|from the 1799 London edition||
The Poems of Ossian
An Ancient Epic Poem
Text and pagination from
the 1796 London edition
F I N G A L,
E P I C P O E M.
In SIX BOOKS.
ARGUMENT to Book I.
Cuthullin (general of the Irish tribes, in the minority of Cromac, king of Ireland) sitting alone beneath a tree, at the gate of Tura, a castle in 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 king of Fithil, one of his scouts. He convenes the chiefs; a council is held, and disputes run high about giving battle to the enemy. Connel, the petty king of Togorma, and an intimate friend of Cuthullin, was for retreating, till Fingal, king of those Caledonians who inhabited the northwest 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, Duchomar, and Cathba. 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 out to observe the enemy; which closes the action of the first day.
F I N G A L,
EPIC P O E M.
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,
* Cuthullin the son of Semo and grandson of Caithbat, a druid celebrated in tradition for his wisdom and valour. Cuthullin when very young married Bragela the daughter of Sorglan, and passing over into Ireland, lived some time with Connal, grandson by a daughter to Congal the petty king of Ulster. His wisdom and valour in a short time gained him such reputation, that in the minority of Cormac the supreme king of Ireland, he was chosen guardian to the young king, and sole manager of the war against Swaran king of Lochlin. After a series of great actions he was killed in battle somewhere in Connaught, in the twenty-seventh year of his age. He was so remarkable for his strength, that to describe a strong man it has passed into a proverb, "He has the strength of Cuthullin." They shew the remains of his palace at Dunscaich in the Isle of Skye; and a stone to which he bound his dog Luath, goes still by his name.
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
* Cairbar or Cairbre, signifies a strong man,
Cuthullin having previous intelligence of the invasion intended by Swaran, sent scouts all over the coast of Ullin or Ulster, to give early notice of the first appearance of the enemy, at the same time that he sent Munan the son of Stirmal to implore the assistance of Fingal. He himself collected the flower of the Irish youth to Tura, a castle on the coast, to stop the progress of the enemy till Fingal should arrive from Scotland. We may conclude from Cuthullin's applying so early for foreign aid, that the Irish were not then so numerous as they have since been; which is a great presumption against the high antiquities of that people. We have the testimony of Tacitus, that one legion only was thought sufficient, in the time of Agricola, to reduce the whole island under the Roman yoke; which would not probably have been the case had the island been inhabited for any number of centuries before.
Moran signifies many; and Fithil, or rather Fili, an inferior bard.
§ Fingal the son of Comball and Morna the daughter of Thaddu. His grandfather was Trathal, and great grandfather Trenmor, both of whom are often mentioned in the poem.
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 gate. The
footnotes not yet transcribed
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. Ca-tol, 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 armour of their fathers. Gloomy and dark, their heroes follow, like the gathering
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of the rainy clouds behind the red meteors of heaven. The sounds of crashing arms ascend. The grey 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
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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
* Erin, a name of Ireland; from ear or iar West, and in an island. The name was not always confined to Ireland, for there is the highest probability that the Ierne of the ancients was Britain to the North of the Forth. For Ierne is said to be the North of Britain, which could not be meant of Ireland. STRABO, 1. 2. & 4. CASAUB. 1. 1.
: Calm-er, a strong man.
: The Galic name of Scandinavia in general.
§ The Orkney islands.
ghosts of men; amid the tempest let Calmer 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 the 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 them pass along the heath, bright as the sun-shine 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 Cathbar? Where is that cloud in war, Duchomar? * 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
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hart from thy echoing hills? Hail, thou son of Rossa! what shades the soul of war?"
"Four stones," * replied the chief, "rise on the grave of Cathba. These hands have laid in earth Duchomar, that cloud in war! Cathba, son of Torman! Thou wert a sun-beam in Erin. And thou, O valiant Duchomar! 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 traveler 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?"
"Cathba," replied the hero, "fell by the sword of Duchomar at the oak of the noisy streams. Duchomar came to Tura's cave; he spoke to the lovely Morna. 'Morna, fairest
* This passage alludes to the manner of burial among the ancient Scots. They opened a grave six or eight feet deep: the bottom was lined with fine clay; and on this they laid the body of the deceased, and, if a warrior, his sword and the heads of twelve arrows by his side. Above they laid another stratum of clay, in which they placed the horn of a deer, the symbol of hunting. The whole was covered with a fine mold, and four stones placed on end to mark the extent of the grave. These are the four stones alluded to here.
