Page images

pierced his forehead, and divided his red hair behind.

tCe lay, like a shattered rock, which Cromla shakes from its shaggy side. But never more shall Oscar rise [

he leans on his bossy shield. His spear is in his terrible

hand: Erin's sons stood distant and dark. Their shout arose, like crowded streams; Moi-lena echoed wide.

Fingal heard the sound; and took his father's spear. His steps are before us on the heath. He spoke the words of woe. "I hear the noise of war. Young Oscar is alone. Rise, sons of Morven; join the hero's sword."

Ossian rushed along the heath. Fillan bounded over Moi-lena. Fingal strode in his strength, and the light of his shield is terrible. The sons of Erin saw it far distant; they trembled in their souls. They knew that the wrath of the king arose: and they foresaw their death. We first arrived; we fought, and Erin's chiefs withstood our rage. But when the king came, in the sound of his course, what heart of steel could stand '. Erin fled over Moi-lena. Death pursoed their flight. We saw Oscar on his shield. We saw his blood around. Silence darkened every face. Each turned his back and wept. The king strove to hide his tears. His grey beard whistled in the wind. He bent his head above his son. His words were mixed with sighs.

"And art thou fallen, Oscar, in the midst of thy course! the heart of the aged beats over thee! He sees thy coming wars. The wars which ought to come he sees! But they are cot off from thy fame. When shall joy dwell at Selma? When shall grief depart from Morven? My sons fall by degrees: Fingal shall be the last of his race. The fame which I have received shall pass away: my age will be without friends. I shall sit a grey cloud in my hall : nor shall I hear the return of a aon, in the midst of his sounding arms. Weep, ye heroes of Morven! never more shall Oscar rise!"

Oscir, In consequence of his threats, began to lay waste Ireland i hut as he returned with the spoil into Ulster, through the narrow pass of Gabhra, (Cauil-ghleu Ghabru-aj, 'h' was met by Calrbar, and a battle ensoed, in which both the heroes fell by motual wounds. The bard gives a very corious list of the followers of Oscar, as they marched to battle. They appear to have been live hundred in number, coiiimanded, as the poet expresses it, by .' five heroes of the blood of kings." This poem mentions Fingal, as arriving froot Scotland, before Oscar died of his wounds.

And they did weep, O Fingal! dear was the hero to their souls. He went out to battle, and the foes vanished: he returned, in peace, amidst their joy. No father mourned his son slain in youth: no brother his brother of love. They fell, without tears, for the chief of the people was low! Bran' is howling at his feet: gloomy Luath is sad, for he had often led them to the chase; to the bounding roe of the desart.

When Oscar saw his friends around, his breast arose with sighs. "The groans,'' he said, " of aged chiefs, the howling of my dogs, the sodden bursts of songs of grief, have melted Oscar's soul. My soul, that never melted before; it was like the steel of my sword. Ossian, carry me to my hills! Raise the stones of my renown. Place the horn of the deer, and my sword, within my narrow dwelling. The torrent hereafter may raise the earth: the hunter may find the steel and say, " This has been Oscar's sword."

"And fallest thou, son of my fame? And shall I never see thees Oscar? When others hear of their sons, I shall not hear of thee. The moss is on thy four grey stones: the mournful wind is there. The battle shall be fought without him: he shall not porsoe the darkbrown hinds. When the warrior returns from battles, and tells of other lands; I have seen a tomb, he will say, by the roaring stream, the dark dwelling of a chief. He fell by car-borne Oscar, the first of mortal men. I, peihaps, shall hear his voice: and a beam of joy will rise in my soul."

The night would have descended in sorrows and morning returned in the shadow of grief: our chiefs would have stood like cold dropping rocks on Moilena, and have forgot the war, did not the king disperse his grief, and raise his mighty voice. The chiefs, as new-wakened from dreams, lift op their heads atound.

"How long on Moi-lena shall we weep; or pour our tears in Ullin ? The mighty will not return. Oscar shall not rise in his strength. The valiant must fall

I Bran was one of Fingal'l dogs. Bran lignites a moontain-stream.

one day, and be' no more known on his hills. Where are our fathers, O warriors! the chiefs of the times of old? They have set like stars that have shone, we only hear the sound of their praise. But they were renowned in their day, the terror of other times. Thus shall we pass, O warriors, in the day of our fall. Then let us be renowned when we may; and leave our fame behind us, like the last beams of the son, when he hides his red head in the west. Ullin, my aged bard! take the ship of the king. Carry Oscar to Selma of harps. Let the daughters of Morven weep. We shall fight in Erin for the race of fallen Cormac. The days of my years begin to fail; I feel the weakness of my arm. My fathers bend from their clouds, to receive their grey-haired son. But before I go hence, one beam of fame shall rise: so shall my days end, as my years begun, in fame : my life shall be one stream of light to bards of other times.

Ullin raised his white sails; the wind of the south came forth: he bounded on the waves towards Selma. I remained in my grief, but my words were not heard. The feast is spread on Moi-lena: an hundred heroes reared the tomb of Cairbar: but no song is raised over the chief: for his soul had been dark and bloody. The bards remembered the fall of Cormac'. what could they say in Cairbar's praise?

