FINGAL, AN ANCIENT EPIC POEM.
In SIX BOOKS.
CUCHULLIN** Cuchullin the son of Semo and grandson to Caithbat a druid celebrated in tradition for his wisdom and valour. Cuchullin when very young married Bragela the daughter of Sorglan, and passing over into Ireland, lived for 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 Cuchullin."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. sat by Tura's wall; by the tree of the rustling leaf. — His spear leaned against the mossy rock. His shield lay by him on the grass. As he thought of mighty Carbar** Cairbar or Cairbre signifies a strong man.,[Page 2] a hero whom he slew in war; the scout†† Cuchullin 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 Cuchullin'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. of the ocean came Moran‡‡ Moran signifies many; and Fithil, or rather Fili, an inferior bard. the son of Fithil.
RISE, said the youth, Cuchullin, rise; I see the ships of Swaran. Cuchullin, many are the foe: many the heroes of the dark-rolling sea.
MORAN! replied the blue-eyed chief, thou ever tremblest, son of Fithil: Thy fears have much increased the soe. Perhaps it is the king‖‖ Fingal the son of Comhal and Morna the daughter of Thaddu. His grandfather was Trathal, and great grandfather Trenmor, both of whom are often mentioned in the poem. of the lonely hills coming to aid me on green Ullin's plains.
I SAW their chief, says Moran, tall as a rock of ice. His spear is like that blasted fir. His shield like the rising moon⸸⸸ — His ponderous shield Behind him cast; the broad circumference Hung on his shoulders like the Moon. MILTON.. He sat on a rock on the shore: like a cloud of mist on the silent hill. — Many, chief of men! I said, many are our hands of war. — Well[Page 3] art thou named, the Mighty Man, but many mighty men are seen from Tura's walls of wind. — He answered, like a wave on a rock, who in this land appears like me? Heroes stand not in my presence: they fall to earth beneath my hand. None can meet Swaran in the fight but Fingal, king of stormy hills. Once we wrestled on the heath of Malmor** Meal-mór — a great hill. , and our heels overturned the wood. Rocks fell from their place; and rivulets, changing their course, fled murmuring from our strife. Three days we renewed our strife, and heroes stood at a distance and trembled. On the fourth, Fingal says, that the king of the ocean fell; but Swaran says, he stood. Let dark Cuchullin yield to him that is strong as the storms of Malmor.
No: replied the blue-eyed chief, I will never yield to man. Dark Cuchullin will be great or dead. Go, Fithil's son, and take my spear: strike the sounding shield of Cabait†† Cabait, or rather Cathbait, grandfather to the hero, was so remarkable for his valour, that his shield was made use of to alarm his posterity to the battles of the family. We find Fingal making the same use of his own shield in the 4th book. — A horn was the most common instrument to call the army together before the invention of bagpipes.. It hangs at Tura's rustling gate; the sound of peace is not its voice. My heroes shall hear on the hill.
HE went and struck the bossy shield. The hills and their rocks replied. The sound spread along the wood: deer start by the lake of roes. Curach‡‡ Cu-raoch signifies the madness of battle. leapt from the sounding rock; and Connal of the bloody spear. Crugal's‖‖ Cruth-geal — fair-complexioned. breast of snow beats high. The son of Favi leaves the dark-brown hind. It is the shield of war, said Ronnar, the spear of Cuchullin, said Lugar. — Son of the sea put[Page 4] on thy arms! Calmar lift thy sounding steel! Puno! horrid hero, rise: Cairbar from thy red tree of Cromla. Bend thy white knee, O Eth; and descend from the streams of Lena. — Ca-olt stretch thy white side as thou movest along the whistling heath of Mora: thy side that is white as the foam of the troubled sea, when the dark winds pour it on the murmuring rocks of Cuthon** Cu-thón — the mournful sound of waves. .
Now I behold the chiefs in the pride of their former deeds; their souls are kindled at the battles of old, and the actions of other times. Their eyes are like flames of fire, and roll in search of the foes of the land. — Their mighty hands are on their swords; and lightning pours from their sides of steel. — They came like streams from the mountains; each rushed roaring from his hill. Bright are the chiefs of battle in the armour of their fathers. — Gloomy and dark their heroes followed, like the gathering of the rainy clouds behind the red meteors of heaven. — The sounds of crashing arms ascend. The gray dogs howl between. — Unequally bursts the song of battle; and rocking Cromla†† Crom-leach signified a place of worship among the Druids. It is here the proper name of a hill on the coast of Ullin or Ulster. echoes round. On Lena's dusky heath they stood, like mist‡‡ —〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉HOM. II. 5. v. 522.So when th' embattled clouds in dark array, Along the skies their gloomy lines display; The low hung vapours motionless and still Rest on the summits of the shaded hill. POPE. that shades the hills of autumn: when broken and dark it settles high, and lifts its head to heaven.
HAIL, said Cuchullin, sons of the narrow vales, hail ye hunters of the deer. Another sport is drawing near: it is like the dark rolling of that wave on the coast. Or shall we fight, ye sons of[Page 5] war! or yield green Innisfail** Ireland so called from a colony that settled there called Falans. — Innis-fail, i. e. the island of the Fa-il or Falans. to Lochlin! O Connal†† Connal, the friend of Cuchullin, was the son of Cathbait prince of the Tongorma or the island of blue waves, probably one of the Hebrides. His mother was Fioncoma the daughter of Congal. He had a son by Foba of Conachar-nessar, who was afterwards king of Ulster. For his services in the war against Swaran he had lands conserred on him, which, from his name, were called Tir-chonnuil or Tirconnel, i. e. the land of Connal. speak, thou first of men! thou breaker of the shields! thou hast often fought with Lochlin; shalt thou lift up thy father's spear?
CUCHULLIN! calm the chief replied, the spear of Connal is keen. It delights to shine in battle, and to mix with the blood of thousands. But tho' my hand is bent on war, my heart is for the peace of Erin‡‡ Erin, a name of Ireland; from car or iar West, and in an island. This 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 to the North of Britain, which could not be meant of Ireland. STRADO, l. 2. & 4. CASAUD. l. 1.. Behold, thou first in Cormac's war, the sable fleet of Swaran. His masts are as numerous on our coast as reeds in the lake of Lego. His ships are like forests cloathed with mist, when the trees yield by turns to the squally wind. Many are his chiefs in battle. Connal is for peace. — Fingal would shun his arm the first of mortal men: Fingal that scatters the mighty, as stormy winds the heath; when the streams roar thro' echoing Cona: and night settles with all her clouds on the hill.
FLY, thou chief of peace, said Calmar‖‖ Cálm-er, a strong man. the son of Matha; fly, Connal, to thy silent hills, where the spear of battle never shone;[Page 6] pursue the dark-brown deer of Cromla: and stop with thine arrows the bounding roes of Lena. But, blue-eyed son of Semo, Cuchullin, ruler of the war, scatter thou the sons of Lochlin** The Galic name of Scandinavia in general; in a more confined sense that of the peninsula of Jutland., and roar thro' the ranks of their pride. Let no vessel of the kingdom of Snow bound on the dark-rolling waves of Inis-tore†† Innis-tore, the island of whales, the ancient name of the Orkney islands..
O YE dark winds of Erin rise! and roar ye whirlwinds of the heath! Amidst the tempest let me die, torn in a cloud by angry ghosts of men; amidst the tempest let Calmar die, if ever chace was sport to him so much as the battle of shields.
CALMAR! slow replied the chief, I never fled, O Matha's son. I was swift with my friends in battle, but small is the fame of Connal. The battle was won in my presence, and the valiant overcame. But, son of Semo, hear my voice, regard the ancient throne of Cormac. Give wealth and half the land for peace, till Fingal come with battle. Or, if war be thy choice, I lift the sword and spear. My joy shall be in the midst of thousands, and my soul brighten in the gloom of the fight.
To me, Cuchullin replies, pleasant is the noise of arms: pleasant as the thunder of heaven before the shower of Spring. But gather all the shining tribes that I may view the sons of war. Let them move along the heath, bright as the sun-shine before a storm; when the west wind collects the clouds and the oaks of Morven eccho along the shore.[Page 7]
BUT where are my friends in battle? The companions of my arm in danger? Where art thou, white-bosom'd Cathbat? Where is that cloud in war, Duchomar** Dubhchomar, a black well shaped man. : and hast thou left me, O Fergus†† Fear-guth, — the man of the word; or a commander of an army.! 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‡‡ Be thou like a roe or young hart on the mountains of Bether. SOLOMON's Song. from Malmor. Like a hart from the ecchoing hills? — Hail thou son of Rossa! what shades the soul of war?
FOUR stones‖‖ 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., replied the chief, rise on the grave of Cathbat. — These hands have laid in earth Duchomar, that cloud in war. Cathbat, thou son of Torman, thou wert a sun-beam on the hill. — And thou, O valiant Duchomar, like the mist of marshy Lano; when it sails over the plains of autumn and brings death to the people. Morna! thou fairest of maids! calm is thy sleep in the cave of the rock. Thou hast fallen in darkness like a star, that shoots athwart the desart, when the traveller is alone, and mourns the transient beam. Say, said Semo's blue-eyed son, say how sell the chiefs of Erin? Fell they by the sons of Lochlin, striving in the battle of heroes? Or what confines the chiefs of Cromla to the dark and narrow house⸸⸸ The grave. — The house appointed for all living. JOB.?[Page 8]
CATHBAT, replied the hero, fell by the sword of Duchomar at the oak of the noisy streams. Duchomar came to Tura's cave, and spoke to the lovely Morna.