Muirne, or Morna, a woman beloved by all.
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 Duchomar, most gloomy of men? Dark are thy brows and terrible! Red are thy rolling eyes! Does Swaran appear on the sea? What of the foe, Duchomar?" "From the hill I return, O Morna, from the hill of the dark-brown hinds. Three have I 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." "Duchomar!" calm the maid replied, "I love thee not, thou gloomy man! hard is thy heart of rock; dark is thy terrible brow. But Cathba, young son of Torman, * thou art the love of Morna. Thou art a sun-beam, in the day of the gloomy storm. Sawest
* Torman, thunder. This is the true origin of the Jupiter Taramis of the ancients.
thou the son of Torman, lovely, on the hill of his hinds? Here the daughter of Corrnac waits the coming of Cathba!"
"Long shall Morna wait," Duchomar said, "long shall Morna wait for Cathba! Behold this sword unsheathed! Here wanders the blood of Cathba. Long shall Morna wait. He fell by the stream of Branno! On Crona I will raise his tomb, daughter of blue-shielded Cormac! Turn on Duchomar 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, Duchomar; cruel is thine arm to Morna! Give me that sword, my foe! I loved the wandering blood of Cathba!'
"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. Duchomar 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
* She alludes to his name the "dark man."
Moina, soft in temper and person.
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 lie the thunder of heaven! But be thou on a moon-beam, O Morna! near the window of my rest; when my thoughts are of peace; 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 darkens around the beams of my steel!
As rushes a stream of foam from the dark shady deep of Cromla; when the thunder is travelling 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
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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, 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 an 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 is 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 wuth joy, 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 Inis-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 Sithallin. * Let the sighs of Fiona rise, on the lone plains of her lovely
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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. Silfadda 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 isle of Sky; not improperly called the isle of mist, as its high hills, which catch the clouds from the western ocean, occasion almost continual rains.
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the waves, thou lovelier than the ghost of the hills; when it moves in a sun-beam, at noon, over the silence of Morven! He is fallen, thy youth is low! pale beneath the sword of Cuthullin! No more shall valour raise thy love to match the blood of kings. Trenar, graceful Trenar died, O maid of Inistore! His grey 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 a beam of fire in his hand. The field echoes from wing to wing, as a hundred hammers, that rise, by turns, on the red sun 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
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the chase, before the heroes left the hill. A hundred youths collect the heath; ten warriors wake 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 grey-haired 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!"
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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, and 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 of 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 woe 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." *
* The Cona here mentioned is the small river that runs through Glenco in Argyleshire. One of the hills which environ that romantic valley is still called Scornafena, or the hill of Fingal's people.
"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 lowed 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 chief's 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.
Lubar, a river in Ulster. Labhar, loud, noisy.
§ Brassolis signifies a woman with a white breast.
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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 orb, Her voice was softer than the harp to raise the song of grief. Her soul was fixed on Grudar. The secret look of her eye was his. "When shalt thou come in thine arms, thou mighty in the war?"
"Take, Brassolis," Cairbar came and said; "take, Brassolis, this shield of blood. Fix it on high within my hall, the armour of my foe!" Her soft heart beat against her side. Distracted, pale, she flew. She found her youth in all his blood; she died on Cromla's heath. Here rests their dust, Cuthullin! these lonely vews sprung from their tombs, and shade them from the storm. Fair was Brassolis on the plain! Stately was Grudar on the hill! The hard 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 sun-beam of Dunscaith! Strike the harp in the praise of Bragela; 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 sing 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.
* It was long the opinion of the ancient Scots, that a ghost was heard shrieking near the place where a death was to happen soon after. The accounts given, to this day, among the vulgar, of this extraordinary matter, are very poetical. The ghost comes mounted on a meteor, and surrounds twice or thrice the place destined for the person to die; and then goes along the road through which the funeral is to pass, shrieking at intervals; at last, the meteor and ghost disappear above the burial place.
F I N G A L,
E P I C P O E M.
ARGUMENT to Book II.
The ghost of Crugal, one of the Irish heroes who was killed in battle, appearing to Connal, foretels the defeat of 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 dishonourable 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 shew that ill success did not always attend those who innocently killed their friends, introduces the episode of Connal and Galvina.
F I N G A L,
EPIC P O E M.
In SIX BOOKS.