The night came rolling down. The light of an hundred Oaks arose. Fingal sat beneath a tree. Old Althan" stood in the midst. He told the tale of fallen Cormac. Althan the son of Conachar, the friend of car-borne Cuthullin: he dwelt with Cormac in windy Temora, when Semo's son fought with generous Torlath. The tale of Althan was moornful, and the tear was in his eve.

The" setting son was yellow on Dora*'. Grey evening began to descend. Temora's woods shook with the blast of the inconstant wind. A cloud, at length, gathered in the west, and a red star looked from behind its edge. I stood in the wood alone, and saw a ghost on the darkening air. His stride extended from hill to hill: his shield was dim on his side. It was the son of Semo: I knew the warrior's face. But he passed away in his blast; and all was dark around. Mr soul was sad. I went to the hall of shells. A thousand lights arose: the hundred hards had strung the harp. Cormac stood in the midst, like the morning star, when it rejoices on the eastern hill, and its young beams are bathed in showers. The sword of Artho* was in the hand of the king; and he looked with joy on its polished studs: thrice he strove to draw it, and thrice he failed; his yellow locks are spread on his shoulders: his cheeks of youth are red. I mourned over the beam of youth, for he was soon to set.

u Althan, the son of Consensu-, was the chief bard of Arth, king of Ireland. After the death of Arth, Althan attended hi, son Cormae, and was present at his death. He had made his escape from Oirbar, by the means of Cathmor, and coming to Fingal, related, as here, the death of his master Cormac.

u Althan speaks.

w Doira,' the woody tide of a mountain;' it ii here a hill in the ncighbourhoud of x Arth, or Artho, the father of Cormac king of Ireland.

"Althan!" he said with a smile, " hast thou beheld my father? Heavy is the sword of the king, sorely his arm was strong. O that I were like him in battle, when the rage of his wrath arose! then would I have met, like Cuthullin, the car-borne son of Cantela! but years may come on, O Althan! and my arm be strong. Hast thou heard of Semo's son, the chief of high Temora ? He might have retorned with his fame; for he promised to return to-night. My bards wait him with songs; my feast is spread in Temora."

1 heard the king in silence. My tears began to flow. I hid them with my aged locks; but he perceived my grief. "Son of Conachar '." he said, " is the king of Tura' low? Why bursts thy sigh in secret, and why descends the tear? Comes the car-borne Torlath? or the sound of the red-haired Cairbar? They come ! for I behold thy grief. Mossy Tura's king is low! Shall I not rush to battle? But I cannot lift the spear! 0 had mine arm the strength of Cuthullin, soon would Cairbar fly; the fame of mv fathers would be renewed; and the deeds of other times!"

y Cuthullin is called the king of Tura, from a castle of that name on the p"ast of VL ster, where he dwelt, before he undertook thi; mui,cvcient of the attain of lreiaac, hi the nuaortfy of Connie.

He took his bow. The tears flow down from both his sparkling eves. Grief saddens round: the bards bend forward from their hundred harps. The lone blast touched their trembling strings. The sound* is sad and low. A voice is heard at a distance, as of one in grief; it was Carril of other timfs, who came from dark Slimora". He told of the death of Cuthullin, and of his mighty deeds. The people were scattered round his tomb: their arms lay on the groui.d. They had forgot the war, for he, their sire, was seen no more.

"But who," said the soft-voiced Carril, " come like the bounding roes? Their statore is like voun^ trees of the plain, growing in a shower: Soft and ludriy ire their checks; but fearless souls look forth from their eyes! Who bat the sons of Usnoth', the car-borne chiefs of Etha. The people rise on every side, like the strength of an half extinguished fire, when the W'indj come sudden from the desart on their rustling wings. The sound of CaithbatV shield was heard. The heroes saw Cuthullin"' in Nathos. So rolled his sparkling eyes; his steps are soch on the heath. Battles are fought at Lego: the sword of Nathos prevails. Soon shalt thou behold him in thy halls, king of Tetnora of Groves."

"And soon may I behold the chief! replied the blue-eyed king. "But my soul is sad tor Cuthullin; his voice was pleasant in mine ear. Often have we

ss. The pruphetic sound, mentioned In nther poems, which the harps of bards emitted before the death of a person worthy and renowned, it is here an omen of the death of Cormac, which socn after followed. 4: Slimora, a hill in Conuauaht, near which Cuthullin was killed. 'Usnoth, chief of Etha, a district on the western coast of Scotland, had three sons, Nathos, Althos, and Ardan, by Slissamah the sister of Cuthnllin. The three brothers, when very young, were sent over to Ireland by their father, to learn the use of arms under their uncle, whose military fame was yery great in that kingdom. They had just arrived in Ulste.. when the news of Cuthullin's death arrived. Nathos, the eldest of the three heroes, took the command of Cuthullin's army, and made head against Cairbar, the chief of Atha. Cairbar haviogat last mordered young king Cormac at Temora, the army of Nathos shifted sides, and the brothers were obliged to return into Ulster, in order to pass over into Scotland. The sequel of their mournful story Is related in the poemof Dar.thula.

t Cahhbat was grandfather to Cuthullin; and his shield was made use of to alarm his posterity to the battles of the family. d That is, they saw a manifest likeness between the person of Nathos and Cuthulufft

« PreviousContinue »