golbun's echoing heath. Each claimed him as his own. Death was often at the point of their steel. Side by side the heroes fought: 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 echoing heath? they saw him leaping like snow. The wrath of the chiefs returned.
"On Lubar's grassy banks they fought; Grudar fell in his blood. Fierce Cairbar came to the vale, where Brassolis, 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, when its edge heaves white on the view from the darkness which covers its or. 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 armor 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, Cuthullin! these lonely yews sprung from their tombs, and shade them from the storm. Fair was Brassolis on the plain! Stately was Grudar on the hill! The bard shall preserve their names, and send them down to future times!"
"Pleasant is thy voice, O Carril," said the blue-eyed chief of Erin. Pleasant are the words of other times. They are like the calm shower 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 sunbeam of Dunscaith! Strike the harp in the praise of Bragéla, she 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 Cuthullin? The sea is rolling distant far: its white foam deceives thee for my sails. Retire, for it is night, my love; the dark winds sigh in thy hair. Retire to the halls of my feasts, think of the times that are past. I will not return till the storm of war is ceased. O Connal! speak of war and arms, and send her from my mind. Lovely with her flowing hair is the white-bosomed daughter of Sorglan."
Connal, slow to speak, replied, "Guard against the race of ocean. Send thy troop of night abroad, and watch the strength of Swaran. Cuthullin, I am for peace till the race of Selma come, till Fingal come, the first of men, and beam, like the sun on our fields!" The hero struck the shield of alarms, the warriors of the night moved on. The rest lay in the heath of the deer, and slept beneath the dusky wind. The ghosts of the lately dead were near, and swam on the gloomy clouds; and far distant in the dark silence of Lena, the feeble voices of death were faintly heard.
Temora - Book I
Cairbar, the son of Borbar-duthul, lord of Atha, in Connaught, the most Potent chief of the race of the Fir-bolg, having murdered, at Temora, the royal palace, Cormac, the son of Artho, the young king of Ireland, usurped the throne. Cormac was lineally descended from Conar, the son of Trenmor, the great-grandfather of Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabited the western coast of Scotland. Fingal resented the behavior of Cairbar, and resolved to pass over into Ireland with an army, to re-establish the royal family on the Irish throne. Early intelligence of his designs coming to Cairbar, he assembled some of his tribes in Ulster, and at the same time ordered his brother Cathmor to follow him speedily with an army from Temora. Such was the situation of affairs when the Caledonian invaders appeared on the coast of Ulster.
The poem opens in the morning. Cairbar is represented as retired from the rest of the army, when one of his scouts brought him news of the landing of Fingal. He assembles a council of his chiefs. Foldath, the chief of Moma, haughtily despises the enemy; and is reprimanded warmly by Malthos. Cairbar, after hearing their debate, orders a feast to be prepared, to which, by his bard Olla, he invites Oscar, the son of Ossian; resolving to pick a quarrel with that hero, and so have some pretext for killing him. Oscar came to the feast; the quarrel happened; the followers of both fought, and Cairbar and Oscar fell by mutual wounds. The noise of the battle reached Fingal's army. The king came on to the relief of Oscar, and the Irish fell back to the army of Cathmor, who was advanced to the banks of the river Lubar, on the heath of Moi-lena. Fingal, after mourning over his grandson, ordered Ullin, the chief of his bards, to carry his body to Morven, to be there interred. Night coming on, Althan, the son of Conachar, relates to the king the particulars of the murder of Cormac. Fillan, the son of Fingal, is sent to observe the motions of Cathmor, by night, which concludes the action of the first day. The scene of this book is a plain, near the hill of Mora, which rose on the borders of the heath of Moi-lena in Ulster.
THE blue waves of Erin roll in light. The mountains are covered with day. Trees shake their dusky heads in the breeze. Gray torrents pour their noisy streams. Two green hills, with aged oaks, surround a narrow plain. The blue course of a stream is there. On its banks stood Cairbar of Atha. His spear supports the king: the red eye of his fear is sad. Cormac rises in his soul, with all his ghastly wounds. The gray form of the youth appears in darkness. Blood pours from his airy side. Cairbar thrice threw his spear on earth. Thrice he stroked his beard. His steps are short. He often stops. He tosses his sinewy arms. He is like a cloud in the desert, varying its form to every blast. The valleys are sad around, and fear, by turns, the shower! The king at length resumed his soul. He took his pointed spear. He turned his eye to Moi-lena. The scouts of blue ocean came. They came with steps of fear, and often looked behind. Cairbar knew that the mighty were near. He called his gloomy chiefs.