MORNA** Muirne or Morna, a woman beloved by all. , fairest among women, lovely daughter of Cormac-cairbar. Why in the circle of stones; in the cave of the rock alone? The stream murmurs hoarsely. The old tree's groan is in the wind. The lake is troubled before thee, and dark are the clouds of the sky. But thou art like snow on the heath; and thy hair like the mist of Cromla; when it curls on the rocks, and it shines to the beam of the west. — Thy breasts are like two smooth rocks seen from Branno of the streams. Thy arms like two white pillars in the halls of the mighty Fingal.
FROM whence, the white-armed maid replied, from whence, Duchomar the most gloomy of men? Dark are thy brows and terrible. Red are thy rolling eyes. Does Swaran appear on the sea? What of the foe, Duchomar?
FROM the hill I return, O Morna, from the hill of the dark-brown hinds. Three have I slain with my bended yew. Three with my long bounding dogs of the chace. — Lovely daughter of Cormac, I love thee as my soul. — I have slain one stately deer for thee. — High was his branchy head; and fleet his feet of wind.
DUCHOMAR! calm the maid replied, I love thee not, thou gloomy man. — Hard is thy heart of rock, and dark thy terrible brow. But Cathbat, thou son of Torman†† Torman, thunder. This is the true origin of the Jupiter Taramis of the ancients., thou art the love of Morna. [Page 9]Thou art like a sun-beam on the hill in the day of the gloomy storm. Sawest thou the son of Torman, lovely on the hill of his hinds? Here the daughter of Cormac waits the coming of Cathbat.
AND long shall Morna wait, Duchomar said, his blood is on my sword. — Long shall Morna wait for him. He fell at Branno's stream. High on Cromla I will raise his tomb, daughter of Cormac-cairbar; but fix thy love on Duchomar, his arm is strong as a storm. —
AND is the son of Torman fallen? said the maid of the tearful eye. Is he fallen on his ecchoing hill; the youth with the breast of snow? he that was first in the chace of the hill; the foe of the strangers of the ocean. — Duchomar thou art dark** She alludes to his name — the dark man. indeed, and cruel is thy arm to Morna. But give me that sword, my soe; I love the blood of Caithbat.
HE gave the sword to her tears; but she pierced his manly breast. He fell, like the bank of a mountain-stream; stretched out his arm and said;
DAUGHTER of Cormac-cairbar, thou hast slain Duchomar. The sword is cold in my breast: Morna, I feel it cold. Give me to Moina†† Moina, soft in temper and person. the maid; Duchomar was the dream of her night. She will raise my tomb; and the hunter shall see it and praise me. But draw the sword from my breast; Morna, the steel is cold.
SHE came, in all her tears, she came, and drew it from his breast. He pierced her white side with steel; and spread her fair locks on the ground. Her bursting blood sounds from her side: and her white arm is stained with red. Rolling in death she lay and Tura's cave answered to her sighs. —[Page 10]
PEACE, said Cuchullin, to the souls of the heroes; their deeds were great in danger. Let them ride around** It was the opinion then, as indeed it is to this day, of some of the highlanders, that the souls of the deceased hovered round their living friends; and sometimes appeared to them when they were about to enter on any great undertaking. me on clouds; and shew their features of war: that my soul may be strong in danger; my arm like the thunder of heaven. — But be thou on a moon-beam, O Morna, near the window of my rest; when my thoughts are of peace; and the din of arms is over. — Gather the strength of the tribes, and move to the Wars of Erin. — Attend the car of my battles; and rejoice in the noise of my course. — Place three spears by my side; and follow the bounding of my steeds. That my soul may be strong in my friends, when the battle darkens round the beams of my steel.
As rushes a stream†† 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉HOM.As torrents roll encreas'd by numerous rills With rage impetuous down the eechoing hills; Rush to the vales, and pour'd along the plain, Roar thro' a thousand channels to the main. POPE.Aut ubi decursu rapido de montibus aliis, Dant sonitum spumosi amnes, & in aequora currunt, Quisque suum populatus iter. VIRG. of foam from the dark shady steep of Cromla; when the thunder is rolling above, and dark-brown night on half the hill. So fierce, so vast, and so terrible rushed on the sons of Erin. The chief like a whale of ocean, whom all his billows follow, poured valour forth as a stream, rolling his might along the shore.
THE sons of Lochlin heard the noise as the sound of a winterstream. Swaran struck his bossy shield, and called the son of Arno. What murmur rolls along the hill like the gathered flies of evening? [Page 11]The sons of Innis-fail descend, or rustling winds‡‡ As when the hollow rocks retain The sound of blustering wind. MILTON. roar in the distant wood. Such is the noise of Gormal before the white tops of my waves arise. O son of Arno, ascend the hill and view the dark face of the heath.
HE went, and trembling, swift returned. His eyes rolled wildly round. His heart beat high against his side. His words were faultering, broken, slow.
RISE, son of ocean, rise chief of the dark-brown shields. I see the dark, the mountain-stream of the battle. The deep-moving strength of the sons of Erin. — The car, the car of battle comes, like the flame of death; the rapid car of Cuchullin, the noble son of Semo. It bends behind like a wave near a rock; like the golden mist of the heath. Its sides are embossed with stones, and sparkle like the sea round the boat of night. Of polished yew is its beam, and its seat of the smoothest bone. The sides are replenished with spears; and the bottom is the foot-stool of heroes. Before the right side of the car is seen the snorting horse. The highmaned, broad-breasted, proud, high-leaping strong steed of the hill. Loud and resounding is his hoof; the spreading of his mane above is like that stream of smoke on the heath. Bright are the sides of the steed, and his name is Sulin-Sifadda.
BEFORE the left side of the car is seen the snorting horse. The thin-maned, high-headed, strong-hooffed, fleet, bounding son of the hill: his name is Dusronnal among the stormy sons of the sword. — A thousand thongs bind the car on high. Hard polished bits shine in a wreath of foam. Thin thongs bright-studded with gems, bend on the stately necks of the steeds. — The steeds that like wreaths of mist fly over the streamy vales. The wildness of deer[Page 12] is in their course, the strength of the eagle descending on her prey. Their noise is like the blast of winter on the sides of the snowheaded Gormal.
WITHIN the car is seen the chief; the strong stormy son of the sword; the hero's name is Cuchullin, son of Semo king of shells. His red cheek is like my polished yew. The look of his blue-rolling eye is wide beneath the dark arch of his brow. His hair flies from his head like a flame, as bending forward he wields the spear. Fly, king of ocean, fly; he comes, like a storm, along the streamy vale.
WHEN did I fly, replied the king, from the battle of many spears? When did I fly, son of Arno, chief of the little soul? I met the storm of Gormal when the foam of my waves was high; I met the storm of the clouds and shall I fly from a hero? Were it Fingal himself my soul should not darken before him. — Rise to the battle, my thousands; pour round me like the ecchoing main. Gather round the bright steel of your king; strong as the rocks of my land; that meet the storm with joy, and stretch their dark woods to the wind.
As autumn's** The reader may compare this passage with a similar one in Homer. Iliad. 4. v. 446. Now shield with shield, with helmet helmet clos'd, To armour armour, lance to lance oppos'd, Host against host, with shadowy squadrons drew, The sounding darts in iron tempests flew; With streaming blood the slipp'ry fields are dy'd, And slaughter'd heroes swell the dreadful tide. POPE.Statius has very happily imitated Homer. Jam clypeus clypeis, umbone repellitur umbo, Ense minax ensis, pede pes, & cuspide cuspis, &c. Arms on armour crashing, bray'd Horrible discord, and the madding wheels Of brazen chariots rag'd, &c. MILTON. dark storms pour from two ecchoing hills, towards each other approached the heroes. — As two dark streams from high rocks meet, and mix and roar on the plain; loud, rough and dark in battle meet Lochlin and Innis-fail. Chief mixed his strokes with chief, and man with man; steel, clanging, sounded[Page 13] on steel, helmets are cleft on high. Blood bursts and smoaks around. — Strings murmur on the polished yews. Darts rush along the sky. Spears fall like the circles of light that gild the stormy face of the night.
As the troubled noise of the ocean when roll the waves on high; as the last peal of the thunder of heaven, such is the noise of battle. Though Cormac's hundred bards were there to give the war to song; feeble were the voices of a hundred bards to send the deaths to future times. For many were the falls of the heroes; and wide poured the blood of the valiant.
MOURN. ye sons of the song, the death of the noble Sithallin** Sithallin signifies a handsome man, — Fiona, a fair maid; — and Ardan, pride. . — Let the sighs of Fiöna rise on the dark heaths of her lovely Ardan. — They fell, like two hinds of the desart, by the hands of the mighty Swaran; when, in the midst of thousands he roared; like the shrill spirit of a storm, that sits dim, on the clouds of Gormal, and enjoys the death of the mariner.