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 the hill. Crugal sat upon the beam, a chief who fell in flight. 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-twinkle through his form! Son of Colgar, it was the wind that murmured across thy ear. 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."
footnotes not yet transcribed
"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 Bragela. I fear not death, to fly I fear! Fingal has seen me victorious! Thou dim phantom of the hill, shew thyself to me! come on thy beam of heaven, shew 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 grey. 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 Swarth, 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-bosom'd 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 sun-beam of my love. No deer shall fly on Lochlin's hills, before swift-footed Luath." "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 hear'st 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 sun-shine of heaven. Cuthullin moves before 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 sun-beam, 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 eye! 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!
* The ancient Scots, as 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 halls of shells.
Crugal had married Degrena but a little time before the battle, consequently she may with propriety be called a stranger in the hall of her grief
Deo-grena signified a sun-beam.
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 thistle; 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 on the field. Why strive we as reeds against the wind? Fly to the hill of dark-brown hinds." He fled like the stag of Morven; 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. Sithfadda panted up the hill, and Stronnal, haughty steed. Like waves behind a whale, behind them rushed the foe. Now on the rising side of Cromla stood Erin's few sad sons; like a grove through which the flame had rushed, hurried on by the winds of the stormy night; distant, withered, dark, they stand, with not a leaf to shake in the gale.
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 rain-bow 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."
* A place in Ulster.
Deugala was the spouse of Cairbar, chief of the plains of Ullin. She was covered with the light of beauty, but her heart was the house of pride. She loved that sun-beam of youth, the son 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 Muri. 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 theeye of youth. He faultering 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 sun-beam 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 an hundred hills! His deer drunk of a thousand streams. A thousand rocks replied to the voice of his dogs. His face was the mildness of youth. His hand the death of heroes. One was his love, and fair was she! the daughter of the mighty Conloch. She appeared like a sun-beam among women. Her hair was the wing of the raven. Her dogs were taught to the chase. Her bow-string 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 armour: she strode from the cave of Ronan! he thought it was his foe. His heart beat high. His colour changed, and darkness dimmed his eyes. He drew the bow. The arrow flew. 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 Comal? 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 the waves of the north.
F I N G A L,
E P I C P O E M.
ARGUMENT to Book III.
Cuthullin, pleased with the story of Carril, insists with that bard for more of his songs. He relates the actions of Fingal at 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, retires 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 Fainasollis, the daughter of the king of Craca, whom Fingal had taken under his protection in his youth. Fillan and Oscar are dispatched to observe the motions of the enemy by night; Gaul, 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.
F I N G A L,
EPIC P O E M.
In SIX BOOKS.
BOOK III. *
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 in 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.
* The second night, since the opening of the poem, continues; and Cuthullin, Connal, and Carril, still sit in the place described in the preceding book. The story of Agandecca is introduced here with propriety, as great use is made of it in the course of the poem, and as it, in some measure, brings about the catastrophe.
"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 ships. 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 grey-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
* Starno was the father of Swaran as well as Agandecca. His firece and cruel character is well marked in other poems concerning the times
This passage most certainly alludes to the religion of Lochlin, and "the stone of power," here mentioned, is the image of one of the deities of Scandinavia.
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 my 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.
* All the North-west coast of Scotland probably went of old under the name of Morven, which signifies a ridge of very high hills.
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 Gormal 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
footnotes not yet transcribed
arms I am of the race of battle. My fathers never feared.
"Carmar was the first of my race. He sported through the storms of waves. His black skiff bounded on ocean; he traveled 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 vapour 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 corpse. 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 stream of the battle of thousands!" "O Fithal's son, with dying 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 grey 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 grey 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 return 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 field 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 wind, when the rustling tree of Tura's cave resounds. There, far remote, I shall lie unknown. No bard shall hear of me. No grey stone shall rise to my renown. Mourn me with the dead, O Bragela! 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 the 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 valour. 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 groan 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; Fillan 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 grey; 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," begun the king, "O Oscar, pride of youth! I saw the shining of thy 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 Fainasollis came: that sun-beam! 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 sun-beam of his race. Cromla's hills have heard the sighs of love for unhappy Fainasollis! Sora's chief beheld me
* What the Craca here mentioned was, it is not, at this distance of time, easy to determine. The most probable opinion is, that it was one of the Shetland isles. There is a story concerning a daughter of the king of Craca in the sixth book.
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.
"Fillian 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 on the 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."
footnotes not yet transcribed
"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. 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!