The sounding steps of his warriors came. They drew at once their swords. There Morlath stood with darkened face. Hidalla's long hair sighs in the wind. Red-haired Cormar bends on his spear, and rolls his sidelong-looking eyes. Wild is the look of Malthos, from beneath two shaggy brows. Foldath stands, like an oozy rock, that covers its dark sides with foam. His spear is like Slimora's fir, that meets the wind of heaven. His shield is marked with the strokes of battle. His red eye despises danger. These, and a thousand other chiefs, surrounded the king of Erin, when the scout of ocean came, Mor-annal, from streamy Moi-lena, His eyes hang forward from his face. His lips are trembling pale!
"Do the chiefs of Erin stand," he said, "silent as the grove of evening? Stand they, like a silent wood, and Fingal on the coast? Fingal, who is terrible in battle, the king of streamy Morven!" "Hast thou seen the warrior?" said Cairbar with a sigh. "Are his heroes many on the coast? Lifts he the spear of battle? or comes the king in peace?" "In peace be comes not, king of Erin; I have seen his forward spear. It is a meteor of death. The blood of thousands is on its steel. He came first to the shore, strong in the gray hair of age. Full rose his sinewy limbs, as he strode in his might. That sword is by his side, which gives no second wound. His shield is terrible, like the bloody moon, ascending through a storm. Then came Ossian, king of songs. Then Morni's son, the first of men. Connal leaps forward on his spear. Dermid spreads his dark-brown locks. Fillan bends his bow, the young hunter of streamy Moruth. But who is that before them, like the terrible course of a stream? It is the son of Ossian, bright between his locks! His long hair falls on his back. His dark brows are half enclosed in steel. His sword hangs loose on his side. His spear glitters as he moves. I fled from his terrible eyes, king of high Temora!"
"Then fly, thou feeble man," said Foldath's gloomy wrath. "Fly to the gray streams of thy land, son of the little soul! Have not I seen that Oscar? I beheld the chief in war. He is of the mighty in danger: but there are others who lift the spear. Erin has many sons as brave, king of Temora of groves. Let Foldath meet him in his strength. Let me stop this mighty stream. My spear is covered with blood. My shield is like the wall of Tura!"
"Shall Foldath alone meet the foe?" replied the dark-browed Malthos? "Are they not on our coast, like the waters of many streams? Are not these the chiefs who vanquished Swaran, when the sons of green Erin fled? Shall Foldath meet their bravest hero? Foldath of the heart of pride! Take the strength of the people! and let Malthos come. My sword is red with slaughter, but who has heard my words?"
"Sons of green Erin," said Hidalla, "let not Fingal hear your words. The foe might rejoice, and his arm be strong in the land. Ye are brave, O warriors! Ye are tempests in war. Ye are like storms, which meet the rocks without fear, and overturn the woods! But let us move in our strength, slow as a gathered cloud! Then shall the mighty tremble; the spear shall fall from the hand of the valiant. We see the cloud of death, they will say, while shadows fly over their face. Fingal will mourn in his age. He shall behold his flying fame. The steps of his chiefs will cease in Morven. The moss of years shall grow in Selma!"
Cairbar heard their words in silence, like the cloud of a shower: it stands dark on Cromla, till the lightning bursts its side. The valley gleams with heaven's flame; the spirits of the storm rejoice. So stood the silent king of Temora; at length his words broke forth. "Spread the feast on Moi-lena. Let my hundred bards attend. Thou red-haired Olla, take the harp of the king. Go to Oscar, chief of swords. Bid Oscar to our joy. To-day we feast and hear the song; to-morrow break the spears! Tell him that I have raised the tomb of Cathol; that bards gave his friend to the winds. Tell him that Cairbar has heard of his fame, at the stream of resounding Carun. Cathmor, my brother, is not here. He is not here with his thousands, and our arms are weak. Cathmor is a foe to strife at the feast! His soul is bright as that sun! But Cairbar must fight with Oscar, chiefs of woody Temora, His words for Cathol were many! the wrath of Cairbar burns! He shall fall on Moi-lena. My fame shall rise in blood!"