NOR slept thy hand by thy side, chief of the isle of mist†† 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.; many were the deaths of thine arm, Cuchullin, thou son of Semo. His sword was like the beam of heaven when it pierces the sons of the vale; when the people are blasted and fall, and all the hills are[Page 14] burning around. — Dusronnal** One of Cuchullin's horses. Dubhstron gheal. snorted over the bodies of heroes; and Sifadda†† Sith-sadda, i. e. a long stride. bathed his hoof in blood. The battle lay behind them as groves overturned on the desart of Cromla; when the blast has passed the heath laden with the spirits of night.
WEEP on the rocks of roaring winds, O maid of Inistore‡‡ The maid of Inistore was the daughter of Gorlo king of Inistore or Orkney islands. Trenar was brother to the king of Iniscon, supposed to be one of the islands of Shetland. The Orkneys and Shetland were at that time subject to the king of Lochlin. We find that the dogs of Trenar are sensible at home of the death of their master, the very instant he is killed. — It was the opinion of the times, that the souls of heroes went immediately after death to the hills of their country, and the scenes they frequented the most happy time of their life. It was thought too that dogs and horses saw the ghosts of the deceased., bend thy fair head over the waves, thou fairer than the ghost of the hills; when it moves in a sun-beam at noon over the silence of Morven. He is fallen! thy youth is low; pale beneath the sword of Cuchullin. No more shall valour raise the youth to match the blood of kings. — Trenar, lovely Trenar died, thou maid of Inistore. His gray dogs are howling at home, and see his passing ghost. His bow is in the hall unstrung. No sound is in the heath of his hinds.
As roll a thousand waves to the rocks, so Swaran's host came on; as meets a rock a thousand waves, so Inisfail met Swaran. Death raises all his voices around, and mixes with the sound of shields. — Each hero is a pillar of darkness, and the sword a beam of fire in his hand. The field ecchoes from wing to wing, as a hundred hammers that rise by turns on the red son of the furnace. Who are these on Lena's heath that are so gloomy and dark? Who are these[Page 15] like two clouds** As when two black clouds With heaven's artillery fraught, come rattling on Over the Caspian. MILTON. and their swords like lightning above them? The little hills are troubled around, and the rocks tremble with all their moss. — Who is it but Ocean's son and the car-borne chief of Erin? Many are the anxious eyes of their friends, as they see them dim on the heath. Now night conceals the chiefs in her clouds, and ends the terrible fight. It was on Cromla's shaggy side that Dorglas placed the deer†† The ancient manner of preparing feasts after hunting, is handed down by tradition. — A pit lined with smooth stones was made; and near it stood a heap of smooth flat stones of the flint kind. The stones as well as the pit were properly heated with heath. Then they laid some venison in the bottom, and a stratum of the stones above it; and thus they did alternately till the pit was full. The whole was covered over with heath to confine the steam. Whether this is probable I cannot say; but some pits are shewn, which the vulgar say, were used in that manner.; the early fortune of the chace, before the heroes left the hill. — A hundred youths collect the heath; ten heroes blow the fire; three hundred chuse the polish'd stones. The feast is smoaking wide.
CUCHULLIN, chief of Erin's war, resumed his mighty soul. He stood upon his beamy spear, and spoke to the son of songs; to Carril of other times, the gray-haired son of Kinfena‡‡ Cean-feana, i. e. the head of the people. . Is this feast spread for me alone and the king of Lochlin on Ullin's shore; far from the deer of his hills, and sounding halls of his feasts? Rise, Carril of other times, and carry my words to Swaran; tell him from the roaring of waters, that Cuchullin gives his feast. Here let him listen to the sound of my groves amidst the clouds of night. — For cold and bleak the blustering winds rush over the foam of his seas. Here let him praise the trembling harp, and hear the songs of heroes.[Page 16]
OLD Carril went, with softest voice, and called the king of dark-brown shields. Rise from the skins of thy chace, rise, Swaran king of groves. — Cuchullin gives the joy of shells; partake the feast of Erin's blue-eyed chief. He answered like the sullen sound of Cromla before a storm. Though all thy daughters, Inisfail! should extend their arms of snow; raise high the heavings of their breasts, and softly roll their eyes of love; yet, fixed as Lochlin's thousand rocks, here Swaran shall remain; till morn, with the young beams of my east, shall light me to the death of Cuchullin. Pleasant to my ear is Lochlin's wind. It rushes over my seas. It speaks aloft in all my shrowds, and brings my green forests to my mind; the green forests of Gormal that often ecchoed to my winds, when my spear was red in the chace of the boar. Let dark Cuchullin yield to me the ancient throne of Cormac, or Erin's torrents shall shew from their hills the red foam of the blood of his pride.
SAD is the sounds of Swaran's voice, said Carril of other times: —
Sad to himself alone, said the blue-eyed son of Semo. But, Carril, raise thy voice on high, and tell the deeds of other times. Send thou the night away in song; and give the joy of grief. For many heroes and maids of love, have moved on Inis-fail. And lovely are the songs of woe that are heard on Albion's rocks; when the noise of the chace is over, and the streams of Cona answer to the voice of Ossian** Ossian the son of Fingal and author of the poem. One cannot but admire the address of the poet in putting his own praise so naturally into the mouth of Cuchullin. The Cona here mentioned is perhaps that 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..[Page 17]
IN other days** This episode is introduced with propriety. Calmar and Connal, two of the Irish heroes, had disputed warmly before the battle about engaging the enemy. Carril endeavours to reconcile them with the story of Cairbar and Grudar; who, tho' enemies before, fought side by side in the war. The poet obtained his aim, for we find Calmar and Connal perfectly reconciled in the third book., Carril replies, came the sons of Ocean to Erin. A thousand vessels bounded over the waves to Ullin's lovely plains. The sons of Inisfail arose to meet the race of dark-brown shields. Cairbar, first of men, was there, and Grudar, stately youth. Long had they strove for the spotted bull, that lowed on Golbun's†† Golb-bhean, as well as Cromleach, signifies a crooked hill. ecchoing heath. Each claimed him as their own; and death was often at the point of their steel.
SIDE by side the heroes fought, and the strangers of Ocean fled. Whose name was fairer on the hill than the name of Cairbar and Grudar! — But ah! why ever lowed the bull on Golbun's ecchoing heath; they saw him leaping like the snow. The wrath of the chiefs returned.
ON Lubar's‡‡ Lubar — a river in Ulster. Labhar, loud, noisy. grassy banks they fought, and Grudar like a sun-beam, fell. Fierce Cairbar came to the vale of the ecchoing Tura, where Brassolis‖‖ Brassolis signifies a woman with a white breast. , fairest of his sisters, all alone, raised the song of grief. She sung of the actions of Grudar, the youth of her secret soul. — She mourned him in the field of blood; but still she hoped for his return. Her white bosom is seen from her robe, as the moon from the clouds of night. Her voice was softer than the harp to raise the song of grief. Her soul was fixed on Grudar; the secret look of her eye was his. — When shalt thou come in thine arms, thou mighty in the war? —[Page 18]
TAKE, Brassolis, Cairbar came and said, take, Brassolis, this shield of blood. Fix it on high within my hall, the armour of my foe. Her soft heart beat against her side. Distracted, pale, she flew. She found her youth in all his blood; she died on Cromla's heath. Here rests their dust, Cuchullin; and these two lonely yews sprung from their tombs, and wish to meet on high. Fair was Brassolis on the plain, and Grudar on the hill. The bard shall preserve their names, and repeat them to future times.
PLEASANT is thy voice, O Carril, said the blue-eyed chief of Erin; and lovely are the words of other times. They are like the calm shower** Homer compares soft piercing words to the fall of snow.—〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉But when he speaks, what elocution flows! Like the soft fleeces of descending snows. POPE. of spring; when the sun looks on the field, and the light cloud flies over the hills. O strike the harp in praise of my love, the lonely sun-beam of Dunscaich. Strike the harp in the praise of 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 Cuchullin? — The sea is rolling far distant, and its white foam shall deceive thee for my sails. Retire, for it is night, my love, and the dark winds sigh in thy hair. Retire to the halls of my feasts, and think of the times that are past: for I will not return till the storm of war is ceased. O Connal, speak of wars and arms, and send her from my mind, for lovely with her ravenhair 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. — Cuchullin! I am for peace till the race of the desart come; till Fingal come, the first of men, and beam, like the sun, on our fields.[Page 19]
THE hero struck the shield of his alarms — the warriors of the night moved on. The rest lay in the heath of the deer, and slept amidst the dusky wind. — The ghosts** 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. of the lately dead were near, and swam on gloomy clouds. And far distant, in the dark silence of Lena, the feeble voices of death were heard.[Page][Page 21]
FINGAL, AN ANCIENT EPIC POEM.