* The poet prepares us for the dream of Fingal in the next book.
F I N G A L,
E P I C P O E M.
ARGUMENT to 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 his success.
F I N G A L,
EPIC P O E M.
In SIX BOOKS.
BOOK IV. *
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. Dost thou come to the wars of thy people? to hear the actions of Oscar? When shall I cease
footnotes not yet transcribed
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 Soelacha, 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 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 unconstant blast blew hard. The high oak shook its leaves around. Of Everallin were my thoughts, when in all
footnotes not yet transcribed
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 Lubar'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 Fillan? 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 heath! 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 grey 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 fiends!"
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 valour 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 armour; 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 sun-beam 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 grey 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," begun 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
* The custom of encouraging men in battle with extempore rhymes, has been carried down almost to our
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
own times. Several of these war songs are extant, but the most of them are only a group of ephithets, without either beauty or harmony, utterly destitute of poetical merit.
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 around 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 an 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 sun-beam * 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
* Fingal's standard was distinguished by the name of sun-beam: probably on account of its bright colour, and by its being studded with gold. To begin a battle is expressed, in old composition, by lifting of the sun-beam.
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 companion 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! Grey-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 grey-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 Caithibat. 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 Bragela, morn over the fall of my fame: vanquished, I will never return to thee, thou sun-beam of my soul!"
F I N G A L,
E P I C P O E M.
ARGUMENT to 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 in 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.
F I N G A L,
EPIC P O E M.
In SIX BOOKS.
BOOK V. *
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 Bragela 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 hill. 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 aide 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 sun-beam; 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 of 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 shew 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 grey-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 his 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 dies, 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?" begun 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 neighbour 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, shews 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 hall of my joy! I hear not the voice of the bard. Bran does not shake his
footnotes not yet transcribed
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 or 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 grey-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 ages?' '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
footnotes not yet transcribed
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 art 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."
"'AIlad!" 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?"ĘThree 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 unequaled 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 hill, towards the lonely cave of Tura. He saw Fingal victorious, and mixed his joy with grief. The sun is bright on his armour. 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 Bragela! 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 sun-beam 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 tho 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!"
F I N G A L,
E P I C P O E M.
ARGUMENT to Book VI.
Night comes on. Fingal gives a feast to his army, at which Swaran is present. The king commands Ullin his bard to give the song of peace; a custom always observed at the end of a war. Ullin relates the actions of Trenmor, great grandfather to Fingal, in Scandinavia, and his marriage with Inibaca, the daughter a king of Lochlin, who was ancestor to Swaran; which consideration, together with his being brother to Agandecca, with whom Fingal was in love in his youth, induced the king to release him, and permit him to return with the remains of his army, into Lochlin, upon his promise of never returning to Ireland in a hostile manner. The night is spent in settling Swaran's departure, in songs of bards, and in a conversation in which the story of Grumal is introduced by Fingal. Morning comes. Swaran departs; Fingal goes on a hunting party, and finding Cuthullin in the cave of Tura, comforts him, and sets sail, the next day, for Scotland; which concludes the poem.
F I N G A L,
EPIC P O E M.
In SIX BOOKS.
THE clouds of night came rolling down. Darkness rests on the steeps of Cromla. The stars of the north arise over the rolling of Erin's waves; they show their heads of fire through the flying mist of heaven. A distant wind roars in the wood. Silent and dark is the plain of death! Still on the dusky Lena arose in my ears the voice of Carril. He sung of the friends of our youth; the days of former years; when we met on the banks of Lego; when we sent round the joy of the shell. Cromla answered to his voice. The ghosts of those he sung came in their rustling winds. They were seen to bend with joy, towards the sound of their praise!
Be thy soul blest, O Carril! in the midst of thy eddying winds. O that thou wouldst
come to my hall, when I am alone by night! And thou dost come, my friend. I hear often thy light hand on my harp; when it hangs on the distant wall, and the feeble sound touches my ear. Why dost thou not speak to me in my grief: and tell when I shall behold my friends? But thou passest away in thy murmuring blast; the wind whistles through the grey hair of Ossian!
Now, on the side of Mora, the heroes gathered to the feast. A thousand aged oaks are burning to the wind. The strength * of the shell goes round. The souls of warriors brighten with joy. But the king of Lochlin is silent. Sorrow reddens in the eyes of his pride. He often turned towards Lena. He remembered that he fell. Fingal leaned on the shield of his fathers. His grey locks slowly waved on the wind, and glittered to the beam of night. He saw the grief of Swaran, and spoke to the first of bards.