Their faces brightened round with joy. They spread over Moi-lena. The feast of shells is prepared. The songs of bards arise. The chiefs of Selma heard their joy. We thought that mighty Cathmor came. Cathmor, the friend of strangers! the brother of red-haired Cairbar. Their souls were not the same. The light of heaven was in the bosom of Cathmor. His towers rose on the banks of Atha: seven paths led to his halls. Seven chiefs stood on the paths, and called the stranger to the feast! But Cathmor dwelt in the wood, to shun the voice of praise!
Olla came with his songs. Oscar went to Cairbar's feast. Three hundred warriors strode along Moi-lena of the streams. The gray dogs bounded on the heath: their howling reached afar. Fingal saw the departing hero. The soul of the king was sad. He dreaded Cairbar's gloomy thoughts, amidst the feast of shells. My son raised high the spear of Cormac. A hundred bards met him with songs. Cairbar concealed, with smiles, the death that was dark in his soul. The feast is spread. The shells resound. Joy brightens the face of the host. But it was like the parting beam of the sun, when he is to hide his red head in a storm!
Cairbar rises in his arms. Darkness gathers on his brow. The hundred harps cease at once. The clang of shields is heard. Far distant on the heath Olla raised a song of wo. My son knew the sign of death; and rising seized his spear. "Oscar," said the dark-red Cairbar, "I behold the spear of Erin. The spear of Temora glitters in thy hand, son of woody Morven! It was the pride of a hundred kings. The death of heroes of old. Yield it, son of Ossian, yield it to car-borne Cairbar!"
"Shall I yield," Oscar replied, "the gift of Erin's injured king; the gift of fair-haired Cormac, when Oscar scattered his foes? I came to Cormac's halls of joy, when Swaran fled from Fingal. Gladness rose in the face of youth. He gave the spear of Temora. Nor did he give it to the feeble: neither to the weak in soul. The darkness of thy face is no storm to me: nor are thine eyes the flame of death. Do I fear thy clanging shield? Tremble I at Olla's song? No Cairbar, frighten the feeble; Oscar is a rock!"
"Wilt thou not yield the spear?" replied the rising pride of Cairbar." Are thy words so mighty, because Fingal is near? Fingal with aged locks, from Morven's hundred groves! He has fought with little men. But he must vanish before Cairbar, like a thin pillar of mist before the winds of Atha!" — "Were he who fought with little men, near Atha's haughty chief, Atha's chief would yield green Erin to avoid his rage! Speak not of the mighty, O Cairbar! Turn thy sword on me. Our strength is equal: but Fingal is renowned! the first of mortal men!"
Their people saw the darkening chiefs. Their crowding steps are heard. Their eyes roll in fire. A thousand swords are half unsheathed. Red-haired Olla raised the song of battle. The trembling joy of Oscar's soul arose: the wonted joy of his soul when Fingal's horn was heard. Dark as the swelling wave of ocean before the rising winds, when it bends its head near the coast, came on the host of Cairbar!
Daughter of Toscar! why that tear? He is not fallen yet. Many were the deaths of his arm before my hero fell!
Behold they fall before my son, like groves in the desert; when an angry ghost rushes through night, and takes their green heads in his hand! Morlath falls. Maronnan dies. Conachar trembles in his blood. Cairbar shrinks before Oscar's sword! He creeps in darkness behind a stone. He lifts the spear in secret, he pierces my Oscar's side! He falls forward on his shield, his knee sustains the chief. But still his spear is in his hand! See, gloomy Cairbar falls! The steel pierced his forehead, and divided his red hair behind. He lay like a shattered rock, which Cromla shakes from its shaggy side, when the green-valleyed Erin shakes its mountains from sea to sea!