CONNAL** The scene of Connal's repose is familiar to those who have been in the highlands of Scotland. The poet removes him to a distance from the army, to add more horror to the description of Crugal's ghost by the loneliness of the place. It perhaps will not be disagreeable to the reader, to see how two other ancient poets handled a similar subject. 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. HOM. II. 23.When lo! the shade, before his closing eyes, Of sad Patroclus rose or seem'd to rise, In the same robe he living wore, he came In stature, voice, and pleasing look the same. The sorm samiliar hover'd o'er his head, And sleeps Achilles thus? the phantom said. POPE.In somnis ecce ante oculos maestissimus Hector Visus addesse mihi, largosque effundere fletus, Raptatus bigis, aut quondam, aterque cruento Pulvere perque pedes trajectus lora tumentis. Hei mihi qualis erat! quantum mutatus ab illo Hectore, qui redit exuviis indutus Achilli, Vel Danaûm Phiygios jaculatus puppibus ignis; Squalentem barbam & concretos sanguine crinis Vulneraque illa gerens-quae circum plurima muros Adcepit patrios. Aen. lib. 2.When Hector's ghost before my sight appears: A bloody shrowd he seem'd, and bath'd in tears. Such as he was, when, by Pelides slain, Thessalian coursers drag'd him o'er the plain. Swoln were his feet, as when the thongs were thrust Through the bor'd holes, his body black with dust. Unlike that Hector, who return'd from toils Of war triumphant, in Aeacian spoils: Or him, who made the fainting Greeks retire, And launch'd against their navy Phrygian fire. His hair and beard stood stiffen'd with his gore; And all the wounds he for his country bore. DRYDEN. lay by the sound of the mountain stream, beneath the aged tree. A stone, with its mos, supported his head. Shrill thro' the heath of Lena, he heard the voice of night. At distance from the heroes he lay, for the son of the sword feared no foe.[Page 22]
MY hero saw in his rest a dark-red stream of fire coming down from the hill. Crugal sat upon the beam, a chief that lately fell. He fell by the hand of Swaran, striving in the battle of heroes. His face is like the beam of the setting moon; his robes are of the clouds of the hill: his eyes are like two decaying flames. Dark is the wound of his breast.
CRUGAL, said the mighty Connal, son of Dedgal famed on the hill of deer. Why so pale and sad, thou breaker of the shields? Thou hast never been pale for fear. — What disturbs the son of the hill?
DIM, and in tears, he stood and stretched his pale hand over the hero. — Faintly he raised his feeble voice, like the gale of the reedy Lego.
MY ghost, O Connal, is on my native hills; but my corse is on the sands of Ullin. Thou shalt never talk with Crugal, or find his lone[Page 23] steps in the heath. I am light as the blast of Cromla, and I move like the shadow of mist. Connal, son of Colgar, I see the dark cloud of death: it hovers over the plains of Lena. The sons of green Erin shall fall. Remove from the field of ghosts. — Like the darkened moon** 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉HOM. II. 23. v. 100.Like a thin smoke he sees the spirit fly, And hears a feeble, lamentable cry. POPE. he retired, in the midst of the whistling blast. Stay, said the mighty Connal, stay my dark-red friend. Lay by that beam of heaven, son of the windy Cromla. What cave of the hill is thy lonely house? What green-headed hill is the place of thy rest? Shall we not hear thee in the storm? In the noise of the mountain-stream? When the feeble sons of the wind come forth, and ride on the blast of the desart.
THE soft-voiced Connal rose in the midst of his sounding arms. He struck his shield above Cuchullin. The son of battle waked.
WHY, said the ruler of the car, comes Connal through my night? My spear might turn against the sound; and Cuchullin mourn the death of his friend. Speak, Connal, son of Colgar, speak, thy counsel is like the sun of heaven.
SON of Semo, replied the chief, the ghost of Crugal came from the cave of his hill. — The stars him-twinkled through his form; and his voice was like the sound of a distant stream. — He is a messenger of death. — He speaks of the dark and narrow house. Sue for peace, O chief of Dunscaich; or fly over the heath of Lena.
HE spoke to Connal, replied the hero, though stars dim-twinkled through his form. Son of Colgar, it was the wind that murmured[Page 24] in the caves of Lena. — Or if it was the form** The poet teaches us the opinions that prevailed in his time concerning the state of separate souls. From Connal's expression, "That the stars dim-twinkled through the form of Crugal,"and Cuchullin's reply, we may gather that they both thought the soul was material; something like the〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉of the ancient Greeks. of Crugal, why didst thou not force him to my sight. Hast thou enquired where is his cave? The house of the son of the wind? My sword might find that voice, and force his knowledge from him. And small is his knowledge, Connal, for he was here to day. He could not have gone beyond our hills, and who could tell him there of our death?
GHOSTS fly on clouds and ride on winds, said Connal's voice of wisdom. They rest together in their caves, and talk of mortal men.
THEN let them talk of mortal men; of every man but Erin's chief. Let me be forgot in their cave; for I will not fly from Swaran. — If I must fall, my tomb shall rise amidst the fame of future times. The hunter shall shed a tear on my stone; and sorrow dwell round the high-bosomed Bragéla. I fear not death, but I fear to fly, for Fingal saw me often victorious. Thou dim phantom of the hill, shew thyself to me! come on thy beam of heaven, and shew me my death in thine hand, yet I will not fly, thou feeble son of the wind. Go, son of Colgar, strike the shield of Caithbat, it hangs between the spears. Let my heroes rise to the sound in the midst of the battles of Erin. Though Fingal delays his coming with the race of the stormy hills; we shall fight, O Colgar's son, and die in the battle of heroes.
THE sound spreads wide; the heroes rise, like the breaking of a blue-rolling wave. They stood on the heath, like oaks with all[Page 25] their branches round them** — As when heaven's fire Hath scath'd the forest oaks, or mountain pines With singed tops, their slately growth tho' bare Stand on the blasled heath. MILTON.; when they eccho to the stream of frost, and their withered leaves rustle to the wind.
HIGH Cromla's head of clouds is gray; the morning trembles on the half-enlightened ocean. The blue, gray mist swims slowly by, and hides the sons of Inis-fail.
RISE ye, said the king of the dark-brown shields, ye that came from Lochlin's waves. The sons of Erin have fled from our arms — pursue them over the plains of Lena. — And, Morla, go to Cormac's hall and bid them yield to Swaran; before the people shall fall into the tomb; and the hills of Ullin be silent. — They rose like a flock of sea-fowl when the waves expel them from the shore. Their sound was like a thousand streams that meet in Cona's vale, when after a stormy night, they turn their dark eddies beneath the pale light of the morning.
As the dark shades of autumn fly over the hills of grass; so gloomy, dark, successive came the chiefs of Lochlin's ecchoing woods. Tall as the stag of Morven moved on the king of groves. His shining shield is on his side like a flame on the heath at night. When the world is silent and dark, and the traveller sees some ghost sporting in the beam.
A BLAST from the trouble of ocean removed the settled mist. The sons of Inisfail appear like a ridge of rocks on the shore.[Page 26]
Go, Morla, go, said Lochlin's king, and offer peace to these. Offer the terms we give to kings when nations bow before us. When the valiant are dead in war, and the virgins weeping on the field.
GREAT Morla came, the son of Swart, and stately strode the king of shields. He spoke to Erin's blue-eyed son, among the lesser heroes.
TAKE Swaran's peace, the warrior spoke, the peace he gives to kings when the nations bow before him. Leave Ullin's lovely plains to us, and give thy spouse and dog. Thy spouse high-bosom'd, heaving fair. Thy dog that overtakes the wind. Give these to prove the weakness of thine arm, and live beneath our power.
TELL Swaran, tell that heart of pride, that Cuchullin never yields. — I give him the dark-blue rolling of ocean, or I give his people graves in Erin. But never shall a stranger have the lovely sun-beam of Dunscaich; or ever deer fly on Lochlin's hills before the nimble-footed Luäth.
VAIN ruler of the car, said Morla, wilt thou fight the king; that king whose ships of many groves could carry off thine Isle? So little is thy green-hilled Ullin to the king of stormy waves.
IN words I yield to many, Morla; but this sword shall yield to none. Erin shall own the sway of Cormac, while Connal and Cuchullin live. O Connal, first of mighty men, thou hast heard the words of Morla; shall thy thoughts then be of peace, thou breaker of the shields? Spirit of fallen Crugal! why didst thou threaten us with death? Thy narrow house shall receive me in the midst of the[Page 27] light of renown. — Exalt, ye sons of Inisfail, exalt the spear and bend the bow; rush on the foe in darkness, as the spirits of stormy nights.
THEN dismal, roaring, fierce, and deep the gloom of battle rolled along; as mist** — As evening mist Ris'n from a river o'er the marish glides And gathers round fast at the lab'rers heel Homeward returningMILTON. that is poured on the valley, when storms invade the silent sun-shine of heaven. The chief moves before in arms, like an angry ghost before a cloud; when meteors inclose him with fire; and the dark winds are in his hand. — Carril, far on the heath, bids the horn of battle sound. He raises the voice of the song, and pours his soul into the minds of heroes.