"Raise, Ullin, raise the song of peace. O soothe my soul from war! Let mine ear forget, in the sound, the dismal noise of arms. Let a hundred harps be near to gladden the king of Lochlin. He must depart from us
footnotes not yet transcribed
with joy. None ever went sad front Fingal. Oscar! the lightning of my sword is against the strong in fight. Peaceful it lies by my side when warriors yield in war."
"Trenmor," * said the mouth of songs, "lived in the days of other years. He bounded over the waves of the north; companion of the storm! The high rocks of the land of Lochlin; its groves of murmuring sounds appeared to the hero through mist; he bound his white-bosomed sails. Trenmor pursued the boar that roared through the woods of Gormal. Many had fled from its presence; but it rolled in death on the spear of Trenmor. Three chiefs, who beheld the deed, told of the mighty stranger. They told that he stood, like a pillar of fire, in the bright arms of his valour. The king of Lochlin prepared the feast. He called the blooming Trenmor. Three days he feasted at Gormal's windy towers; and received his choice in the combat. The land of Lochlin had no hero that yielded not to Trenmor. The shell of joy went round with songs in praise of the king of Morven. He that came over the waves, the first of mighty men!"
"Now when the fourth grey morn arose, the hero launched his ship. He walked along the silent shore and called for the rushing wind; for loud and distant he heard the blast murmuring
* Trenmor was the great grandfather of Fingal. The story is introduced to facilitate the dismission of Swaran.
behind the groves. Covered over with arms of steel, a son of the woody Gormal appeared. Red was his cheek, and fair his hair. His skin was like the snow of Morven. Mild rolled his blue and smiling eye, when he spoke to the king of swords.
"'Stay, Trenmor, stay, thou first of men; thou hast not conquered Lonval's son. My sword has often met the brave. The wise shun the strength of my bow." "Thou fair-haired youth," Trenmor replied, "I will not fight with Lonval's son. Thine arm is feeble, sun-beam of youth! Retire to Gormal's dark-brown hinds." "But I will retire," replied the youth, "with the sword of Trenmor; and exult in the sound of my fame. The virgins shall gather with smiles around him who conquered mighty Trenmor. They shall sigh with the sighs of love, and admire the length of thy spear; when I shall carry it among thousands; when I lift the glittering point to the sun."
"'Thou shalt never carry my spear," said the angry king of Morven. "Thy mother shall find thee pale on the shore; and looking over the dark-blue deep, see the sails of him that slew her son!" "I will not lift the spear," replied the youth, "my arm is not strong with years. But with the feathered dart I have learned to pierce a distant foe. Throw down that heavy mail of steel. Trenmor is covered from death. I, first will lay my mail on earth. Throw now thy dart, thou king of Morven!"
He saw the heaving of her breast. It was the sister of the king. She had seen him in the hall: and loved his face of youth. The spear dropt from the hand of Trenmor: he bent his red cheek to the ground. She was to him a beam of light that meets the sons of the cave; when they revisit the fields of the sun, and bend their aching eyes!
"Chief of the windy Morven," began the maid of the arms of snow, "let me rest in thy bounding ship, far from the love of Corlo. For he, like the thunder of the desert, is terrible to Inibaca. He loves me in the gloom of pride. He shakes ten thousand spears!" "Rest thou in peace," said the mighty Trenmor, "rest behind the shield of my fathers. I will not fly from the chief, though he shakes ten thousand spears!" Three days he waited on the shore. He sent his horn abroad. He called Corlo to battle, from all his echoing hills. But Corlo came not to battle. The king of Lochlin descends from his hall. He feasted on the roaring shore. He gave the maid to Trenmor!
"King of Lochlin," said Fingal," thy blood flows in the veins of thy foe. Our fathers met in battle, because they loved the strife of spears. But often did they feast in the hall: and send round the joy of the shell. Let thy face brighten with gladness, and thine ear delight in the harp. Dreadful as the storm of thine ocean, thou hast poured thy valour forth; thy voice has been like the voice of
thousands when they engage in war. Raise, to-morrow, raise thy white sails to the wind, thou brother of Agandecca! Bright as the beam of noon, she comes on my mournful soul. I have seen thy tears for the fair one. I spared thee in the halls of Starno; when my sword was red with slaughter; when my eye was full of tears for the maid. Or dost thou chuse the fight? The combat which thy fathers gave to Trenmor is thine! that thou mayest depart renowned, like the sun setting in the west!"