But never more shall Oscar rise! He leans on his bossy shield. His spear is in his terrible hand. Erin's sons stand distant and dark. Their shouts arise, like crowded streams. Moi-lena echoes wide. Fingal heard the sound. He took the spear of Selma. His steps are before us on the heath. He spoke the words of wo. "I hear the noise of war. Young Oscar is alone. Rise, sons of Morven: join the hero's sword!"
Ossian rushed along the heath. Fillan bounded over Moi-lena. Fingal strode in his strength. The light of his shield is terrible. The sons of Erin saw it far distant. They trembled in their souls. They knew that the wrath of the king arose: and they foresaw their death. We first arrived. We fought. Erin's chiefs withstood our rage. But when the king came, in the sound of his course, what heart of steel could stand? Erin fled over Moi-lena. Death pursued their flight. We saw Oscar on his shield. We saw his blood around. Silence darkened on every face. Each turned his back and wept. The king strove to hide his tears. His gray beard whistled in the wind. He bends his head above the chief. His words are mixed with sighs.
"Art thou fallen, O Oscar! in the midst of thy course? the heart of the aged beats over thee! He sees thy coming wars! The wars which ought to come he sees! They are cut off from thy fame! When shall joy dwell at Selma? When shall grief depart from Morven? My sons fall by degrees: Fingal is the last of his race. My fame begins to pass away. Mine age will be without friends. I shall sit a gray cloud in my hall. I shall not hear the return of a son, in his sounding arms. Weep, ye heroes of Morven! never more shall Oscar rise!"
And they did weep, O Fingal! Dear was the hero to their souls. He went out to battle, and the foes vanished. He returned in peace, amidst their joy. No father mourned his son slain in youth: no brother his brother of love. They fell without tears, for the chief of the people is low! Bran is howling at his feet: gloomy Luath is sad; for he had often led them to the chase; to the bounding roe of the desert!
When Oscar saw his friends around, his heaving breast arose. "The groans," he said, "of aged chiefs; the howling of my dogs; the sudden bursts of the song of grief, have melted Oscar's soul. My soul, that never melted before. It was like the steel of my sword. Ossian, carry me to my hills! Raise the stones of my renown. Place the horn of a deer: place my sword by my side; The torrent hereafter may raise the earth: the hunter may find the steel, and say, 'This has been Oscar's sword, the pride of other years!'" "Fallest thou, son of my fame? shall I never see thee, Oscar? When others hear of their sons, shall I not hear of thee? The moss is on thy four gray stones. The mournful wind is there. The battle shall be fought without thee. Thou shalt not pursue the dark-brown hinds. When the warrior returns from battles, and tells of other lands; 'I have seen a tomb,' he will say, 'by the roaring stream, the dark dwelling of a chief. He fell by car-borne Oscar, the first of mortal men.' I, perhaps, shall hear his voice. A beam of joy will rise in my soul."
Night would have descended in sorrow, and morning returned in the shadow of grief. Our chiefs would have stood, like cold-dropping rocks on Moi-lena, and have forgot the war; did not the king disperse his grief, and raise his mighty voice. The chiefs, as new-wakened from dreams, lift up their heads around.
"How long on Moi-lena shall we weep? How long pour in Erin our tears? The mighty will not return. Oscar shall not rise in his strength. The valiant must fall in their day, and be no more known on their hills. Where are our fathers, O warriors! the chiefs of the times of old? They have set, like stars that have shone. We only hear the sound of their praise. But they were renowned in their years: the terror of other times. Thus shall we pass away, in the day of our fall. Then let us be renowned when we may; and leave our fame behind us, like the last beams of the sun, when he hides his red head in the west. The traveller mourns his absence, thinking of the flame of his beams. Ullin, my aged bard! take thou the ship of the king. Carry Oscar to Selma of harps. Let the daughters of Morven weep. We must fight in Erin, for the race of fallen Cormac. The days of my years begin to fail. I feel the weakness of my arm. My fathers bend from their clouds, to receive their gray-haired son. But before I go hence, one beam of fame shall rise. My days shall end, as my years began, in fame. My life shall be one stream of light to bards of other times!"