WHERE, said the mouth of the song, where is the fallen Crugal? He lies forgot on earth, and the hall of shells†† The ancient Scot, at well as the present highlanders, drunk in shells; hence it is that we so often meet, in the old poetry, with the chief of shells, and the halls of shells. is silent. — Sad is the spouse of Crugal, for she is a stranger‡‡ 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 sorrow. in the hall of her sorrow. But who is she, that, like a sun-beam, flies before the ranks of the foe? It is Degrena‖‖ Deo-ghréna signifies a sun-beam. , lovely fair, the spouse of fallen Crugal. Her hair is on the wind behind. Her eye is red; her voice is shrill. Green, empty is thy Crugal now, his form is in the cave of the hill. He comes to the ear of rest, and raises his feeble voice; like the humming of the mountain-bee, or collected flies of evening. But Degrena falls like a cloud of the morn; the sword of Lochlin is in her side. Cairbar, she is fallen, the rising thought of thy youth. She is fallen, O Cairbar, the thought of thy youthful hours.
FIERCE Cairbar heard the mournful sound, and rushed on like ocean's whale; he saw the death of his daughter; and roared in the[Page 28] midst of thousands** Mediisque in millibus ardet. VIRG.. His spear met a son of Lochlin, and battle spread from wing to wing. As a hundred winds in Lochlin's groves, as fire in the firs of a hundred hills; so loud, so ruinous and vast the ranks of men are hewn down. — Cuchullin cut off heroes like thistles, and Swaran wasted Erin. Curach fell by his hand, and Cairbar of the bossy shield. Morglan lies in lasting rest; and Ca-olt trembles as he dies. His white breast is stained with his blood; and his yellow hair stretched in the dust of his native land. He often had spread the feast where he fell; and often raised the voice of the harp: when his dogs leapt around for joy; and the youths of the chace prepared the bow.
STILL Swaran advanced, as a stream that bursts from the desart. The little hills are rolled in its course; and the rocks half-sunk by its side.
BUT Cuchullin stood before him like a hill†† Virgil and Milton have made use of a comparison similar to this; I shall lay both before the reader, and let him judge for himself which of these two great poet, have best succeeded. Quan'us Athos, aut quantus Eryx, aut ipse coruscis, Cum sremit ilicibus, quantus gaudetque rivali Vertice se attollens pater Appeninus ad auras. Like Eryx or like Athos great he shews Or father Appenine when white with snows; His head divine obscure in clouds he hides, And shake, the sounding forest on his sides. DRYDEN.On th' other side Satan alarm'd, Collecting all his might, dilated stood Like Teneriff or Atlas unremov'd: His stature reach'd the sky. MILTON., that catches the clouds of heaven. — The winds contend on its head of pines; and the hail rattles on its rocks. But, firm in its strength, it stands and shades the silent vale of Cona.
So Cuchullin shaded the sons of Erin, and stood in the midst of thousands. Blood rises like the fount of a rock, from panting heroes[Page 29] around him. But Erin falls on either wing like snow in the day of the sun.
O SONS of Inisfail, said Grumal, Lochlin conquers on the field. Why strive we as reeds against the wind? Fly to the hill of dark-brown hinds. He fled like the stag of Morven, and his spear is a trembling beam of light behind him. Few fled with Grumal, the chief of the little soul: they fell in the battle of heroes on Lena's ecchoing heath.
HIGH on his car, of many gems, the chief of Erin stood; he slew a mighty son of Lochlin, and spoke, in haste, to Connal.
O CONNAL, first of mortal men, thou hast taught this arm of death! Though Erin's sons have fled, shall we not fight the foe? O Carril, son of other times, carry my living friends to that bushy hill. — Here, Connal, let us stand like rocks, and save our flying friends.
CONNAL mounts the car of light. They stretch their shields like the darkened moon, the daughter of the starry skies, when she moves, a dun circle, through heaven. Sithfadda panted up the hill, and Stronnal haughty steed. Like waves behind a whale behind them rushed the foe.
Now on the rising side of Cromla stood Erin's few sad sons; like a grove through which the flame had rushed hurried on by the winds of the stormy night. — Cuchullin stood beside an oak. He rolled his red eye in silence, and heard the wind in his bushy hair; when the scout of ocean came, Moran the son of Fithil. — The ships, he cried, the ships of the lonely isle! There Fingal comes[Page 30] the first of men, the breaker of the shields. The waves foam before his black prows. His masts with sails are like groves in clouds.
BLOW, said Cuchullin, all ye winds that rush over my isle of lovely mist. Come to the death of thousands, O chief of the hills of hinds. Thy sails, my friend, are to me like the clouds of the morning; and thy ships like the light of heaven; and thou thyself like a pillar of fire that giveth light in the night. O Connal, first of men, how pleasant are our friends! But the night is gathering around; where now are the ships of Fingal? Here let us pass the hours of darkness, and wish for the moon of heaven.
THE winds came down on the woods. The torrents rushed from the rocks. Rain gathered round the head of Cromla. And the red stars trembled between the flying clouds. Sad, by the side of a stream whose sound was ecchoed by a tree, sad by the side of a stream the chief of Erin sat. Connal son of Colgar was there, and Carril of other times.
UNHAPPY is the hand of Cuchullin, said the son of Semo, unhappy is the hand of Cuchullin since he slew his friend. — Ferda, thou son of Damman, I loved thee as myself.
How, Cuchullin, son of Semo, fell the breaker of the shields? Well I remember, said Connal, the noble son of Damman. Tall and fair he was like the rain-bow of the hill.
FERDA from Albion came, the chief of a hundred hills. In Muri's** An academy in Ulster for teaching the use of arms. hall he learned the sword, and won the friendship of Cuchullin. We moved to the chace together; and one was our bed in the heath.[Page 31]
DEUGALA was the spouse of Cairbar, chief of the plains of Ullin. She was covered with the light of beauty, but her heart was the house of pride. She loved that sun-beam of youth, the noble son of Damman. Cairbar, said the white-armed woman, give me half of the herd. No more I will remain in your halls. Divide the herd, dark Cairbar.
LET Cuchullin, said Cairbar, divide my herd on the hill. His breast is the seat of justice. Depart, thou light of beauty. I went and divided the herd. One bull of snow remained. I gave that bull to Cairbar. The wrath of Deugala rose.
SON of Damman, begun the fair, Cuchullin pains my soul. I must hear of his death, or Lubar's stream shall roll over me. My pale ghost shall wander near thee, and mourn the wound of my pride. Pour out the blood of Cuchullin or pierce this heaving breast.
DEUGALA, said the fair-haired youth, how shall I slay the son of Semo? He is the friend of my secret thoughts, and shall I lift the sword? She wept three days before him, on the fourth he consented to fight.
I WILL fight my friend, Deugala! but may I fall by his sword. Could I wander on the hill and behold the grave of Cuchullin? We fought on the hills of Muri. Our swords avoid a wound. They slide on the helmets of steel; and sound on the slippery shields. Deugala was near with a smile, and said to the son of Damman, thine arm is feeble, thou sun-beam of youth. Thy years are not strong for steel. — Yield to the son of Semo. He is like the rock of Malmor.[Page 32]
THE tear is in the eye of youth. He faultering said to me, Cuchullin, raise thy bossy shield. Defend thee from the hand of thy friend. My soul is laden with grief: for I must slay the chief of men.
I SIGHED as the wind in the chink of a rock. I lifted high the edge of my steel. The sun-beam of the battle fell; the first of Cuchullin's friends. —
UNHAPPY is the hand of Cuchullin since the hero fell.
MOURNFUL is thy tale, son of the car, said Carril of other times. It sends my soul back to the ages of old, and to the days of other years. — Often have I heard of Comal who slew the friend he loved; yet victory attended his steel; and the battle was consumed in his presence.
COMAL was a son of Albion; the chief of an hundred hills. His deer drunk of a thousand streams. A thousand rocks replied to the voice of his dogs. His face was the mildness of youth. His hand the death of heroes. One was his love, and fair was she! the daughter of mighty Conloch. She appeared like a sun-beam among women. And her hair was like the wing of the raven. Her dogs were taught to the chace. Her bow-string sounded on the winds of the forest. Her soul was fixed on Comal. Often met their eyes of love. Their course in the chace was one, and happy were their words in secret. — But Gormal loved the maid, the dark chief of the gloomy Ardven. He watched her lone steps in the heath; the foe of unhappy Comal.[Page 33]
ONE day, tired of the chace, when the mist had concealed their friends, Comal and the daughter of Conloch met in the cave of Ronan** The unfortunate death of this Ronan is the subject of the ninth fragment of ancient poetry published last year: it is not the work of Ossian, though it is writ in his manner, and bears the genuine marks of antiquity. — The concise expressions of Ossian are imitated, but the thoughts are too jejune and confined to be the production of that poet. — Many poems go under his name that have been evidently composed since his time; they are very numerous in Ireland, and some have come to the translator's hands. They are trivial and dull to the last degree; swelling into ridiculous bombast, or sinking into the lowest kind of prosaic style.. It was the wonted haunt of Comal. Its sides were hung with his arms. A hundred shields of thongs were there; a hundred helms of sounding steel.
REST here, he said, my love Galvina; thou light of the cave of Ronan. A deer appears on Mora's brow. I go; but I will soon return. I fear, she said, dark Grumal my foe; he haunts the cave of Ronan. I will rest among the arms; but soon return, my love.