"King of the race of Morven!" said the chief of resounding Lochlin, "never will Swaran fight with thee, first of a thousand heroes! I have seen thee in the halls of Starno; few were thy years beyond my own. When shall I, I said to my soul, lift the spear like the noble Fingal? We have fought heretofore, O warrior, on the side of the shaggy Malmor; after my waves had carried me to thy halls, and the feast of a thousand shells was spread. Let the bards send his name who overcame to future years, for noble was the strife of Malmor! But many of the ships of Lochlin have lost their youths on Lena. Take these, thou king of Morven, and be the friend of Swaran! When thy sons shall come to Gormal, the feast of shells shall be spread: and the combat offered on the vale."
"Nor ship," replied the king, "shall Fingal take, nor land of many hills. The desert is enough to me, with all its deer and woods.
Rise on thy waves again, thou noble friend of Agandecca! Spread thy white sails to the beam of the morning; return to the echoing hills of Gormal." "Blest be thy soul, thou king of shells," said Swaran of the dark-brown shield. "In peace thou art the gale of spring; in war the mountain-storm. Take now my hand in friendship, king of echoing Selma! Let thy bards mourn those who fell. Let Erin give the sons of Lochlin to earth, Raise high the mossy stones of their fame: that the children of the north hereafter may behold the place where their fathers fought. The hunter may say, when he leans on a mossy tomb, here Fingal and Swaran fought, the heroes of other years. Thus hereafter shall he say, and our fame shall last for ever!"
"Swaran," said the king of hills, "to-day our fame is greatest. We shall pass away like a dream. No sound will remain in our fields of war. Our tombs will be lost in the heath. The hunter shall not know the place of our rest. Our names may be heard in song. What avails it when our strength had ceased? O Ossian, Carril, and Ullin! you know of heroes that are no more. Give us the song of other years. Let the night pass away on the sound, and morning return with joy."
We gave the song to the kings. A hundred harps mixed their sound with our voice. The face of Swaran brightened, like the full
moon of heaven; when the clouds vanish away, and leave her calm and broad in the midst of the sky!
"Where, Carril," said the great Fingal, "Carril of other times! where is the son of Semo, the king of the isle of mist? Has he retired like the meteor of death, to the dreary cave of Tura?" "Cuthullin," said Carril of other times, "lies in the dreary cave of Tura. His hand is on the sword of his strength. His thoughts on the battles he lost. Mournful is the king of spears; till now unconquered in war. He sends his sword, to rest on the side of Fingal: for, like the storm of the desert, thou hast scattered all his foes. Take, O Fingal! the sword of the hero. His fame is departed like mist, when it flies, before the rustling wind, along the brightening vale."
"No," replied the king, "Fingal shall never take his sword. His arm is mighty in war: his fame shall never fail. Many have been overcome in battle; whose renown arose from their fall. O Swaran! king of resounding woods, give all thy grief away. The vanquished, if brave, are renowned. They are like the sun in a cloud, when he hides his face in the south, but looks again on the hills of grass."
"Grumal was a chief of Cona. He sought the battle on every coast. His soul rejoiced in blood; his ear in the din of arms. He poured his warriors on Craca; Craca's king met him
from his grove; for then, within the circle of Brumo, * he spoke to the stone of power. Fierce was the battle of the heroes, for the maid of the breast of snow. The fame of the daughter of Craca had reached Grumal at the streams of Cona; he vowed to have the white-bosomed maid, or die on echoing Craca. Three days they strove together, and Grumal on the fourth was bound. Far from his friends they placed him in the horrid circle of Brumo; where often, they said, the ghosts of the dead howled round the stone of their fear. But he afterward shone, like a pillar of the light of heaven. They fell by his mighty hand. Grumal had all his fame!"
"Raise, ye bards of other times," continued the great Fingal, "raise high the praise of heroes: that my soul may settle on their fame; that the mind of Swaran may cease to be sad." They lay in the heath of Mora. The dark winds rustled over the chiefs. A hundred voices, at once, arose; a hundred harps were strung. They sung of other times; the mighty chiefs of former years! When now shall I hear the bard? When rejoice at the fame of my fathers? The harp is not strung on Morven. The voice of music ascends not on Cona. Dead, with the mighty, is the bard. Fame is in the desert no more."