Ullin raised his white sails. The wind of the south came forth. He bounded on the waves towards Selma. I remained in my grief, but my words were not heard. The feast is spread on Moi-lena. A hundred heroes reared the tomb of Cairbar. No song is raised over the chief. His soul has been dark and bloody. The bards remembered the fall of Cormac! what could they say in Cairbar's praise?
Night came rolling down. The light of a hundred oaks arose. Fingal sat beneath a tree. Old Althan stood in the midst. He told the tale of fallen Cormac. Althan the son of Conachar, the friend of car-borne Cuthullin. He dwelt with Cormac in windy Temora, when Semo's son fell at Lego's stream. The tale of Althan was mournful. The tear was in his eye when he spoke.
"The setting sun was yellow on Dora. Gray evening began to descend. Temora's woods shook with the blast of the inconstant wind. A cloud gathered in the west. A red star looked from behind its edge. I stood in the wood alone. I saw a ghost on the darkening air! His stride extended from hill to hill. His shield was dim on his side. It was the son of Semo! I knew the warrior's face. But he passed away in his blast; and all was dark around! My soul was sad. I went to the hall of shells. A thousand lights arose. The hundred bards had strung the harp. Cormac stood in the midst, like the morning star, when it rejoices on the eastern hill, and its young beams are bathed in showers. Bright and silent is its progress aloft, but the cloud that shall hide it is near! The sword of Artho was in the hand of the king. He looked with joy on its polished studs; thrice he attempted to draw it, and thrice he failed; his yellow locks are spread on his shoulders! his cheeks of youth are red. I mourned over the beam of youth, for he was soon to set!
"'Althan!' He said with a smile, ' didst thou behold my father? Heavy is the sword of the king; surely his arm was strong. O that I were like him in battle, when the rage of his wrath arose! then would I have met, with Cuthullin, the car-borne son of Cantéla! But years may come on, O Althan! and my arm be strong. Hast thou heard of Semo's son, the ruler of high Temora? he might have returned with his fame. He promised to return to-night. My bards wait him with songs. My feast is spread in the hall of kings.'
"I heard Cormac in silence. My tears began to flow. I hid them with my aged locks. The king perceived my grief. 'Son of Conachar!' he said, 'is the son of Semo low? Why bursts the sigh in secret? Why descends the tear? Comes the car-borne Torlath? Comes the sounds of red-haired Cairbar? They come! for I behold thy grief. Mossy Tura's chief is low! Shall I not rush to battle? But I cannot lift the spear! O had mine arm the strength of Cuthullin, soon would Cairbar fly; the fame of my fathers would be renewed; and the deeds of other times!'
"He took his bow. The tears flow down from both his sparkling eyes. Grief saddens round. The bards bend forward, from their hundred harps. The lone blast touched their trembling strings. The sound is sad and low! a voice is heard at a distance, as of one in grief. It was Carril of other times, who came from dark Slimora. He told of the fall of Cuthullin. He told of his mighty deeds. The people were scattered round his tomb. Their arms lay on the ground. They had forgot the war, for he their sire, was seen no more!
"'But who,' said the soft-voiced Carril, 'who come like bounding roes? Their stature is like young trees in the valley, growing in a shower! Soft and ruddy are their cheeks! Fearless souls look forth from their eyes? Who but the sons of Usnoth, chief of streamy Etha? The people rise on every side, like the strength of an half-extinguished fire, when the winds come, sudden, from the desert, on their rustling wings. Sudden glows the dark brow of the hill; the passing mariner lags, on his winds. The sound of Caithbat's shield was heard. The warriors saw Cuthullin in Nathos. So rolled his sparkling eyes! his steps were such on the heath. Battles are fought at Lego. The sword of Nathos prevails. Soon shalt thou behold him in thy halls, king of Temora of groves!'
"'Soon may I behold the chief!' replied the blue-eyed king. But my soul is sad for Cuthullin His voice was pleasant in mine ear. Often have we moved, on Dora, to the chase of the dark-brown hinds. His bow was unerring on the hills. He spoke of mighty men. He told of the deeds of my fathers. I felt my rising joy. But sit thou at thy feast, O Carril! I have often heard thy voice. Sing in praise of Cuthullin. Sing of Nathos of Etha!'