HE went to the deer of Mora. The daughter of Conloch would try his love. She cloathed her white sides with his armour, and strode from the cave of Ronan. He thought it was his foe. His heart beat high. His colour changed, and darkness dimmed his eyes. He drew the bow. The arrow flew. Galvina fell in blood. He run with wildness in his steps and called the daughter of Conloch. No answer in the lonely rock. Where are thou, O my love! He saw, at length, her heaving heart beating around the arrow he threw. O Conloch's daughter, is it thou? He sunk upon her breast.
THE hunters found the hapless pair; he afterwards walked the hill. But many and silent were his steps round the dark dwelling of[Page 34] his love. The fleet of the ocean came. He fought, the strangers fled. He searched for his death over the field. But who could kill the mighty Comal! He threw away his dark-brown shield. An arrow found his manly breast. He sleeps with his loved Galvina at the noise of the sounding surge. Their green tombs are seen by the mariner, when he bounds on the waves of the north.[Page 35]
FINGAL, AN ANCIENT EPIC POEM.
BOOK III** The second night, since the opening of the poem, continues; and Cuchullin, 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..
PLEASANT are the words of the song, said Cuchullin, and lovely are 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, and let me hear the song of Tura: which was sung in my halls of joy, when Fingal king of shields was there, and glowed at the deeds of his fathers.
FINGAL! thou man of battle, said Carril, early were thy deeds in arms. Lochlin was consumed in thy wrath, when thy youth strove with the beauty of maids. They smiled at the fair-blooming face of the hero; but death was in his hands. He was strong as[Page 36] the waters of Lora. His followers were like the roar of a thousand streams. They took the king of Lochlin in battle, but restored him to his ships. His big heart swelled with pride; and the death of the youth was dark in his soul. — For none ever, but Fingal, overcame the strength of the mighty Starno** Starno was the father of Swaran as well as Agandecca. — His fierce and cruel character is well marked in other poems concerning the times..
HE sat in the hall of his shells in Lochlin's woody land. He called the gray-haired Snivan, that often sung round the circle†† 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 Scandanavia. of Loda: when the stone of power heard his cry, and the battle turned in the field of the valiant.
Go; gray-haired Snivan, Starno said, to Ardven's sea-surrounded rocks. Tell to Fingal king of the desart; he that is the fairest among his thousands, tell him I give 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 Albion's windy hills: and fair-haired Fingal went. His kindled soul flew before him as he bounded on the waves of the north.
WELCOME, said the dark-brown Starno, welcome, king of rocky Morven; and ye his heroes of might; sons of the lonely isle! Three days within my halls shall ye feast; and three days pursue my boars, that your fame may reach the maid that dwells in the secret hall.[Page 37]
THE king of snow** Starno is here poetically called the king of snow, from the great quantities of snow that fall in his dominions. designed their death, and gave the feast of shells. Fingal, who doubted the foe, kept on his arms of steel. The sons of death were afraid, and fled from the eyes of the hero. The voice of sprightly mirth arose. The trembling harps of joy are strung. Bards sing the battle of heroes; or the heaving breast of love. — Ullin, Fingal's bard, was there; the sweet voice of the hill of Cona. He praised the daughter of the snow; and Morven's†† All the North-west coast of Scotland probably went of old under the name of Morven, which signifies a ridge of very high hills. high-descended chief. — The daughter of the snow overheard, and left the hall of her secret sigh. She came in all her beauty, like the moon from the cloud of the east. — Loveliness was around her as light. Her steps were like the music of songs. She saw the youth and loved him. He was the stolen sigh of her soul. Her blue eye rolled on him in secret: and she blest the chief of Morven.
THE third day with all its beams, shone bright on the wood of boars. Forth moved the dark-browed Starno; and Fingal, king of shields. Half the day they spent in the chace; and the spear of Fingal was red in the blood of Gormal.
IT was then the daughter of Starno, with blue eyes rolling in tears, 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 hill, remember Agandecca: save me from the wrath of my father, king of the windy Morven![Page 38]
THE youth, with unconcern, went on; his heroes by his side. The sons of death fell by his hand; and Gormal ecchoed around.
BEFORE the halls of Starno the sons of the chace convened. The king's dark brows were like clouds. His eyes like meteors of night. Bring hither, he cries, Agandecca to her lovely king of Morven. His hand is stained with the blood of my people; and her words have not been in vain. —
SHE came with the red eye of tears. She came with her loose raven locks. Her white breast heaved with sighs, like the foam of the streamy Lubar. Starno pierced her side with steel. She fell like a wreath of snow that slides from the rocks of Ronan; when the woods are still, and the eccho deepens in the vale.
THEN Fingal eyed his valiant chiefs, his valiant chiefs took arms. The gloom of the battle roared, and Lochlin fled or died. — Pale, in his bounding ship he closed the maid of the raven hair. Her tomb ascends on Ardven, and the sea roars round the dark dwelling of Agandecca.
BLESSED be her soul, said Cuchullin, and blessed be the mouth of the song. — Strong was the youth of Fingal, and strong in his arm of age. Lochlin shall fall again before the king of ecchoing Morven. Shew thy face from a cloud, O moon; light his white fails on the wave of the night. And if any strong spirit** This is the only passage in the poem that has the appearance of religion. — But Cuchullin's apostrophe to this spirit is accompanied with a doubt; so that it is not easy to determine whether the hero meant a superior being, or the ghosts of deceased warriors, who were supposed in those times to rule the storms, and to transport themselves in a gust of wind from one country to another. of heaven[Page 39] sits on that low-hung cloud; turn his dark ships from the rock, thou rider of the storm!
SUCH were the words of Cuchullin 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 that never feared before?
AND never, Connal, will he fear, chief of the pointed steel. My soul brightens in danger, and exults in the noise of battle. I am of the race of steel; my fathers never feared.
CORMAR was the first of my race. He sported through the storms of the waves. His black skiff bounded on ocean, and travelled on the wings of the blast. 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 the sword unsheathed. When the low-hung vapour passed, he took it by the curling head, and searched its dark womb with his steel. The son of the wind forsook the air. The moon and stars returned.
SUCH was the boldness of my race; and Calmar is like his fathers. Danger flies from the uplifted sword. They best succeed who dare.[Page 40]
BUT now, ye sons of green-vallyed 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; but Calmar will remain and fight. My voice shall be such, my friends, as if thousands were behind me. But, son of Semo, remember me. Remember Calmar's lifeless corse. After Fingal has wasted the field, place me by some stone of remembrance, that future times may hear my fame; and the mother of Calmar rejoice over the stone of my renown.
No: son of Matha, said Cuchullin, I will never leave thee. My joy is in the unequal field: and my soul increases in danger. Connal, and Carril of other times, carry off the sad sons of Erin; and when the battle is over, search for our pale corses in this narrow way. For near this oak we shall stand in the stream of the battle of thousands.
O FITHIL'S son, with feet of wind, fly over the heath of Lena. Tell to Fingal that Erin is inthralled, and bid the king of Morven hasten. O let him come like the sun in a storm, when he shines on the hills of grass.
MORNING is gray on Cromla; the sons of the sea ascend. Calmar stood forth to meet them in the pride of his kindling soul. But pale was the face of the warrior; he leaned on his father's spear. That spear which he brought from Lara's hall, when the soul of his mother was sad. — But slowly now the hero falls like a tree on the plains of Cona. Dark Cuchullin stands alone like a rock** —〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, &c. HOM. II. 15.So some tall rock o'erhangs the hoary main, By winds assail'd, by billows beat in vain, Unmov'd it hears, above, the tempests blow, And sees the watry mountains break below. POPE. in a[Page 41] sandy vale. The sea comes with its waves, and roars on its hardened sides. Its head is covered with foam, and the hills are ecchoing around. — Now from the gray mist of the ocean, the white-sailed ships of Fingal appear. High is the grove of their masts as they nod, by turns, on the rolling wave.
SWARAN saw them from the hill, and returned from the sons of Erin. As ebbs the resounding sea through the hundred isles of Inis-tore; so loud, so vast, so immense returned the sons of Lochlin against the king of the desart hill. But bending, weeping, sad, and slow, and dragging his long spear behind, Cuchullin sunk in Cromla's wood, and mourned his fallen friends. He feared the face of Fingal, who was wont to greet him from the fields of renown.
HOW many lie there of my heroes! the chiefs of Inisfail! they that were chearful in the hall when the sound of the shells arose. No more shall I find their steps in the heath, or hear their voice in the chace of the hinds. Pale, silent, low on bloody beds are they who were my friends! O spirits of the lately-dead, meet Cuchullin on his heath. Converse with 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 gray stone shall rise to my renown. Mourn me with the dead, O Bragela! departed is my fame.
SUCH were the words of Cuchullin 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.[Page 42]
THE battle is over, said the king, and I behold the blood of my friends. Sad is the heath of Lena; and mournful the oaks of Cromla: the hunters have fallen there in their strength; and the son of Semo is no more. — Ryno and Fillan, my sons, sound the horn of Fingal's war. Ascend that hill on the shore, and call the children of the foe. Call them from the grave of Lamdarg, 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 dark mighty man; I wait on Lena's shore for Swaran. And let him come with all his race; for strong in battle are the friends of the dead.