Morning trembles with the beam of the east, it glimmers on Cromla's side. Over
* his passage alludes to the religion of the king of Craca.
Lena is heard the horn of Swaran. The sons of the ocean gather around. Silent and sad they rise on the wave. The blast of Erin is behind their sails. White, as the mist of Morven, they float along the sea. "Call," said Fingal, "call my dogs, the long-bounding sons of the chase. Call white-breasted Bran, and the surly strength of Luath! Fillan, and Ryno; but he is not here! My son rests on the bed of death. Fillan and Fergus! blow the horn, that the joy of the chase may arise; that the deer of Cromla may hear, and start at the lake of roes."
The shrill sound spreads along the wood. The sons of heathy Cromla arise. A thousand dogs fly off at once, gray-bounding through the heath. A deer fell by every dog; three by the white-breasted Bran. He brought them, in their flight, to Fingal, that the joy of the king might be great! One deer fell at the tomb of Ryno. The grief of Fingal returned. He saw how peaceful lay the stone of him, who was the first at the chase! "No more shalt thou rise, O my son! to partake of the feast of Cromla. Soon will thy tomb be hid, and the grass grow rank on thy grave. The sons of the feeble shall pass along. They shall not know where the mighty lie.
"Ossian and Fillan, sons of my strength! Gaul, chief of the blue steel of war! let us ascend the hill to the cave of Tura. Let us find the chief of the battles of Erin. Are these the walls of Tura? gray and lonely they
rise on the heath. The chief of shells is sad, and the halls are silent and lonely. Come, let us find Cuthullin, and give him all our joy. But is that Cuthullin, O Fillan, or a pillar of smoke on the heath? The wind of Cromla is on my eyes. I distinguish not my friend."
"Fingal!" replied the youth, "it is the son of Semo!" Gloomy and sad is the hero! his hand is on his sword. Hail to the son of battle, breaker of the shields!" "Hail to thee," replied Cuthullin, "hail to all the sons of Morven! Delightful is thy presence, O Fingal! it is the sun on Cromla; when the hunter mourns his absence for a season, and sees him between the clouds. Thy sons are like stars that attend thy course. They give light in the night. It is not thus thou hast seen me, O Fingal! returning from the wars of thy land: when the kings of the world * had fled, and joy returned to the hills of hinds!" "Many are thy words, Cuthullin," said Connan of small renown. "Thy words are many, son of Semo, but where are thy deeds in arms? Why did we come, over ocean, to aid thy feeble sword? Thou fliest to thy cave of grief,
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and Connan fights thy battles. Resign to me these arms of light. Yield them, thou chief of Erin." "No hero," replied the chief, "ever sought the arms of Cuthullin! and had a thousand heroes sought them, it were in vain, thou gloomy youth! I fled not to the cave of grief, till Erin failed at her streams."
"Youth of the feeble arm," said Fingal, "Connan, cease thy words! Cuthullin is renowned in battle; terrible over the world. Often have I heard thy fame, thou stormy chief of Inis-fail. Spread now thy white sails for the isle of mist. See Bragela leaning on her rock. Her tender eye is in tears, the winds lift her long hair from her heaving breast. She listens to the breeze of night, to hear the voice of thy rowers; * to hear the song of the sea! the sound of thy distant harp!"
"Long shall she listen in vain. Cuthullin shall never return! How can I behold Bragela, to raise the sigh of her breast? Fingal, I was always victorious, in battles of other spears!" "And hereafter thou shalt be victorious," said Fingal of generous shells. "The fame of Cuthullin shall grow, like the branchy tree of Cromla. Many battles await thee, O chief! Many shall be the wounds of thy hand! Bring hither, Oscar, the deer! Prepare *
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the feast of shells, Let our souls rejoice after danger, and our friends delight in our presence!"
We sat. We feasted. We sung. The soul of Cuthullin rose. The strength of his arm returned. Gladness brightened along his face. Ullin gave the song; Carril raised the voice. I joined the bards, and sung of battles of the spear. Battles! where I often fought. Now I fight no more! The fame of my former deeds is ceased. I sit forlorn at the tombs of my friends!
Thus the night passed away in song. We brought back the morning with joy. Fingal arose on the heath, and shook his glittering spear. He moved first towards the plains of Lena. We followed in all our arms
"Spread the sail," said the king, "seize the winds as they pour from Lena." We rose on the wave with songs. We rushed, with joy, through the foam of the deep.
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