"Day rose on Temora, with all the beams of the east. Crathin came to the hall, the son of old Gelláma. 'I behold,' he said, 'a cloud in the desert, king of Erin! a cloud it seemed at first, but now a crowd of men! One strides before them in his strength. His red hair flies in the wind. His shield glitters to the beam of the east. His spear is in his hand.' — 'Call him to the feast of Temora,' replied the brightening king. 'My hall is in the house of strangers, son of generous Gelláma! It is perhaps the chief of Etha, coming in all his renown. Hail, mighty stranger! art thou of the friends of Cormac? But, Carril, he is dark and unlovely. He draws his sword. Is that the son of Usnoth, bard of the times of old?'
"' It is not the son of Usnoth!' said Carril. 'It is Cairbar, thy foe.' 'Why comest thou in thy arms to Temora? chief of the gloomy brow. Let not thy sword rise against Cormac! 'Whither dost thou turn thy speed?' he passed on in darkness.. He seized the hand of the king. Cormac foresaw his death; the rage of his eyes arose. 'Retire, thou chief of Atha! Nathos comes with war. Thou art bold in Cormac's hall, for his arm is weak.' The sword entered the side of the king. He fell in the halls of his father. His fair hair is in the dust. His blood is smoking round.
"'Art thou fallen in thy halls?' said Carril, 'O son of noble Artho! The shield of Cuthullin was not near. Nor the spear of thy father. Mournful are the mountains of Erin, for the chief of the people is low! Blest be thy soul, O Cormac! Thou art darkened in thy youth!'"
"His words came to the ears of Cairbar. He closed us in the midst of darkness. He feared to stretch his sword to the bards, though his soul was dark. Long we pined alone! At length the noble Cathmor came. He heard our voice from the cave. He turned the eye of his wrath on Cairbar.
"'Brother of Cathmor,' he said, 'how long wilt thou pain my soul? Thy heart is a rock. Thy thoughts are dark and bloody! But thou art the brother of Cathmor; and Cathmor shall shine in thy war. But my soul is not like thine; thou feeble hand in fight! The light of my bosom is stained with thy deeds. Bards will not sing of my renown; they may say, "Cathmor was brave, but he fought for gloomy Cairbar. "They will pass over my tomb in silence. My fame shall not be heard. Cairbar! loose the bards. They are the sons of future times. Their voice shall be heard in other years; after the kings of Temora have failed. We came forth at the words of the chief. We saw him in his strength. He was like thy youth, O Fingal! when thou first didst lift the spear. His face was like the plain of the sun, when it is bright. No darkness travelled over his brow. But he came with his thousands to aid the red-haired Cairbar. Now he comes to revenge his death, O king of woody Morven!'
"Let Cathmor come," replied the king," I love a foe so great. His soul is bright. His arm is strong. His battles are full of fame. But the little soul is a vapor that hovers round the marshy lake. It never rises on the green hill, lest the winds should meet it there. Its dwelling is in the cave: it sends forth the dart of death! Our young heroes, O warriors! are like the renown of our fathers. They fight in youth. They fall. Their names are in song. Fingal is amid his darkening years. He must not fall, as an aged oak, across a secret stream. Near it are the steps of the hunter, as it lies beneath the wind. 'How has that tree fallen?' he says, and, whistling, strides along. Raise the song of' joy, ye bards of Morven! Let our souls forget the past. The red stars look on us from the clouds, and silently descend. Soon shall the gray beam of the morning rise, and show us the foes of Cormac. Fillan! my son, take thou the spear of the king. Go to Mora's dark-brown side. Let thine eyes travel over the heath. Observe the foes of Fingal; observe the course of generous Cathmor. I hear a distant sound, like falling rocks in the desert. But strike thou thy shield, at times, that they may not come through night, and the fame of Morven cease. I begin to be alone, my son. I dread the fall of my renown!"
The voice of bards arose. The king leaned on the shield of Trenmor. Sleep descended on his eyes. His future battles arose in his dreams. The host are sleeping around. Dark-haired Fillan observes the foe. His steps are on the distant hill. We hear, at time; his clanging shield.