FAIR Ryno flew like lightning; dark Fillan as the shade of autumn. On Lena's heath their voice is heard; the sons of ocean heard the horn of Fingal's war. 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 in his dark-brown face: and his eyes roll in the fire of his valour.
FINGAL beheld the son of Starno; and he remembered Agandecca. — For Swaran with the tears of youth had mourned his white-bosomed sister. He sent Ullin of the songs to bid him to the feast of shells. For pleasant on Fingal's soul returned the remembrance 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 sight, O Swaran, and break the ecchoing shields.[Page 43]
TO-DAY, said Starno's wrathful son, we break the ecchoing shields: to-morrow my feast will be spread; and Fingal lie on earth.
AND to-morrow let his feast be spread, said Fingal with a smile; for to-day, O my sons, we shall break the ecchoing 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; and equal my deeds in battle.
AS a hundred winds on Morven; as the streams of a hundred hills; as clouds fly successive over heaven; or, as the dark ocean assaults the shore of the desart: so roaring, so vast, so terrible the armies mixed on Lena's ecchoing 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 hills, and the rocks fall down before him. Bloody was the hand of my father when he whirled the lightning of his sword. He remembers the battles of his youth, and the field is wasted in his course.
RYNO went on like a pillar of fire. — Dark is the brow of Gaul. Fergus rushed forward with feet of wind; and Fillan like the mist[Page 44] of the hill. — Myself** Here the poet celebrates his own actions, but he does it in such a manner that we are not displeased. The mention of the great actions of his youth immediately suggests to him the helpless situation of his age. We do not despise him for selfish praise, but feel his misfortunes., like a rock, came down, I exulted in the strength of the king. Many were the deaths of my arm; and dismal was the gleam of my sword. My locks were not then so gray; nor trembled my hands of age. My eyes were not closed in darkness; nor failed my feet in the race.
WHO can relate the deaths of the people; or 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; and listened to the tales of 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 aged locks, and his thoughts are of the days of other years. Near him on his bending spear, my young, my lovely Oscar stood. He admired the king of Morven: and his actions were swelling in his soul.
SON of my son, begun the king, O Oscar, pride of youth, I saw the shining of thy sword and gloried in my race. Pursue the glory of our fathers, and be what they have been; when Trenmor lived, the first of men, and Trathal the father of heroes. They fought the battle in their youth, and 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[Page 45] 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; and the weak rested behind the lightning of my steel.
OSCAR! I was young like thee, when lovely Fainasóllis came: that sun-beam! that mild light of love! the daughter of Craca's** What the Craca here mentioned was, 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. 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 blast. 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 that 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 replied, O prince of mighty men! To thee I fly, chief of the generous shells, supporter of the feeble hand! The king of Craca's ecchoing isle owned me the sun-beam of his race. And often did the hills of Cromala reply to the sighs of love for the unhappy Fainasóllis. Sora's chief beheld me fair; and loved the daughter of Craca. His sword is like 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 rolling 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[Page 46] soul. In some lone cave I might conceal thee, daughter of the sea! But Fingal never flies; for 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 was the strife of death. He sunk beneath my sword. We laid them in two tombs of stones; the hapless lovers of youth.
SUCH have I been in my youth, O Oscar; be thou like the age of Fingal. Never search for the battle, nor shun it when it comes.
FILLAN and Oscar of the dark-brown hair; ye children of the race; fly over the heath of roaring winds; and view the sons of Lochlin. Far off I hear the noise of their fear, like the storms of ecchoing Cona. Go: that they may not fly 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 the storm are low; the sons of ecchoing Cromla.[Page 47]
THE heroes flew like two dark clouds: two dark clouds that are the chariots of ghosts; when air's dark children come to frighten hapless men.
IT was then that Gaul** Gaul, the son of Morni, was chief of a tribe that disputed long, the pre-eminence, with Fingal himself. They were reduced at last to obedience, and Gaul, from an enemy, turned Fingal's best friend and greatest hero. His character is something like that of Ajax in the Iliad; a hero of more strength than conduct in battle. He was very fond of military fame, and here he demands the next battle to himself. — The poet, by an artifice, removes Fingal, that his return may be the more magnificent., the son of Morni, stood like a rock in the 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 sooth Erin's friends to rest. And, Fingal, sheath thy sword of death; and let thy people fight. We wither away without our fame; for our king is the only breaker of shields. When morning rises on our hills, behold at a distance our deeds. Let Lochlin feel the sword of Morni's son, that bards may sing of me. Such was the custom heretofore of Fingal's noble race. Such was thine own, thou king of swords, in battles of the spear.
O SON of Morni, Fingal replied, I glory in thy fame. — Fight; but my spear shall be near to aid thee in the midst of danger. Raise, raise the voice, sons of the song, and lull me into rest. Here will Fingal lie amidst the wind of night. — And if thou, Agandecca, art near, among the children of thy land; if thou sittest on a blast of wind among the high-shrowded masts of Lochlin; come to my dreams†† The poet prepares us for the dream of Fingal in the next book., my fair one, and shew thy bright face to my soul.[Page 48]
MANY a voice and many a harp in tuneful sounds arose. Of Fingal's noble deeds they sung, and of the noble race of the hero. And sometimes on the lovely sound was heard the name of the now mournful Ossian.
OFTEN have I fought, and often won in battles of the spear. But blind, and tearful, and forlorn I now walk with little men. O Fingal, with thy race of battle I now behold thee not. The wild roes feed upon 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![Page 49]
FINGAL, AN ANCIENT EPIC POEM.
BOOK IV** Fingal being asleep, and the action suspended by night, the poet introduces the story of his courtship of Evirallin the daughter of Branno. The episode is necessary to clear up several passages that follow in the poem; at the same time that it naturally brings on the action of the book, which may be supposed to begin about the middle of the third night from the opening of the poem. — This book, as many of Ossian's other compositions, is addressed to the beautiful Malvina the daughter of Toscar. She appears to have been in love with Oscar, and to have affected the company of the father after the death of the son..
WHO comes with her songs from the mountain, 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, and given the tear of beauty. Dost thou come to the battles of thy people, and to hear the actions of Oscar? When shall I cease to mourn by the streams of the ecchoing Cona? My years have passed away in battle, and my age is darkened with sorrow.
DAUGHTER of the hand of snow! I was not so mournful and blind; I was not so dark and forlorn when Everallin loved me. [Page 50]Everallin with the dark-brown hair, the white-bosomed love of Cormac. A thousand heroes sought the maid, she denied 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 the 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 that has denied the blue-eyed sons of Erin. But blest be thou, O son of Fingal, happy is the maid that waits thee. Tho' twelve daughters of beauty were mine, thine were the choice, thou son of fame! — Then he opened the hall of the maid, the dark-haired Everallin. Joy kindled in our breasts of steel and blest the maid of Branno.
ABOVE us on the hill appeared the people of stately Cormac. Eight were the heroes of the chief; and the heath flamed with their arms. There Colla, Durra of the wounds, there mighty Toscar, and Tago, there Frestal the victorious stood; Dairo of the happy deeds, and Dala the battle's bulwark in the narrow way. — The sword flamed in the hand of Cormac, and graceful was the look of the hero.
EIGHT were the heroes of Ossian; Ullin stormy son of war; Mullo of the generous deeds; the noble, the graceful Scelacha; Oglan, and Cerdal the wrathful, and 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 the wind on ocean's foamy waves. [Page 51]The dagger is remembered by Ogar; the weapon which he loved; nine times he drowned it in Dela's side. The stormy battle turned. Three times I broke on Cormac's shield: three times he broke his spear. But, unhappy youth of love! I cut his head away. — Five times I shook it by the lock. The friends of Cormac fled.
WHOEVER would have told me, lovely maid, when then I strove in battle; that blind, forsaken, and forlorn I now should pass the night; firm ought his mail to have been, and unmatched his arm in battle.
Now** The poet returns to his subject. If one could six the time of the year in which the action of the poem happened, from the scene described here, I should be tempted to place it in autumn — The trees shed their leaves, and the winds are variable, both which circumstances agree with that season of the year. on Lena's gloomy heath the voice of music died away. The unconstant blast blew hard, and the high oak shook its leaves around me; of Everallin were my thoughts, when she, in all the light of beauty, and her blue eyes rolling in tears, stood on a cloud before my sight, and spoke with feeble voice.
O 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 clothed me with my steel. My spear supported my steps, and my rattling armour rung. I hummed, as I was wont in danger, the songs of heroes of old. Like distant thunder†† Ossian gives the reader a high idea of himself. His very song frightens the enemy. This passage resembles one in the eighteenth Iliad, where the voice of Achilles frightens the Trojans from the body of Patroclus. Forth march'd the chief, and distant from the crowd High on the rampartrais'd his voice aloud. So high his brazen voice the hero rear'd, Hosts drop their arms and trembled as they fear'd. POPE. Lochlin heard; they fled; my son pursued.[Page 52]
I CALLED him like a distant stream. My son return over Lena. No further pursue the foe, though Ossian is behind thee. — He came; and lovely in 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; and I have seen the meteors of death. Let me awake the king of Morven, he that smiles in danger; for he is like the sun of heaven that rises in a storm.
FINGAL had strated from a dream, and leaned on Trenmor's shield; the dark-brown shield of his fathers; which they had lifted of old in the battles of their race.
MY hero had seen in his rest the mournful form of Agandecca; she came from the way of the ocean, and slowly, lonely, moved over Lena. Her face was pale like the mist of Cromla; and 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 desart: she raised her dim hand over Fingal, and turned away her silent eyes.
WHY weeps the daughter of Starno, said Fingal, with a sigh? Why is thy face so pale, thou daughter of the clouds?
SHE departed on the wind of Lena; and left him in the midst of the night. — She mourned the sons of her people that were to fall by Fingal's hand.[Page 53]
THE hero started from rest, and still beheld her in his soul. — The sound of Oscar's steps approached. The king saw the gray shield on his side. For the faint beam of the morning came over the waters of Ullin.
WHAT do the foes in their fear, said the rising king of Morven? Or fly they through ocean's foam, or wait they the battle of steel? But why should Fingal ask? I hear their voice on the early wind. — Fly over Lena's heath, O Oscar, and awake our friends to battle.
THE king stood by the stone of Lubar; and thrice reared his terrible voice. The deer started from the fountains of Cromla; and all the rocks shook on 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 desart, round the terrible voice of Fingal. For pleasant was the voice of the king of Morven to the warriors of his land: for often had he led them to battle, and returned with the spoils of the foe.
COME to battle, said the king, ye children of the storm. Come to the death of thousands. Comhal's son will see the fight. — My sword shall wave on that hill, and be the shield of my people. 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 the song.
O YE ghosts of heroes dead! ye riders of the storm of Cromla! receive my falling people with joy, and bring 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.[Page 54]
FILLAN and Oscar, of the dark-brown hair! fair Ryno, with the pointed steel! advance with valour to the fight; and behold the son of Morni. Let your swords be like his in the strife: and behold the deeds of his hands. Protect the friends of your father: and remember the chiefs of old. My children, I will see you yet, though here ye should fall in Erin. Soon shall our cold, pale ghosts meet in a cloud, and fly over the hills of Cona.
NOW like a dark and stormy cloud, edged round with the red lightning of heaven, and flying westward from the morning's beam, the king of hills removed. Terrible is the light of his armour, and 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 carry his words to the heroes. — High on Cromla's side he sat, waving the lightning of his sword, and as he waved we moved.
JOY rose 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; and give me Ossian's fame. And if here I fall; my king, remember that breast of snow, that lonely sun-beam of my love, the white-handed daughter of Toscar. For with red cheek from the rock, and 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; that hereafter, in a cloud, I may meet the lovely maid of Toscar.
RAISE, Oscar, rather raise my tomb. I will not yield the fight to thee. For first and bloodiest in the war my arm shall teach[Page 55] thee how to fight. But, remember, my son, to place this sword, this bow, and the horn of my deer, within that dark and narrow house, whose mark is one gray stone. Oscar, I have no love to leave to the care of my son; for graceful Evirallin 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, and 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, men fall. As a hundred hammers on the 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 desart in the ecchoing 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. And, 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: and we pursued and slew. As stones that bound from rock to rock; as axes in ecchoing 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** Ossian never fails to give a fine character of his beloved son. His speech to his father is that of a hero; it contains the submission due to a parent, and the warmth that becomes a young warrior. There is a propriety in dwelling here on the actions of Oscar, as the beautiful Malvina, to whom the book is addressed, was in love with that hero. and mine.[Page 56]
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, and half-assumed the spear. Go, Ullin, go, my aged bard, begun the king of Morven. Remind the mighty Gaul of battle; remind him of his fathers. Support the yielding fight with song; for song enlivens war. Tall Ullin went, with steps of age, and spoke to the king of swords.
SON** The war-song of Ullin varies from the rest of the poem in the versification. It runs down like a torrent; and consists almost intirely of epithets. The custom of encouraging men in battle with extempore rhymes, has been carried down almost to our own times. Several of these war-songs are extant, but the most of them are only a group of epithets, without beauty or harmony, utterly destitute of poetical merit. of the chief of generous steeds! high-bounding king of spears. Strong arm in every perilous toil. Hard heart that never yields. Chief of the pointed arms of death. Cut down the foe; let no white sail bound round dark Inistore. Be thine arm like thunder. Thine eyes like fire, thy heart of solid rock. Whirl round thy sword as a meteor at night, and 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; and the sons of the desart fled.
NOW Fingal arose in his might, and thrice he reared his voice. Cromla answered around, and the sons of the desart stood still. — They bent their red faces to earth, ashamed at the presence of Fingal. He came like a cloud of rain in the days of the sun, when slow it rolls on the hill, and fields expect the shower. Swaran beheld the terrible king of Morven, and 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[Page 57] had its branches blasted of old by the lightning of heaven. — It bends over the stream, and 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, and the darkness of battle gathers on the hill.
FINGAL, like a beam from heaven, shone in the midst of his people. His heroes gather around him, and he sends forth the voice of his power. Raise my standards** Th' imperial ensign, which full high advanc'd, Shone like a meteor streaming to the wind. MILTON. on high, — spread them on Lena's wind, like the flames of an hundred hills. Let them sound on the winds 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 blades of Sora; Dermid of the dark-brown hair, and Ossian king of many songs, be near your father's arm.
WE reared the sun-beam†† Fingal's standard was distinguished by the name of sun-beam; probably on account of its bright colour, and its being studded with gold. To begin a battle is expressed, in old composition, by lifting of the sun-beam. of battle; the standard of the king. Each hero's soul 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 the hill, or an half consumed grove of oaks; when we see the sky through its branches, and the meteor passing behind. Let every chief among the friends[Page 58] of Fingal take a dark troop of those that frown so high; nor let a son of the ecchoing 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 an hundred different winds that pour through many vales; divided, dark the sons of the hill advanced, and Cromla ecchoed around.
HOW can I relate the deaths when we closed in the strife of our steel? O daughter of Toscar! bloody were our hands! The gloomy ranks of Lochlin fell like the banks of the roaring Cona. — Our arms were victorious on Lena: each chief fulfilled his promise. Beside the murmur of Branno thou didst often sit, O maid; when thy white bosom rose frequent, like the down of the swan when slow she sails the lake, and sidelong winds are blowing. — Thou hast seen the sun** Sol quoque & exoriens & cum se condit in undas Signa dabit. Solem certissima signa sequun'ur, Ut quae mane refert, & quae surgentibus astris. Ille ubi nascentem maculis variaverit ortum Conditus in nubem, medioque refugerit orbe; Suspecti tibi sunt imbres. VIRG.Above the rest the sun, who never lies, Foretels the change of weather in the skies. For if he rise, unwilling to his race, Clouds on his brow and spots upon his face; Or if thro' mists he shoots his sullen beams, Frugal of light, in loose and straggling streams, Suspect a drisling day. DRYDEN. retire red and slow behind his cloud; night gathering[Page 59] round on the mountain, while the unfrequent blast** Continuo ventis surgentibus aut freta ponti Incipiunt agitata tumescere; & aridus altis Montibus audiri fragor, aut resonantia longe Littora misceri, & nemorum increbescere murmur. VIRG.For ere the rising winds begin to roar, The working seas advance to wash the shore; Soft whispers run along the leafy wood, And mountains whistle to the murm'ring flood. DRYDEN. roared in narrow vales. At length the rain beats hard; and thunder rolls in peals. Lightning glances on the rocks. Spirits ride on beams of fire. And the strength of the mountain-streams†† — ruunt de montibus amnes. VIRG.The rapid rains, descending from the hills, To rolling torrents swell the creeping rills. DRYDEN. comes roaring down the hills. Such was the noise of battle, maid of the arms of snow. Why, daughter of the hill, that tear? the maids of Lochlin have cause to weep. The people of their country fell, for bloody were the blue blades of the race of my heroes. But I am sad, forlorn, and blind; and no more the companion of heroes. Give, lovely maid, to me thy tears, for I have seen the tombs of all my friends.
IT was then by Fingal's hand a hero fell, to his grief. — Gray-haired he rolled in the dust, and 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 the son of Mathon; and give his name to the song of Agandecca; for dear to my soul hast thou been, thou darkly-dwelling maid of Ardven.
CUCHULLIN, from the cave of Cromla, heard the noise of the troubled war. He called to Connal chief of swords, and Carril of other times. The gray-haired heroes heard his voice, and took their aspen spears.[Page 60]
THEY came, and saw the tide of battle, like the crowded waves of the ocean; when the dark wind blows from the deep, and rolls the billows through the sandy vale.
CUCHULLIN kindled at the sight, and 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, and thrice did Connal stop him. 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, and greet the king of Morven. When Lochlin falls away like a stream after rain, and the noise of the battle is over. Then be thy voice sweet in his ear to praise the king of swords. Give him the sword of Caithbat, for Cuchullin is worthy no more